I have been thinking about Christmas cookies for weeks now. I think I’m so excited about Christmas baking this year because last year I struggled through it while my wrist was in a cast.
But this year I have two functioning hands! Plus coworkers and neighbors to share with! I feel unstoppable! I’m going to spread Christmas cheer like confetti!
This year, I made several types of cookies for my Christmas cookie spread, because why not? Unsurprisingly, I started with my famous salted chocolate chip cookies, threw in a round of leftover gingerbread cookies (from the same dough as my gingerbread cookie Christmas tree) that I rolled in turbinado sugar before baking (not featured in the photos because I ate all of them as soon as they came out of the oven) #NoSelfControl, added my Man Candy’s™ lemon Christmas cookies, and rounded it out with regular and chocolate Linzer cookies.
But what even is a Linzer cookie? Believe it or not, these cookies originated in the 1600s in Austria as a tart that was filled with either red or black currant preserves (kind of a choose your own adventure sort of situation, I guess). Wheat was hard to come by at the time so almond flour was used to supplement the dough recipe. My kind of people lived in the Austrian city of Linz, because they decided to get creative with their desserts. Instead of sticking to tradition and keeping it in tart form, they cut the tart dough into circles, hearts, or stars (more choosing your own adventure). Half of the shapes would have smaller cut outs removed before baking (referred to as Linzer eyes), and those cookies would receive a dusting of powdered sugar after they cooled. The whole cookies would be smeared with preserves and sandwiched with the cut out cookies so the preserves can peek through the top. #SweetGenuis
American bakers tend toward filling their Linzer cookies with raspberry preserves nowadays, which is what I used for these cookies (it's a solid choice!), but lignonberry preserves and even chocolate hazelnut spread and/or cookie butter filling are popular lately. (I do have some Linzer cookie dough left over, so maybe I'll try those fillings out, too!)
Now, my tip of the week might seem like a no-brainer to some, but I guarantee there’s someone out there who will benefit from me saying this. When you are about to assemble your Linzer cookies, make sure you separate your solid cookies from the cut out cookies before you sprinkle the Christmas cheer on top. (See video below.)
I stress the order of operations here because it is truly frustrating to sandwich your cookies together only to realize that you never dusted them with powdered sugar. You’re then left with two choices:
1) Pry the cookies apart so you can dust the tops without coating the visible preserves (don’t do this. These cookies absorb moisture really well which unfortunately weakens the structure - meaning they will crumble as soon as you attempt to take them apart. Don’t ask me how I know this.)
2) Sprinkle powdered sugar on the cookies while trying to block the preserves from getting dusted. Go ahead and give this method a try. Film it. I want to see someone be successful at the method. I’ve certainly never been.
However, I will note that the trait that makes the first redemption option impossible is the very thing that makes these cookies super enjoyable several days after they’re baked. I’ve eaten at least one a day, every day, since I’ve baked them (purely for research for this blog, or course) and they are so soft and crumbly and tasty. They're like fine wine; they get better with age.
My other favorite thing about the entire spread of cookies is that there is so much cookie dough leftover that I can easily keep up the Christmas cookie cheer for as long as I’m required to stay at home. Get ready guys, there may be many more weeks of Christmas baking to come in that case!
Happy eating, y’all!