Friday, January 15, 2010

Pecan-Boysenberry Linzer Cookies

Christmas goodies nestled, snug in their tins. :) 

Pecan-Boysenberry Linzer Cookies
from Aida Mollenkamp's recipe (dying to try the Chocolate-Hazelnut ones but that's another day!)
  • 1 cup toasted pecans
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tb. orange zest, from 1 large orange (her recipe says 2 Tb but I thought that was a bit much - this amount was perrrfect!)
  • 1/2 cup seedless boysenberry jam (her's calls for blackberry but I just love boysenberry jam!)
Add the nuts to the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a blade, and pulse until finely ground (it should be powdery and not a paste) about 15 pulses. Set aside. **Mine was a little wetter than what I would call powdery but it still worked fine - just don't get all the way to the paste stage.**

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl until evenly combined and set aside.

Put the butter and sugars in a large bowl and mix with a mixer (paddle attachment if stand mixer) on medium speed until creamy and light, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the mixer, scrape down sides of bowl and add egg yolks and vanilla. Mix until well incorporated. (I always add yolks one at a time and mix until you can longer see the color.) Mix in the orang zest, ground pecan powder into the flour mixture until just incorporated. Divide the dough into 2 even pieces. Pat each into a thin disk, enclose in plastic wrap, and let rest in the refrigerator at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours. (Mine were in there for 4 hours and this worked well.)

Choose your cookie cutters to use. I used a big star and a little star that could fit inside. My holes are much bigger than most but I didn't mind. They make linzer cookie cutters that come with a 2 inch round and a 3/4 inch round. Whatever you want/have will probably work. Just make sure the top isn't too thin (even mine was pushing it) or it'll break while makin the sandwiches or even while preparing the dough.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and arrange racks in the upper and lower third of the oven. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature until pliable enough to roll. Roll out half of the dough on a piece of lightly floured parchment or wax paper to 1/4 inch thickness. Use the large cookie cutter and cut out shapes of dough. Using the smaller cookie cutter, cut out the center of half of the shapes. Transfer the shapes to the freezer to set up for 5 minutes before continuing. Gather the dough scraps and chill.

Here's a tip I learned from the one and only Alton Brown. If transfering a round, take a small spatula (the pancake turner kind), flour it, slide it under the dough and move it. If transfering a cut-out round, leave the cut-out middle there while transfering, take it out while the dough is on the spatula and then drop the cut-out round. MUCH easier.

She says to transfer the chilled dough to parchment lined baking sheets to bake...but I was lazy and left them on the same tray to bake. *gasp* I actually think it prevented the cookies from burning so I would do it this way again. But it depends on what you want to do.

Bake 2 sheets of cookies at a time until the undersides are golden, switching sheets halfway through, about 12-15 minutes total. (I think I did one at a time with no switching but I'm not sure.) Cool 5 minutes on sheets, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat until all dough is used.

The first batch or two was pretty sloppy looking. But as I did it, I got much better and by the end, they looked perfect! To assemble cookies, wait until ALL cookies are COMPLETELY cooled. If you don't they will break. Spread about 1/2 tsp jam on the bottom side of each solid cookie and then top with a cut-out cookie. Mine had more jam than that but I think that's because they're bigger so just use your judgement on that.

GORGEOUS. Simple, impressive cookies. They tasted great too! Some of the best dough I've ever tasted!


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