- Cooking Time: 8-9 minutes
- Preparation Time: 40 minutes total
- • ½ tsp baking powder
- • 2 ¾ cups sifted all-purpose flour
- • ½ tsp table salt
- • 3 oz cream cheese, softened
- • 1 cup (8 oz, or 2 sticks) butter, softened
- • 1 cup sugar
- • 1 large egg
- • 1 tbsp grated lemon rind
- • ½ cup almonds, ground
- • 12 oz raspberry preserves
- • Confectioner’s sugar
1. Sift flour, salt and baking powder. Beat butter, cream cheese, sugar and egg until light and fluffy in a standing electric mixer, 1-2 minutes. Add the flour mixture to the cream cheese mixture and mix until combined. Best to add in a few batches, stirring just until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once to make sure it’s all getting mixed. Add almonds and lemon rind and stir to incorporate.
2. Turn the mixture (which will be sticky) onto wax paper; shape into a disk, and wrap. Don’t use plastic wrap, as it may be too sticky and won’t release properly. Chill the dough for several hours.
3. Preheat oven to 350° F.
4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap. Divide the dough evenly into two chunks. Roll out each piece of dough to ⅛-inch thickness.
5. For the first sheet of dough: cut out 3” diameter circles using a cookie or biscuit cutter. These are the tartlet bottoms.
6. For the second sheet of dough: cut out an equal number of 3” diameter circles as from the first batch. Then cut a smaller circle out of the middle to form a ring. These rings are the tartlet tops.
7. Gather up the leftover dough and repeat. If the dough is too sticky, pop it back in the refrigerator until it is workable again.
8. Place all cut out cookies on cookie trays lined with parchment. Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool thoroughly on racks or brown paper.
9. Heat the raspberry preserves until pliable, almost a sauce consistency. Make a sandwich of bottom cookie, thin spread of preserves, and top cookie. Sprinkle all with confectioner’s sugar.
This recipe isn’t hard to make, it just takes time. I suggest setting up a little cookie factory, definitely for the final assembly but also for the rolling/cutting/panning phase, too. It’ll go faster and you’ll get into a rhythm. And again, this is one of those recipes that might seem a little labor intensive, but consider: you can make the dough and then chill it for a couple of days (just make sure to wrap it tightly in plastic if you plan on leaving it in the refrigerator for more than a couple of hours). Likewise, after rolling/cutting/panning, you could refrigerate the unbaked cookies until ready to go. Or you could bake and cool, and then store the unassembled cookie pieces in an airtight tin until ready to assemble, up to a day ahead of time. You have options to make this recipe over a period of days.
The second batch of cookies made from the leftover dough will likely be not as tender as the first batch, but I've never heard anyone complain. Keeping the dough chilled will help you not only roll and cut, but also getting the cut cookies off the board and onto the sheet pan. If sticking is still an issue, even after chilling, go ahead and dust your work surface with a little flour. Originally, this recipe called for putting the cookies directly on an ungreased cookie sheet. There’s a good bit of fat in this dough, what with the butter and the cream cheese, and getting the finished cookies off the baking tray usually was not an issue. But nowadays, I put parchment down everywhere. It’s just easier. This way you can slide the cookies off the hot tray to cool so they won't overcook from the residual heat. These aren’t supposed to turn a deep brown color, and you don’t want them to burn.
You can use just about any type of preserves here (jam, jelly, you name it), but the raspberry has always been traditional in my family. Why? I don’t know; I don’t even really know how this recipe came to be in my family. But it totally works – it’s a great blend of tart, sweet, and fruity, and the winy-purple color is a great offset to the light cookie and the white of the powdered sugar. Likewise, if you wanted, you could substitute grated orange rind and poppy seeds for the lemon and almonds here. Or just swap out an equal amount of another ground nut, like pecans.
I remember my mother having a round cookie cutter with fluted edges (like you’d see on a tart pan, the kind with a removable bottom). We used that for the cookies, and then we’d just cut a smaller circle out of half for the tops. It gave the cookie the look of a flower, especially with the raspberry center popping out. If you’ve got something like that, great – more power to you. But if not, I suggest you go out and invest in a multi-size set of biscuit cutters. They come in a tin, 8 or 10 of them nestled inside of one another. They don’t cost much, and you can use them for cookies, biscuits, and a variety of other things. But if push comes to shove, two empty tin cans will work; just make sure one’s smaller than the other in diameter, and that they’re both thoroughly washed. Nothing would ruin the holidays quicker than if some residual tuna fell off the can into the cookie dough.
It's a multi-staged recipe. The technique isn't difficult, but it requires a bit of effort in terms of cutting all the cookies. The second batch of cookies made from the leftover dough will likely be not as tender as the first batch, but I've never heard anyone complain. And if you think you might have trouble getting the cookies off the tray and onto brown paper or a cooling rack, use parchment - this way you can slide the cookies off the hot tray to cool so they won't overcook from the residual heat.