Linzer cookies might look like another pretty sandwich cookie, but these sweet-tart cookies have a rich, tender crumb, thanks to a nearly invisible ingredient.
Almonds turned into almond flour make an everyday sugar cookie dough a tender, melt-in-your-mouth treat, fragrant with the warm notes of toasted nuts. Two cookies serve as the bookends to the sweet and sticky jam of your choice to transform into a holiday cookie made for customization. So if you can toast some nuts and roll out a cookie dough, you can easily turn out these stunning cookies like a holiday baking pro.
Linzer: Torte Turned Cookies
This is the cookie version of the Austrian dessert Linzertorte. Born in the City of Linz, the tart consists of a crust made from flour and ground nuts — traditionally almonds — filled with black currant preserves and topped with a lattice crust. Linzer cookies mimic the torte with their almond flour dough and fruit jam filling.
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Whole Almonds, Sliced Almonds, or Almond Flour
Almonds are a traditional starting point of Linzer cookies. You can use whole almonds or sliced almonds for this dough, as long as you adhere to the weight below. Toasting the nuts first adds a magnitude of flavor to the finished cookies, so don't skip this step. In a pinch, you can substitute almond flour for the whole almonds, again using weight and not volume. Just try to buy almond flour that is fresh and hasn't been sitting on the shelf too long.
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How to Shape Linzer Dough
Almonds add a significant amount of fat to the Linzer cookie dough, which is a good thing for taste and texture, but makes the dough a little harder to roll out. Chilling the dough before rolling makes the rolling easier. While I'm typically a fan of rolling the dough out while it is soft, giving the Linzer dough an hour in the fridge makes it less sticky and easier to roll.
Dividing the dough into two pieces also makes rolling and cutting easier. Once rolled and cut, chill the cookie dough again before baking to ensure the cookies retain their shape.
You can use any shape of nesting cutters for your cookies, so don't be afraid to mix shapes to create unique patterns. My daughter is a big fan of making the punched-out shape a heart, regardless of the cookie's shape.
Pro tip: Try to bake the tops (the cookies with their center cut out) and the bottoms on their own sheet pans, as the tops tend to bake just a little faster.
Other Jams to Fill Linzer Cookies
You can fill these Linzer cookies with any jam or preserves you have on hand. Currant — either red or black — is traditional, but we chose raspberry here for its tartness. These are actually one of my favorite cookies to give friends who have gifted me their homemade preserves, using their gifted jams as the filling. Note that the cookies will get a little softer after they sit with the filling, so if you prefer a crisp cookie, assemble the sandwiches at the last minute.
Freezing Linzer Cookies
Linzer cookies require a bit more effort than sugar cookies, but they can be made well in advance and frozen. For best results, bake tops and bottoms of cookies as instructed, cool completely, and then freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 month. When ready to serve, bring the cookies to room temperature before filling and dusting with powdered sugar.
Assembled cookies can also be frozen, but may be a little softer than those freshly prepared. The jam will not freeze solid, so be sure to separate the cookies with a layer of parchment paper in the storage container. Be sure to thaw the cookies at room temperature before dusting with powdered sugar — otherwise the sugar will be absorbed by the cookies as they come to temperature.
How To Make Classic Linzer Cookies
What You Need
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) whole, skin-on almonds
2 1/4 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
1/2 cup (2 ounces) powdered sugar
Measuring cups and spoons
Food processor with blade attachment
Stand mixer with the paddle attachment
Fluted round nesting cutters in 2-inch, and 1-inch
- Toast the almonds: Toast the almonds in a small frying pan over medium heat until fragrant, stirring frequently, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a plate and cool completely, about 20 minutes.
- Make almond flour: Place the cooled almonds and 1/2 cup of the flour in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and process to a fine meal. Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups flour and salt, pulse to just combine, and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar: In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy and lightened in color, about 3 minutes. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and a large bowl.)
- Add the egg and vanilla: Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the egg and vanilla, return the mixer to medium speed, and beat until well-combined, about 1 minute.
- Add the flour: Stop again and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds.
- Divide the dough: Remove the bowl from the mixer and give the dough a few stirs with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom of the bowl, to ensure that all of the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions, about 4 1/2 ounces each.
- Chill the dough: Press each piece of dough into a 5x7-inch rectangle. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
- Roll the dough: Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, remove the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap. Sandwich the dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll out to 1/4-inch thick.
- Cut the cookie bottoms: Use a 2-inch fluted round cutter to cut as many rounds from the dough as possible. Place 12 rounds on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes. Repeat rolling and cutting the dough scraps, chilling the dough if it becomes too soft to get a clean cut. These rounds will be the bottoms of the cookies.
- Cut the cookie tops: Roll the remaining rectangle of dough out like the first. Use the 2-inch cutter to make rounds again, then use a 1-inch cutter to make a hole in the center of each round. Remove the center rounds (these can be baked off separately); these will be the tops of the cookies. Place the tops on another parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat rolling and cutting any dough and scraps and chill the cookie tops for 30 minutes.
- Heat the oven: While the cookies are chilling, arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat to 350°F.
- Bake the cookies: Bake the cookies until lightly golden-brown, 9 to 11 minutes. Cool completely before filling.
- Fill and decorate: Spread each cookie bottom with 1 teaspoon of raspberry jam and top with a cookie top. Use a fine-mesh strainer and sprinkle the tops of the cookies with powdered sugar just before serving.
- Freezing unassembled: Bake the tops and bottoms of the cookies as instructed, cool completely, and then freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 month. When ready to serve, bring the cookies to room temperature before filling and dusting with powdered sugar.
- Freezing assembled: The assembled cookies can also be frozen. Thaw at room temperature before dusting with powdered sugar. Just note that the jam will not freeze solid, so be sure to separate the assembled cookies with a layer of parchment paper in the storage container. Apply powdered sugar after thawing, as the cookies will absorb it as it thaws.