Linzer Torte/Tart Cookies

30 Dec

My main man is a huge marzipan fan, so while watching some baking show or other, when he saw someone make Linzer Tart Cookies, he was sold.  Because I’m a selfish only child, and I agreed to this whole 40 by 40 challenge, I took over the baking of these myself.  Full disclosure, I thought they were just okay, but my sister in law said, and I quote, “Your Christmas cookies are off the chain” and “I ate all the Christmas trees I brought home and didn’t share.  My fave.”  So maybe they just aren’t my jam (see what I did there?  because they have jam. . . ).  I think if I did them again, I’d follow some of the suggestions I saw online and incorporate some other types of ground nuts with the almonds.  And since you’ll probably sense the theme straight away, I’ll just let you know in advance that yes, I also made changes to this recipe.  Sorry not sorry.  Looks like I might not learn anything after all. . . .

  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups sifted all purpose flour, divided
  • 1 3/4 cups ground almonds (or almond flour, which I had on hand and gladly used)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon (I would have used Allspice if I had it since I think the other flavors would have gone nicely)
  • 5 tbs seedless raspberry jam
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • lemon zest from one lemon

First things first – read the recipe all the way through.  Twice maybe.  Okay, begin.

Mise en place first, to minimize screw ups.

Beat butter & sugar together until light and fluffy.  Stir in 1/2 cup flour, the almond flour (or ground almonds), cinnamon and lemon zest.  Oh crap, I forgot to sift the flour before adding it to the ground almonds.  SEE?  Gah.  Sift rest of flour.  Mix in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time til a slightly stiff dough forms.

Shape dough into a ball, divide in half, wrap each half in plastic and pop in the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Take one half of the dough and roll it out between two sheets of parchment – it is a sticky nightmare to work with, so do yourself a favor and use the parchment.  You want to roll it out to about 1/8″ thick.  We used a Christmas tree cutter for obvious reasons, but using whichever cutter you like best, cut out as many cookies as you can.  Knead the scraps together again, and roll out again, and cut out – again.  It’s a good idea to refrigerate in between re-rolls.  I swapped back and forth between the two halves of dough to ensure it stayed cool as I worked with it.  (roll, cut, knead back together, rewrap in plastic, and put in fridge; grab other half and do the same, on and on until I had no more dough)

Don’t forget that half of your cookies need the “windows” in the center cut out – we used a star that came with the tree.  I also put the cookie sheet in the fridge before baking to help stop spread.  In this example, I rolled out nine trees and put them about 1″ apart (on parchment) on a cookie sheet and put it in the fridge.  Then I rolled out nine more trees with the stars cut out of the middle.  First tray comes out of fridge and goes into the oven; second tray goes into the fridge while the first tray bakes.

Remember what I said about this dough being a nightmare?  There was a lot of breaking and cursing as I tried to get the center stars out of the trees and get the trees onto the trays without falling apart.  Ensuring the dough is cool helps with this.

Bake 10-15 minutes until light brown.  We found that baking for 7 minutes, rotating the pan, and baking for 7 more minutes worked best for our oven.

Move the bottom cookies (the ones without cutouts) onto a wire rack to cool.  Put another wire rack into a cookie sheet or on a piece of parchment – this is for the top cookies.  As soon as you put the top cookies onto the rack to cool, dust with the confectioners sugar first.

Heat up your jam to make it a little more spreadable (I did it for a few seconds in the microwave, but you could also do it on the stove top).

Spread a thin layer of jam on the bottom cookie, avoiding the edges so it doesn’t squish out when you put the top cookie on and press down.  Put the top cookie on, being careful not to touch the tops of the cookies and smudge the sugar.

See my “learn from my mistakes” fingerprints on the edges.

Served straight away, the cookies are crisp; saved overnight and served the next day they become a bit softer and chewier, which we actually preferred.  If you like a crisper cookie, don’t do the jam sandwich part until you are ready to serve them.


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