The answer is yes, I do know how to cook, and I do enjoy it (and write about it as well), but baking and pastries will always have a special place in my heart. Cooking and baking are at the same time very different and very similar, but one thing that really sets dessert apart is the emphasis on aesthetics, which is one of the things I love about it. Savory foods can definitely be pleasing to the eye, but there really is no such thing as an ugly dessert. And these cookies right here? These cookies are adorable.
The tinier you make them, the more adorable they will be - and the more work. So find a happy balance for yourself on size. If you have the cutters, you can get creative with the center cut-outs - hearts, stars or just about anything (fondant cutters like these often work well). If you don't have tiny cutters, you can do what I did and use any piping tip to cut the center hole out.
You'll get the same cute look with a plain-old sugar cookie dough, but the classic linzer flavor profile is oh so delicious - ground hazelnuts, a touch of citrus zest and a sprinkle of cinnamon work together perfectly. One thing I love to add here is ground cloves - it's not the cheapest spice - about $5 for less than an ounce, but it adds such a punch of flavor that melds deliciously here.
Recipe: Makes about 4 dozen cookies
- 1 cup (200g) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest
- 1 cup (100g) ground hazelnuts or walnuts
- 2 1/2 cups (315g) flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/3 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup good-quality raspberry or strawberry jam
- Confectioner's sugar, for dusting
Chill the dough in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Roll the dough out to about 1/4" thick on a well-floured surface. Cut out as any fluted rounds as possible. In 50% of the rounds, cut a small center hole (can use a piping tip).
Bake the cookies on parchment-paper lined baking sheets at 350 F for 8-10 minutes, until the edges are turning golden brown. Let cool completely.
Spread the bottom cookies with a thin layer of jam, without spreading it all the way to edges, otherwise it will ooze out. Top with a cut-out cookie, and sift confectioner's sugar over the finished sandwich cookies.