Czech Christmas Cookie #3
There are no nuts in these buttery Linzer Tart cookies (Linecké koláčky)! They have a lovely hint of lemon and a burst of delicious jelly/preserves goodness. I love these so much with raspberry or red currant preserves, although other fruit flavors would work, too. I buy the highest quality preserves available. These are less crunchy and more melt-in-your mouth than other Linzer cookies. They hold up well. I sometimes make a double batch because these are my personal favorite Christmas cookies.
For those of you in the US, I strongly recommend using unbleached pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour. Pastry flour provides the wonderful texture I described. Most of my grocery stores carry this product under the name brand “Bob’s Red Mill”. In some stores, it is in the bakery section. In others, it is in the organic and health food section. I find vanilla sugar (pictured at the bottom of the post) in the bakery section.
Linzer Tart Cookie Dough Ingredients:
- 1 cup plus 3 Tbs (280 grams), unsalted butter, softened
- 5 ounces (140 grams) confectioner’s sugar
- One 0.32 ounce (9 grams) packet vanilla sugar, i.e. “Dr. Oetker” brand (OR, 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract plus an extra 2 Tablespoons confectioner’s sugar)
- 2 egg yolks (from large eggs)
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest, packed
- 15 ounces (420 grams) smooth flour (hladká mouka) or unbleached pastry flour (i.e. Bob’s Red Mill in the US), sifted
- Pinch salt
[Plus, jelly/preserves filling and confectioner’s sugar dusting at end.]
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the softened butter, sugar(s), yolks, and lemon zest until light and fluffy, with a mixer (about 5 mins at high speed). If using extract instead of vanilla sugar, beat that just afterwards with the extra confectioner’s sugar. Then in about four stages, beat in the flour and salt. The dough may appear to be in several clumps.
With lightly floured hands, create a ball of soft dough out of the clumps. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a disk shape. Wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm. About 1 hour.
On a lightly floured surface, roll one disc of dough out to about ½ centimeter thick (just under ¼ inch). Using cookie cutter(s), cut out cookies. If creating top cookies with holes, be sure their numbers equal the bottom cookie coordinating numbers. Transfer shapes to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Gather the scrap dough, roll, and repeat or refrigerate while you work the rolling/cutting process with the next disk. After all cookie cutouts are on the baking sheets, place baking sheets in the refrigerator (or other cool place) for 30 minutes for the dough to chill a bit again.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn brown. Check on them. Let them cool for 5 minutes out of the oven, on the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Put the cookie tops separately from the cookie bottoms.
Sift confectioners’ sugar over the cooled cookie tops. [I usually put paper under them to catch the excess sugar.] Then, turn the remaining bottom cookies flat-side up and spread a thin layer of jelly/preserves, or other filling, over it, leaving some space around perimeters, so the filling won’t ooze out when the top cookies are put in place. Top each with the sugar-dusted top cookies.
Fruit preserves or jelly is the traditional filling for Linzer tart cookies, though you can use different types of fillings (i.e. Nutella or lemon curd). Raspberry and red currant preserves are my favorites. Be sure to use high quality fillings. Bon Maman brand preserves are excellent. Filled completed cookies can be decorated further with icings or melted chocolate, or other things, if you preferred not to dust with confectioner’s sugar. Put cookies in a cool place, at least until the jelly/preserves set.
Yields: Varies depending on cookie cutout size/shape. Czechs usually make small cookies that are one or two bites in size.