Saturday, December 15, 2012

Linzer Cookies

I have been having a rather horrible week.  Just when you thin it won't get worse, it does.  I have learned that I should stop saying, "jeez it can't get any worse."  Lots of stress, Dad's hospitalization, 2 young acquaintances dying in car accidents, and the elementary school shooting on the news - and that's not even all of it!  So tonight, I was in desperate need of some good old cookie-baking, the best form of therapy (right LG? ;) ).  I needed to get my mind off everything with a rather involved recipe, and I was lucky enough to have a new cookie option tonight: linzer cookies!  Mom got me a linzer cookie cutter set for Christmas but I talked her into handing it over early so I can make some before the holiday.  To be honest, I don't even think I knew this type of cookie existed a year or so ago.  But recently I realized that there is such thing as a nut-based sandwich cookie, with raspberry jam in the middle, and a little cut-out from the top cookie so that the filling peeks out... just adorable.
Love my new linzer cookie cutter set!

The first thing you have to do is toast the hazelnuts.  All the recipes I saw call for either almonds or hazelnuts, which I didn't know (then again I just confessed I really knew nothing about linzers so I guess that is not surprising).  I used hzelnuts, roasted them in the oven, and then peeled off as many of the skins as I could.  This took a while since all I had were chopped hazelnuts, but it was okay.  I got to use my awesome food processor again! Then I made the cookie dough, which besides the nuts also has cinnamon and nutmeg for flavoring, and let it chill for an hour.  Then it was time to use my new linzer cookie cutter set, which I am officially in love with.  The cookies come out the same perfect size with a fluted edge, and the contraption has a little pushy-thing that pushes the cookie out of the cutter, so you don't have to fight with it.  But the coolest part is that there are interchangable tiny cookie cutters that you can attach that cut out a small shape from the center of the cookie.  This allows you to make some cookies (the bottoms) that are just plain fluted circles, and the tops with a little cut-out.  I had several different shapes to choose from, and it was fun rolling out the dough and deciding which little cutter to use.  A note about baking: check them after 11 minutes in the oven.  The recipe says 12-15 minutes, but mine were done after 11.

Love the way the sugar looked after I dusted!
Putting them together was my favorite part.  First, I sprinkled the tops with confectionary sugar (you want to do this before you put them all together so that the filling stays perfect).  Then I smeared seedless raspberry jam onto the bottom cookies, and fitted each with a top.  I think they are the most beautiful little cookies I have ever made!  I love the cookies themselves because they are sprinkled with sugar, brown and flecked with hazelnut and spices.  The cut-outs from the top let the jam shine underneath.  And besides all that, they are absolutely delicious.  Mom was a huge fan! I think I found a cookie to hand out to my family and friends for Christmas!  These babies are gorgeous, tasty, and therapeutic to make, at that!
Bad news!
linzer cookies

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