A few years ago, we were blessed to meet a very sweet lady from Germany, Ms. Anita. At Christmastime, Ms. Anita would bake these cookies and give them out as gifts. They are so buttery and sweet that you can’t eat more than 1 at each sitting but they are heavenly at Christmas, especially with a big steamy mug of hot coffee. These are the most labor intensive cookies that I make at Christmas so I saved them for the last post this week. Don’t be intimidated by the long directions, you can actually make the dough a few days ahead and save the baking and assembly for another day. Or do what I do and knock them out and then freeze them. Delish!
On a side note, I used the jam that I made in October to place in between the cookies. Jam is super simple to make and makes a great gift at Christmas. If you have a little extra time, try making your own jam. It is well worth the work.
Makes about 20 – 2 inch (5 cm) sandwiched cookies.
• 1 cup pecans, toasted & ground (hazelnuts or almonds can also be used)
• 2 cups all purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 2/3 cup granulated white sugar, divided
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 large egg yolks
• Zest of 1 lemon
• Confectioners’ (Icing or Powdered) Sugar for dusting
• 1/2 cup seedless Berry Preserves or Jam (I prefer Black Raspberry that I make myself)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Toast the almonds (or pecans) on a baking sheet for about 8-10 minutes (or until lightly browned and fragrant). Once the nuts have cooled, place in a food processor and process with 1/4 cup the sugar from the recipe until finely ground. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream the butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract, egg yolks, and lemon zest. Beat in the ground nuts. Add the flour mixture beating just until incorporated. Divide the dough in half and shape into two rectangles about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap the two rectangles of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (at least one hour and up to several days).
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
5. Remove one rectangle of dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Using a 2 to 3 inch cookie cutter cut out the dough. Place the cookies about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Use a smaller cookie cutter to cut out the centers of half of the cookies on the baking sheet. (You will be sandwiching two cookies together and there will be a small ‘window or cut out’ in the top cookie so you can see the jam underneath.)
6. Re-roll any scraps and cut out the cookies. Remove the other half of the dough from the refrigerator and roll and cut out the rest of the cookies. Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes or until they are very lightly browned. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
7. While the cookies are cooling place the raspberry jam in a small saucepan and heat gently until it has thickened slightly. Strain if there are any lumps in the jam. Let cool.
8. To Assemble Cookies: Place the cookies with the cut-outs on a wire rack and lightly dust the tops with the confectioners’ sugar.
9. On the bottom surface of the full cookie (top of cookie will face out) spread with about a 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of jam. Place the cut-out cookie on top and gently sandwich them together, making sure not to smug the confectioners’ sugar.
Note: You can store the unassembled cookies in the refrigerator for several days in an airtight container. It is best, though, to assemble the cookies the same day as serving in order to keep the cookies crisp.