While I was growing up, my family didn't du much Christmas decorating during December. We saved that for Christmas Eve. However, we did bake up a storm in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Gingerbread, sugar cookies, "Linzer Augen" and a half dozen other traditional Austrian baked goods.
I remember hours of standing at the kitchen counter on a chair to help cut out hundreds of shapes out of rolled out dough. It was a sure sign that Christmas was coming when my mom became a cookie baking monster.
This year has been a bit tricky due to our impending move. We haven't been able to decorate our house the way we did last year, so I've had a bit of a hard time feeling Christmas-y. On Sunday, I realized I could get into that holiday spirit without requiring a tree.
Within a minute of asking my mom for her Linzer Cookie (Linzer Augen in German) recipe, I got the above recipe texted to me. I'm sure that's the same recipe she's used for over 20 years. Now if you're like me, you probably don't have a kitchen scale. Well, all Austrian baking recipes are measured in grams and decagrams, so as a good little Austrian girl I really should have had a scale.
We remedied my scale-less condition with some left over wedding Bed, Bath, and Beyond gift cards and make a quick stop at the grocery store for a few ingredients.
The dough for these cookies is stupid easy to make. It's a standard, mix butter and sugar, add the egg, and then mix in the dry ingredients. You could probably even just mix everything together at once and still be fine.
I made the dough while super distracted by the snowflakes that started to fall from the sky and accidentally added the sugar to the flour. It turned our perfectly fine and I just scooped a bit of the sugar off the top and into the butter. No harm.
As with most cutout cookies, you do have to let the dough cool in the fridge for a while. I wrapped some gifts while waiting and Dave DJed the Christmas tunes.
I only have a couple cookie cutters and had to borrow the small ones from a neighbor. But the cutters I have are my grandma's or maybe even my great-grandma's, so I love getting a chance to use them.
As I rolled, cut, and baked those cookies, I realized how cookie making is intensely associated with this season in my memory. I had never thought about it before. But as snow fell outside, and Dave did a jig to a Christmas tune, I felt more cheery and Christmas spirit-y than I had yet.
The trickiest part of these cookies is making sure they don't burn. The bake time is 7-10 minutes, and ideally they should just have a hint of brown around the edges. There was one batch that wasn't quite done, I turned around and came back less than a minute later, and they were all over-crisped and browned. I couldn't believe how fast it happened.
Once the cookies cooled, I spread them with raspberry jam and added the cute cutout upper piece on top. I used raspberry, but the traditional jam would be currant. It would be much redder than the raspberry and add a perfect blend of tart and sweet, I just didn't have time to find some.
Once I sprinkled them with powdered sugar, I packaged a couple up to give as little gifts. I kept about half of them and have been savoring them with a hot mug of something in the evenings. I love how melty, crispy and perfectly sweet they are.
Linzer Cookies come from the city of Linz, Austria which happens to be the place I was born. For me, these cookies are even more special because of that.
I adjusted my mom's original recipe to be in American measurements instead of grams if you'd like to give these a try. They're easy and yummy. Turn on some tunes and cozy on up for a fun time filled with baking and delicious smells.
If you make them, please let me know! I'd love to hear about your adventures in the kitchen.
- 2 1/3 c. flour
- 1 1/4 c. almond flour or finely ground almonds
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1 c. sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 pinch salt
- jam, currant jam is traditional, but raspberry is common in the States
- powdered sugar to sprinkle on top
- Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl if needed
- Add the egg and beat until combined
- Meanwhile, combine together the flour, almonds, and salt
- Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until just combined
- Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- On a lightly floured surface, roll half the dough out until it's about 1/8"-thick
- Use a 2 1/2" round cookie cutter (or drinking glass), cut out cookies
- Cut out a small circle or other shape out of the center of half the cookie rounds
- Transfer rounds to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Gather the scrap dough, roll, and repeat
- Bake all of the cookies for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn brown. Keep a careful eye on them after 7 minutes as they can go from lightly browned to dark in less than a minute
- Let them cool for a couple minutes on the pan, then transfer to a rack
- Spread 1/2 tsp of jam on solid cookies
- Top each with one of the cutout cookies to make a tiny cookie-jam-cookie sandwich
- Sprinkle all the cookies with powdered sugar to finish