Linzer Cookies

January 23rd, 2010  |  36 Comments

linzer-cookie-final

Consider today the beginning of a cookie revolution. This cookie will raise the bar on all other cookies in a way that will make you wish you never met this cookie. All others will be poor stepchildren of this cookie. You will look upon your old favorites with a whistful expression that will say “I loved you once, but no more.” And then you will turn your back on the old cookies, without a second glance.

There was a time I didn’t know any better myself. I was a young design school graduate hammering away at my first advertising job. Nabisco was one of our clients and they regularly sent us cases of Chips Ahoy and Nutter Butters. We all know what happens when there is free food around. We absentmindedly shovel it in, whether we’re hungry or not. Every afternoon I would grind through an entire sleeve. My youthful hummingbird metabolism didn’t seem to mind, and the cookies were good enough to satisfy my sweet tooth.

linzer-cookie-2-cookies

As I became more interested in food, I threw together a few cookie recipes at home. Much to my amazement, the outcomes were far and away better than the store-bought counterparts. Crazy, I know! The company cookies became less attractive. And cookies, when you are a new baker are one of the easiest things to make. Even if you mess up a little somewhere along the way, they still end up pretty good.

A few years and a few gained pounds later, I was working in my first kitchen and the chef put me to work cutting out hundreds of these linzer cookies. The dough was already rolled out and all I had to do was cut them out and space them on sheets for baking. As I worked, the dough became softer and more difficult to transfer. I was struggling with the task. Once the chef noticed, he shooed me into the walk in-refrigerator, along with the dough and the cutters. He stood outside the walk-in, arms folded, like some burly club bouncer and didn’t let me leave until the job was done. This zen tactic must have come from the Karate Kid, because if there is one way to get someone to hustle and cut faster, it’s to shove them into a 40 degree walk-in. The cookies firmed up enough to cut again and my shivering blue hand moved over the dough at the speed of sound.

That’s when it occurred to me that the cookies were packed with butter. Makes sense. The dough is easy to work with when cold, hard to work with when room temperature, the obvious properties of fat. At least there was a lesson to be had from the freezing torture.

With ready trays, I was allowed out. I threw them in the ovens, inhaled the wafting aroma, then sandwiched the halves with strawberry jam. I popped one in my mouth.

HOLY! Did I just see the seas part? I held on to the wall to keep from fainting. As I bit in, I heard the faintest crunch. The fragile crumb practically dissipated away as I chewed, giving way to flavors of fresh butter and nuts. And what a kindred spirit the jam was. It ramped up an already stellar base and lulled me into a kind of trance. I had to have another. And another. Thanks to my earlier training in eating cookies by the stack, I could really put ‘em away. Some made it on to the petit-four plates, but many made it into my gullet. Soon enough, after giving myself a nice cookie flush, I realized there wouldn’t be enough for service. Back into the walk-in I went. And to the back of the line all other cookies went.

Linzer Cookies
makes about thirty 2″ cookies

Yes, this dough is a little hard to deal with when at room temperature, so work with one piece or one sheet at a time, work quickly, and keep the rest refrigerated. If it gets unmanageable, get it back into the fridge and pull out another sheet or piece of dough.

Here are some cookie cutters:

Plain:

Ateco 11-Piece Graduated Round Cookie Cutter Set

or fluted:

Ateco Set of 11 Graduated Crinkle Cookie Cutters

You can also find square shapes, heart shapes, or whatever else you see that has a big and a little version. I don’t wash these under running water, as they can rust. Wipe off the residue with a damp paper towel.


3 sticks (336 g) butter, softened at room temperature
1 1/4 cup (235 g) sugar
1 cup (112 g) hazelnuts
1/3 cup (56 g) almonds
2 large eggs
3 cups (420 g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons (7 g) cinnamon
2 teaspoons (7 g) baking powder

powdered sugar for garnish

1. The cast of characters:

linzer-cookie

2. In a food processor, grind the almonds and hazelnuts as finely as possible. Don’t grind them so long that they become a paste.

linzer-cookie-nuts-in-processor

Right on.

linzer-cookie-ground-nuts

3. On medium speed, using the handy dandy mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar. (Your butter should be soft enough that you can accomplish this by hand if you want, using an old-fashioned bowl and wooden spoon.) You are not trying to beat air into this. No need to get this fluffy. You are just making it smooth and creamy.

linzer-cookie-sugar-butter

Just like so.

linzer-cookie-cream-butter

4. Pour in the ground nuts, and stir in on low speed.

linzer-cookie-add-nuts-to-batter

Yup.

linzer-cookie-nuts-in-batter

5. Add the eggs one at a time and incorporate each into the batter before adding the next.

linzer-cookie-add-eggs

6. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, and baking powder…

linzer-cookie-dry

… and add them to the butter mixture.

linzer-cookie-add-dry

Incorporate the dry stuff in on slow speed. At the end, you will probably have to scrape down the bowl and stir in by hand the stubborn buttery layer on the bottom that the paddle cant seem to reach.

linzer-cookie-dough

The finished dough. It is now VERY soft, and will need to be refrigerated before proceeding.

linzer-cookie-batter-close-up

Scrape the dough out onto some plastic wrap…

linzer-cookie-dough-on-plastic

…wrap tightly, and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or overnight.

linzer-cookie-warp-dough

7. Now we roll out the dough. Cut off about a third of the dough. Lightly flour your surface and the top of the dough.

linzer-cookie-cut-dough

You may want to let the dough sit at room temperature first for 5 or 10 minutes just so it isn’t so cold that it cracks at the edges while rolling, like my first piece:

linzer-cookie-roll-1

The second piece did a little better.

linzer-cookie-roll-better

Tip: If you have a very sticky dough that keeps sticking to your table, roll it directly on your parchment paper, like here. You’ll still want to flour the paper first, as you would a table.

linzer-cookie-roll-on-paper

Flour the top as needed to keep the rolling pin from sticking and tearing the dough. Work as quickly as you can, as the dough is easiest to work with while still cold.

Here is a good thickness, about 1/8″. If some of the dough rolls past the edge of the paper, trim the excess away.

linzer-cookie-roll-thin

As you roll you can stack up the sheets together on one sheet tray.

linzer-cookie-stack-sheets

Refrigerate again for half an hour to firm up the dough enough for cutting out.

We’re almost baking. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Because they are conveniently stacked up, you can pull each sheet out of the fridge one at a time. Quickly, cut out the rounds and transfer them to another parchment-lined sheet (you can use a plain or a fluted cutter). An offset spatula makes it easier to transfer the rounds. They don’t spread, so fit them close together. (Of course, you can refrigerate and reroll the scraps.)

linzer-cookie-cut-rounds

Once all your rounds are cut, you will need to cut smaller circles out of the centers of HALF the available quantity. These will be the tops. Again, if the dough is too soft to pull out the centers easily, refrigerate first for easier handling.

linzer-cookie-cut-inner-circle

Bake your trays. They take 15 to 20 minutes.

Here is one baked tray of bottoms and one tray of tops. You can see the cookies have deepened in color a little. And that’s all you are looking for. A happy, golden brown color. Let them cool to room temperature.

linzer-cookie-baked

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip and load up with your favorite preserve. I like strawberry or raspberry here.

linzer-cookie-fill-pastry-bag

Pipe the jam over the bottoms (if you don’t have a pastry bag, you can spoon it on.) Keep the jam away from the edges. When you make the sandwiches, the tops will force the jam to the edges when you press.

Sprinkle some powdered sugar over the hole-y ones.

linzer-cookie-pipe-jam

Now carefully sandwich.

linzer-cookie-sandwich

Eat as many as you can before anyone gets home.

linzer-cookie-2-cookies

 

Linzer Cookies
makes about thirty 2″ cookies

Yes, this dough is a little hard to deal with when at room temperature, so work with one piece or one sheet at a time, work quickly, and keep the rest refrigerated. If it gets unmanageable, get it back into the fridge and pull out another sheet or piece of dough.

1 cup (112 g) hazelnuts
1/3 cup (56 g) almonds
3 sticks (336 g) butter, room temp
1 1/4 cup (235 g) sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups (420 g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons (7 g) cinnamon
2 teaspoons (7 g) baking powder

powdered sugar for garnish

1. Grind the almonds and hazelnuts as finely as possible. Don’t grind them so long that they become a paste.

2. On medium speed, using the handy dandy mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar. (Your butter should be soft enough that you can accomplish this by hand if you want, using an old-fashioned bowl and wooden spoon.) You are not trying to beat air into this. No need to get this fluffy. You are just making it smooth and creamy.

3. Pour in the ground nuts, and stir in on low speed.

4. Add the eggs one at a time and incorporate each into the batter before adding the next.

5. In a separate large bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, and baking powder, and add it to the butter mixture. Incorporate the dry stuff in on slow speed. You will probably have to scrape down the bowl at the end and stir in by hand the stubborn buttery layer on the bottom that the paddle cant seem to reach.

6. The finished dough is now VERY soft, and will need to be refrigerated before proceeding. Scrape the dough out onto some plastic wrap, wrap tightly, and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or overnight.

7. Now we roll out the dough. Cut off about a third of the dough. Lightly flour your surface and the top of the dough. You may want to let the dough sit at room temperature first for 5 or 10 minutes just so it isn’t so cold that it cracks at the edges while rolling.

Tip: If you have a very sticky dough that keeps sticking to your table, roll it directly on your parchment paper. You’ll still want to flour the paper first, as you would a table.

Flour the top as needed to keep the rolling pin from sticking and tearing the dough. Work as quickly as you can, as the dough is easiest to work with while still cold. It should be 1/8″ in thickness. If some of the dough rolls past the edge of the paper, trim the excess away. As you roll you can stack up the sheets together on one sheet tray. Refrigerate again for half an hour to firm up the dough enough for cutting out.

8. We’re almost baking. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Because they are conveniently stacked up, you can pull each sheet out of the fridge one at a time. Quickly, cut out the rounds and transfer them to another parchment-lined sheet (you can use a plain or a fluted cutter). An offset spatula makes it easier to transfer the rounds. They don’t spread, so fit them close together. (Of course, you can refrigerate and reroll the scraps.)

9. Once all your rounds are cut, you will need to cut smaller circles out of the centers of HALF the available quantity. These will be the tops. Again, if the dough is too soft to pull out the centers easily, refrigerate first for easier handling.

10. Bake your trays. They take 15 to 20 minutes. All you are looking for is a happy, golden brown color. Let them cool to room temperature.

11. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip and load up with your favorite preserve. I like strawberry or raspberry here.

12. Pipe the jam over the bottoms (if you don’t have a pastry bag, you can spoon it on.) Keep the jam away from the edges. When you make the sandwiches, the tops will force the jam to the edges when you press.

Sprinkle some powdered sugar over the hole-y ones.

Now carefully sandwich.

Eat as many as you can before anyone gets home.

 

 






36 Responses to “Linzer Cookies”

  1. April says:

    Hmmm… I’m suddenly hungry!

  2. Memoria says:

    I always look forward to your posts even if they include nuts haha. Beautiful photos as usual. These cookies look too cute!

  3. Yum… I always have loved linzer’s and I’m going to make them using your recipe soon enough. They look so delicious!

  4. Deanna says:

    I can’t stand to even step inside a walk-in refrigerator – but it might beat the back and forths to my garage freezer – my cookie sheets don’t fit inside my kitchen fridge. I love linzers and it’s been so long since I’ve made them. I wish I could try yours! They look so good!

  5. If you’re working in a hot kitchen, put a piece of marble in the freezer and chill it. Then put the sheets of cookies on top of the cold marble to cut and transfer. Works like a charm.

    Like I tell everybody I meet in the food business, YOU are the future of food writing. As usual, your directions are clear, the photos are fantastic, and your writing jumps off the page. I hope you entered the James Beard contest… Nobody can touch you.

    Now, I’m off to the kitchen to make linzers for Gordon’s birthday.

    best of luck. Linda

  6. Joan says:

    God bless you <3

  7. Astrid says:

    Fabulous post, thank you! Two questions: do you have to serve the cookies right away, for fear of the jam making the cookies soggy? Also, can you roll the dough *before* chilling it between two sheets of parchment paper, then freeze it, making it a lot easier to roll it thin and to cut out crisp shapes? That’s how I handle cut-out cookies usually, but maybe freezing does not provide the same gluten-relaxing rest that refrigeration does.

  8. PastryPal says:

    Astrid — We always assembled the cookies the day of eating, though they hang on well for a few hours once sandwiched. One thing you could do is pre-bake the bottoms and tops and keep those stored, and when you are ready to serve the linzers, sandwich them.

    You can try rolling the dough once the batter is made, but it is absurdly soft at that point and might make you wish you made something else. If you can beat it down in between parchment, I say go to town. And yes, you can freeze the rolled dough. We did that all the time, too, with success.

    Joan — Thank you.

    Linda — Whoa, what praise, thanks a bunch! Great tip to freeze your marble. One of these days I’ll replace the one I lost in the move.

    Deanna — You can still bake them. Just roll them out to a size that fits the fridge space that you do have.

    Avanika — Do give them a go!

    Memoria — Sometimes you just gotta have nuts :)

  9. Batia says:

    What a great recipe!
    And those cookies look fantastic ( your photo’s are amazing ,as usual)
    And what a great idea is to roll out few sheets of dough and refrigerate them before cutting!
    i am an old cook ,but … never thought of such an efficient and simple way .
    Well done!
    Tomorrow is Australia Day ( like yours July the 4 ).
    I am going to surprise my friends with your Linzer cookies instead of our traditional Anzag ones.
    I cook my own jams ,so ….it should be great.
    Irina, thank you again!

  10. Astrid says:

    Thanks for the response, and good tip on baking the cookies ahead, and sandwiching them at the last minute.

  11. Maria says:

    The cookies are so gorgeous! What a special treat!

  12. I made Linzer cookies for Christmas year before last. It was the most difficult thing, remembering it’s the middle of summer here. 90F+ and 90% humidity. Not pretty. I don’t have a walk in fridge but did have to pop my tray in the fridge every 5 minutes. Oh, and roll between saran wrap. But you are so right, they are worth it, and unlike any store bought cookie.

    Funny, my first job was in advertising, specifically packaging design in London. Our clients were big supermarket brand names, and we had many a free sample all across the office, too. Though the rice, butter and herbs didn’t really get much attention!

  13. I have been a cookie baker for a long time and absolutely agree that nothing, NOTHING, beats a freshly baked homemade cookie coming out of the oven. And usually I am a chocolate chip or peanut butter cookie gal. But, my mother in law sometimes buys Linzer cookies from a local bakery, and when I eat one, I find myself eating twenty. They really are that good. So I’m not sure if I should thank you for this recipe or not! (Considering if I am tempted to make it–which I am–I, too, will be shoveling them into my mouth by the dozen.) But seriously, thanks for sharing. I can’t wait to try them.

    Best,
    Casey
    Editor
    TasteStopping

  14. Mrs Ergül says:

    I love linzer cookies! I am so glad you featured this. Linzer cookies must be one of the best cookies I have ever made!

  15. Liz says:

    Would it be ok to add lemon zest to this recipe? Many of the other recipes I saw had lemon zest in it.

  16. PastryPal says:

    Liz—Feel free to add lemon zest if you like the combination of hazelnut and lemon flavors.

  17. [...] walnuts. So I tried this one just with hazelnuts. The cinnamon in the recipe, which I got from here, let’s them turn out to be a perfect treat for fall and/or winter [...]

  18. These cookies look beautiful!

    Carmen

  19. safaa says:

    it’s yummy ,, and i would like to share my experience of baking different type of linzer i have been baked the old fashion lizer pie from my old German magazine it’s delicious sample pie otherwise i want to try anther type of linzer ,, plase if any one have anther linzer recipe plase sant to my mail

  20. audra says:

    I made these for as Christmas gifts this year and they are yummy. I had a problem getting uniform sizes from the same cookie cutter. I noticed after baking the bottoms that some were larger then others. I used the same cookie cutter. Any idea why? Thanks for the recipe and the pictures of each step. It helped a lot.

  21. PastryPal says:

    Hi Audra — I’m glad you enjoyed them! Sometimes when I cut them and the dough starts to get warm, the cookie cutter distorts the shape a little and I don’t notice until after they’re baked. That could be one issue. The other issue is when re-rolling the scraps, the dough starts to get overworked, and it can toughen up and shrink a little while baking. At the restaurant, we used to throw out the scraps, but that seems too wasteful, especially when baking at home. A little shrinkage seems a small price to pay. The last thing I can think of is that the thickness of the rolled dough can vary, and some cookies may “spread” a tiny bit more. Hope that helps!

  22. Francesca says:

    Hi. great recipe! I just made a similar cookie and had to throw them all in the garbage, darn! the recipe had too much flour so they came out like rocks, or should i say skipping stones. My daughter said I could keep them for ninja stars for next years costumes, lol! Anyway, will be making them for this weekend but got a problem, my daughters got a nut allergy, so is it still ok if I follow the recipe without the nuts? do I have to supplement the volume with anything else? please let me know asap, thanks.

  23. PastryPal says:

    Hi Francesca — This recipe has a pretty large amount of ground nuts (1 1/3 cups total), and leaving them out would change the flavor of the cookie, and it won’t be a “linzer” cookie anymore. It might be more of a butter cookie. If you’d like to give it a try, I’d suggest adding another 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour and leaving out the nuts. I’ve never tested this, and even though I think it will work, I can’t be 100% sure without testing. Let me know what happens if you try them this way. Good luck!

  24. Madeline says:

    Hi. Never made a linzer, and I’m not a chef by any means,..but I am missing the large chocolate filled linzer (heavenly) I use to get from a deli on Long Island years ago. Should I even try it?
    Could I grind the nuts with a blender instead of a food processor? (I don’t have a processor)
    Could I mix the dough with just a hand mixer (no paddles)?
    Can I maybe use nutella instead of the large whole nuts?
    Do you have a chocolate filling recipe instead of the jam?
    Merry Christmas!

  25. PastryPal says:

    Madeline — Merry Christmas to you! Ok, let me tackle your questions one by one.
    The chocolate filled linzer are not traditional, but sound great, so go for it!
    You can absolutely grind the nuts with a blender. Check out this post on making your own nut flour. Just grind the hazelnuts and almonds at the same time and be careful not to grind them so long that they turn into a nut butter.
    I would not use nutella as a replacement for nuts in the dough itself, because it has a lot more in the ingredient list than just nuts and could adversely affect the recipe. If you want to sandwich the cookies with nutella, though, that would work great.
    For the chocolate filling, use this truffle recipe but dont refrigerate the ganache. Let it sit at room temperature for about half an hour until it starts to be spreadabe, and either pipe it or spoon it onto your cookie halves, then sandwich. Hope that helps!

  26. Madeline says:

    oh thank you!,…I’ll let you know how they turn out!
    Where do I find the truffle recipe?

  27. Madeline says:

    oops,..found the link, thanks!

  28. siir says:

    Hi everyone, I baked these cookies on x-mas day.They are very delicious.I obeyed same amount of the recipe and I had lots of cookies!! . To be honest, at the end i was sick and tired of rolling and cutting. But when i eat them also the next day, i thought one more time that it worth all that work.

  29. Stephanie says:

    I am baking these for my grandson for valentines. I got the heart cutout. My kitchen is filled with the most wonderful smell, reminds me of European bakeries, and since I live in SoCal all my windows and doors are open and I’m driving the neighbors mad. I guess I’ll have to share……Thank you for a great recipe and pictures.This will be our families new Valentine tradition!

  30. Madeline says:

    …is it February already?
    The cookies were the best ever! I messed up though and used the larger nut pieces in the dough left from the blender,…had to chew very slow. Took me a long time to grind them,…next time i’ll strain them and throw out the leftover shell pieces??
    The nutella tasted great as the fill.

  31. Lily says:

    This cookies very very nice! Just I love it. Now I want to make this LINZER COOKIES too,but I have problem I can not find this type of cookie cutters! CAN SOMEONE TELL ME WHERE CAN I BUY THIS TYPE COOKIE CUTTERS. Thanks

  32. audra says:

    Lily, I think I found mine on clearance at Hobby Lobby or Jo-Ann Fabrics. You could try there, especially this time of year. A kitchen store might also have them or a Bed Bath and Beyond. If you have time to wait for shipping, Amazon has a bunch, most under $10 not including shipping. You could simply use a biscuit cutter or another cookie cutter for the cookie and a shot glass or something similar for the cut out. Perhaps a bottle cap. If you have any cookie cutters that are similar but different sizes (I have some leaves I use for my thanksgiving pies) that would work. Some playdoh sets come with cutters. That’s an option. Of course, the cut out is simply decorative. You could simply make this a sandwich cookie. I got a ton of compliments on these last year, so it’s worth some scrounging. Good Luck!

  33. alyssa says:

    I’m making linzer cookies for a cookie part I’m going to but i don’t know if i should use salted butter or unsalted butter?? Half the recipes just say butter and I’m not sure which one to use.
    Thank you!

  34. PastryPal says:

    Alyssa — I always use unsalted butter in my baking. Enjoy!

  35. What is the best way to keep these cookies crispy when making ahead of time. Freezing them with the jam seems to make them soggy. Does this dough freeze well and then taken out and made a week before Xmas or so because of the busy time of the year. I usually start baking early and then freeze my cookies and then make a few trays to give away. Thank you for your response.

  36. Linda says:

    I love linzers and just started baking my own. I have one problem with the cookie. As the cutout top bakes, the opening, whether I use a circle or star for Christmas, shrinks in so much than there is no longer an opening as large as I’ve seen pictured with the recipe. What am I doing wrong? How can I correct this?

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