A blog of hopeful, inspired living: cooking & baking & growing & harvesting & preserving & gleaning & eating & sharing food... while bringing positive change to my kitchen and our food system.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Joanne's Linzer Shortbread Cookies

Spending Thanksgiving with 20+ gourmet-minded family members on the east coast was totally inspiring. After not posting anything on my blog for months (and hearing about it nearly every day from some friend, family member or my own conscience), I was happy to return from a week on the other side of the county with ideas and momentum to cook, bake and get out my camera. The past months have mostly been a whirlwind of paperwork, construction, heavy lifting and dust as Bill and I begin the adventure of home ownership, junk clearing and renovation together. This work has indeed been inspiring... but in a very different way. Dreaming of our kitchen-to-be keeps me motivated!

It was nice to spend so much time focused on food this past week -- and to have some time to relax away from the hustle and bustle of all that's been happening at home. We spent Thanksgiving day at our family's beautiful Cape home, enjoying the unseasonably warm sun, looking out at the sparkling ocean. Inspiration is a given in a place like this!

Aside from the beautiful location, some of my food inspiration came from making and eating holiday dishes, some was from hovering over others with my camera.  Mostly hovering over Joanne, who always turns out the most reliably delicious desserts, in copious amounts. 

I absolutely love holiday desserts, and this Thanksgiving didn't disappoint.  Despite utterings that her apple pie wasn't happening this year, my grandmother couldn't resist her grandchildren's pouty faces. And Joanne managed to produce many dozen cookies, two tarts and some gluten-free treats seemingly without effort. 

As soon as I arrived back on the west coast, I pulled out all my baking books and trudged to the library to get more ideas. Now that Christmas tunes are playing on the radio, it's time to think cookies. Thankfully, Joanne responded quickly to my urgent request for her Linzer cookie recipe. As soon as I received it, I put the other books aside and went to work. I love these cookies -- they are so beautiful, and so delicious. Plus, the cookies can be made in advance and frozen, which is extremely helpful in a busy holiday kitchen. 

Traditional Linzer cookies have almond or hazelnut flour and some lemon zest (Joy of Baking has a good recipe for these). This version is based on a shortbread recipe, and it's simple, straightforward, delicious. The shortbread has a delicate flavor that lends itself well to the bright raspberry jam filling -- apricot, red currant or plum would also be nice. If you felt the urge, you could add a bit of lemon zest to the dough as you mixed it and it would be lovely, too. The sweet shape, with the jam peeking out the top and the dusting of powdered sugar, instantly inspires holiday cheer. Linzer cookie cutters can be purchased or you can improvise, using a small cookie cutter shape in a larger one. Or cut out other shapes altogether and eat plain. Lots of possibilities. 

Joanne's Linzer Shortbread Cookies
(makes about 30 double cookies, about 2" in size)
1 cup sugar minus 2 Tablespoons
3/4 lb. unsalted butter, room temp.
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Set oven to 350 degrees
1. In a stand up mixer using the paddle attachment, mix the sugar and butter until combined. Add the vanilla. 
2. Sift together the flour and salt. Add to the butter mixture, mixing on slow speed until dough starts to come together. 
3. Dump onto a floured surface and shape into 2 flat disks.
4. Wrap each disk in in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.
5. On a floured surface, roll each chilled disk out 1/4" or less.
6. Cut into shapes -- half into bottom pieces without a cut-out and half with a cutout.  Place onto ungreased baking sheet, then chill again for 10 or so minutes.
7. Remove from fridge and bake until edges lightly browned, about 12 - 15 minutes. After 10 minutes, check frequently as they can quickly get too brown. Cool on racks.
8. If you'd like to freeze these to assemble and enjoy later, now's the time. Package in tupperware, between layers of parchment (or very carefully in large Ziplock bags). Thaw for a few hours before using.
9. Put jam on the full cookie halves, then top with cut-out halves.
10. Dust w confectioners' sugar. 
If you want the cookies to be crisp, assemble them the day you plan to eat them. They do store well assembled for a few days in a sealed container in the fridge, but they start to soften.

Be merry and enjoy!


  1. Eron, what a delightful post! I, too, am getting into the holiday spirit, and reading your blog gets me excited about cookies and pies. Thanks for the shortbread cookie recipe. Any chance you can share recipes for the above tart and pie? They are gorgeous, btw.

  2. These are beutifull!!Regards!

  3. joanne andrewsNovember 29, 2012

    Always love reading your blog but this one, wow! All that attention on me. How nice.
    Should mention that the cookie recipe is based on one from Ina Gartner, one of my favorite chefs.
    So great to spend Thanksgiving with you and looking forward to more cooking tips.


  4. Thank goodness! I've been looking for a Linzer recipe that didn't have the almonds- so expensive and time consuming to grind (& not a great taste payoff). Perfect solution. I love shortbread.