linzer cookies

There seems to be a holiday for every type of food nowadays and December 18th is no exception.  Apparently it is #bakecookies day…   So, I celebrate this occasion with you today, but shouldn’t every day in December be a cookie baking day?  Cold weather… hot ovens… sweet smells.  It’s simply the best time of year!

We’ve actually been baking quite a bit in our house this month, but nothing compares to the Olympic sessions I would witness as a child.    Every December, my mom used to churn out at least half a dozen varieties of cookies and give out little assorted packs as gifts to teachers, friends and co-workers.  I’m talking butter cookies, snow balls, peanut butter Hershey kiss cookies, fig cookies, pignoli cookies, rugelach, biscotti, and the list goes on.  She definitely set the bar high (#momgoals).  As for me,  I’ve only managed to make three different batches this month. And, Houston, we have a problem.   If they are in my house, I am pouring a cup of coffee and noshing on them all throughout the day… “Oh willpower, where art thou?”  On vacation?  I see.  Okay – catch up with you in January.

So, in the spirit of baking and the season of giving – and, if I’m being honest… in the hopes of not putting on too many holiday pounds – I am going to make little gift boxes for a few friends and get these cookies off my hands.  My favorite cookies as a child were the massive Linzers we would get at Bovellas Bakery in Westfield.  The raspberry preserves… the crumbly cookie… the powder flying on the first bite – all bring back such fond memories.  I found a Linzer cookie recipe several years ago on Epicurious that I absolutely love and wanted to share with you.  It makes little ones instead of the massive Frisbees I used to throw down as a child.  The flavor is so on point and they are simply perfect for gifting and consuming as an adult.  My mom gave me a ravioli cutter with scalloped edges to cut out the circles, but any 2-3″ round cutter would do.  I’ve even made them heart shaped around Valentines day, so have fun with it.  Recipe below…

Also, lots of holiday vibes around this house… candy cane hunts, visits with Santa, hayrides, a few bouts of snow, and decorating our first family Gingerbread house.  The kids are loving up the season and I’m loving seeing them have so much fun.  There have been some sugar OD’s and sleep deprived meltdowns, but overall we’re managing.  Below are a few snaps… 7 days until Christmas!  Happy last minute shopping, wrapping, cookie baking, and cheesy movie watching.
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linzer cookies
Recipe from Gourmet via Epicurious

2/3 cup hazelnuts (3 oz)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 12-oz jar seedless raspberry jam

special equipment
a 2- to 2 1/4-inch fluted round cookie cutter and assorted 1/2-inch shaped cookie cutters or aspic cutters

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Toast hazelnuts in a shallow baking pan until fragrant and skins begin to loosen, about 6 minutes. Rub nuts in a kitchen towel to remove any loose skins (some skins may not come off), then cool to room temperature.

Pulse nuts and 1/4 cup brown sugar in a food processor until nuts are finely ground.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Beat together butter and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a stand mixer (preferably fitted with paddle) or 6 minutes with a handheld. Add nut mixture and beat until combined well, about 1 minute. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

With floured hands, form dough into 2 balls and flatten each into a 5-inch disk. Chill disks, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 2 hours.

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.

Roll out 1 disk of dough into an 11-inch round (1/8 inch thick) between 2 sheets of wax paper (keep remaining dough chilled). If dough becomes too soft to roll out, rewrap in plastic and chill until firm. Cut out as many cookies as possible from dough with larger cookie cutter and transfer to 2 ungreased large baking sheets, arranging about 1 inch apart. Using smaller cutters, cut out centers from half of the cookies, reserving centers and rerolling along with scraps (reroll only once). Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are golden, 10 to 15 minutes total, then transfer with a metal spatula to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies from second disk.

Spread about 1 teaspoon jam on flat side of 1 solid cookie and sandwich jam with flat side of 1 windowed cookie. Sandwich remaining cookies in same manner.

Cooks’ note:
Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, chilled in an airtight container 2 weeks.


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