Halloween Linzer Cookies How-To
- 1 cup blanched or sliced almonds, toasted and ground (hazelnuts, or pecans can also be used)
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup granulated white sugar, divided
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2 large egg yolks
- Zest of 1 lemon (yellow outer rind of the lemon)
- Confectioners' (Icing or Powdered) Sugar for dusting
- 1/2 cup flavored preserves or jam
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and place rack in the center of the oven.
2. Toast the nuts on a baking sheet for about 8-10 minutes (or until lightly browned and fragrant). If using hazelnuts, toast them for 15 minutes or until fragrant and the skins begin to flake. Remove from oven and place the hot nuts in a dish towel. Roll up the towel and let the nuts sit (steam) for five minutes then rub the nuts in the towel briskly to remove the skins. Once the nuts have cooled, place in a food processor and process with 1/4 cup of the sugar from the recipe until finely ground. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy (approximately 3 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract, egg yolks, and lemon zest. Beat in the ground nuts. Add the flour mixture beating just until incorporated. Divide the dough in half and shape into two rectangles about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap the two rectangles of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (at least one hour and up to several days). Preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
4. Remove one rectangle of dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Using a 2 to 3 inch cookie cutter (round, square, heart, etc.) cut out the dough. Place the cookies about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Use a smaller cookie cutter (3/4 - 1 inch) to cut out the centers of half of the cookies on the baking sheet. (You will be sandwiching two cookies together and there will be a small 'window or cut out' in the top cookie so you can see the jam underneath.)
5. Re-roll any scraps and cut out the cookies. Remove the other half of the dough from the refrigerator and roll and cut out the rest of the cookies. Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes or until they are very lightly browned. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. While the cookies are cooling place the jam in a small saucepan and heat gently until it has thickened slightly. Strain if there are any lumps in the jam. Let cool.
6. To Assemble Cookies: Place the cookies with the cut-outs on a wire rack and lightly dust the tops with the confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar. On the bottom surface of the full cookie (top of cookie will face out) spread with about a 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of jam. Place the cut-out cookie on top and gently sandwich them together, making sure not to smug the confectioners sugar. Using a small spoon, fill the cut-out with a little more jam. Note: You can store the unassembled cookies in the refrigerator for several days in an airtight container. It is best, though, to assemble the cookies the same day as serving in order to keep the cookies crisp. Makes about 20 - 2 inch sandwiched cookies.
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Friberg, Bo. The Professional Pastry Chef (Third Edition). New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1996.
Malgieri, Nick. Cookies Unlimited. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2000.
Rodgers, Rick. Kaffeehaus. New York: Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2002