The Linzertorte is one of the oldest known tarts with a recipe discovered in an Austrian abbey from 1653. Johann Konrad Vogel (1796-1883) is credited with first mass producing it while Franz Holzlhuber, an Austrian émigré who worked as a baker, is recognized for introducing it to America around 1856. Linzer cookies employ the same recipe as the Linzertorte but instead the dough is cut into cookies and two of them form a sandwich around the preserves. Moreover, the top cookie has a small cutout in its centre (known as Linzer eyes), thus exposing the underlying jam and adding to the visual appeal. While the traditional cutout is circular, all sorts of shapes, such as hearts, are also popular. This recipe will make 2 dozen finished tarts/cookies.
2 ½ cups unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1 ⅓ cups white sugar
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour, divided
3 ½ cups finely ground almonds (or a mixture of your favourite nuts)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup and 2 tablespoons raspberry jam (or other jam of choice)
⅔ cup confectioners’ sugar for decoration
Beat butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in ½ cup flour, the ground almonds, and cinnamon. Mix in remaining flour ½ cup at a time until the mixture becomes a slightly stiff dough.
Shape the dough into a ball; divide it in half. Wrap both halves in wax paper or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour, even better if you can leave them overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, or even better, on a piece of wax paper, roll half of the dough into a sheet ⅛ inch thick. With a 2 ½ inch cookie cutter, cut as many circles from the sheet as you can. Before separating the shapes from the remaining dough, stick your whole dough sheet (on the wax paper) in the freezer for 5 minutes. This will make separating the cut cookies from the extra dough easier and there is less of a chance that your cookies will break when you lift them. Knead the leftover scraps of dough into a ball and roll it out again into a ⅛ inch sheet. Cut out more circles. You should now have about 24 circles.
Arrange cookies on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch of space between them. Refrigerate while working with remaining dough.
Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the other half of the dough, but after placing the second batch on the baking sheet, cut out the centre of each circle with a ½ inch cookie cutter.
Bake cookies in preheated oven until light brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 20 minutes.
In a small saucepan or microwavable bowl, gently heat up the jam, so that it can be easily spread. Spread a thin coating of jam on each of the base cookie rounds.
Meanwhile, take the top portion of your cookies (the ones with the cut-out sections) and lightly dust the tops of them with confectioners’ sugar. If you coat them now, you don’t have to worry about getting sugar inside your “jam window” later.
Set a cut-out cookie on top of each base cookie, pressing the two together so they make a sandwich. Serve and enjoy!