Sunday, December 19, 2010
Raspberry and Lemon Linzers
Sometimes I like to pretend that I don't have a job (Amy you should ignore this statement). That all I have to worry about is what new thing I will bake or cook. And this blog is my creative outlet to document my adventures and misadventures in the kitchen. It's true, this blog is my creative outlet. But I do indeed have a job (though I don't mention it much here in this forum). I spent much of this past week traveling for work and putting out fires as this month is our absolute busiest time of year. I am almost a week behind in posting here so you'll see a few posts go up one after another as I want to share these in time for the holidays.
The linzer. It's my favorite holiday cookie to eat. I can't say it's my favorite to make. There are quite a few steps involved...but the effort is worth the end result. After all...these really only make an appearance in my kitchen once a year. Plus I was able to incorporate a few new tips this year to make things just a tiny bit easier.
Making the dough is really simple. It has just a few ingredients and comes together quickly in a stand mixer. I dump out the dough onto plastic wrap and form it in a large square about 2 inches thick. I then cut it into quarters and form each section into a 6-7 inch circle that is about 3/4 inch thick. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 45 minutes to an hour.
The next step is rolling the dough out to cut with a cookie cutter. The dough should be firm but still have a little bit of give when you press into it. Meaning it shouldn't be so firm that it can't be rolled out without cracking around the edges. You may need to let it sit out for 10-15 minutes before it's ready. Only take out 1-2 discs at a time.
Get out the flour and 2 large pieces of parchment paper about 12 x 18 inches.
Unwrap the first disc and place it on a lightly floured piece of parchment. Generously flour each side of the disc. Place the second piece of parchment on top of the dough. Begin rolling the dough out from the center with your rolling pin until it's 1/8 inch thick. Place the rolled out dough (parchment and all) on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes (the longer is ok too...you want it to get nice and firm). This method makes the cookies easy to cut and peel back from the parchment to place on a prepared baking sheet.
The parchment dough rolling method is new to me this year and has really taken a great deal of frustration out of the process. Dough can be difficult to work with. In past years I rolled out the dough on my counter top and it often resulted in me not being able to pull up the cookie once it was cut. Parchment is a genius kitchen accessory! In fact I buy pre-cut sheets in bulk from a local restaurant supply store that is open to the public (a great resource to check out in your local area).
Remove the top piece of parchment and begin cutting out your cookies. I made bite sized linzers and used a 1 1/4 inch scalloped cookie cutter. Place the cut cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once all your cookies are cut out, gather the dough scraps together and form them into a ball and set aside to combine with the scraps from the next disk of dough.
Now the cookies are ready for an egg wash and almond sugar topping. The egg whites should be whisked until they are frothy.
The almonds are finely ground in food processor (I like to use my Mini Prep) with granulated sugar.
Brush each cookie with egg wash.
And sprinkle the almond sugar topping on each cookie.
Half the cookies need a little window cut out of the top to showcase the filling. I use a micro diamond shaped cutter for these.
This is the second tip that I just figured out this year. That's not actually true. Let's step back to last year. My sister was staying with us and helping me bake. I cut the windows out and then did the egg wash and topping step. This makes for cut outs that are jagged and sometimes grow together to fill in the space when the cookies bake. After they cooled, I would spend time hollowing them out with a toothpick. It was a not so fun step in the process and often resulted in broken cookies (and I had been doing it this way for a few years). My sister casually said why don't you put the topping on the cookie and THEN cut out the window? I stared back at her a bit dumbfounded. I had no answer. So guess how I do it now? Thanks Katie!
Bake for 8-10 minutes. Once cooled group the cookies together on the baking sheet and generously dust with powdered sugar.
Now the fun part! Filling. I use seedless raspberry preserves and lemon curd (both from Dickinson's). Place several heaping spoonfuls of filling in a ziploc bag and squish around a bit to get the juices flowing. Snip off a small corner to and pipe a generous portion onto the bottom cookie.
Top with a window cookie and then eat one immediately so you can taste the fruits of your labor.
These keep well for at least 3 days at room temperature in a sealed container. In fact, I think these cookies get even better after 1 or 2 days. They almost melt in your mouth.
Raspberry or Lemon Sandwich Cookies (also known as Linzers)
Adapted from Jay Crowley's recipe published in the Chicago Tribune around 2002
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
2/3 cup of sugar plus 1/2 cup of sugar
2 eggs, separated
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup ground blanched almonds (I just grind the almonds in my mini food processor)
(I like the Dickinson's brand for both)
1. Beat butter in bowl of electric mixer on medium until fluffy. Add in 2/3 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time. Combine flour and salt in a small bowl and then add to butter mixture. Beat just until dough comes together. Divide dough into 4 sections and pat into a circle about 1 inch thick. Cover each section in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar with the almonds and set aside.
2. Heat oven to 375. Remove 1 section of dough and roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness between two large pieces of floured parchment paper. Place the dough back on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes (if not longer). Remove top piece of parchment and cut into rounds with a 1-2 inch cookie cutter (you can use any size or shape) and place on a parchment lined baking sheet 1/4 inch apart (cookies don't really increase in size much so they can be placed close together). Repeat with remaining sections of dough.
3. Beat egg whites in a small bowl until frothy. Brush all the cookies with the egg whites and sprinkle almond/sugar mixture on top of each cookie. If you want to cut a decorative hole out of the tops of each cookie (so the jam can be seen) do it after you top the cookies with the almond sugar mixture. Remember to save whole rounds for the bottoms. Bake until very lightly browned, about 8-10 min. Cool on a wire rack.
4. Dust cookies with powdered sugar. Spread raspberry preserves or lemon curd on the bottom cookies and top with decorative cookie tops. Sometimes I make these without the decorative holes in the top to save time and an extra step.