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A sweetheart deal; Dessert: Austrian linzer cookies, made with ground hazelnuts, are shaped for the holiday.


Austrian linzer cookies owe much of their excellent flavor and unusually light texture to the main ingredient: nuts, typically hazelnuts (although some variations use almonds). Using 1 1/2 times the amount of finely ground nuts as flour creates a dough substantial enough to be handled easily and rich enough to bake up into meltingly tender cookies.

Store nuts in the freezer to prevent their natural oil from becoming rancid and to make them easier to grind or chop uniformly. Unless a recipe states otherwise, always grind or chop the nuts before measuring them.

With a food processor, this buttery linzer dough is ready in 5 minutes to be cut into your favorite cookie shapes.

Copyright Cole Publishing Group

Linzer Hearts

Makes 2 dozen filled cookies and 2 dozen small unfilled cookies

1 1/2 cups sifted flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch salt

grated zest of 1 lemon

10 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 1/4 cups (approximately) finely ground hazelnuts

1 egg yolk

1/2 cup raspberry jam

confectioners' sugar, for dusting

To prepare in food processor: In work bowl of food processor, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and lemon zest. Process, using short on-off bursts. Add butter and process until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; add hazelnuts and egg yolk, and stir until well blended. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead briefly, just until mixture sticks together.

To prepare by hand: In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, lemon zest and hazelnuts. Turn mixture onto a cool work surface. With a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add egg yolk and toss to blend. Knead briefly until mixture just sticks together.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough in half; enclose one half in plastic film and refrigerate. On a lightly floured surface, roll out unrefrigerated half of dough about 1/4 -inch thick. Cut out cookies with lightly floured, 2 1/4 -inch heart-shaped cutter. Transfer to ungreased baking sheet. Repeat with other half of dough. Use a small heart-shaped cutter to remove centers from half of the hearts, placing cut-out frames and centers on a separate ungreased baking sheet.

Bake cookies until lightly colored (about 6 to 10 minutes). Watch cookies carefully during baking, as the frames and small hearts will brown more quickly than large hearts. When done, transfer cookies to wire racks. When larger hearts are cool, lightly spread them with raspberry jam. Sift confectioners' sugar over heart frames and smaller hearts. Set frames atop jam-spread hearts. Store in an airtight container.

Pub Date: 02/07/99

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