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February 3, 2015

Linzer Cookies

As I see it, you have two options for Valentine's Day. A: you are in a relationship with a wonderful person and you plan to frolic through the snow/flowers/suburbs. B: you are single and will spend the day binge-watching Netflix and complaining about all the happy couples. Honestly, either one could be improved with the addition of cookies, especially when they are filled with jam and dusted with powdered sugar. If that's not your thing, you can make the same recipe and leave them plain so you have dozens of yummy sugar cookies.


Linzer cookies (or jammy dodgers, as our friends in England like to call them) are essentially sandwiches made from sugar cookies and jam, usually with some sort of cutout on the top cookie. For Valentine's Day, I use raspberry, strawberry, or cranberry jam since the red color suits the theme. I also make heart cutouts, which you can get using either a heart-shaped cookie cutter or some wax paper cut into a heart to use as a stencil. I couldn't find my cookie cutter, so I can attest that the wax paper does work, but it gets a little cumbersome if you use it for dozens of cookies. If that's the case, you can always do a few hearts until you get tired and then leave the rest whole.


For the cookie part, I use my go-to rolled sugar cookie recipe. It starts with plenty of butter and sugar as all good sugar cookies should, and then I add some eggs and a generous splash of vanilla. The eggs add a bit of chew so that it's not crumbly (like shortbread). The only other ingredients are the dry ingredients--flour, baking powder, and salt. Regular all-purpose flour is fine, and don't skimp on the salt since it enhances the other flavors and makes the cookies taste like more than pure sugar. I use baking powder instead of baking soda since baking soda makes cookies spread and baking powder makes cookies puff up. Rolled sugar cookies are meant to keep their shape, so you want to minimize spread.


Making and rolling the dough is the hardest part. Just remember to only cut shapes out of half the cookies so you end up with equal numbers of tops and bases so the jam doesn't ooze out of the bottom. I used cookie cutters with scalloped edges that were about 2.75" in diameter, but you can use whatever shaped cutters you have/want. I bake them until the bottoms are barely golden; it should only take a few minutes and you really don't want to overcook them. Don't worry if they are still soft in the middle since they will continue baking after you take them out of the oven.


To assemble the cookies, spread some of the jam on the whole cookies and top with a cutout cookie. If your jam is lumpy and/or firm, put it in a small pot and whisk over low heat until it is smooth. Once it cools down again, it should be easy to spread. Another potential issue is the color. I bought strawberry jam thinking it would be a pretty pinkish red, but I opened it and saw it was a gross light brownish red. It was an easy fix, though; I just stirred in some red food coloring and it was a beautiful bright red. This recipe is pretty hard to mess up since the components are relatively simple, but the cookies are beautiful and sure to impress your date (real or on Netflix).


1 1/2 Sticks Butter, Softened
1 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
2 1/2 Cups Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
3/4 Cup Jam
2 T Powdered Sugar


In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt, then gradually add it to the dough.

Split the dough in half and chill until firm, at least 90 minutes.

Heat oven to 375F and line cookie trays with parchment.

Roll the dough out to ¼" thick and cut into desired shapes. For Linzer cookies, cut into 2.75" scalloped circles with shapes cut out of the centers of half of them. Place on the prepared trays and bake until just golden around the bottom, about 6 minutes.

To finish Linzer cookies, spread a spoonful of jam on top of each of the whole circles and top with the cutouts. Sift the powdered sugar on top.


Makes 30+
Recipe Adapted from Back to Her Roots

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