The following recipe is from Butter Flour Sugar Eggs by Gale Gand, Rick Tramonto and Julia Moskin. Copyright 1999 by Dynamic Duo, Inc and Julia Moskin. Excerpted by permission from Clarkson N. Potter Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc.

Gale and Rick, both chefs, are a husband-and-wife team. This dessert book is their second cookbook, (American Brasserie is their first), and they own several restaurants in Chicago.

christmas tree linzer cookies

"Our version [of Linzer Torte] shrinks the classic into sandwich cookies, with a cut-out on top for the glowing ruby jam to peek through. Cookie cutters are such a wonderful combination of bakers' tools and children's toys! Bring them all out at holiday time: You can use any shape you like for the cut-out. As a tribute to the great Viennese tradition of afternoon coffee and pastries, drink Kaffee mit Schlag - coffee with whipped cream - which is wonderful at Christmastime."

yield: 2 to 3 dozen cookies

ingredients:

  • 12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground almonds *
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups raspberry jam
Cream the butter in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer) until smooth. Add the 1 1/2 cups of confectioners' sugar and mix. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition. Add the vanilla, ground almonds, salt, and cinnamon and mix well. Add the flour and mix at low speed just until a dough forms. Shape into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 3 hours or overnight.

Heat the oven to 350°. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to 1/4-inch thickness and, using a cookie cutter, cut into rounds. Transfer to sheet pans and chill 30 minutes. Working on half the rounds, and using a small Christmas tree or other cookie cutter, cut out shapes from the center. Form all the scraps into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 30 minutes, then roll out to make more cookies.

Bake the whole and cut-out cookies until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely on wire racks.

Place a spoonful of raspberry jam on each whole cookie round. Place a cut-out round on top and press gently to make a sandwich. The jam will hold the two cookies together and will show through the cut-out. Dust with the confectioners' sugar and let set for at least 1 hour before serving. (Or, store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.)

*Finely ground almonds can be bought at many supermarkets. At home, almonds can be pulsed until ground fine in a food processor. Either blanched or plain almonds can be used in these recipes, unless specified otherwise.

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