Recipe from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich (Artisan, 2010)Hearts or stars or scalloped squares-use your imagination with shapes and try different kinds of preserves. Personal favorites are blackberry, raspberry, and apricot. My version of these classic sandwich cookies borrows flavors from the traditional linzertorte: almonds and/or hazelnuts with cinnamon, cloves, and a touch of citrus.
Makes about twenty 3 1/2-inch cookies
- 2 1/4 cups (10.125 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (5 ounces) almonds and/or hazelnuts
- 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest or 1/4 teaspoon orange extract
- Strained or pureed good quality preserves or fruit spread
- Powdered sugar for dusting
Combine the flour, nuts, granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add the butter (cut into several pieces if firm). Pulse until the mixture looks damp and crumbly. Add the almond extract and the lemon and orange zests or extracts and pulse until the mixture begins to clump up around the blade. Remove the dough, press it into a ball, and knead it a few times to be sure all of the dry ingredients are blended into the dough.
- Cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper or ungreased
- Food processor
- Large and small cookie cutters of the same or a different shape, such as a 3-inch square and
- a 1 1/2-inch square
Form the dough into 2 flat patties. Wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight or up to 3 days. The dough may be frozen for up to 3 months.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
To Roll and Cut Cookies:
Remove 1 patty from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature until supple enough to roll but still quite firm. It will continue to soften as you work. Roll the dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch between sheets of wax paper or between heavy plastic sheets cut from a plastic bag. Turn the dough over once or twice while you are rolling it out to check for deep wrinkles; if necessary, peel off and smooth the paper or plastic over the dough before continuing to roll it. When the dough is thin enough, peel off the top sheet of paper or plastic and keep it in front of you. Invert the dough onto that sheet and peel off the second sheet. Cut as many large shapes as possible. Dip the edges of the cookie cutters in flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Cut a smaller shape from the center of half of the large shapes. Use the point of a paring knife to lift and remove scraps as you transfer the cookies to the lined or ungreased pans. Place large cookies at least 1 1/2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. If the dough gets too soft at any time-while rolling, cutting, removing scraps between cookies, or transferring cookies-slide a cookie sheet underneath the paper or plastic and refrigerate the dough for a few minutes, until firm. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Gently press all of the dough scraps together (don't overwork them with too much kneading) and reroll.
Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the cookies are just beginning to color at the edges. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. (The small shapes may be baked for 8 to 10 minutes on a separate cookie sheet to make miniature cookies, or the dough may be combined with other dough scraps to be rerolled and cut.)
Let the cookies firm up on the pan for 1 to 2 minutes. For lined pans, set the pans or just the liners on racks to cool; for unlined pans, use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to racks. Cool the cookies completely before stacking or storing. The cookies are delicious fresh but even better the next day. May be kept in an airtight container for a month or more.
To assemble, shortly before serving, spread each solid cookie with a thin layer of preserves. Sift powdered sugar over the cookies with cutouts. Place a sugared cutout cookie on top of each preserve-covered cookie. Leftover cookies can be stored in an airtight container, but the moisture from the preserves will soften them.
Nibby Buckwheat Linzer Hearts: Dark berry preserves are sensational with buckwheat, walnuts, and roasted cacao nibs. The combination makes a dressy cookie for a special occasion. | Substitute the dough for Nibby Buckwheat Butter Cookies (page 119)* for the linzer dough, adding 1 cup (4 ounces) finely chopped walnuts along with the nibs. Cut out the cookies using a 3 1/2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter and a 1 1/2- or 2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter. Fill with 1/2 cup good quality blackberry or black raspberry preserves.
Nibby Buckwheat Butter Cookies: Bits of roasted cocoa beans (called cacao nibs) are a perfect complement to the nutty flavor of buckwheat. Since buckwheat flour is low in gluten, it gives cookies a fine sandy texture that is crunchy yet very tender. I like these cookies with blackberry sorbet. They also make superb linzer cookies (page 196) filled with blackberry jam. For the best taste and texture, make the dough at least a day before baking to allow the cacao bean flavor to permeate the dough, then bake the cookies at least a day ahead of serving for even more flavor.
Makes forty-eight 2 1/2-inch cookies
- 1 recipe Basic Butter Cookies
- 3/4 cup (3 ounces) buckwheat flour
- 1/3 cup (1.33 ounces) roasted cacao nibs
Equipment: Cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper or ungreased
Make the dough for Basic Butter Cookies, using only 1 1/4 cups (5.625 ounces) all-purpose flour mixed with the buckwheat flour. Mix the nibs into the batter just before the flour. Proceed as directed.