Thursday, June 09, 2005

Cooking School: Linzer Cookies

Officially, I am now a certified baker. Or at least I have a diploma. My class is over, but there are many things that I learned that I haven't been able to cover here, so I would like to continue this series and try, every Thursday, to post tips that I learned in class or new baking methods that I have researched. I plan to tackle new topics from Baking with Julia, the book that accompanied my class, and other sources.
Our final class dealt with cookies. While our instructor baked some fabulous looking chocolate chip cookies for her son, we baked butterscotch cookies and linzer cookies.
The linzer cookies are shown above and were proclaimed by many to be the best cookies they have ever eaten. For me, it's a toss up between these and the palmiers.
These linzer cookies are easy to make because the whole dough can be prepared in the food processor. Start well in advance because the dough will need to chill for at least 6 hours before you roll it out. You can freeze the unrolled dough for a couple of weeks, too, so this is great to prepare in advance of a party. The cookies are fantastic!
The dough for these linzer cookies is quite sticky, so you will have to flour your worksurface liberally and chill the dough. I found it helpful to divide the dough as I rolled it and keep all extra pieces in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes. A spatula or a bench scraper will help you move the dough from your worksurface to your baking sheet. You can see that I took the time to create small lattice tops for my cookies, but it is easier to simply use a smaller round cutter and create a hole in the center of each round. You can reroll the scraps several times, so you don't have to waste any of the dough, either.

Linzer Cookies
1 1/2 cups ap flour
1 1/4 cups hazelnuts (toasted and peeled is optimal, but you can use Hazelnut Meal, too)
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp dutch process cocoal powder
Zest of 1 lemon (1 tbsp)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
14 tablespoons butter, softened
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp lemon juice

Filling: 1/2-3/4 cup good raspberry preserves

In a food processor, process flour and hazelnuts into a fine powder. Add sugar, cocoal, lemon zest, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture is crumbly.
In a small bowl, stir together yolks and lemon juice. Add to flour mixture and pulse until dough comes together. Divide dough into two discs, cover well with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight (or freeze 1-2 hours, until firm).

Preheat oven to 350F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Working with 1/4 or 1/2 of the dough at a time, roll out on a well-floured surface, dusting the top of the dough with flour, until it is 1/4 inch thick. Using a 2 inch round cookie cutter, cut out rounds and arrange on your baking sheet. Cookies will not spread much. Using a smaller round cutter, remove a circle from 1/2 of your cookie rounds (these will provide the cookie tops). Combine scraps and reroll until all dough is used.
Bake for approximately 12 minutes, until cookies are just starting to brown at the edges (you may need an additional minute or two depending on the thickness of your cookies). Cool completely on baking sheets.

When cookies are completely cool, spread an uncut round with preserves and top with a cut round. Store in an airtight container and dust with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Makes 2 1/2 - 3 dozen.