I fell into a deep YouTube black hole a few nights ago watching videos of people making holiday cookie boxes. It was so satisfying. People just bake all day and then package an assortment of homemade cookies into boxes to give to people. I love it!
Since I'm usually a one-and-done Christmas cookie type of person, I am both intrigued and highly impressed by people making entire boxes with a variety of cookies. Maybe next year I will up my game.
But this year, here is my holiday cookie: the shortbread linzer. If we're getting technical, these don't qualify as traditional linzer cookies because they are nut-free. But they have the linzer-look with the cut-out on top to get a peek at the filling. Plus! Shortbread is very easy and good and the reason I keep buying butter every time I'm in the grocery store this time of year.
These are the perfect combination of sweet, but not overpowering; easy-to-decorate while still being festive. Perfect for a cookie box, a cookie tray, or just some relaxed holiday baking!
What should I use to cut out my linzer cookies?
Any 2- to 3-inch round cutter will work. Probably you have something in your kitchen that would get the job done. I used our ravioli stamp. If you want to buy something, these biscuit cutters would do the trick.
What should I use to cut out the windows?
The windows are the most fun part of linzer cookies! I kept it simple with a round window (using the wide end of a piping tip from our cookie press set), but you can get festive with mini cookie cutters. I've seen stars, snowflakes, Christmas trees, hearts etc. Cute!
What should I put in linzer cookies?
So many good options, it all depends on what sounds good to you! (And, of course, what color you want the filling to be). I did some of mine with dark chocolate and some with strawberry preserves. (This will surprise all people who know me/are regular readers, but I liked the strawberry ones more - something about strawberry and shortbread together is so perfect).
Any kind of fruit preserve will work (blackberry, raspberry, apricot, strawberry, etc.), melted chocolate, and lemon curd would all be delicious.
To use chocolate: Melt 6-7 ounces in the microwave, stirring frequently and stopping when about 2/3 of the chocolate is melted. The residual heat will finish melting the rest of the chocolate and will keep it from getting too hot.
Can linzer cookies be made ahead?
YES! I think these are better when they've had a chance to set. Once assembled, keep the cookies in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Alternatively, you can bake the shortbread and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Pull them out an assemble whenever you're ready!
Shortbread Linzer Cookies
- 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup filling (see note)
- For dusting: powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Mix the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until just combined. Stir in vanilla. Add the flour and salt and mix until dough comes together. Form a small ball of dough in your hands and pinch between two fingers. Dough should be soft and pillowy, and should not crack when pinched. If cracks form, return to bowl and add 1-2 tablespoons of water. Repeat as needed. Turn onto a piece of plastic wrap and top with another piece of plastic wrap - no need to flour the plastic. Roll dough 1/4-inch thick between the two pieces of plastic wrap. Wrap tightly and transfer sheet of dough to the freezer for 15 minutes, or the fridge for up to 3 days. Gently unwrap chilled dough and cut with a 2- to 3-inch round or fluted cutter. Place rounds on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cut out the center of half the rounds using a 1-inch cutter. Bake 12-14 minutes, until cookies are set and just begin to brown. Do not overbake! Cool to room temperature.To assemble: Sift powdered sugar over the cookies with the centers cut out (these will be the tops). Spread filling on the flat sides of the uncut cookies (these will be the bottoms). Gently press the flat sides together of one top and one bottom cookie to form a sandwich. Store assembled cookies in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Shortbread recipe adapted from Ina Garten.