Everyone has their own favorite Christmas cookie. The tastes and smells of that cookie are often attached to wonderful childhood memories. That’s not the case for me. I didn’t even sample linzer tarts until I was an adult. Here’s the story of how I discovered this special cookie. I’ll also share my favorite linzer tart recipe so you can try these delicious treats.
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When I was little, I baked cookies with my mom and my grandma. We made chocolate chip cookies, cheesecake bites, and sugar cookies. My grandma’s specialty was sand tarts. She would mix and roll the dough, and I would cut out the shapes and cover them with sprinkles. They were my favorite Christmas cookie . . . until I met the linzer tart.
Discovering the Linzer Tart
A little restaurant near my house was having a special holiday tea. My mom and I decided to go as a special outing. In addition to several different types of tea, we were served tea sandwiches and pastries. One of the pastries was the linzer tart. I’m usually not a fan of things containing jam. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have never been my favorite. However, the adorable star cutout on top of the cookie drew me to it. It was love at first bite! The buttery cookie was the perfect combination with the sweet jam. Move aside sand tarts. There’s a new favorite in town.
Unfortunately, the little tray of desserts only had two linzer tarts – one for me and one for my mom. I craved more immediately and knew I had to make them myself. As soon as I got home, I started searching for linzer tart recipes. I didn’t have the special cookie cutters for them, so I pulled out a large circle and a smaller circle. That would have to do for my first try. I made a batch using one recipe. It was good, but it wasn’t as light as the one I had at the restaurant. I made a second batch with another recipe. That one was better.
Each year, I tweaked the recipe a little bit until it was finally perfect. The light, buttery cookie and sweet jam brought back the memory of my first bite of linzer tart. The only problem was that I was still using my old cookie cutters to make them. While the taste was perfect, their appearance was not.
The Perfect Gift
One year at Christmas, I was opening my gifts and found a small package from my mom. When I opened it, it was a special set of linzer tart cookie cutters. I was so excited! The Cake Boss 6-Piece Classic Linzer Cookie Cutter Set had a small star, a circle, a heart, and a moon. Now my cookies would look at good as they tasted. I couldn’t wait to try my new gift!
The special shapes made my cookies look so much better! A few years later, I upgraded to a special linzer tart set with holiday shapes. The Cake Boss Decorating Tools Holiday Linzer Cookie Cutter Set contains a bell, star, snowman, candy cane, and Christmas tree. Now my cookies are festive and delicious.
How to Make Linzer Tarts
Linzer tarts start with a basic cookie dough. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer. Then, add eggs and vanilla. Gradually add the flour and baking powder. The exact measurements are in the recipe at the bottom of this post. After it’s all incorporated, a nice dough will form. It does need to be refrigerated for at least two hours before you will be able to roll it. I mixed the dough first thing in the morning and ran some errands. When I got home, it was ready to go.
Next, put some flour on the counter to keep the dough from sticking. Roll the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick. I absolutely love my Adjustable Rolling Pin from Joseph Joseph. It has rings around the outside that you can add or remove to get the perfect thickness.
Once your dough is evenly rolled, use the larger cookie cutter to cut as many cookies as you can from the dough.
Take the smaller cookie cutter and cut a shape out of the center of half of the cookies. These will be the tops of your linzer tarts. I usually put the bottoms on one baking sheet and the tops on another one. I always line my baking sheets with parchment paper to keep the cookies from sticking.
Bake the linzer tarts in the 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. They will need to cool for about 2 minutes after coming out of the oven. When the tops are still warm, you can dust them with powdered sugar. Continue cooking the cookies until all of your dough is used.
Once the cookies are completely cooled, put a thin layer of jam over the bottom of the cookie. I used raspberry this year, but I’ve tried them with many different flavors. They are delicious every time. Finally, place the cookie top on the jam.
Everyone Loves Them
The past few years, I’ve used these linzer tarts as Christmas gifts for friends and family. They are so pretty, and everyone loves the flavor. Each year people ask when I’ll be making the linzer tarts because they love them so much. I hope you’ll try this recipe. Maybe it will become your favorite Christmas cookie, too.