Linzer Augen (Linzer Eyes Or Linzer Cookies)
Why I Love This Recipe
These have become a Christmas staple for me, and replaced the cream cheese dough thumb print cookies, filled with preserves, I use to make. Everyone loves them. Traditionally these cookies are made with almonds and contain Red or Black Current preserves between the layers (just like a Linzer Torte) but you can mix it up a little. I am not an almond fan, so I tend to use hazelnuts instead, for a lot of recipes. Current preserves, aside from red current jelly, are a little hard to come by on the west coast so I have used Mint jelly, Seville Orange marmalade, Apricot jam, Seedless Raspberry jam and, when available, Huckleberry preserves as filling. You will need a Linzer Cookie cutter to make interesting window shapes, although you can use a 2 inch round cutter and a small 1/2 inch cutter to make a center window. The recipe that follows is how I make them, which yields slightly brown dough, if you replace the toasted hazelnuts/almonds with blanched almonds, you will get white dough. This is a personal preference, I like the contrast created by the darker dough, the color of the preserves and the dusting of powdered sugar.
This makes about 2 dozen, give or take a couple depending on your cutter size.
WARNING: This dough is extremely hard to work with, it's very sticky and very brittle due to it's high nut content. It will stick to your rolling pin and it will adhere to your board, even with a lot of flour.
It may be advisable to roll the dough out on your baking sheet, cut out rounds and just remove the excess. I still do it the hard way on a marble slab though, I have AirBake pans and I am a little leery of rolling dough out on them and warping the sheets.
Ingredients You'll Need
5 oz raw hazelnuts (about 1 cup) if you have hazelnut meal 5 oz is about 1 ¾ cups
1 cup of unsalted butter at room temp
2/3 cup sugar, divided
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/8 cups unbleached AP-Flour (King Arthur seems to work better than Gold Medal or Pillsbury)
1 tsp Baking Powder (Aluminum Free)
1 tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Mace
¼ tsp Coriander
The Zest of 1 Lemon
¼ tsp Kosher Salt
Confectioners Sugar/Powdered Sugar/Icing Sugar/C & H in the Blue Box
2/3 cup Black Current preserves or Raspberry if Black current is not available
Preheat the oven to 375. Toast the hazelnuts on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes.
Remove and move to a clean towel, Rub vigorously to remove as much of the skins as possible (The skins are bitter).
Set aside to cool completely;
Once cool, toss them in a food processor with 1 ½ TB of the sugar and pulse until finely ground. The oils in the hazelnuts must be completely cool before you attempt this although the sugar will absorb some of the oil, always pulse too, otherwise, even with the sugar present, you will still end up with Hazelnut butter, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it won’t work for this recipe.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add egg and beat about 3 minutes; add vanilla and mix some more.
In a separate bowl whisk Hazelnut meal, flour, baking powder, spices and salt.
Add to butter mixture and beat on low until combined;
Divide dough in 2 equal portions; flatten into disks, wrap in 2 layers of plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour, or over night.
Oven now at 350
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment (or a Silpat, although I have one, I still prefer parchment)
On a floured board or marble slab, roll out 1 of the disks to about 1/4 inch.
Cut as many 2 inch round cookies as possible.
Using a WELL floured spatula, move cookies to prepared sheets.
Use the 1/2 inch cutter to cut the centers out of half of the cookies.
Repeat with other disk of dough.
Combine scraps from both batches, re-roll dough and repeat again.
Bake until the edges just start to turn a little golden, about 12-15 minutes depending on your oven (Gas, Electric or Convection). These cookies are kind of touchy, like shortbread.
Place on racks until completely cool
Lightly sprinkle/sift/dust confectioners’ sugar over the windowed tops and set aside.
Spread about 2 tsp of preserves on the bottom of each solid cookie with an offset spatula.
Sandwich together with a windowed, sugar dusted top.
These must be kept refrigerated.