Heart-melting linzer cookies

Linzer cookies contain the perfect bite of jelly, powdered sugar and buttery shortbread. To dazzle the taste buds this Valentine’s Day, this twist on the recipe transforms the traditional circle-shaped linzer cookie into its geometric cousin: a heart! 

According to the Joy of Baking, Linzer cookies were formally named “Linzertorte’s” when created in Linz, Austria in the 1700s. Classic Linzer’s are infused with ground nuts, which grants them with an extra layer of flavor in each bite. 

Before gathering ingredients to make heart-shaped Linzer’s, bakers must be aware their prep time could take up to two to four hours. This is because the cookie dough must be chilled for at least two hours, and when rolling and cutting the cookies, they become warm very quickly. If the heater is on, bakers may need to roll and cut the dough quickly, then immediately place the scraps from that round of cutting back into the fridge for 10 to 20 minutes. 

When cutting the cookie dough, if the hearts are not keeping their shape and start morphing into puffy-looking blobs, that means it’s time to place the dough back in the fridge. This may seem tedious, but it is well worth taking the time in order to create this heart-melting and mouth-watering Valentine’s treat.

Prepping the cookies:

To begin making the Linzer’s, measure and place the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into a medium-sized bowl and set it aside. Next, grab the walnuts and place them in an air-tight gallon bag – if there is a reusable one in the house, those work great, but a good ‘ol fashioned Ziploc works too. Then, seal them inside the bag and mash them into bits with a rolling pin or sturdy cup, until they become fine. They should have the consistency of sand, creating a sort of walnut meal. Then set those aside as well. 

If a baker has a food processor on hand, they can use that to grind the walnuts. Also, the walnuts can be substituted with unseasoned almonds or pecans – bakers can try this out with virtually any nut they have on hand, as long as the nut creates the sand-like consistency when ground up. 

After measuring out the dry ingredients, begin to work on the wet. Add the butter and sugars into a large bowl – or stand mixer if you have one. Cream them together until light and fluffy. This should take about a minute or so. Next, add in the egg and vanilla extract and cream for another minute or so until combined.

Once the wet ingredients come together, add the walnut meal and dry ingredient mixture into the large bowl, slowly. Mix together until the dough forms. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is incorporated well.

Form the dough into a 6-inch disc and place inside an air-tight container or plastic wrap, then place it in the refrigerator for at least two hours. It can be left inside the refrigerator for up to two days or in the freezer for up to a month. 

Baking

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. After letting the dough chill, take it out of the refrigerator and cut it in half, leaving one half out and placing the other back in the refrigerator. 

Sprinkle flour on a hard surface abundantly, then place the dough on top of the floured surface. Add flour to a rolling pin – or a sturdy cup – and on top of the dough as well. Then, roll the dough into a rectangle of about ⅙ to ⅛ inches thick. 

Use cookie cutters to cut the dough into 12 hearts. Cut an additional circle or a smaller heart inside of six of the hearts. These will be used as the top of the Linzer. 

Place on a greased baking sheet or silpat and bake for ten minutes. When finished, let them cool on the cookie sheet for ten minutes or so and then transfer them onto a cooling rack or cold plate. Repeat this process with the second half of the dough. 

As previously stated, the dough can become warm very quickly. If the rolled-out dough is losing its shape and becomes hard to deal with, pop it back into the fridge for a few minutes and then try cutting the cookies out again. If offering lots of love to the cookies when baking them, the cuter they will look when finished. 

Assembly:

After cooling the cookies for about an hour or so, it’s time to decorate. This is where the magic happens!

Spread a thick layer of jelly on the base hearts – these do not have the additional circle cut out of them. Then, dust powdered sugar on the top hearts, that do have the circle cut out of them. Once covered in powdered sugar, place the top hearts onto the bases, and voilà – the cookies are ready to eat.

Creating these adorable Linzers is a fun and crafty activity to pass the time during quarantine. They can be used as Valentine’s Day gifts for significant others, family, friends and most importantly, for oneself. 

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 oz strawberry or raspberry jam, seedless

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