Linzers – A Labor of Love

I actually started this post a bit before Christmas, but with the holidays, family and travel… well, I got a bit distracted, so just pretend this in a few weeks ago.  Thanks!

Now that it is firmly December, I feel comfortable writing a Christmas post.  My family has a bunch of cookie recipes that remain dormant until the holiday season.  But come November, my mom starts stockpiling all of our favorites.  We go through a staggering amount of butter, sugar and flour, and I think we do it with a certain amount of pride.

My parents came to visit recently, and my mom was nice enough to help me make a batch of linzers.  She always claimed that they were a tremendous pain to make, but as someone who’s never had to make them, I was sure she was exaggerating.  She wasn’t.  This is the single most annoying and frustrating cookie recipe I have ever made.  It’s a darn good thing they taste so good.

Linzer Cookies

¾ pound (3 sticks) sweet unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
2 cups pecans, finely chopped

  1. Cream butter and 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg and mix well.
    Linzers - ButterYes, that’s a lot of butter.  Yes, it tastes like it.  Yes, it’s delicious.
  2. Sift together the flour and cornstarch; add to creamed mixture and blend well.  Mix pecans in thoroughly.
    Linzers - Dough
  3. Gather dough into a ball, wrap in wax paper, and chill for 4 to 6 hours.
  4. Roll dough out to ¼ inch thickness.  Use cookie cutters to cut out cookies and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Chill cookies for 45 minutes. 

    This is the step that will make you question whether this recipe is worth the trouble, and will probably lead to swearing, so look out if there are children around.  Because this is such a high butter dough, it will soften very quickly, so unless you have your very own chilled marble slab in your kitchen, you will need to work fast.  It works best if you split the dough into smaller batches (3 or 4) and roll it out between pieces of parchment.  Chilling is a must, don’t be afraid to do it often.I would recommend the following: roll the dough – chill – cut the dough – chill – transfer the cut dough to the cookie sheet – chill – bake.
    Linzers - Rolling

    As you can see, there’s a lot of chilling.  It doesn’t have to be for too long: 5-10 minutes should be enough.  Just make sure it’s solid enough to work with.  Because there are so many breaks in the process, it works best to work in batches, so one batch is rolled and chilling while you cut a previously rolled and chilled batch.  Make sure you have room in your freezer before you start.

  5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Bake cookies for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are evenly and lightly browned. 
    Linzers - BakingRemove and cool on a rack.
    Linzers - CoolingThe cookies on the left will become the bottom of the sandwich, those on the right will be the top (so you can see the jam).
  6. While they are still warm, spread the bottom cookie with raspberry preserves.  Sprinkle the top cookies with powdered sugar.
    Linzers - Jam
  7. Sandwich and enjoy!  Share if you want, but I imagine after this amount of work, you will be sure to only give them to people who are worth it.Linzers - Finished

These freeze well, so you can make them ahead of time.  Store them in airtight containers, with wax paper between layers.  Be sure to let them come to room temperature to really enjoy the taste and texture.

Happy Holidays, and have a great 2013!

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