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Linzer Heart Cookies

These classic cookies are a little time-consuming to make, but the results are so beautiful and delicious that you won’t mind the extra effort. The cinnamon-scented hazelnut dough is cut into heart shapes, then baked and sandwiched with raspberry preserves. This lovely cookie is reminiscent of the finest Linzertorte. These cookies bake up crisp but soften when they come in contact with the preserves, and soften even more if stored in an airtight container. The dough is on the soft side, so handle it with care.–Sarabeth Levine

LC Heart's In the Right Place Note

These are no ordinary cookies. Not in flavor, not in texture, not in aroma. And not in the coming together. They’re a little something of a labor of love, given that the dough can be a tad crumbly if the barometric pressure at that moment isn’t on your side. So if, perchance, the dough rips as you roll it out, simply pat it back into place. And not to worry if what results appears to be slightly imperfect. A sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar hides all manner of sins. Besides, even if your Linzer Hearts aren’t quite the perfect shape, your heart most definitely is in the perfect place.

Special Equipment: You'll need a 2 1/4 -inch heart-shaped cookie cutter (measured across its widest point) to make these little lovelies.

Linzer Heart Cookie Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 3 H
  • Makes about 36 heart cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) raw hazelnuts
  • 2 1/2 cups pastry or unbleached cake flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, as your love of cinnamon dictates
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions

  • 1. Adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350ºF (176°C).
  • 2. Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until the skins split, about 10 minutes. Working quickly, place the warm hazelnuts, a handful at a time, in a kitchen towel and rub together to remove the skin (some skin may remain on the nuts; this is okay). Repeat. Let cool completely and turn off the oven.
  • 3. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the cooled nuts with 1/2 cup of the flour until the nuts are finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and combine with the remaining 2 cups flour, the cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
  • 4. Beat the butter and superfine sugar with a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light in color and texture, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in the egg. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture. The dough will be rather moist. Place the dough on a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap it loosely and shape it into a 1-inch-thick rectangle. Refrigerate until chilled, 1 to 2 hours.
  • 5. Adjust your oven racks to the center and top third positions and preheat the oven to 350ºF (176°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • 6. Divide the chilled dough in half. Place one portion of dough on a lightly floured work surface, and sprinkle the top with flour. Return the other half to the refrigerator. Roll the dough into a 1/8–inch-thick rectangle. Using a 2 1/4 inch-heart-shaped cookie cutter dipped in flour, quickly cut out the cookies and transfer them to the prepared baking sheets. The dough is delicate, so you’ll probably find it easiest to move the hearts with a floured offset metal spatula. Gather up the scraps of dough and set them aside. Repeat rolling and cutting out the cookies with the other half of the dough from the fridge. Place the baking sheets in the refrigerator. Combine the dough scraps into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until lightly chilled, about 10 minutes. Repeat the rolling and cutting with the scraps until all of the dough has been used. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 30 minutes.
  • 7. Bake the cookies straight from the refrigerator, switching the position of the baking pans from top to bottom and front to back, until the edges are lightly browned, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer the pans to wire racks and allow the cookies to cool completely on the pans.
  • 8. Arrange the heart cookies from one of the baking sheets with their flat undersides facing up. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of raspberry preserves in the center of each cookie. Sandwich with one of the remaining cookies, flat sides facing. Cover with parchment and let stand at least 8 hours or overnight to set. (The heart cookies can be stored in an airtight container, with the layers separated by parchment paper, for up to 5 days. Note, they will soften considerably when stored.) Just before serving, sift confectioners’ sugar over the cookies.
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