These cookies can be traced all the way back to the year 1653, in Linz, Austria. Traditionally they were made from dough consisting of ground almonds, lemon zest and a dash of cinnamon. The fragrant dough was made into a lattice-topped torte, with sweet black currant jam sandwiched between two layers. Later someone, most likely in a hurry, thought to bake the same ingredients into a cookie. They rolled the dough thin, stamped it out with a round cutter, baked them, filled them with jam and dusted the top with confectioners’ sugar. The top cookie had a hole in it to allow the jam to seductively poke through, also known as the Linzer Eye.
I use toasted hazelnuts, in place of the almonds, and bright red raspberry jam. Leave some of the skins on the hazelnuts to add a deeper flavor and color to the dough. I kept the shape traditional, but have made these same cookies with every shape cookie cutter I own; stars for the Fourth of July and hearts on Valentines Day! You can also get creative with what you put between the layers; nutella, melted chocolate, apple butter or even ice cream.
- Before grinding the nuts I roll them between my fingers to remove some of the skins, but not all. I like the look and flavor of the dough when some of the skins are left on.
- In a food processor, grind the nuts and 1/3 cup sugar until they are a very fine powder. Adding a bit of the sugar prevents the nuts from becoming a paste. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the cake flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside
- In a stand mixer, beat together the butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy on medium speed, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla and zest; beat until incorporated. Add the flour and mix just until the dough comes together.
- Separate the dough into two disks and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling out. The dough can be frozen for up to a month.
- Roll the dough out on a well-floured surface to ¼ -inch thick rectangle. As the dough warms up it will get sticky, so be sure to use plenty of flour. Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to cut the dough. You can reroll the dough that is left as scraps.
- Use a small 1/2 -inch cutter or a large round decorating tip to create the hole in half of the cookies.
- Bake them for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown. Let the cookies cool on a rack.
- Put 2 teaspoons of the raspberry jam on each of the cookies without the holes. Dust the cookies with the holes with confectioners’ sugar.
- Sandwich the two cookies together, so the jam comes through the hole.
Zoë François, author of “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” and “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day“, studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. She now calls Minneapolis her home, where she has worked with some of the top talent in the culinary world — Steven Brown, Andrew Zimmern and many chefs at the D’Amico company. In addition to writing, Zoë teaches baking classes and consults at restaurants, and she maintains her baking blog, zoebakes.com. Her third book comes out in October, “Artisan Pizza and Flatbreads in Five Minutes a Day.”