This blog post was written editorial intern Rachel, who has eaten approximately twenty cookies already today.
Spicy Linzer Bars
The holidays are almost upon us! (Or already upon some of us. Happy Hannukkah!) This past Wednesday, we had our annual holiday party here at Workman. Included in the festivities were delicious food, live music from members of the Workman family, and, of course, the cookie swap! Every year, we all bring in a batch of homemade cookies, put them out on a table, and then everyone can put together a box of assorted cookies to bring home!
You’re seeing two whole tables of cookies there!
In honor of this delicious tradition, we’ve been posting a cookie recipe every Sunday leading up to Christmas to give you inspiration for your own cookie swaps and holiday parties!
This week, I made spicy linzer bars from Alice Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies.
Linzer gets its name from the city of Linz, Austria. It consists of a crumbly, nutty dough—usually hazelnuts, but I used almonds—and a fruit preserve filling, with a lattice design on top. Linzer is often found in torte form or as individual cookies—often called sablés—but these bars turned out wonderfully chewy and delicious.
I started, as every baker should, by gathering my ingredients. (For a full list of ingredients and instructions, read to the end of this post.)
You will also need a food processor for this recipe, as well as a 9-inch square metal baking pan. I started by putting all my dry ingredients (almonds, flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cloves) in the food processor…
…and then spent several minutes trying to figure out how the food processor worked, because I had never used it before. Once I found the instruction manual—miraculously I had not yet thrown it away—then I pulsed until the almonds were finely ground.
Next, I prepared my wet ingredients (butter, egg yolk, orange zest, lemon zest, and almond extract). For this part, there were a few more involved steps.
1) Separating an egg. This can be a little nerve wracking if you’ve never done it before, but it doesn’t have to be an ordeal. Gently break the shell and hold each half in one hand. Then carefully pour the yolk back and forth between the two halves, letting the white fall into a bowl below. That’s all there is to it. Just make sure not to break the yolk!
2) Zesting an orange and a lemon. If you don’t have a zester, you can just use a cheese grater. Just try to avoid the rind—that is, the white, inner layer of the peel.
Once that was all taken care of, I put it all into the food processor with my mixed dry ingredients…
…and pulsed again until just blended.
The next step was to make the lattice that went on top of the bars. I spread some flour on the counter, pinched off about a tablespoon of (very delicious) dough, and rolled it out into a thin, 9-inch long rope. Or tried to anyway. The dough is pretty crumbly so a lot of my ropes (the recipe requires 10 of them) kind of fell apart when I tried to move them. But it was all ending up in the same place in the long run, so I didn’t worry too much about it. I put my ropes onto some wax paper on a baking sheet…
None of these are in one piece.
…and put them in the freezer until I needed them later.
The next step should be to put the rest of the dough in your baking tin, but it was at this point that I realized that I had the wrong kind of baking tin and had to run to the store to get one. I did, however, clean off the counter in case my roommate got home before I could get back, because, well:
Baking’s no fun unless you make a huge mess.
Then I got distracted and also bought more Christmas lights while I was out. By the time I got back, roommate Michaela was home and happy to give me a hand, despite the fact that I had left a food processor full of cookie dough on the counter with no explanation.
Now that I finally had the correct equipment (better idea would have been to check before I started, but c’est la vie), I lined the tin with aluminum foil and greased the sides. Normally, there wouldn’t be this many non-stick methods but the jam gets really sticky. Aluminum foil makes it easier to remove from the tin and greasing the foil makes it easier to separate from the edges of the edges of the bars.
I pressed the dough into the bottom of the foil-lined tin.
Okay, so the only tin I could find was technically meant for poultry.
After refrigerating for an hour, I spread the raspberry preserves evenly over the dough and then placed the frozen lattice pieces on top.
It looked better after I baked it.
I baked for 50 minutes, let cool completely and voila!
See? Sort of better-looking!
Removing this from the pan was a whole other process.
Michaela is a foil-removing champ.
We lost a whole corner trying to remove all the aluminum foil. “Lost,” in this case meaning, “it fell off and we ate it.” We also used a knife to cut the edges so they’d be even and then we ate those parts, too.
Once we got all the aluminum foil off, we cut the bars into even pieces and put them in a container in the fridge to avoid another mouse incident. (See last week’s post.)
Look how pretty!
These cookies were seriously delicious. A perfect combination of buttery, rich, tart, and sweet. And look how nice they look on the Workman cookie swap table!
If you want to make these beauties on your own, follow this recipe. And if you’re interested in the book they came from, see the links at the very bottom of this post to get your very own copy of Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies!
3/4 cup (3.75 ounces) whole almonds, or a mixture of almonds and toasted skinned hazelnuts
1 cup (4.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Scant 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, slightly softened
1 large egg yolk
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Grated zest of 1/2 orange
Scant 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup (8.25 ounces) raspberry, blackberry, or apricot preserves
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional) [I did not do this, but feel free!]
A 9-inch square metal baking pan, the bottom and all 4 sides lined with foil
Grease only the sides of the foil (to prevent jam from sticking).
Combine the almonds, flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in the food processor and pulse until the almonds are finely ground. Add the butter, egg yolk, grated zests, and almond extract. Pulse just until blended.
Make the lattice first: Pinch off about 1 tablespoon of dough. On a floured surface, with well-floured hands, roll the piece of dough into a pencil-thin rope (the lattice expands in the oven, so it must be very thin to start with) about 9 inches long. If the rope is too delicate to lift, roll it onto a sheet of wax paper. Repeat with 9 more pieces of dough, rolling each piece onto the wax paper. Slide the paper with the lattice strips onto a tray and freeze until needed.
Press the remaining dough evenly and smoothly over the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.
Spread the preserves evenly over the dough. Place 5 lattice strips over the jam, parallel with one another, at even intervals. Lay the remaining 5 strips on top and perpendicular to the first five.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until deep golden brown. After 30 minutes, check to see whether the dough has puffed up from the pan. If necessary, lift the edge of the pan an inch or so and let it drop to settle the dough. If the dough is getting too brown too early, tent it loosely with foil to finish. Remove the foil tent. Cool in the pan on a rack.
When the linzer sheet is completely cool, lift the edges of the foil to remove it from the pan. Peel away the sides of the foil (with the help of a sharp knife if the jam sticks). Slide a metal spatula under the linzer to detach it from the foil. Cut into 25 or more squares [or fewer if the corner falls off]. Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar if desired.
Linzer squares are most delicious served within 3 to 4 days, but they are still remarkably good after a week (0r more!) stored in an airtight container.
Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies is available now from any of the following online retailers.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Workman