One of the most delightful traditions during Christmas is eating Christmas cookies. For a nominal investment of time, you end up with a surfeit of delicious sweet treats in seemingly endless quantities. The Linzer Cookie is one of the most well known of cookies from Austria. Originally based on the Linzer torte it is named after the city Linz and features a short, crumbly nutty biscuit very lightly scented with spice and filled with jam.
This version uses pecans which in my humble opinion elevate this cookie beyond almonds. Usually the cut out top is made using a plain round cutter but this time I wanted to make it a bit more Christmassy. So I used Christmas themed cookie cutters to cut out angels, gingerbread men, trees and bells. The blanket of icing sugar completed the "snow" theme.
It was around this time that I was hoping to introduce you to our new puppy. You see one day Mr NQN and me walked past a pet shop. Seeing two pomeranian pups I decided to see if I could hold one. I have severe allergies to most sorts of dogs and I figured a pomeranian would be off limits because it is a giant dandelion of fur but the little boy and girl looked so cute I couldn't resist. I also kind of wanted a puppy hug that day. It turned out that even though they are giant fluff balls I wasn't allergic to them at all!
We spent a lot of time researching pomeranians and it became very apparent that we shouldn't buy from that pet shop but from a breeder. One Sunday we drove out to the country to meet a reputable breeder that had a pup for sale. We fell in love with the little girl pup - seeing her play in the grass was magical. Then Mr NQN turned to me and said, "Do we have to get permission from the building strata?"
He had a fair point. The head of our owner's committee is a miserable git who enjoys writing essay length responses to simple questions. He appears to delight in needling residents and writing condescending responses to everyone. And I think you can guess what the response to our request for a dog was. A very long and paranoid litany of the disasters that would befall residents and neighbours. Because owning a puppy is like owning a pin-less grenade, just a precursor to tragedy.
So alas Dear Reader I offer you no photos of our new puppy. Just these cookies. These remind me of the Greek almond biscuits or the Russian/Mexican cookies -the icing sugar and nuts take care of this. But the extra layer of jam makes these just a tad a bit more special. For a moment I forgot about the puppy that we never did own and concentrated on the resplendent red and white tones of these cookies.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you have a pet? What is your dearest Christmas wish? And do you have a favourite nut?
Christmas Linzer Cookies
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott/Not Quite Nigella
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
- 2/3 cup pecans, toasted and ground finely
- 250g/8.83ozs. butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 2.5 cups plain all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup your favourite jam (not a lumpy one)
- You will also need fluted round cutters and Christmas themed cutters that are smaller than the round fluted cutters.
Step 1 - In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter until smooth and then add the brown sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, cnnamon and salt. Beat for 2-3 minutes until paler and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until smooth and combined. On low speed add the nuts, flour and baking powder and mix until just combined.
I'm thinking of entering this pic in a photo comp. Thoughts?
Step 2 - Divide the dough into two balls. Tear out four sheets of parchment. Roll each ball between two sheets of parchment until 1/4 inch thick. Place the sheets with the dough on a tray and store in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.
Step 3 - When you are ready, to bake them, preheat oven to 160C/320F. Take out the parchment lined dough from the fridge and remove the top layer. If it is very hard you may need to wait for a few minutes otherwise you can start cutting with the cutters. Make half of the dough fluted rounds, then with the second dough sheet made them fluted rounds but this time cut out the centre. Carefully lift it out. Reroll scraps and repeat by rolling between two sheets of parchment and refrigerating it. The dough can be rolled and rerolled easily. But at some stage you will get sick of rolling and rerolling this. It's ok, put it in the freezer for emergency cookies.
Step 4 - Bake for 13-14 minutes (depending on the size of the cookies, mine were quite large). Allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes and then place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
Step 5 - Sieve icing sugar on top of the cut out cookies. Spread a teaspoon of jam on the base cookie (the one without the cut out) and then place a cut out cookie on top.