Raspberry-Almond Linzer Cookies
I know it’s getting close to Christmas and people are more busy doing the important things like being with family or planning holiday events or maybe even catching up on the last string of gifts to give (hey, that was me this morning), but I had to share this cookie recipe today. Partly because these cookies are soft, nutty and wonderful to munch on during the holidays, but mostly because yesterday afternoon I saw the Nutcracker ballet and have as a result been in the most incredible, magical holiday mood and I feel like I have to share it–yes, I do realize how corny this all sounds but the fact that I’m still writing it should be testament to how wrapped up I am in this flurried mood.
Have you been to the Nutcracker? I feel like most everyone has. Despite my persistent fascination for the ballet since I was, oh, around 7 years old and the fact that I still dream of being a ballerina when I grow up (even though I have never stepped foot in a class), this was the first time I’ve seen it. It was worth the wait, though. Watching the sugar plum fairies glide and hop-hop across the stage or seeing the cute little Clara dancing through the night at her parent’s annual Christmas party was enchanting beyond anything I could have imagined.
There were, however, some drawbacks to all this. Like, when I remembered during the middle of the performance that there’s the reality we live in called the twenty-first century and that I not only take part in but I have this thing called a blog—a blog!– that is the apex of all this technology and whatever-else nonsense that strays me away from that traditional life Clara in the Nutcracker has. Against my better judgment I am sitting here telling you about holiday festivities over the internet when I should be attending classical little parties in holiday gowns dancing and spending the night with music and company. Or, you know, dreaming about Arabian dancers and a mouse king and a nutcracker prince. Or, best yet! Learning ballet so I can live out these silly dreams.
But, so it goes, and this is the time we live and place we live in. And even though I may not have the parlor and parties of Herr and Frau Silberhaus, I have these beautiful little cookies that transcend every time period. Maybe Clara even snacked on these sometimes. But really, I’m not going to try and push this connection between the Nutcracker and these Linzer cookies. Because besides the fact that both reinforce the fact that Central Europe + Christmas time = best festivities ever, anything else is stretching it. Honestly I just wanted to share these cookies and talk about the ballet.
Still, like the Nutcracker, making and eating these cookies was a first. And again like the Nutcracker, they were pretty great. They’re nutty and buttery, but not too sweet–leaving them to be perfect for a layering of raspberry jam (or in my case, some local blueberry jam that was insanely delicious). They require a bit more time than regular cookies, what with toasting and grinding up the almonds with sugar and then requiring the dough to chill, but they’re completely worth it. And I’m no authority on the authenticity of these Linzer cookies, but one of the reviews on the website I got them from said these cookies reminded her of those she ate while living in Germany. Germany… yes, being reminiscent of Germany sounds good to me.
Raspberry-Almond Linzer Cookies
Adapted from Real Simple
Makes 36ish individual cookies (not sandwiches), depending on size
3/4 cup almonds, my amount measured about 90 grams
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
confectioners sugar, for dusting
raspberry jam (or other, if preferred–use what looks best)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Let slightly cool. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
In a food processor, process the almonds and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar until the almonds are finely ground into mostly a powder. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the almond mixture, then the flour mixture, mixing until just combined, making sure to not overmix. The dough will be tender and crumbly, but it should come together easily when pinched or brought together.
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and divide in half. Shape each half into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm. This should take at least an hour or two. If you refrigerate it for longer than that (overnight if you’re like me), you will want to let it sit out at room temperature for at least ten or fifteen minutes so it doesn’t crumble when you roll it out.
When ready to roll out the dough, preheat oven to 350 degrees and cover a couple baking sheets with parchment paper or a non-stick silicone surface. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to about a 1/8-inch thickness. If you like your cookies softer, I would consider leaving the width a bit wider. Using a 2- to 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds and place on prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart. Using a 3/4- to 1-inch round cookie cutter, cut out the centers from half of the cookies. These are just general guidelines for the shapes though–this might change depending on what cookie cutters and shapes you have available. Keep working the dough, re-rolling scraps as necessary, until you have all the cookies cut out. The dough will get softer and stickier the longer you work with it, so keep that in mind. It can be put in the fridge to firm up if necessary.
Bake cookies on prepared cookie sheet until the edges are golden, 8 to 10 minutes. If you want your cookies softer (I do), cook them for around 8 minutes; if you want crunchier Linzer cookies then cook the cookies for the full ten minutes, or until golden on the bottoms and around the edges. Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Sprinkle the confectioners’ sugar on the cookies with the holes (the top ones). Spread 1 teaspoon jam on the remaining cookies (the bottom ones) and top with the sugared cookies. These can be served warm or at room temperature. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
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