Linzer cookies, a traditional Austrian Christmas cookie, are one of my all-time favorite kinds of cookies. With their delicate nutty shortbread-style crust and jam filling, what’s not to love? Slightly more involved to make than the average drop or slice-and-bake cookie, I think that these are well worth the effort. They are lovely to look at and have an elegant feel which is perfect for the holiday season. Linzer cookies got their name from linzertorte, a pastry for which the city of Linz, Austria became famous. A linzertorte is a tart made of a rich buttery dough accentuated by almonds, lemon zest, and cinnamon, traditionally filled with black currant preserves and topped with a lattice crust. In the U.S., raspberry has replaced black currant as the jam of choice. Linzer cookies employ the same recipe as the linzertorte but instead the dough is cut into cookies and two of them form a sandwich around the preserves.
While in Budapest this summer, I kept running into Linzer cookies at small bakeries around the city. I tried many but fell in love with one that I simply had to recreate. These are my hazelnut cherry Linzer tart cookies and they don’t disappoint. The nutty flavor complements the cherry preserves perfectly and I think that these are a fantastic holiday cookie option.
Typically made with almond flour (or a combination of almond and all-purpose flour) and raspberry preserves, I mixed things up a bit for this recipe. I used all-purpose flour mixed with some hazelnut flour for a shortbread base that is not all that sweet and which holds up to the cherry preserves and confectioner sugar topping nicely.
These lovely jam filled sandwich cookies are fun to make (a perfect baking project for the kids to help with) and can be made in various sizes. Linzer cookies are well-known for their small cutout centers, known as “linzer eyes,” which expose the underlying jam and add to their visual appeal. While the traditional cutout is circular, all sorts of shapes, such as hearts and flowers, are also popular so go simple or embrace your holiday creativity as you see fit, anything goes.
Hazelnut-Cherry Linzer Cookies
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup hazelnut flour
- dash of salt
- 1/2-3/4 cup good quality cherry preserves
- confectioners sugar for dusting
- Step 1 In the bowl of a kitchen mixer, such as a Cuisinart, fitted with a paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar and beat on high, scraping down the sides as needed, until pale yellow and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the cinnamon, egg yolk and vanilla and mix well to incorporate.
- Step 2 With the mixer on low, add the flour, hazelnut flour and salt. Mix to incorporate but be careful not to over mix.
- Step 3 Divide the dough in two equal pieces and form each into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Step 4 Once the dough has rested, remove from the refrigerator and allow to warm up for a few minutes. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Step 5 On a well floured work surface, roll out one portion of the dough until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Using a fluted 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as possible. Carefully place on one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat until you have about 18-20 cookie cutouts. Place this sheet pan in the refrigerator to rest while you work with the second piece of dough.
- Step 6 Roll out the second piece of dough as you did the first. Use the same 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter, but also use a second smaller 1 1/2 cutter in the center. These will be used as the tops and will allow for the jam to be visible once assembled. Carefully transfer these to the second prepared baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
- Step 7 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Step 8 Remove both trays from the refrigerator, place in the oven and bake for approximately 8 minutes until you begin to see just a touch of coloration around the edges, rotating once halfway through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
- Step 9 Once cool, use a dusting wand or sifter to dust the cookie tops generously with confectioners sugar. Set aside.
- Step 10 Carefully turn the bottom cookies over so the flatter side is now on top. Place about 1/3-1/2 a teaspoon of cherry preserves on the cookie and smooth out evenly. Gently place a sugar-dusted cookie on top of the jam-layered cookie, making a jam sandwich. Repeat with the remaining cookies.