Eggless Linzer Cookies

adapted from wilton linzer cookies recipe(on the cookie cutter set)
makes about 50 cookies; 20 sandwich cookies and center cookie cutouts

Things you'll need:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), softened
2/3 cup granulated cane sugar
2/3 cup almonds
1/3 cup hazelnuts
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp non-gmo corn starch
1-1/2 tbsp ice cold water
1/2 cup seedless raspberry/blueberry/strawberry/apricot preserve of your choice
confectioners' sugar for dusting (optional)

other

linzer cookie cutter set
2 baking trays
parchment paper

How it's done:

To soften butter, leave it on the kitchen counter (30 minutes before cookie prepping).

To make almond meal, pulse the almonds in a blender or food processor several times until ground to fine powder (not paste). sift if required and repeat pulsing until finely ground. makes about 2/3 cup almond meal.

To toast hazelnuts, place them in a pan on medium-high heat and keep tossing until brown and toasty and skin begins to crack. let cool completely. grind to a fine powder similar to almond meal. makes about 1/3 cup. mix both the nut meals together to make 1 cup.

In a bowl, whisk together unbleached flour, almond and toasted hazelnut meal, salt, baking powder and cinnamon to combine; set aside.

In a small cup, mix corn starch and cold water to be used as egg substitute; keep aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat softened butter and sugar with whisk or electric mixer until light, cream colored and fluffy. Pour in corn starch liquid and vanilla extract; mix well. Add flour mixture and mix only until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl using a silicone spatula and divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Dump each portion onto cling wrap sheets, press into palm size flat round discs about 1 inch thick and wrap separately. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm enough to roll or up to 12 hours.

Line 2 baking trays with parchment sheet.

Place one disc of dough on a lightly floured surface or between two parchment sheets and roll out with a thick rolling pin (for even rolling) to 1/8 inch thick (thickness of a marie biscuit). Keep remaining dough chilled.

Cut out half of the dough with your chosen shape cookie cutter insert (this is top cookie); cut an equal number of rounds using the cutter without the insert (this is the bottom cookie). Transfer to parchment paper lined baking trays. Form dough scraps into a disc, chill for at least 30 minutes and re-roll. You can choose to bake the center shape cutouts of the top cookie or add them to the dough scraps and re-roll to make only cookie sandwiches. Repeat with the second disc of dough.

Chill the cut cookies in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up. 

when ready to bake the cookies, Preheat oven to 350°F

If baking all cookies (2 trays) at once, place a tray each on the top and bottom racks. otherwise, place the tray on the middle rack.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn light golden brown. Top rack cookies tend to burn faster. Make sure to switch the trays midway. Cool on baking tray for 2 minutes; remove from the tray and cool completely on a wire rack.

Store in an air tight container.

Just before serving, dust the top cookies (with cutouts) with confectioners' sugar (optional).

To assemble the cookie sandwich, invert bottom cookies (cookies with no cutout). Smear about a teaspoon of your choice of preserve starting from the center covering 3/4 th of the cookie. Gently press the dusted cookie on top. Repeat till all are done.

Tips to make the best Linzer cookies:

Chill the dough for 2 hours in the refrigerator. Dough becomes hard to roll when refrigerated longer.

It is important to chill the cut out cookies before baking or else cookies will spread and not hold shape when baked.

Cookie dough will be difficult to handle and roll on a hot or humid day. If possible, keeping the kitchen cool helps. Try not to handle the dough with your hands as the warmth from the hands will turn the dough mushy.

If the dough becomes difficult to roll, dust the surface and the rolling pin with flour, chill again and redo.

Make sure to be near the oven to avoid over baking. Cookies will burn quickly.

Notes:

To soften butter faster, cut 1/4 inch slices and let sit in a mixing bowl on the counter.

Make sure hazelnuts are fresh before using as they go rancid very quickly. Buy only as much you need from bulk bins. They store well in the freezer for up to a year.

I ground almonds straight out of freezer which helps in making nut meal easily rather than a paste. 

Don't skip the salt as it helps in bringing out the nuttiness of the nuts as well as balances the sweetness.

If you do not have hazelnuts, just use a whole cup of almonds. You can use up to 1/2 a cup of hazelnuts as well.

In the absence of linzer cookie cutters, you can still make these cookies. Use jar/bottle lids of different sizes with sharp edges for the cookie and center cutout.

You'll have two trays of cookies with this recipe. You can bake both at once or one now and the other later. Cookie dough disc can be frozen to bake another day. Just transfer to the refrigerator on the day before baking and proceed as per the recipe.

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