Not just because it’s Valentines Day… but because I’m a romantic and I’ll take any excuse to bake something in the shape of the heart!
Today it’s Linzer Sables by Dorie Greenspan, courtesy of one of my favourite foodie blogs Lottie + Doof. Dorie is a baking goddess and I’m adding to my growing cook book collection with her book Baking, From My Home To Yours. Check out her blog to vicariously live her foodie adventures through New York and Paris… I can only dream.
Apart from looking delightful with their peek-a-boo jam centre and generous dusting of powdered sugar, Linzar Sables are typically and Austrian Christmas cookie (think stained glass window and snow) with a long and decadent history. These cookies stem from the Linzer Torte (‘torte’ meaning ‘cake’ in German), which is basically a tart made with nuts and flour and filled with jam, then baked until bubbling… is your mouth watering? Mine was just writing that!
Traditionally the Austrian’s fill it with red currant jam but most cooks/recipes around the world now use raspberry jam, and preferably the homemade kind. During the Christmas season, Linzer Tortes are the centre piece in the windows of Austrian and German bakeries.
The Linzer Torte recipe, is the oldest known written recipe in history, with a copy of it found in the Veronese Admont Abbey’s journals, dated 1653. It wasn’t until the cake was mass produced by an industrious baker in the town of Linz in Austria in the early 1800s, that it became known as the Linzer Torte.
These cookies were super easy to make (although you do need a few hours to chill the pasty completely). Lovely buttery, nutty, spicy biscuit sandwiches filled with sweet sticky jam – and I’m sticking with tradition and using homemade cherry jam. Cut them in any shape you like – the fluted edge biscuits cutters always look nice, but I’m taking this opportunity to get out my heart shape biscuit cutters… see the love, taste the love.
Makes: 20 sandwich cookies; Prep time: 15 minutes (plus 2 hours refrigeration); Cook time: 13 minutes
1 ½ cups finely ground almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 large egg
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ cup raspberry jam or strained apricot jam plus 1 tsp water
– Whisk together the ground nuts, flour, cinnamon, salt, and cloves. Using a fork, stir the egg and water together in a small bowl.
– Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the egg mixture and beat for 1 minute more. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the dough. Don’t work the dough too much once the flour is incorporated. If the dough comes together but some dry crumbs remain in the bottom of the bowl, stop the mixer and finish blending the ingredients with a rubber spatula or your hands.
– Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, put the dough between two large sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap. Using your hands, flatten the dough into a disk, then grab a rolling pin and roll out the dough, turning it over frequently so that the paper doesn’t cut into it, until it is about 6mm thick. Leave the dough in the paper and repeat with the second piece of dough. Transfer the wrapped dough to a baking sheet or cutting board (to keep it flat) and refrigerate or freeze it until it is very firm, about 2 hours in the refrigerator or 45 minutes in the freezer. The rolled-out dough can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or the freezer for up to 2 months. – Preheat oven to 190’C. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
– Peel off the top sheet of waxed paper from one piece of dough and, using a 5cm round cookie cutter—cut out as many cookies as you can. If you want to have a peekaboo cutout, use the end of a piping tip to cut out a very small circle from the centers of half the cookies. Transfer the rounds to the baking sheets, leaving a little space between the cookies. – Bake the biscuits one sheet at a time for 11 to 13 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden, dry, and just firm to the touch. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to room temperature.
– Repeat with the second disk of dough, making sure to cool the baking sheets between batches. – Place the jam in a small saucepan or in a microwaveable bowl and stir in the 1 teaspoon water. Bring to a boil over low heat or in the microwave. Let the jam cool slightly, then turn half of the cookies flat side up and place about 1/2 teaspoon jam in the center of each cookie; sandwich with the remaining cookies.
– Just before serving, dust with icing sugar.