Friday, January 21, 2011

Linzer Cookies

For some reason, lately, I have had a mega-craving for linzer cookies.  I remember when I was younger and we always used to have them in the house, either store-bought or homemade, and I loved eating them then as much as I do now.  These cookies are definitely different than the ones I remember eating as a child, but different doesn't mean bad.  It just means that you will probably see me post a few linzer cookie recipes on here until I find the ones that remind me of my childhood!

A few weeks ago, I had bought a set of nesting heart cookie cutters, so this seemed like the perfect occasion to use them, especially with Valentine's Day right around the corner (one of my favorite days of the year!).  After a few trays of the larger size cookies, I went ahead and made mostly smaller ones, mainly because they are easier to make.  This recipe is definitely a labor of love.  It involves a lot of cutting and shaping, more than just a regular sugar cookie, but the results are pretty delicious.

When I started out looking for a recipe, I wasn't really sure what I was looking for.  As I researched the Linzer Cookie more and more, I was able to kind of narrow down what it SHOULD be, and from there seek out a recipe.  The cookies I remember from childhood don't fit that description quite exactly, but that will have to be a different recipe for another day.  So, from what I could see, Linzer Cookies should be a butter cut-out cookie made with ground nuts in the batter, and usually some sort of spice, layered with raspberry or apricot jam.  After searching around on the internet for a bit, I settled on a recipe from the King Arthur Flour website.  I often find decent recipes here, so I thought it would be a good place to start.  With that being said, there are a few changes I would make next time I bake these.  First off, I don't think the cookies need to be rolled to 1/8 inch thick, this is just too thin.  I wanted them to bake up a little bit softer, but having rolled them so thin, they didn't really have a chance and got crisper than I would have liked.  Secondly, I feel that the cinnamon in the dough is a bit too much.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE cinnamon and usually love it anything (as evidenced by the title of this blog!), but 1 teaspoon seems just a bit much for this dough.  I didn't bother sprinkling the top cookie with powdered sugar before assembling, but that was just me being lazy.  All in all, I felt this was a good recipe, a nice starting point from which I will continue to build.  Stay tuned for more tweaks on Linzer Cookies in the near future.  Until then, enjoy the deliciousness!

Linzer Cookies
4 ounces pecans
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Raspberry jam, for filling

In a small food processor, pulse the pecans and salt until a fine meal/flour is formed.  Be careful not to over-process or else you will make pecan butter!  This should make about 1 cup of pecan meal.  If not, add more pecans.
In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter and both sugars, beating until creamy.  Add in egg and vanilla.  In a large bowl, combine flour, pecans, baking powder, and cinnamon.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat until just combined.
Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (I left it overnight).
Preheat oven to 375F.  Roll the dough to 1/8-inch thick (as I said above, I feel this might be too thin, but I followed this part of the recipe, so I am posting it as I did it), and cut with desired cookie cutters.  Use small cutters to cut a design out of half of the cookies.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned on the edges.  Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.  After cookies have cooled, spread a small amount, about 1 teaspoonful, of jam over the solid cookies.  Place a cutout cookie on top of each filled cookie.  You can dust the cutout cookies with powdered sugar before doing this, as a decorative effect.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Note: After letting the prepared cookies sit in an airtight container overnight, I am much happier with them.  The jelly soaks in a little bit, so the cookie itself is no longer crisp, and that is actually the texture I was looking for.  Also, the cinnamon flavor mellows out a little bit, which I prefer.  All in all, I would probably still make the changes I suggested above, but I much prefer the recipe as-is the next day rather than the day it was prepared.

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