Germany at Christmas is divine – any visitor to a Weihnachtsmarkt can tell stories of the booths of crafts, gifts, toys, knitwear, ornaments, junk, treats, Glühwein, Wurst, candles, etc. The air is chilly, the mulled wine is warming, and the festive atmosphere is unmatchable elsewhere in the world. I miss that about Germany.
Happily, I have plenty of treats to keep me in the holiday spirit: all the Christmas cookies I make each year (and there are dozens and dozens of them!) are from German recipes. Many only contain a handful of (the best) ingredients, and all of them are so wonderfully rich and flavorful that I wonder how on earth North Americans live without them. I have shared one of our favorite cookie recipes here before, for Schwarz-Weiß Gebäck.
Today I’d like to share the recipe for Linzer Törtchen – a layered cookie that dazzles – it looks impressive, melts in your mouth, and makes you wonder how you ever settled for anything else calling itself a “Christmas Cookie”. Enjoy!
(adapted from the cookbook Ich Helf Dir Kochen, by Hedwig Maria Stuber)
- 300g flour
- 150g sugar
- 100g ground almond
- 250g cold butter in slices
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 T lemon juice
- zest of 1 lemon (I substituted orange juice & orange zest here, with much success)
- powdered sugar
- jam (I used raspberry… anything you like is great)
Mix the flour, sugar and almond together on the counter. Add the butter in chunks and work it in with your fingers or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles oats (like making a pie crust). Add the egg yolks, lemon juice and zest and mix it with your hands until you have a smooth dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill.
Prepare your baking sheets with parchment paper. Working in small batches, roll out the dough to about 2mm and cut out shapes – half of them will get a 2nd hole cut out of the middle (I have a cookie cutter that does this, purchased at a German grocery store). Place the cookies on separate baking sheets and chill.
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Bake the solid cookies for 9-10 minutes, the rings for 8-9 minutes. The cookies should remain light and not turn brown.
When finished baking, let the solid bases cool on the counter. Dip the top side of the warm rings in powdered sugar and dip them again when they are cooled (this makes a nice thick layer of sugar on top). Assemble the cookies by putting a dollop of jam on the flat side of the base and placing a ring on the top. Store in an airtight container for a few days, although they never last that long around here!