Linzer Augen (Linzer Eyes or Linzer Tarts or Linzer Cookies)
* 1 cup slivered or sliced almonds (blanched or toasted)
* 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1 egg yolk
* 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4-1/2 cup black currant preserves or seedless raspberry preserves
* confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Finely grind the almonds in a food processor, using short pulses. (It may help to put some of the granulated sugar you will be using in with the nuts as you are pulsing them. The sugar will absorb some of the oil that is produced helping to prevent it from becoming almond paste.)
In a large bowl, beat the butter on high speed with an electric mixer until fluffy and pale. Add the granulated sugar and continue beating until combined. Reduce the speed to low. Add the egg yolk, lemon zest, vanilla and almond extracts and beat until blended.
Sift together the flour, cinnamon and salt into another bowl. Add the ground almonds and stir to blend.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low speed or stir with a spoon until blended. The dough should be soft.
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Divide the dough into four equal portions and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with Reynolds parchment paper.
Remove 1 portion of the dough at a time from the refrigerator. Place dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper and roll out 1/4 inch thick.
Using a cookie cutter or glass about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, cut out the cookies. Using a 1 1/4-inch cutter (or a bottle cap!), cut a hole in the center of only half of the cookies.
Repeat with the remaining portions of dough, then re-roll the dough scraps as needed to make 24 cutouts total, cutting holes in half of them.
If the dough becomes sticky, wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze for 10 minutes before rolling out.
Using a thin spatula, carefully transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are firm to the touch, about 12 minutes.
Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks. Loosen the cookies with the spatula, but leave the cookies on the sheets until thoroughly cooled.
To assemble, spread the solid cookies with a thin layer (about 1 tsp.) of preserves to within about 1/4 inch of the edges. Top the solid cookies with the cutout cookies.
Dust the cookies generously with confectioners’ sugar and fill the hole with more jam.
Pairs Well With
This is my late Austrian grandmother's recipe, a little updated; she made the most amazing cookies at Christmas time. She would bake dozens and dozens and then store them in an extra unheated bedroom, in cardboard gift boxed lined with foil. Note: She used Black Currant preserves in these cookies; if you can't find it, use the more American accepted filling of Seedless Raspberry Jam. (This recipe makes only one dozen cookies, so you may want to double, triple or quadruple!)