The end of November through the beginning of January is usually referred to as "The Holiday Season", but it would be just as appropriate to call it "The Cookie Season." From cookie swaps to school parties to refreshments for Santa, KitchenAid mixers everywhere are putting in overtime to keep up with the cookie demand. Grocery stores stock up on the sugar, butter, and holiday sprinkles, and kitchen counters have a slightly whiter tint to them from the constant presence of flour. But oh does the house smell wonderful--cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, orange and chocolate.
So that you can be the hit of the office holiday party, I am sharing with you two of my go-to holiday sandwich cookie recipes that are not only delicious, but they look festive as well. The first one, Raspberry Linzer cookies are a bite-sized version of the classic Austrian Linzertorte. The second, my Rum-Raisin Sandwich cookies are more appropriate for adults than children, due to the amount of rum in the recipe (the raisins soak up quite a bit.) Let's put it this way: after your boss eats 4 or 5 of these, it would be a good time to ask him for a raise. Here are my tips for both of these delicious recipes:
- For both recipes, because the dough is so buttery, it needs to be very cold when you roll it out, and the rolling surface should be floured, or else it will stick. If at any time the dough softens too much, just put it in the freezer for 5-10 minutes, or until it hardens enough for you to be able to work with it.
- For the Linzer cookies, if you do not have hazelnuts, you can use almonds, walnuts, pecans, or a combination of these nuts. For best results, I usually just process the nuts in my mini-chopper to finely grind them.
- Instead of raspberry jam, try apricot, strawberry, or blackberry.
- For both cookies, if you don't have the fluted or round cookie cutters, try using the top of a glass or an empty (and well cleaned) tuna can to cut out the circles. Both types of these cutters are great to have in you kitchen however. I use mine for biscuits, scones, cookies, and to make mini tea sandwiches, so I get quite a bit of use out of them.
- If you don't have dark rum, use regular rum. I even used Malibu coconut rum once with tasty results.
- The cookies can be baked, but not filled, and frozen for up to two weeks. Once they are filled, they will keep at room temperature, covered, for 3-4 days.
Makes about 24
1 ½ cups butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon vanilla
3 ⅓ cups finely ground hazelnuts
3 ⅓ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon
12 ounces raspberry jam
Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the egg and egg yolk, lemon rind, and vanilla. Mix in the nuts, flour, baking powder, and cinnamon, blending well to make a stiff dough. Wrap in wax paper and chill for several hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Cut the dough in half. Roll dough between sheets of wax paper to about ¼ inch thickness. Remove the top sheet of waxed paper. With a shaped or fluted cookie cutter, cut as many portions of dough as you can and then place them on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remainder of the dough. With half of the cut pieces, cut a small circle out of the center. Make sure that there are an equal number of whole pieces to the number of pieces with the center cut out. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are golden. Remove the sheets from the oven; let stand 1 minute and transfer to wire racks; cool.
Heat the raspberry jam in a small saucepan. Spread each of the solid cookies completely with a thick layer of hot preserves. Top each with a cut-out cookie and press gently together to make a "sandwich." Repeat with the remaining halves. Sprinkle the cookies with confectioner's sugar. Spoon a dot of preserves in each center and let set.
Makes about 24
½ cup dark rum
⅔ cup raisins
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon water
2 cups confectioner's sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine the raisins with the rum in a small container and let macerate, covered, for at least 6 hours or overnight. Afterward, using a slotted spoon, remove ⅓ cup of the raisins from the rum and finely chop them. Place them in a small bowl and add 1 tablespoon of the rum.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugars, and salt at medium-high speed until light, about 3 minutes. Beat in the finely chopped raisins and rum mixture, and then the vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour and cinnamon, mixing until blended. Divide the dough into quarters, shape each quarter into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove one of the disks from the refrigerator and on a floured work surface, roll it to a thickness of about ⅛ inch thick. Cut the dough into 2 ½ inch rounds with a cookie cutter and space them 1 inch apart on the baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough. Brush the cookies lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake the cookies until their edges are lightly golden, 9-11 minutes. Cool completely on a rack.
For the filling, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and butter on medium speed until crumbly. Add 3 tablespoons of the reserved rum and beat on high until smooth. Add the reserved whole raisins, drained, the vanilla, and the salt and beat until blended. Using a small offset spatula or a butter knife, spread the rum raisin filling onto the bottom of a cookie. Place another cookie on the filling and press to form a sandwich.