Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas baked in a Cookie

Earlier this week as E and I were driving very late in the night, we were gifted with an amazing light show piercing the night sky. Later on we found out that the year's best meteor shower occurs during this time of the year annually. If you have a chance to watch stars shooting madly in the sky, mark your calendars next year. You can go to NASA's website for more information.

As I was making Linzers, the glisten of the raspberry starry centers surrounded by white sprinkles reminded me of that sparkling night. To me nothing says Christmas more than twinkling lights, white fluffy snow and aromatic spices; that's just what Linzers are, Christmas baked in a cookie. So I think it would be most appropriate to share the recipe of such a special holiday cookie by non other than Nick Malgieri. The author has so kindly offered me the privilege to share a couple of recipes from his book "Cookies Unlimited". The other recipe quoted is for the Berner Hasselnuss found here. I am sure you have your own favourite Linzer recipe but if you don't, try this one. The crust surrounding the jam is tender and nutty, it's like eating tiny little raspberry tarts and it is as delicious as it looks.

Linzer Hearts
as written from Cookies Unlimited by kind permission of Nick Malgieri pg. 276

Though this recipe calls for ground hazelnuts, almonds or pecans will work just as well. And the raspberry jam that sandwiches the rich nut dough can be changed to apricot, which would be just as good.

Makes about 18 cookies

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
16 tablespoon (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 ounces (about 1 cup) whole blanched almonds, finely ground in the food processor
1 cup seedless raspberry jam
Confectioners' sugar for sprinkling

2 or 3 cookie sheets or jelly roll pans covered with parchment or foil

  1. In a bowl, combine the flour and spices, stir well to mix.
  2. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat together on medium speed the butter and sugar until soft and light, about 5 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and beat in the almonds and the flour and spice mixture, one at a time.
  3. Remove the bowl form the mixer and use a large rubber spatula to finish mixing the dough. Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and shape it into a rectangle about 1/2 inch think. Wrap and chill the dough until it is firm, about an hour, or up to several days.
  4. When you are ready to bake the cookies, set the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  5. Cut the dough into three parts and refrigerate two of them. Place one third on a floured surface and flour it lightly. Press and pound the dough gently with a rolling pin to soften it, then roll the dough about 1/4 inch think. Use a 2 1/2-to 3-inch heart-shaped cutter ( or any round one) to cut the dough. Place the cookies on the prepared pans, leaving about an inch around each in all directions. If you have a tiny heart-shaped cutter, use it to cut the center out of half the cookies, to make a "window" when they are sandwiched. Or use a small round cutter, or a pastry tube, or leave the cookies unpierced. Repeat with the remaining dough. Mass the scraps together and roll them once again to cut more cookies.
  6. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, or until they are a very pale golden color. Cool them on the pans on racks.
  7. While the cookies are baking, prepare the jam for the filling. Bring the jam to a simmer in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. Let the jam reduce until it has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.
  8. After the cookies have cooled, dust the pierced cookies lightly with the confectioners' sugar. Invert the nonpierced cookies and spread each with about 1/2 teaspoon of the reduced jam. Top with the pierced cookies, sugar side up. Use a small paper cone, a tiny spoon or the snipped corner of a nonpleated plastic bag to fill the window of the cookies with more reduced jam.
  9. Store the finished cookies between sheets of parchment or wax paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting cover.


Lucy December 20, 2009 at 12:48 PM  

Your cookies are beautiful and elegant. They look truly delicious!

Isabelle December 21, 2009 at 12:27 AM  

These are so adorable!

Sze Lin December 21, 2009 at 12:56 PM  

Thank you Lucy and Isabelle so much for your kind responses. If you try making them as they are truly delicious, let me know how it turns out.

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