Gingerbread Cranberry Linzer Cookies / by Chelsea Zwieg

Hello! I'm here! How was everyone's Thanksgivings?? Mine was so wonderful that I kind of forgot to tell you about these cookies on Thursday like I planned. I remembered just as I was falling into a turkey/pumpkin pie fueled deep sleep. Ah well, I'll do it Friday. Oops. Friday was a little too packed with things like Christmas decorating (!!) Peppermint Mochas (!!) and Gilmore Girls (!!!!!!) and once again I remembered as I was falling asleep. But now it's Saturday, which is an even better time to talk about cookies because you might actually have time to make them! Today! I think I broke the exclamation point button on my keyboard and I'm only in the first paragraph here. I'll try to tone it down.

Fair warning, if cookies aren't your thing, you might want to tune out for a little bit here. And also reevaluate your life choices. I've got 3 cookies to tell you about coming up in the next three days and like 60 more that I want to make before Christmas. So, let's talk Linzer cookies first. I was living a linzer cookie-less life until a couple years ago when I made them for the first time. They are the the favortie cookie of one of my very favorite aunts (PSA to any aunts reading this: all aunts are my favorite aunts) and I tried out this recipe to give to her. WELL. I had no idea what I missing my whole life. 

The base of any good linzer cookie is a mixture of flour, butter, brown sugar and ground toasted nuts. Often it's hazelnuts but you can play around with it and use any kind you prefer. I like to use almonds (the love of my life, forever and always) but you could use pecans, walnuts, pistachios or a combo of a whole bunch of nuts. Once you cut them out into the fancy shape of your choosing, they get filled with jam and sandwiched together into the most perfect little buttery, nutty, fruity, powdered-sugar-dusted cookies. To push things over the holiday-spirit edge I made my linzer cookies into gingerbread and added cranberry filling in place of the usual fruit jam. Turns out that all gingerbread needed was some toasted almonds to make it even better. Also turns out that I have a cranberry obsession. What about it? 

So in between episodes of Gilmore Girls and putting up lights and finding out that the top half of your tree is burnt out (just me? yep.), I would definitely recommend getting a pan of these in the oven. And hold on to your linzer cookie loving hats because I've got a second linzer cookie recipe coming to you tomorrow!

Gingerbread Cranberry Linzer Cookies

Adapted from my favorite linzer cookie recipe found here

Makes 2 dozen 

| Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tbsp. molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves

For the filling: 

  • 2 cups cranberries
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp. orange zest

| Instructions

  • Toast almonds in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until they turn golden brown and smell nutty. Rub the nuts in a kitchen towel to remove any loose skins, then transfer to a food processor. 
  • Pulse the almonds and 1/4 cup brown sugar in a food processor until finely ground and sandy. 
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the nut mixture and beat 1 minute longer. Scrape down the bowl and beat in molasses and vanilla. Scrape one more time and add the egg. Mix until fully combined. 
  • Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, whisking to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer and mix on low until just combined. Form the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 20 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, combine cranberries, brown sugar, orange juice and zest in a saucepan over low heat. Cook and stir for 3 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries have burst and the mixture has thickened, 8-10 minutes. Be sure to scrape the bottom as your stir to prevent it from sticking and burning. Let the filling cool completely. Feel free to run it through a food processor or blender to smooth it out. I like a little bit of the cranberries to remain so I just leave it. 
  • Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or non-stick baking mats. Roll out the chilled dough on a well floured surface to between 1/8"-1/4" thick. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can and transfer to the prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch of space between each. Using a smaller round cutter, or any shape you choose, cut out the center of half of the cookies. Bake 10-12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Reroll the remaining dough and repeat the process. 
  • Once the cookies are cooled, spread a spoonful of jam on the bottom side of a whole cookie. Sandwich together with a cut out cookie. Make sure not to add too much jam or it will ooze out the sides. About 1 tsp. in the center should do the trick. Repeat with remaining cookies.