Linzer Cookies with Chestnut Paste and Black Raspberry Jam

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Nothing beats a delectable cookie that’s buttery, crumbly, and not too sweet with a hot cup of tea. Linzer cookies tick off all these boxes and more, they’re my absolute favorite to eat in the morning, the afternoon, and occasionally late at night before going to bed (don’t judge me).

While these Austrian Linzer cookies are traditionally made around Christmas time, the heart cut out shape makes me think of Valentine’s day. Besides, they look so gorgeous that you would want to share them with your loved ones or on social media – they’re seriously instagrammable! They do take some time to cut out, bake and assemble but the delight on people’s faces makes it all very worthwhile.

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I also love how versatile they are; The dough is made by combining flour, ground hazelnuts, sugar, eggs, spices. After baking the dough cutouts, I filled them with a thin spread of chestnut paste and black raspberry jam then topped it all off with powdered sugar. You can use almonds instead of hazelnuts and any type of filling such as nut butter, chocolate paste, jams, as well as fruit curds. Since I had chestnut paste leftovers from the previous chocolate roll recipe, I decided to add a thin layer into the cookie sandwich – you can also leave it out completely.

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The baked cookies are very crisp once baked, but they become much tender the next day especially after filling them with jam and storing them in an air tight container.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious ~ makes about 30 cookies 2.25″ (5.7cm)

Ingredients:
Cookies
160g (5 oz) whole raw hazelnuts
25g (2 tbps) light brown sugar

320g (2¼ cups) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

226g (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
100g (1/2 cup) powdered sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

Extra powdered sugar for sifting
Black Raspberry Jam (I used Beth’s Farm Kitchen Jam)

Chestnut Paste (optional)
150g chestnut paste – recipe in link
10g powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp brandy or rum

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) and toast raw hazelnuts on a baking sheet until fragrant and skins begin to loosen about 8 minutes. Take the nuts out of the oven and rub in a kitchen towel to remove any loose skins (some skins may not come off), then cool to room temperature.

2. After cooling, place roasted hazelnuts and light brown sugar in a food processor and pulse until nuts are finely ground.

3. Whisk together hazelnut meal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl.

4. Using a paddle attachment in a stand mixer, beat together softened butter and powdered sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the hazelnut mixture until just combined. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until dough comes together. Divide into two equal disks, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

5. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) and adjust racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. Place one disk between large sheets of wax paper, roll out to 1/8 inch thickness and freeze for 10 minutes. (I found it easier to work with the a really cold dough). Use a linzer cookie cutter to cut out the solid shapes – these will be the bottoms of each cookie – and carefully transfer them to one of the prepared baking sheets. Gather the scraps, roll out the dough, and repeat to make more solid cookies and transfer to second prepared baking sheet. If the dough becomes too soft to roll out, chill until firm.

7. Freeze the cookie sheets for 10-15 minutes before baking to ensure that the cookies keep their shape.

8. Bake cookies until golden, about 10-12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks and allow to cool for 3 minutes. Using a metal spatula, transfer cookies directly to wire racks.

9. When baking sheets have cooled, repeat Steps 6 through 8 with the remaining portion of dough, this time using the cookie cutter with a punched-out center.

11. Once the cookies have fully cooled, sift the extra powdered sugar over the cookies the punched-out centers.

12. Make the chestnut paste by mixing it with the sugar, vanilla and brandy until combined. Spread the solid bottom cookies with a thin layer of chestnut paste and about ½ tsp of jam. Place the cut-out cookies on top to complete the sandwich cookies.

13. Store cookies layered between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container for a week. They can also be frozen for up to a month.

 

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Chocolate Roll with Chestnut Cream and Marrons Glacés

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I named this cake “Chocolate Roll” because first I’m very kind of late to post a Bûche de Noël recipe and second, the cake is so fabulous that there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t make it any time this winter season.

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When I was a kid we always had Chestnut yule logs during the holiday season and it was my favorite thing to eat. I decided to recreate that exact cake for this year’s annual family Christmas Eve dinner. However, I couldn’t find chestnut paste in any local Lebanese market – so I looked up a couple of make-from-scratch recipes and the process turned out to be so much easier than I expected! It’s basically a mix of roasted chestnuts and sugar syrup puréed in a food processor. The most time consuming part is roasting and peeling chestnuts but I didn’t mind it because the taste is absolutely divine. I went with Yossy Arefi’s flourless chocolate cake recipe that I found on Food52 and filled it with the homemade chestnut cream and chopped marrons glacés. The last step is to cover it with rich dark chocolate ganache and refrigerate it for a couple of hours before serving.

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I’ve baked this cake three times in the last two weeks. The combination of the airy bittersweet cake, cold sweet chestnut cream, and unexpected marrons glacés pieces got me completely hooked. It also looks so elegant when sprinkled with powdered sugar and decorated with some leaves.

Chestnut Paste is incredibly rich and delicious when made from scratch and it can be used in countless ways from pastry filling to mousse and ice cream. Now that I’m done writing this long post, I’m going to have another slice of cake with a shot of espresso.

Enjoy!

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Ingredients and Directions:

Roasting and Peeling Chestnuts (for this recipe you’ll need 200g peeled and roasted high quality chestnuts, approximately 20 whole chestnuts.)

1. Preheat your oven to 425° F (220°C). Carefully make a long slice across the rounded top of the chestnuts with a sharp serrated bread knife. Be sure to cut through the shell only.
2. Place cut chestnuts in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer.
3. Once the water begins to simmer, remove the chestnuts from the water using a slotted spoon or a strainer and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
4. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until the shells begin to peel back where you cut into them.
5. Remove sheet from the oven, place roasted chestnuts in a bowl and cover with a towel for 15 minutes to allow them to steam. Then proceed to peeling them.


Chestnut Cream Filling
• 200g peeled, roasted chestnuts
• 90ml (1/3 cup) milk
• 68g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
• 80ml (1/3 cup) water
• 2 tablespoons Brandy
• 1 Vanilla Bean
• 120ml (1/2 cup) cold heavy cream, whipped to firm peaks
• 3 whole Marrons Glacés cut into small pieces

1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, simmer chestnuts with milk until soft about 10 minutes.
2. To make the sugar syrup, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer until the sugar dissolves.
3. Drain chestnuts and puree in a food processor with the sugar syrup until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and chill in the refrigerator until cool, 30 minutes.
4. Fold in the rum, de-seeded vanilla pod, and whipped cream.


Flourless Chocolate Cake
• 6 egg yolks
• 150g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
• Pinch of salt
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 40g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder, sifted
• 5 egg whites

1. Preheat oven to 375° F (180°C) and line a 9″x13″ (25 x 35 cm) jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Grease the paper.
2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the egg yolks with half of the sugar on high until the mixture is pale and very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the salt and vanilla then the sifted cocoa powder.
3. Wash and dry the bowl and whisk, then beat the egg whites on medium high until soft peaks form. With the mixer running, gradually add the rest of the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
4. Stir 1/4 of the egg white mixture into the egg yolks to lighten everything up. Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
5. Transfer the mixture to the prepared jelly roll pan and bake until the cake springs back and is dry to the touch, about 12 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes (the cake will deflate).
6. Turn it out onto a clean kitchen cloth that has been dusted with cocoa powder. Using the edge of the towel, gently roll the cake into a long cylinder. Let the cake cool completely in the towel while you prepare the ganache.

Dark Chocolate Ganache
• 170g (6 oz) dark chocolate, finely chopped
• 180ml (3/4 cup) heavy cream

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the heavy cream to a bare simmer, then pour it over the chocolate. Stir until smooth and let sit at room temperature until it cools to a spreadable consistency.

Putting it all together
1. Gently unroll the wrapped cake.
2. Spread the chestnut cream over the top and dot with marrons glacés.
3. Using the towel, roll the cake back into a tight cylinder and transfer to a large plate.
3. Spread the cooled ganache over the cake.
4. Drag your spatula or knife over the surface to give it a “barky” look.
5. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Finish by decorating the plate with a generous dusting of powdered sugar.