I’ve wondered so many things about this space since last Friday’s unspeakable tragedy. I’m a parent of young (terrified) children, I don’t live too far from the town where it all happened, and most of all, I’m a person and that fact alone binds us one to another. You come here for the gf baked delights, and for the lighthearted yucks. I figure I shouldn’t disappoint. We may, indeed, need cookies and the holidays more now than we ever have before. And anyway I thought maybe you were thinking that Linzer Cookies were precious or scary or something. And I’m here to tell you that they’re Austrian, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and they’re only as scary as he is, and he’s only scary in the movies or if you’re married to him. And soon enough no one is even going to be married to him. See? Not scary at all.
Traditionally made with hazelnuts, you absolutely can make linzer cookies with almonds. Just sub them in 1 for 1 by weight, roast, and grind. But please please consider the hazelnut! The only thing is you have to rub off the skins. Big whoop! It’s a tiny little extra step and you can totally do it because even hot out of the oven the hazelnuts are just not really that hot and you can handle them in a towel right away right away. And when they are roasted they smell … divine. Promise me you’ll at least think about it.
Semi-Pro Tip #1: Please restrain your herculean strength and don’t press down on the cookies when you assemble the tops. You’ll break the cookies. True story.
Semi-Pro Tip #2: Please don’t grind the roasted nuts too much or they’ll become a paste, and then a butter.
Semi-Pro Tip #e: Your make-ahead-&-freeze option is to make & bake the cookies, and store them unassembled (& treat them with care!). You can also make the dough up to a week ahead of time, wrap it well in plastic and stash it in the refrigerator. About 20 minutes before you’re ready to bake, place the dough on the counter to soften, and then follow the rest of the recipe as written.
I love you & I love your children. It’s okay to enjoy the holidays. I promise.
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
16 tablespoons (224 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg (60 g unshelled)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
confectioners’ sugar, for dustring
seedless raspberry jam
Roast the hazelnuts. Preheat your oven to 350°F and set aside a clean tea towel. Place hazelnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and place in the center of the preheated oven. Roast for 10 minutes, or until fragrant. Remove the hazelnuts from the oven and place them immediately in the center of the tea towel, cover the hazelnuts with the towel and rub vigorously from the outside of the towel to remove the skins of the hazelnuts. Place the peeled and roasted hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until finely ground (stopping short of creating a paste). Add the brown sugar, and pulse again until well combined, and set aside. Lower the oven temperature to 325°F.
Make the cookie dough. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and whisk to combine well. Add the ground hazelnut and brown sugar mixture, then the butter, egg and vanilla, mixing to combine after each addition. The dough should come together and be soft but thick. Divide the dough into two equal portions, cover one portion in plastic wrap and set it aside. Place the remaining portion between two sheets of unbleached parchment paper, and roll into a rectangle a bit less than ¼ inch thick. Place the rolled out dough, still covered in parchment, on a flat surface and place it in the freezer until firm (about 10 minutes). Repeat with the second piece of dough.
Cut out the cookies. Remove the first piece of rolled out dough from the freezer when firm, and cut out 24 rounds of dough with a 1 ½ inch cookie cutter. Place the rounds 1 inch apart on a rimmed baking sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper. Remove the second piece of rolled out dough from the freezer when firm and cut out 24 more rounds of dough with a 1 ½ inch cookie cutter. Place the rounds 1 inch apart on a rimmed baking sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper. From these 24 rounds, cut out and remove a small shape from the very center of the dough (here I used a small star cutter).
Bake the cookies. Place the first baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake, rotating once, until lightly golden brown (about 10 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool until firm on the baking sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Place the second baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake, rotating once, until lightly golden brown (about 9 minutes for the cookies with the center shapes cut out). These are the tops of the cookies. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool until firm on the baking sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Assemble. Once the cookies are completely cooled, place the cookie tops (with the cutout centers) face up on a clean sheet of parchment paper. Sprinkle evenly with confectioners’ sugar. On a separate sheet of parchment paper, lay out the whole, bottom cookies, face down, and place 1 teaspoon of jam on the underside of each cookie, spreading the jam into an even layer. Top with the sugared cookies. Do not use much pressure in assembling the cookies or the tops will break.