Turning to Linzer cookies to uphold family traditions.
These cookies are so closely connected with our family… and I didn’t even realize it.
I do a lot of baking during the holidays. My sister and I take turns hosting Christmas for our entire family, but I always make the sweets, regardless of where the party’s taking place.
I have always been a fan of Linzer cookies, but I never took the leap to make my own. This year, I decided to change that. So one morning, I excitedly turned to my husband and said, “Okay, this weekend, we’re doing it. I’m going to bake my first batch of Linzer cookies.”
So on a cold Saturday morning, I got up before the fam to get my baking started. I was really into it! In the middle of my baking session, my husband came in the kitchen and it dawned on him, “Oh! Linzer cookies?! My grandmother used to make these!” It was then and there I realized I had very large shoes to fill. Joe constantly talks about his late grandmother’s cooking, and every time he tells a story about her, we both get pretty emotional.
Once my batch was complete, Joe quickly grabbed for a cookie. I was sweating. What would he think? I mean, this was my first try at Linzer cookies, so I was kind of going at it blindly. After his first bite, he looked at me with loving approval. I was incredibly touched, but felt even more proud when I noticed him reaching for seconds.
I always loved the look of Linzer cookies, but wasn’t sure if I wanted to go the traditional route with almond flour, fresh jam, etc. I had considered creating a similar looking treat but using my surefire recipe for sugar cookies. But then, I went back to the drawing board and reconsidered my decision. It was time for me to leap into a new recipe – and I’m so glad I did.
So, what is a Linzer cookie? I had done thorough research before whipping up my first batch. A Linzer cookie mimics a torte/shortbread. It has very little leavening agents (ie.: no baking powder/soda) and some recipes eliminate the egg altogether. I opted to add an egg yolk to my Linzer cookie recipe. I like the idea of eggs in my baking to act as a binding agent. The egg yolk really helped with keeping a good, firm consistency on my Linzer cookie dough.
Linzer cookies also include almond flour. For my recipe in particular, I opted for freshly ground almond – easily made by grinding whole, raw almonds in my food processor. The addition of ground almond to a shortbread recipe is game-changing. It gives it a wholesome, fragrant flavour. It’s exactly this flavour profile that makes a Linzer cookie so special.
Another family connection we have to the Linzer cookie is its jam aspect. My father-in-law adores making homemade jam, and I decided to use one of his jars for our Linzer cookies’ filling.
One thing’s for sure: the Linzer cookie will be a part of our family cookbook. It’s just so fitting!
Here’s how to make your own Linzer cookies:
How to Make Christmas Tree Linzer Cookies for the Holidays
Ingredients & Tools
- 1 large egg yolk
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 stick butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups flour + extra for rolling
- ¼ cup ground almond (about 10-15 raw almonds ground in the food processor)
- Pinch salt
- 2 small drops Kelly green gel food coloring
- ¾ cup strawberry jam
- Confectioners’ sugar, sifted (for dusting)
- 1 Christmas tree cookie cutter (about 3 inches long and 3 inches at its widest point)
- 1 miniature heart-shaped cookie cutter, about 1 inch in size
Yields: 7-10 Linzer cookies (depending on the size of your cookie cutters)
In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolk and granulated sugar until creamy.
Add butter to egg and sugar mixture, followed by the vanilla. Mix thoroughly.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, ground almond and salt.
Slowly add dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Mix until cookie dough forms.
Add green gel food coloring and knead with your hands until dough is completely tinted.
Wrap the dough in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Remove dough from fridge. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Dust a rolling pin with flour and roll out cookie dough until it’s about ¼ of an inch thick.
Cut out 14-20 Christmas tree shapes. Place each one gently on the lined baking sheet.
Using the miniature heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out a heart in the center of half of the tree-shaped cookies.
Bake for 8-10 minutes and allow to cool on a wire rack.
Using an offset spatula, spread jam in the centre of the whole cookies. Top off with a cookie with the heart-shaped centre.
Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and enjoy!