Heart Shaped Linzer Nut Cookies with Raspberry Jam
Linzer cookies are based on the famous Linzertorte - a delicious tart made using a rich buttery dough with ground nuts, lemon zest, and cinnamon. It is one of the oldest known tart recipes, discovered in an Austrian abbey that dates back to 1653. The tart is traditionally filled with black currant preserves and topped with a lattice crust. In the States, raspberry has replaced black currant as the jam of choice. Linzer cookies employ the same recipe as the Linzertorte but instead the dough is cut into cookies and two of them form a sandwich with the preserves. Many years ago, when I was working long hours on a television show in NYC, my friend Michele stopped by my office and surprised me with a box of homemade heart-shaped Linzer cookies. It’s still a favorite Valentine’s Day memory – make some for your Valentine this year, it will make a lasting impression.
2-1/2 oz. (1/2 cup) sliced almonds
2-1/2 oz. (1/2 cup) coarsely chopped pecans or skinned hazelnuts
9-1/2 oz. (2 cups plus 1 Tbs.) all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon (1-2 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
7 oz. (14 Tbs.) chilled unsalted butter
1 large egg
11/2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup raspberry preserves
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
1. In a food processor, process the nuts with 1/2 cup of the flour until fine textured but not powdered. (To avoid overprocessing, stop the machine occasionally and feel the nuts; they may look like they’re still chunky, but they may actually just be clumping together.) Add the remaining flour, granulated sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Pulse mixture to combine.
2. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes and add to the flour mixture; pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal, about 8 one-second pulses. Don’t over-process. Transfer to a large bowl.
3. Whisk together the egg and water; sprinkle over the flour mixture and toss gently to combine. The dough should hold together when pinched. (If it seems dry, sprinkle on a bit more water.) Gather the dough into two balls and knead briefly just to blend. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, 2 to 3 hours.
1. Heat the oven to 325°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment.
2. Generously flour a work surface. Roll one ball of the dough to about ¼-inch thick. (Keep the rest in the refrigerator, and if the dough warms up to the point of being sticky while you’re working with it, return it to the refrigerator.) Cut out as many 2-1/2-inch hearts as possible, rerolling the scraps to make more hearts. Arrange on the cookie sheets about 3/4 inch apart. Cut 1-1/4-inch hearts in the center of half the rounds. Reroll these center scraps to make more cookies.
3. Bake until the edges are lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool on the sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough.
To assemble, spread a heaping 1/2 tsp. preserves on the underside of the whole cookie hearts. Using a wire-mesh sieve, sprinkle the cut-out heart tops with powdered sugar. Place on top of jam covered hearts.