Linzer Cookies are based on the Linzer Torte, which originated in Linz, Austria in the early 1700's. The torte consisted of flour, ground nuts (usually almonds), sugar, egg yolks, spices and lemon zest that was filled with preserves (usually black currant) and then topped with a lattice crust.
These have ground hazelnuts and a raspberry jam filling sandwiched between two cookies.
I bought the unshelled nuts way back in December, hoping to make Linzer Christmas Trees. Four months later...
I have a wonderful cookie cutter with interchangeable spring themed cutouts. I used the chick, which looks like a duckling, particularly when filling in the bottom area with a bit of extra dough.
This is my favorite step of this cookie- sprinkling the tops with confectioner's sugar. Is it the festive quality? Seeing the cutout come to life? Fairy dusting?
Who knows, but they are as delicious as they are pretty.
Hazelnut Linzer Cookie
from The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco
1 1/2 c. hazelnuts, finely ground
12 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. confectioners' sugar, plus more for sprinkling
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
3 large egg yolks
1 1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 c. fruit preserves
Preheat oven to 350º F.
Spread the ground hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and set the baking sheet on a rack to cool. Turn off the oven if you won't be baking the cookies right away.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, confectioners' sugar, and lemon and orange zests on medium speed until well mixed, about 4 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat until combined. Add the hazelnuts and beat until combined. Turn out the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and shape it into a flattened disk. Wrap it in the plastic and chill until firm, 30 minutes or up to 2 days. (The dough can be frozen, well wrapped, for up to 1 month.)
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut out 36 cookies. Transfer the cookies to parchment or Silpat-covered baking sheets, spacing them at least 1/2 inch apart. Using a 1/2-inch round cutter, cut out and remove the centers of half of the cookies; these cookies will be the tops. Chill the tops and bottoms in the refrigerator until firm, 10 to 15 minutes. (I skipped this step and the cookies came out fine. I think it depends on how cool the dough still is; my dough was still quite chilled.)
While the cookies are chilling, preheat the oven to 350ºF if necessary.
Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the cookies are golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the cookies, still on the parchment, to a wire rack and let cool completely.
When they are cool, sprinkle the cut-out top cookies with confectioners' sugar. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon preserves on each whole bottom cookie; set the cut-out cookies over the whole ones to sandwich them together.
Unfilled, the cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Once filled, they are best eaten on the same day.