Moravian Spiced Linzer Cookies

published Dec 3, 2021
Moravian Linzer Cookies Recipe

These delicate sandwich cookies are just as pretty as they are tasty.

Makes40 (2 1/2-inch) cookies

Prep2 hours

Cook40 minutes

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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: JoJo Li

This recipe is from our Cookie Time Machine — a trip through the most iconic cookies of the past 10 decades, paired with 10 fresh twists for right now. Click here to see the most important cookies of the 1920s through today — and gaze forward with our Cookie of the Future!

Moravian spice cookies are super-thin molasses cookies that many consider to be the “world’s thinnest cookie” — and having rolled out quite a few myself, that group includes me (more on that later). They are primarily served around Christmas in places with large Moravian communities, such as Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

And when researching Moravian cookies — as one is wont to do when giving them an updated Linzer twist — one thing that becomes clear almost immediately is that folks rarely make them from scratch. Not because they do not adore them (because they do!), but because there are so many wonderful bakeries that sell them, and because rolling out the world’s thinnest cookie, until it is paper-thin, is no easy task.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: JoJo Li

But I have done it and am eager to share my (hard-earned) tips with you. First, be patient — believe it or not, rolling out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper, as I recommend you do, is not actually difficult unless you rush (which yes, I tried and no, it wasn’t pretty). Second, your refrigerator (or freezer) is your friend! Take advantage of it and periodically refrigerate or freeze the sheets of parchment-covered dough when the dough softens too much to make cutting easier. And if the dough softens and rips, just re-roll; the dough is very forgiving. Third, give yourself a break and cut the cookies into squares or rectangles, as opposed to circles, as removing the scraps (which is tricky with this thin, sticky dough that quickly softens) from the circles is a little more tasking. For the windowpane cut-out, keep that shape simple, too. Squares, circles, or diamonds are good choices for creating that cute little window into the tasty jam beneath.

The Classic

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: JoJo Li

For the classic 1970s cookie recipe, check out Moravian Christmas Cookies.

Our Three Most-Loved Cookie-Baking Tools

Before you preheat the oven, gear up with these cookie-making essentials.

  • The Sheet Pan Every Kitchn Editor Owns: This sturdy, won’t-ever-warp pan is great for cranking out a ton of picture-perfect sweets. Bonus: It comes in great colors, which makes baking even more fun.
  • Our Tried-and-Tested Favorite Cooling Rack: We love these racks for their criss-cross design, which adds stability, makes sure your precious treats won’t slip though, and prevents the rack from wobbling or warping.
  • The Little Spatula That Every Baker Needs: This thin-but-sturdy spatula is great for gently loosening your cookies from the pan and transferring them to the cooling rack. It’s particularly handy for moving small or delicate treats.

Moravian Linzer Cookies Recipe

These delicate sandwich cookies are just as pretty as they are tasty.

Prep time 2 hours

Cook time 40 minutes

Makes 40 (2 1/2-inch) cookies

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 2 1/2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground cloves

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 2/3 cup

    molasses (not blackstrap)

  • 1/3 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • About 2/3 cup regular or seedless blackberry jam

  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  1. Place 1 stick unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Let sit at room temperature until softened.

  2. Place 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

  3. Add 2/3 cup molasses and 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar to the bowl of butter. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until fluffy, scraping the bowl with a flexible spatula as needed, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture and beat until just a few streaks of flour remain. Mix by hand with a flexible spatula until the flour is just incorporated.

  4. Divide the dough into 4 portions (about 6 ounces each). Place 1 portion between 2 sheets of parchment paper (the same size as a baking sheet) and roll out as thin as you can. Slide the dough, still between parchment, onto a baking sheet and refrigerate or freeze. Repeat rolling out the remaining portions of dough, stacking them on top of the first portion. Refrigerate or freeze until the dough is firm, at least 30 minutes if refrigerated or 15 minutes if frozen (or up to overnight -- wrap the baking sheet in plastic wrap first).

  5. Place one sheet of dough on a work surface and remove the top parchment. Cut out cookies with a 2 1/2-inch wide cookie cutter, spacing them about 1/4-inch apart. Do not remove the scraps. Using a 1-inch cookie cutter, cut the middles out of only half the cookies. Again, do not separate the cookies or remove the scraps. Replace the top sheet of parchment. Slide the sheet of cookies back onto the baking sheet in the refrigerator or freezer, placing it at the bottom.

  6. Repeat cutting shapes out of the remaining 3 sheets of dough. Refrigerate or freeze until the dough is firm again, about 30 minutes if refrigerated and 15 minutes if frozen. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF.

  7. Place one sheet of dough on a work surface and remove the top parchment. Using your fingers or a paring knife, detach and remove the scraps that surround the cookies, and remove the scraps from the center cut outs. Set the scraps aside. Slide the cookies, still on the parchment, onto a baking sheet.

  8. Bake the cookies until they darken and are firm to the touch, 6 to 8 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Repeat separating and baking the remaining sheets of cookies, using cooled baking sheets for each batch.

  9. Gather the dough scraps and form into a ball. Re-roll between 2 sheets of parchment. Refrigerate or freeze again until firm before cutting more shapes out and baking.

  10. If you mistakenly pull the cookies out of the oven too early and they are a tad bendy, bake them for a few extra minutes (they are very forgiving), as you want them to be crispy and stiff. You can even do this the next day if you choose to wait to fill them and they soften overnight.

  11. Flip the cookies without the cutouts over, then spread about 1 teaspoon blackberry jam onto each of those cookies. Arrange the cookies with the cutouts next to each other and dust generously with powdered sugar. Place a powdered sugar cookie onto each bottom half to make a sandwich cookie.

Recipe Notes

Storage: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.