I have this sort of weird affection for baked goods that are filled with something. The stranger thing is perhaps that, offered my choice from a platter of confections, I actually probably wouldn’t choose a filled cookie like a thumbprint or ubiquitous-at-Christmastime peanut butter blossom. I think that’s because the actual cookie part is so often just – disappointing.
Far be it from me to decry anything that surrounds some good jam or a Hershey’s Kiss, but let’s be honest: You can eat that stuff with any vehicle and it’ll be decent. When I’m making my choices from a Christmas platter, I’m looking for the whole package. Why throw away what ends up being nigh on 75% of a cookie on something dry, bland, or just unremarkable?
Other than my German/Jewish heritage – and the casually mentioned tidbit that a certain someone’s father very much liked this certain kind of cookie – that’s what drew me to the Linzertorte. The Linzertorte appears in a few different forms, from a large, latticed tart to oversized and overfilled sandwich cookies the size of salad plates to the smaller cookie version that I made. The dough is basically a shortbread made with ground-up nuts (commonly almonds or hazelnuts; I threw in a few walnuts); it’s rolled out and sandwiched with raspberry jam. It’s just sweet enough, and intensely appropriate for the holidays.
I baked a few batches of these from dough I’d made in advance and frozen. They’re a bit of work, as sandwich cookies always are, but they’re 100% worth it – beautiful as well as tasty, and the perfect sweet to bring to a party. I’m wiggling out of the hard “But Alli, Christmas is over” truth by suggesting that you pull out some heart-shaped cookie cutters and make these for Valentine’s Day, if you’re into that sort of thing. Although, to be honest – I don’t see why you would need an excuse.
Adapted from Epicurious.com
1/3 cups blanched almonds
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 12-oz. jar raspberry jam
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pulse nuts and 1/4 cup brown sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon (if using).
Beat together butter and remaining brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add nut mixture and beat until combined well. Beat in egg and vanilla. On low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined.
Form dough into two balls and flatten into disks. Chill, wrapped, at least two hours. [*Alli’s note: The dough should keep, tightly wrapped and frozen, at least a week to a week and a half.]
Roll out one disk to 1/8 inch thick between sheets of wax paper (keeping other disk chilled). Cut as many cookies as possible with a plain or fluted round cookie cutter. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets. Using a smaller cutter, cut out centers from half of the cookies, reserving centers and scraps and rerolling. Bake cookies until edges are golden, 10 to 15 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks. Continue making cookies as above with reserved dough.
Spread about one teaspoon of jam on flat side (the side that was touching the cookie sheet) of a solid cookie. Top, flat side to flat side, with a cut-out cookie. Repeat until all cookies are sandwiched. Dust with powdered sugar.