We always made several kinds of Xmas cookies every year when I was a child. For some reason, they all seemed to be labor intensive - lots of rolling out and shaping and squeezing of things through tubes or decorating with various sprinkles. Maybe that's part of why I haven't had these particular cookies in years. I realize there are plenty of less demanding linzer cookie recipes out there, but these were always my favorite growing up, and there's something about the process of rolling out and cutting the dough over and over. It's like cookie meditation. Not to mention you feel like you've really earned those cookies by the time they're all done.
Linzer Lattice Cookies
(I asked my mother to send me this recipe about a month ago, and apparently all she had were the ingredients and bake time written down on a scrap of paper. I copied that out of the email she sent me word for word - the directions I had to recreate from memory.)
1 c butter
1 c sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp lemon zest
2 c flour
2/3 tsp cinnamon (odd, isn’t it?)
½ tsp cloves (or nutmeg - oh, I lied. This is my addition. I never have cloves in the house, but I always have nutmeg.)
1 c ground almonds
10-12 oz. jar raspberry jam
one: In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, cloves, lemon zest, almonds and a pinch of salt. In another (larger) mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. When uniform, add egg yolks one at a time and continue to beat until smooth.
two: Stir dry ingredients into wet until all combined. You will have a very thick, heavy dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hr.
three: Preheat the oven to 350. Cut dough approximately in half. Roll each half of the dough out between two large pieces of wax paper. I should be as uniform in thickness as possible – and should be no more than about an 1/8 of an inch thick. Place half of the rolled-out dough in the freezer.
four: Remove top wax paper from remaining half of the dough and trim edges with a pizza cutter or sharp knife so that you have a rectangle. Save the scraps in a pile on your wax paper. Spread about ½ the jar of jam over the dough using a spatula.
five: Remove the other half of the dough from the freezer and remove top wax paper. Cut dough into strips about ½ an in thick, using your same pizza cutter or sharp knife. Lay the strips diagonally, about ¾ of an in apart, across the jam-covered rectangle, first going in one direction and then in the other so that you have a lattice-work of dough across the top of the jam. Trim the ends off the lattice so it fits the base rectangle – again, be sure any extra dough gets saved. Slip a cutting board or baking sheet under the large rectangle of cookie and return to the freezer for several minutes to aid in further cutting.
six: Remove rectangle from the freezer when it seems stiff and cut into squares of desired size. Transfer to lightly greased baking sheet with spatula. These cookies do expand slightly, so be sure you give them enough room. Bake for about 15 min or until lightly browned.
seven: Repeat steps three through six until dough is no more.
eight: Before serving, place cookies on wax paper and dust with powdered sugar.
Remember, the freezer is your friend with these cookies. You don’t want the dough to be too cold when you roll it out – otherwise it will take forever and you’ll be sweating by the time you’ve got it – but once it’s rolled out, it can quickly become too warm to work with. The strips won’t maintain their integrity when you try to peel them off of the wax paper, and the cookies will be impossible to transfer cleanly from wax paper to baking sheet. So don’t be afraid to stick things in the freeze as soon as they start giving you trouble. It doesn’t take long for them to calm down in there and get ready to behave.