One of the first desserts I made at Restaurant du Village was Linzer Torte. The blend of ground nuts and warm spices appealed to me then as is does now, the tart jam offset by the buttery crust. As a desert after a meal, its a little heavy for the way we eat today.  That’s why I make these Linzer Torte Cookies instead, whether for the holidays or for a special occasion.

Fussing over cookies this late in the season may not be everyone’s cup of tea.  To make cookie baking easier, I break the process into a series of steps.  Make the dough one day.  Roll and bake the cookies another. Fill and wrap them on a third day.  Although these cookie will stay fresh for up to two weeks, I make them within a week of serving. And as a further time saver, you can refrigerate the dough for one or two days before using. Or wrap it in plastic and foil and freeze it for up to two weeks before baking.

Use ground almond or hazelnuts (or nut flour.)  If you grind the nuts yourself to make the flour, use a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add a teaspoon of granulated sugar to the nuts before grinding.  This helps keep them from sticking together.  Grind into a coarse meal for the best taste and appearance. As with any cut-out cookie, try to cut out as many cookies from the dough as will fit.  Then carefully gather the scraps together without  kneading for the next batch of cut outs.  This step helps ensure that the dough doesn’t toughen.  (And you can use the rerolled dough for the cookie bottoms because they won’t show any unevenness as the tops will.)

When baking cookies, I err on the side or baking at  a lower temperature for longer. But I strive for good even brown color, which means the sugar has caramelized and the nut flour has toasted to an even deliciousness. And you dust the tops with powdered sugar before they are placed on top of the jam-smeared bottoms. This require a gentle touch so you don’t mar the layer of powered sugar.  And a very fine sieve.

Cutting out Linzer Torte Cookie

For the jam filling, I like a good quality tart seedless raspberry jam best.  Apricot is delicious too but if your jam has too many large pieces of fruit it wont be suitable for the filling.  (You can always grind the jam in a small food processor to make its texture uniform. Sour cherry jam would be perfect is you can process it.)

To keep the snowy white powdered sugar topping unblemished, I store the finished cookies in a single layer on a baking sheet or in small boxes I’ve saved.

Kitchen Notebook

Last fall, I shared my thoughts on what to bake for the holidays with Coastal Connecticut Magazine.   You might find some of the tips I shared helpful. And I believe in using the right tool for the job. These cookie cutters with interchangeable centers are great fun to use and give any cut out cookie a little polish.

Linzer Torte Cookies

Yield: Approximately 3 dozen sandwich cookies

Linzer Torte Cookies

Ingredients

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground mace
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
⅓ cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extracts
1 cup coarsely ground almonds or hazelnuts or nut flour
Powdered sugar, as needed for garnish
1 to 1 ½ cups seedless raspberry or apricot jam

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour, cinnamon, mace, ginger, pepper and salt in a small bowl. Stir it together with a fork to distribute the spices evenly.
  3. Place the butter and sugar in to bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle. Cream on medium speed until well blended. Scrape the bowl. Cream again for another minute on medium speed.
  4. Scrape the bowl then beat in the egg yolks, one at a time then add the vanilla. Blend in the ground nuts and the flour mixture into the utter on low speed.
  5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it for at least 1 hour.
  6. Roll out the dough ¼-inch thick on a well-floured work table. Cut the dough into 2-inch circles using a floured cookie cutter. Using a slightly smaller cutter, remove the center from half of the dough circles. These will be the tops of the cookies.
  7. Bake the cookies until evenly browned, for approximately 12 to 15 minutes.
  8. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.
  9. Dust the tops of the cookies with an even layer of powdered sugar using a fine sieve.
  10. Spread jam on the solid cookies. Carefully place the powdered-sugar-dusted tops on each jam-smeared cookie.