The holiday season is here, but it feels very different this year. We’re not able to gather together to celebrate in the usual ways and too many people are suffering. The weight of this reality is heavy, so it’s in the small daily things that I look for happiness. To practice gratitude for what is good. It helps to lift my spirits and it will come as no surprise that baking continues to be where I find one of my greatest joys. Writing recipes for Feast Magazine’s online and print baking columns, like these holiday Hazelnut Linzer Cookies, has been a welcome distraction to an emotionally tumultuous year. Sharing these recipes with you has been one small way to share good pastry that can hopefully bring you and your families small moments of joy as well.
In your small holiday celebrations this season, enjoy some Hazelnut Linzer Cookies. Linzer cookies are named after the Linzer Torte, an Austrian pastry made with flour, ground nuts, and spices that’s filled with preserves and topped with a lattice crust. In cookie form, it features two shortbread-style cookies sandwiched together with jam and topped with a flourish of powdered sugar. Traditionally made with almonds, this version uses hazelnuts for a wintery-feel. Fill them with any flavor of jam you like for a festive and stunning cookies that’s irresistible on the holiday table.
Helpful Tips for this Recipe
*Rolling out the dough between parchment paper prevents sticking and allows the cookies to easily be cut-out after freezing, then promptly placed in the oven to be baked. Baking the cut-out cookies from frozen will help them keep their crisp edges and shape during baking.
Makes 2 dozen cookies
3/4 cup (103g) hazelnuts
1 ½ cups (199g) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg
3/4 cup (164g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (110g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 large egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup jam flavor of choice, such as Black Raspberry or Blood Orange
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350F (177C). Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 10 – 15 minutes, until lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Wrap hazelnuts in a large kitchen towel and rub them together to remove their skins (it’s ok if some skins don’t rub off). Discard the skins and place hazelnuts back on the baking sheet to cool completely. Transfer hazelnuts into a food processor and grind until fine. Measure out ¾ cup (81g) of finely ground hazelnuts and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sea salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside until ready to use.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and orange zest until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix until combined. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the 3/4 cup (81g) of finely ground hazelnuts and mix until combined. On low, add the flour mixture and mix until combined.
Transfer the dough onto a large sheet of parchment paper and set a second sheet of parchment paper on top. Roll out dough to ¼-inch thickness. Place the entire parchment encased dough onto a baking sheet and set it in the freezer for at least 2 hours or until dough is thoroughly frozen (dough can be tightly wrapped and frozen for up to two weeks).
Preheat oven to 350F (177C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Remove the dough from the freezer and using a fluted 2-inch round cookie cutter cut out rounds of dough. Lightly re-roll scraps to cut out remaining cookies. Using a smaller decorative cookie cutter of your choice cut out the centers of half of the dough rounds (you can bake these off separately afterwards for mini cookies). Place rounds on the prepared baking sheet, spacing 1-inch apart, and bake cookies for 11 – 12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool.
To assemble the cookies, place the cut-out cookies onto a piece of parchment paper or baking sheet and sift powdered sugar over the top. Turn the remaining cookies flat side up (bottom-up) and spread a thin layer of jam over the entire surface. Place the dusted cut-out cookie on top. Using a spoon, fill the remaining cut-out cookie space with a more jam. Store cookies in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to three days.