Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Linzer Cookies

Christmas is a time for baking, giving, sharing good food and company along side the twinkling Christmas tree and a cozy fire. Welcoming friends and family into our home around the holidays especially means alot to my husband and I, so last year we decided to start a new tradition.  (Traditions are very important in my family, so I am excited to start one to include friends, as well.) A couple of weeks ago Heath and I hosted our 2nd Annual Cookies and Cocoa with the Cates' party! Christmas is my favorite time of the year, and always has been as a child, and so it only makes sense to throw a Christmas party with some of my favorite Christmas treats!  These Linzer cookies are a new addition to my holiday cookie collection, and I was surprised at how wonderfully delicious and beautiful these small confections were.  You can make these cut out hazelnut-spiced cookies in any shape, but I chose Christmas trees.  I thought the dusting of the powdered sugar would make them look like little snow capped evergreens, almost too cute to eat.  (Not quite!)

You may find other yummy recipes for these cookies that call for other nuts such as almonds, but I was drawn to the hazelnuts.  I have never baked with hazelnuts before and was drawn to their Dickens-esque quality and fragrance when roasted that makes you  wish you were in the snowy streets of 19th century London.  I am sure that I made the right decision, because these cookies couldn't be better!  As with any roll-out and cut cookies they are time consuming with the chilling the dough and after baking spreading the jam and dusting with sugar....but honestly I completely enjoying every step.  It's almost relaxing to me to get in the routine of something as simple as spreading delicious, sweet jam and then later letting the powdered sugar "snow" down on the finished cookie.  The  fact that each batch of cookies only take 4-5 minutes to bake was great, so the baking itself wasn't long at all!
These jewel toned, buttery, Christmas Linzer Cookies lit up the table and everyone just loved them!

*Tip- Though the original recipe calls for seedless raspberry jam, I used one with seeds and just loved the look of the tiny black seeds in the red jam.  They will not get in your teeth, and it tastes just the same.
       - About the baking sheets, I like to use a shiny metal or non stick cookie sheet the best, but when using a dark baking sheet, put parchment paper on the sheet first so the cookies with bake more evenly and not brown the bottoms too much in the oven.

3/4 c. hazelnuts
1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 sp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 c. butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
powdered sugar
1/2 cup raspberry jam

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread hazelnuts in ungreased shallow baking pan.  Bake uncovered about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Rub nuts in a kitchen towel to remove loose skins (some may not some off); cool 5-10 minutes. Turn off oven.

2.In a food processor bowl with metal blade, place nuts and 1/4 c.of the brown sugar.  Cover; process with about 10 on and off pulses, until nuts are finely ground but not oily.  I used a blender, and it worked well.

3. In a small bowl, mix flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; set aside.

4.In a large bowl,beat butter and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar with mixer on medium speed about 3 minutes 'til smooth.  Add nut mixture; beat about 1 minute or until mixed. Beat egg and vanilla.  With spoon, stir in flour mixture about 1 minute just until blended.  Shape dough into 2 balls and flatten each ball into a disk. Wrap separately in plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 2 hours or until firm.

5.Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Take out one of the dough disk and on a well floured surface roll the dough with a floured rolling pin until about 1/8 inch thick.  Cute with about a 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter.  On ungreased cookie sheets, place cutouts about 1 inch apart.

6.Roll and cut other half of dough.  Using a 1 inch square or round cutter, cut out the center of half the cookies.  Reroll dough centers and cut out more cookies.

7.Bake 4-5 minutes or until the edges are light golden brown.  Remove the cookie sheets to cooling rack. Cool about 10 minutes.

8. Dust powdered sugar over cookies with center cutouts.  Spread about 1 tsp. of the jam over bottom side of each cookies. Top with a cut-out cookie.  Cool completely, about 1 hour.


Shareen said...

I loved these cookies. I am sure it will work year-round, just by changing the cookie cutter and the jam. Yum.

The Cook said...

Love this recipe! Making to take to Christmas dinner with family and trying it out with the snowflakes cookie cutter--we'll see!!