Linzer Star Cookies

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Happy Holidays!

montana

We arrived in Montana yesterday to find plenty of snow and some pretty frigid temperatures. Well, frigid to me at least. 26 degrees probably felt like a heat wave to the poor folks who were dealing with 30 below temperatures the previous week. Ouch! We don’t get much chance to see a white Christmas in the Washington, DC area, so I’m hoping the snow sticks around, at least through Sunday.

It’s five days until Christmas. That’s five more days to bake, bake, bake. So let’s get busy, and make some cookies.

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I first tasted Linzer Tart when I was in culinary school. I loved the nutty, buttery crust with the contrasting sweet and sour raspberry jam inside. During a two-year stint living in Germany a few years ago I tried every Linzer Tart I could find in Germany, and in neighboring countries as well.

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Fast-forward to a few years later, and I discovered Linzer Cookies in a Food and Wine Christmas cookbook. Where have these cookies been all my life? They have all the great taste of the tart, but in one tidy, cookie-size package.

Have fun baking or doing what ever brings you and your family joy during this Holiday season. Merry Christmas from Jeannine’s Cuisine.

Adapted from Food and Wine magazine

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Linzer Star Cookies

3 Dozen

Feel free to adjust the type of nuts and the flavor of jam you use for these cookies. They won’t be a traditional Linzer, but give them your own spin. I’m thinking you could do a mixture of macadamia nuts and pineapple jam for a tropical spin on the cookie. Or how about almonds with an orange marmalade or cherry jam?

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3 large egg yolks

Zest from 1 lemon

1 1/4 cups hazelnuts

1 1/2 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

1/4 teaspoon anise seeds, ground

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

Powdered sugar for dusting cookiesCream the butter with the sugar for about 5 minutes in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle. With the mixer running add the egg yolks one-at-a time and then add the lemon zest. In a food processor, combine the hazelnuts with the bread flour and process until finely ground. Add the cinnamon and cloves to the food processor and pulse until mixed. Add the nut mixture to the ingredients in the mixing bowl and mix on low until fully combined. Separate this dough into two discs. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two sheet pans or cookie sheets by covering them with parchment or silicone mats. Working in batches, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into rounds with a 2-inch round cookie cutter. Use another smaller star-shaped cutter to cut stars out of the center of half of the 2-inch rounds. Place the round cookies on one pan and the cut out cookies on another. Chill any dough scraps and reroll and cut as before. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, rotating the pans at the halfway point. Let the cookies cool in the pans.

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In a small bowl, mix the raspberry jam with the anise and coriander. Use a small strainer to dust the tops of the cut out cookies with powdered sugar. Use a small spatula to spread a thick layer of jam on the cookie rounds and top with a cut out cookie.

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Indian Shortbread Cookies

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Merry Christmas friends, family, and blog followers. It’s been a busy season. We have a new addition to our menagerie, a Jack Russell we named Ginger, so we’ve been pretty busy getting her adjusted to life with us.

Ginger

I cannot believe Christmas has come and gone. It seems like I just put the decorations up, and now it’s almost time to put them away again. I love this time of year; it just seems so magical to me — the lights, the carols, the cookies, the cookies… Speaking of which, let’s bake some. It’s never too late for more Christmas cookies. The season isn’t over yet, and January, with its resolutions and diets and good intentions, will be here soon enough.

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About a week ago I prepared a pretty substantial Indian meal — pakhoras, samosas, curry, basmati rice, eggplant, and the chutneys and pickles to go with it. I was cooking for guests and I wanted to prepare a dessert, but what would go with Indian food?

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I subscribe to “The Local Palate” magazine, a cooking periodical that covers the food scene in the South. Through the magazine’s website I discovered a chef named Maneet Chauhan, executive chef of Chauhan Ale & Masala House in Nashville, Tennessee, and a judge on Food Network’s “Chopped.” Hmm, I just might have to make a trip to Nashville someday.

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The magazine posted a link to a recipe for Indian Shortbread Cookies. They sounded amazing and different and they were. I served these with ice cream flavored with ginger and cardamom and it was a wonderful dessert that complemented the Indian meal beautifully.

Don’t think you have to serve these cookies with an Indian meal. They can easily stand alone or make a great addition to a platter or basket of a variety of cookies. They are also great with a cup of tea or Chai on a rainy afternoon. For some reason they disappear quite quickly — at least they did in our house — so you might want to make a double batch.

Saffron Cookies recipe

Indian Shortbread Cookies

Approximately 24

You can use clarified butter or even regular butter for this recipe but the results will not be the same. What really makes these cookies is the nutty ghee flavor. The dough for these cookies is very crumbly, but it will come together into small balls with a little work. It’s best to use your hands for this rather than a spoon or other tool. I rolled the dough into balls slightly smaller than a golf ball, about an inch and a half in diameter.

1 teaspoon milk

1/4 teaspoon saffron strands

1 cup semolina flour

1 cup all purpose flour

4 1/2 ounces (9 tablespoons) ghee or clarified butter

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon powdered cardamom

1/4 teaspoon powdered nutmeg (grated fresh if possible)

1 teaspoon yogurt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Warm the milk, add the saffron to it to dissolve and set aside.

Place the semolina and AP flour in a bowl and whisk to sift. Cream the ghee and sugar using a mixer. You will know when it’s ready when it loses its graininess and becomes the consistency of smooth peanut butter. Add the cardamom and nutmeg to the mixer bowl and mix in, then add the yogurt and baking soda and mix again. Add the flour mixture to the ghee mixture a little at a time.

Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and knead by hand to combine. Roll the dough into balls and place them on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Adapted from The Local Palate