Well. It's official. Florida has made it quite clear that it wants nothing to do with Christmas this year, as is evident by our 78 degree weather. I could blame it all on that global warming yap, but I honestly think that Florida just isn't in the mood to celebrate. That, and this state has some serious PMSing issues. But don't tell her I said that (or him... I am, afterall, entirely convinced that men endure a monthly PMS as well).
Seriously. It's hard to get into the yuletide cheer when you can practically bake your holiday cookies ontop of your car because of the weather outside. Whatta bummer.
Regardless, though, you'll still see snowflakes hanging from tree's in peoples front yard and lots of interesting decorations (I personally love one of the houses in my neighborhood whom has a little squad of penguins huddled together in front of a fire on their lawn). We may not be gettin' chilly weather our way anytime soon, and the air conditioner may just be on high for Christmas Day... but people are still determined to keep the spirit alive, and I think that that's awesome.
Despite the wavering heat that's been washing over our little town, I still find it hard to stay away from the oven and baking cookies even if I go through five ice cold water bottles while I do it. It may not look like Christmas outside... but it'll smell like Christmas inside. And honestly, how can you not think about cute little chubby santa clauses munching down on a plateful of goodies when you have gingerbread bars and these Linzer cookies goin' down in your kitchen?
That's what I thought.
You can keep thinking about those chubby little santa clauses too.
I won't judge you.
Linzer cookies are incredibly easy to make, and while they are typically filled with jam (raspberry does wonders with the almond taste), I decided to slasher on some Nutella for mine, and the taste of chocolate/hazelnut combo with the almondy butter cookie was just what Santa ordered... though he may need to spend some more time on the treadmill for it ;). I rolled mine a bit thinner than required but it gave the cookies a nice snap to them so I didn't mind. Make sure you watch these, as they can burn very easily in the oven if left in just a moment too long. It's well worth the extra time spent. As always, Dorie Greenspan knocks my socks off with another cookie recipe. Here's to hoping I get my own copy of her book for Christmas!
Linzer Sablés with Nutella
(Adapted from Dorie Greenspan From My Home To Yours)
1 1/2 cups finely ground almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 large egg
2 teaspoons water
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup nutella or other filling (such as raspberry jam or other)
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
1. Whisk together the ground nuts, flour, cinnamon, salt and cloves. Using a fork, stir the egg and water together in a small bowl.
2.Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the egg mixture and beat for 1 minute more. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the dough. Don't work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. If the dough comes together but some dry crumbs remain in the bottom of the bowl, stop the mixer and finish blending the ingredients with a rubber spatula or your hands.
3. Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, put the dough between two large sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap. Using your hands, flatten the dough into a disk, then grab a rolling pin and roll out the dough, turning it over frequently so that the paper doesn't cut into it, until it is about 1/4 inch thick.
4. Leave the dough in the paper and repeat with the second piece of dough. Transfer the wrapped dough to a baking sheet or cutting board (to keep it flat) and refrigerate or freeze it until it is very firm, about 2 hours in the refrigerator or about 45 minutes in the freezer. The rolled-out dough can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Just thaw the dough enough to cut out the cookies and go on from there.
5. enter a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
6. Peel off the top sheet of wax paper from one piece of dough and, using a 2-inch round cookie cutter-a scalloped cutter is nice for these-cut out as many cookies as you can. If you want to have a peekaboo cutout, use the end of a piping tip to cut out a very small circle from the centers of half the cookies. Transfer the rounds to the baking sheets, leaving a little space between the cookies. Set the scraps aside-you can combine them with the scraps from the second disk and roll and cut more cookies.
7. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 11 to 13 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden, dry and just firm to the touch. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to room temperature.
8. Repeat with the second disk of dough, making sure to cool the baking sheets between batches. Gather the scraps of dough together, press them into a disk, roll them between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, then cut and bake.
9. When cookies are cooled, drop a heaping teaspoon of nutella onto one side (preferably the side without the hole in it) and spread with an offset spatula or the back of the spoon until cookie has a thin spread covering it. Sandwich with another cookie (the one with the hole, if you made them with holes) and dust with Confectioner's sugar if desired. Enjoy!