Pear Linzer Cookies

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This is a bit of a two-part recipe.  Linzer cookies are sandwich cookies with the top of the sandwich having a hole that allows you to see the jam inside the cookie.  I made heart-shaped ones for Valentine’s Day.

I’m a big pear fan, though I don’t usually cook with them, and thought it might be nice to have pear jam in this almond-flavored cookie.  Kind of a fall touch without the usual heavy spices.  However, you should either make or buy pear jam.  Recipe follows the cookie recipe if you’d like to extend this by making pear jam.

Linzer cookies are finicky.  My Valentine’s experiment was…less than fun.  So follow the recipe exactly, especially on chilling times!

Linzer Cookies

adapted from Kate Zuckerman’s The Sweet Life

makes about 12 large 3 1/2 in cookies

  • 5 ounces hazelnuts
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 8 ounces butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup pear (or other flavor) jam
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Place the hazelnuts and about half of the flour in a food processor. Process until the nuts are ground into a fine powder.

Combine the rest of the flour, the salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and baking powder in a bowl.

Pour the ground nut mixture into the bowl and whisk together to combine.

Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed for about a minute.

Add in the sugar and beat for several minutes until the mixture is very light colored and fluffy.

Add in the egg and beat until combined, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides as necessary.

Add in the flour mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Scrape down the sides as necessary. Continue beating for a couple minutes until the dough starts coming together into a ball.

Scrape out the dough onto a clean surface. Flatten the dough out into a rough rectangle about an inch thick, wrap in plastic, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. You can store this dough in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment or Silpats.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it sit for about 10 minutes to soften a bit. Do not let it get too soft, though, or it will become too sticky to work with.

Roll the dough out to about 1/16″ thick. Use desired cutters to cut out shapes from the dough. Place the shapes on the baking sheets. You can reroll the scraps and cut out more shapes. Chill the dough if it becomes too soft to work with.

Chill the baking sheets for about 10 minutes in the refrigerator before baking.

Bake cookies in the oven for about 10-14 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies. Rotate the cookies halfway through baking. The cookies should turn darker golden but should not become dark brown, and should smell like toasted hazelnuts.

Let the cookies cool on wire racks before removing from the sheets.

When you are ready to serve the cookies, spread half of the cookies with the jam, and place the other cookies on top to make sandwiches. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the sandwiches (if you are making cutout cookies, sift the sugar over the top cookies before you make the sandwiches).

Because the jam will soften the cookies, assemble them shortly before you will serve them.

A fun shape:

Partridgelinzer2_2

Pear Jam

Yield: 2 1/2 8 oz. jars

2 lb. pears

1 lb. sugar

Clean, peel and dice the fruit.  Place it in a large skillet with sugar.Turn on the heat to high and cook until the sugar melts. Stir occasionally.  Using a 12-inch skillet, the cooking time is about an hour.  Wait until the fruit starts bubbling and then lower the heat to low. Stir again, and then every 10 minutes or so until the jam is done. Be careful not to “overcook.” Jam will keep thickening while cooling, so turn off the stove right before the jam still looks the way you like it.

Canning jam is simpler than you think. Use the glass jars with self-sealing lids. Sterilize the still-empty jars by washing in the dishwasher for a full cycle.

Fill the jam into hot, sterile jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Close with self-sealing lids.

Submerge the jars, lids up, in a pot filled with tap water. The level of the water should be a couple of inches higher than the top of the jars. To protect the jars from breakage, you can use a couple of kitchen towels to wrap around the jars (when the water will hard boil, the jars will move in the pot and can bump against the sides of the pot or against each other). Bring the water to a full rolling boil and boil for 5 minutes. Let the jars cool in the water and remove them by holding the glass, not the lid.

Store the jars in a cool, dark place. Avoid placing them on top of each other. Before opening, make sure the vacuum is still there: the lid should be slightly concave, and while opening you will hear a sharp sound created by the lifting of the lid.

Properly stored, the jam will last for at least a couple of years.

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