Create: Austrian Linzer Cookies (+Recipe)

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.

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Ingredients:

  • 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

Dough:

  1. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl if needed
  2. Add the egg and beat until combined
  3. Meanwhile, combine together the flour, almonds, and salt
  4. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until just combined
  5. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour

Baking:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll half the dough out until it's about 1/8"-thick 
  3. Use a 2 1/2" round cookie cutter (or drinking glass), cut out cookies
  4. Cut out a small circle or other shape out of the center of half the cookie rounds
  5. Transfer rounds to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Gather the scrap dough, roll, and repeat
  7. 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
  8. Let them cool for a couple minutes on the pan, then transfer to a rack

Filling:

  1. Spread  1/2 tsp of jam on solid cookies 
  2. Top each with one of the cutout cookies to make a tiny cookie-jam-cookie sandwich
  3. Sprinkle all the cookies with powdered sugar to finish
  4. Enjoy!

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Create: Apple Sauce

At the end of our farm share, we received so many apples from a local orchard I had no idea what to do with them. A friend mentioned making applesauce in a crockpot and I was all ears. Dave can eat a quart of applesauce in one sitting, so I knew immediately that was the right thing for those apples to become.

My dear friend, Hannah, was visiting and graciously offered to help me prep the apples. It was so fun to chat while peeling and chopping. It was more fun than work.

I recently got a 50mm lens for my camera and had so much fun practicing a bit with it. Our kitchen has some really pretty light in the afternoon, so it was a perfect opportunity to play around. I really love this lens, even though I'm no expert at using it yet. I feel like the photos might actually capture a bit more of the beauty in things than my other lenses. I'm pretty much in love with it. 

Our apple sauce "recipe" was ridiculously simple:

  • Fill crock pot with peeled, cut apples and 2 cups water.
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Cook on high until nice and saucy.

We did scoop some of the mushy apples onto vanilla ice cream halfway through cooking. so. good.  I highly recommend that. 

The end result was 2 quarts of lovely pink apple sauce. It was satisfying to make something wholesome and cozy without having to go out and buy extra ingredients or labor in the kitchen for hours. It would probably be worth it just for the amazing scent that filled our house while the apples were cooking. 

Small Joys: Cold Brew DIY

This summer has been unusually hot for this part of the state. Usually things cool off during the night and I need a light sweater on the way to work. But instead, we’ve run our ancient hand-me-down air conditioner multiple nights and hid out in the bedroom (the only room that the AC can cool). In the morning, a hot cup o’ joe is the last thing I want. Consequently, I’ve been dabbling in the world of homemade cold brew and iced coffee.

Once I figured out a technique that works for us, my dabbling quickly descended into an addiction. When I tasted how much smoother and less bitter cold brew is, it’s hard to go back. I am not exaggerating when I say that my coffee has become my 2nd or 3rd favorite part of every day.

In case I’ve piqued your interest, here is the recipe that works for me. You may need to tweak it for yourself, but don’t be discouraged. It took me a couple tries to figure out exactly how I like it. (in fact, my batch from last night didn’t turn out very well because I didn’t give it the full brew time. C’est la vie.)

Ingredients:

  • 4.5-5 cups water
  • 1 cup course ground coffee beans (I would recommend a medium roast likethis)
  • milk (I love this coconut-almond milk)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • ice!!

Equipment:

  • A french press (or a carafe and sieve)
  • Coffee grinder
  • a drinking straw or two
  • your favorite glass or drinking jar (I drilled a hole in a canning jar lid because I refused to pay $10 for a pre-made one. It works great and keeps me from spilling in the Jeep on the way to work)

Instructions:

  1. I like to grind the beans fresh and coarsely. I’m not too particular, but it does help to have the grounds coarser.
  2. I dump 1 cup of the grounds into the french press with the water. I used to measure, but don’t anymore because it holds just about the right amount of water. I let the mixture to sit for 18 hours on my counter. I usually make my brew at dinner time and drink it for breakfast — easy peasy. 
  3. After 18 hours (give or take, this isn’t a science. Just figure out what works for you), I push the french press down and either stick in the fridge or mix with milk and a bit of maple syrup. I used to remove the grounds and filter through a coffee filter, but have gotten lazy, especially because keeping the grounds at the bottom haven’t made that big of a difference in taste to me. I usually do 1 cup cold brew, 1 cup milk and 1 tbsp syrup with 4 ice cubes. I like my brew stronger, so the milk creates a lovely iced latte.
  4. The best part is sipping on such a yummy drink. I love using a fun glass and straw. Somehow, it’s never quite enough.

If you try this and have any success I’d love to hear about it. Small daily joys like these are one of the ways I find beauty in a world that can seem so full of evil and hurt.

Paleo Crepes

I’m not a pancake or waffle kind of girl. Give me eggs, bacon and hash-browns and I’m a happy camper. However, growing up my mom and grandma would make us Palatschinken — the Austrian version of crepes — and they are linked to comfort and cozy in my mind. I made a traditional version a couple times for Dave recently and we both enjoyed them. Since trying to cut out grains, sugars and dairy from our everyday diet, it’s been fun to find paleo alternatives. I found this recipe on Pinterest and changed it up a bit to be more like what I remember from my childhood.

We’ve made these twice on Saturday mornings and they are so so good. I especially love them because they aren’t sickly sweet the way waffles and pancakes can be. They also won’t be huge like traditional crepes, these are more like the Palatschinken of my childhood. We just roll them up with some fillings and nom.

When cooking them in the skillet, it can take a little bit to get the whole swirl around the pan thing. My 2nd batch was way better than the first. Don’t give up if you struggle at first, they get easier with practice. You can also add more coconut milk to the batter to make it thinner to make spreading them out easier — just add it in small increments until it’s the right consistency.

PALEO CREPES

  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 – 1 cup coconut milk
  1. Mix flours, vanilla, honey, eggs and 1/2 cup coconut milk.
  2. If the mixture is too thick add a little more coconut milk in increments, it needs to be a pouring consistency. I add more milk after I start cooking them if it’s still too thick. You kinda have to figure out how thick you like it to be.
  3. Heat a skillet on medium high heat while the batter sits for 5 minutes.
  4. Once hot, remove skillet from the heat, spray lightly with oil.
  5. Add in about 1/4 cup of batter the the center of the pan and quickly tip your skillet to spread the batter around your pan as thin as possible. (if you need a better explanation, a quick youtube search will help you out)
  6. Cook for 1-2 mins, until the crepe’s bottom is golden.
  7. flip the crepe and cook for a further 30 seconds, then remove from the pan. I keep them in the warm oven until I’ve made them all, otherwise they get cold.

I like to serve these with a berry compote — Dave calls it “compost” — and whipped coconut cream.  To make the compote combine: 1 cup berries (I use frozen), 1 TBSP honey, and 1/4 cup water. Gently heat it up and allow to simmer to thicken. You can also use a little arrowroot powder to thicken it quicker.

I hope you enjoy these! I can’t wait to make them again myself.