Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Linzer Cookies

   Today is my birthday, and let me tell you, even though I did nothing exciting today, it is automatically better than last year!  I escaped exams on my birthday for 3 years, then my last semester of college, I got slammed with 3.  THREE! back to back exams on my birthday, right before I graduated: Virology, Diagnostic Microbiology, and 20th Century American Literature.  I got A's on all of them so that cool, but I barely remember that birthday.  In addition to the exams, I was finishing up with my wonderful job, doing the final preparations for my wedding, anxiously waiting for my husband to arrive in Tennessee, and packing up my apartment for the eminent move to North Carolina!  Not to mention all the last minute Christmas things that needed to be done.

   This year it has been so incredibly relaxed.  Last Saturday, Sarina and Heather had a lovely, little party for me.  Just a few of our closest friends and TONS of cheese!  (More about that party at a later time.)  Today I woke up, made a huge pot of Ugly Mug Butter Moon coffee, and set to work on my Linzer cookies.  I was especially excited to make these because yesterday I found a camel cookie cutter in the house!  (I love love LOVE camels!!!!!)
 I don't care if they sort of look like cows now.  They are camel cookies!!!

      Linzertorte is the original version of this dessert and if found throughout the region that comprised Prussia (Austria, Germany, Hungary....)  The earliest known recipe for the dessert is from the early 1650s, although it is very fragmented.  It is traditionally a hazelnut shortbread-like pastry with red currant jam.  But nowadays you find it made with all sorts of nuts and a varieties of jams and/or butter.  Also, somewhere along the way, a genius baker decided to make them mini!  Hence, the linzer cookie.  My cookie is made with almonds and blackberry jam (some with strawberry rhubarb.)  Often times, they are dusted with powdered sugar but I opted not to because I think the brown speckles from the almond skins are pretty.  (Oh....and normally, the dough is made with blanched nuts that are skinless so the dough is an even color.... we only had regular nuts in the house though.)

Linzer Cookies
1 C butter, softened
1/2 C vegetable shortening
1 C sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
14 oz of nuts, finely ground (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts...)
3 1/3 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
Jam (raspberry, blackberry, fig, currant....)
Powdered sugar

   Cream together butter, shortening, and sugar.  Incorporate eggs 1 at a time.  Add vanilla, cinnamon and nuts.  Add 1 C flour and baking powder.  Mix.  Add half the remaining flour.  Mix.  Add the last of the flour.  Mix.  Divide dough into fourths.  Wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  (If you refrigerate it over night or for a few days, let it sit at room temp for 15 minutes before working it.)
   On a floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 in thick.  Cut out shapes.  Use a cookie that is 2-3 inches big, you don't want them too large.  For half the shapes, cut out a small pieve in the center with a very small cookie cutter (~3/4 inch).  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 325 deg F for 10-12 minutes until edges start to turn golden.  Cool.
NOTE:  If you are using a shape for the main part of a cookie that is not symmetrical, remember to flip half of them over so you have mirror images that will sandwich together.
   On the cookies with out cut-outs, spread a little bit of jam.  (Dust the cookies with cut-outs with powdered sugar.)  Sandwich half together.
   Makes a lot.  Amounts depend on the size cookie cutter used.

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