Linzer cookies, based on Austria’s famed linzer torte shortcake, are lightly spiced hazelnut cookie sandwiches traditionally filled with raspberry jam. This chocolate almond linzer cookie recipe, however, is a modern update on a classic: the cookies are made with almond flour from my sponsor, Bob’s Red Mill, and filled with roasted white chocolate and tahini. Jump to the recipe! As always, thank you for supporting Hummingbird High and the sponsors that help keep the lights on at my blog!
What is a linzer cookie?
When I was writing my cookbook, Weeknight Baking, I often found myself at a loss when it was time to write the headnotes for the recipes. For those not familiar with the industry lingo, the headnotes are that short blurb—usually a paragraph or so of text—that precedes the ingredients and recipe itself. The headnotes can contain a variety of information: these days, that space is saved for tips and tricks for making the recipe, or, if it’s a regional or personal cookbook, a short blurb about the origin of the dish and/or its significance to the author.
Unfortunately, there were a handful of recipes in my book that didn’t have any personal anecdote or meaningful significance—instead, I included them because they came together quickly on a weeknight, and they were tasty to boot. For those recipes, I found myself researching the history of the dish and sharing what I learned in the headnotes. For instance, I learned that nobody really knows where the name “snickerdoodles” came from—some think that it’s a mispronounciation of the German schneckennudel, others think that it was a name made up by some weird New Englanders (true story: learn more about it in my book, lol).
During this research process, it occurred to me that we take a lot of food and recipes at face value. That was the case for me and linzer cookies: linzer cookies have existed in my world for years and years. I always took their cute and festive appearance during the holidays for granted, and never really thought about where they came from. It was only when researching recipes for this post that I discovered that they originated from Austria and were in fact a variation of Austria’s famed linzer torte (which, by the way, is credited as the oldest cake in the world!). Bakers would take leftover pastry dough from the torte and make them into cookies. Pretty cool. The cookies were then so popular that bakers started making them independently of the torte.
Linzer cookies are traditionally made with a full or partial nut-based dough; traditionally, the nut of choice was hazelnut. The cookies are then sandwiched together with fruit preserves in the middle. But what makes a linzer cookie “a linzer cookie” is its appearance; the top cookie usually has a shaped cut-out that exposes the fruit preserves in the middle. Without that cutout, it’s just a regular old sandwich cookie (I mean, think about it—Oreos and Nutter Butters aren’t really “linzer cookies”, right?).
Ingredients in chocolate almond linzer cookies
This holiday season, I wanted to give the traditional linzer cookie recipe a modern update. I did so by using the following ingredients:
Traditional linzer cookies instruct you to take whole hazelnuts or almonds, blitz them in a food processor, and use the ground up nuts in the recipe with all-purpose flour or in place of it. The problem is that it can be very easy to overprocess your nuts and accidentally end up with nut butter; not to mention that it’s a pain to clean the food processor, too. Enter this Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour. Bob’s actually sells a wide variety of almond flour—you can get them blanched or unblanched, super-finely processed, etc. This variety is my favorite though; the almond skins have been removed, leaving you with a fine, completely cream-covered flour. It’s the best for making delicate baked goods like these cookies, cakes, and even macarons!
Because I wanted to emphasize the nutty flavor of the Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour, I also used almond extract. This is my favorite trick (that I also talk about in Weeknight Baking)—when working with a nut product like nut meals or nut butters, replace the vanilla extract in the recipe with almond extract. You’ll be surprised by how much nuttier and more flavorful the final product will be!
Black Cocoa Powder
I don’t know about you guys, but I love the combination of chocolate and almond. Instead of a traditional white almond linzer cookie, I decided to add some cocoa powder to the dough and make a chocolate almond linzer cookie. To get the extra-dark, almost blackish color, be sure to use Dutch-processed cocoa powder. Unlike natural unsweetened cocoa powder (which is reddish-brown in color), Dutch-processed cocoa powder has been treated (“Dutched”) to remove some of its acidity, giving it a darker, more charcoal-y color. If you want to go the extra-mile, source “Black” cocoa powder, which is treated for longer, giving it a more intense color and extra bitterness. It sounds bad, but it’s really good, I promise—I’m pretty sure it’s what they use to make Oreos!
I wish I came up with the idea to fill my linzer cookies with tahini, but all credit actually goes to Bon Appetit, who featured these cookies in their holiday cookie special last year. Tahini is similar to nut butter, but made with sesame seeds instead of nuts. Although it has the richness of nut butter, it lacks nut butter’s natural sweetness and definitely has more savory notes. It’s traditionally found in dishes like hummus and baba ganoush. It’s been popping up in dessert more and more over the last few years (I’d like to credit my friend Molly for that phenomenon), as it’s a good ingredient to cut down the sweetness of recipes and pairs well with flavors like chocolate and caramel.
Dulcey White Chocolate
To cut the bitterness of the tahini, I used roasted white chocolate called “dulcey”. Dulcey white chocolate is made by roasting plain old white chocolate at a low and slow heat; the sugars in the white chocolate then caramelize, resulting in a rich caramel flavor similar to dulce de leche. I’m obsessed with it and have made cookies, cakes, and blondies with the stuff. A pastry chef in Israel introduced me to pairing the dulcey chocolate with tahini; it blew my mind. You can use regular white chocolate in this recipe too, but please know that you are missing out on some serious magic if you do.
How to make chocolate almond linzer cookies
Making chocolate almond linzer cookies is pretty straight-forward. The general process is as follows: you first make the cookie dough, roll it out, stamp out the cookies, and bake them. You’ll need to chill the dough at different parts of the process to make sure that it holds its shape properly when baked, so just be sure you account for that time, too—be sure to check out the baker’s notes for more specifics before you start. After they’ve cooled enough to handle, make the filling (which simply involved melting the dulcey chocolate and mixing it with tahini), spread it on the bottom of the bottom cookie, and press the top cookie on top of the filling to make a sandwich. Boom, that’s it!
I mentioned earlier that linzer cookies were defined by their use of nut meal in the dough and the cut-out shape in the top cookie. Here’s some FAQ about the chocolate almond linzer cookie recipe to set you up for success:
FAQ about Chocolate Almond Linzer Cookie Ingredients
Can I make a linzer cookie without almonds?
Yes! You can substitute the Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour in the recipe for any nut meal of your choice. Because these are chocolate cookies, you can substitute in the different almond flours (say, like Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Natural Almond Flour) without changing their appearance too much. If you want to avoid almonds completely, traditional recipes use hazelnut meal (which Bob’s Red Mill also sells).
Can I make a linzer cookie without nuts?
It isn’t traditional, but you can. In my chocolate almond linzer cookie recipe, omit the almond flour completely and use 2 ¾ cups (12.35 ounces) all-purpose flour. You can also forgo the almond extract and use the same quantity of vanilla extract instead, too.
FAQ about Chocolate Almond Linzer Cookie Tools
Do I need a special linzer cookie cutter?
You can buy specialty linzer cookie cutters at cookware stores that make little divets in your cookie dough for jam, but you don’t need to. Sincerely—traditional linzer cookies are sandwiches anyway. All you really need are two cookie cutters (they don’t even have to be the same shape—more on that in a second), with one of the cookie cutters being smaller than the other so you can stamp out a smaller shape in the big shape. Hopefully that makes sense, lol.
What are the best linzer cookie cutters?
I would avoid the linzer cookie cutters that just stamp out divets of jam in the cookies. Those don’t make traditional linzer cookie sandwiches, unless you were to stack two together. I’d instead invest in a set of cookie cutters that nest; they are the same shape over and over, but in different sizes, making them ideal for making linzer cookies. Opt for stainless steel ones—they cut much more cleanly than their plastic counterparts.
Because linzer cookies contain nutmeal, they don’t hold their shape as well in the oven as traditional cut-out sugar cookies. When making linzer cookies, I would avoid using cookie cutters that have sharp edges and corners since they won’t come out as cleanly as cookies made with a regular roll-out cookie dough.
Best chocolate almond linzer cookie recipe tips
- When making cookies that are shaped with a cookie cutter (I call these “roll-out cookies” in my book, but others call them “cut-out cookies”), the dough needs to be chilled and re-chilled multiple times throughout the recipe. Many traditional recipes instruct you to make the dough, chill it, roll it out, cut out cookies, chill the cutouts, and then bake them. It’s a lot of steps, and over the years, I’ve learned that you can eliminate almost half of them and still get perfect cookies every time. In general, I make the cookie dough and immediately roll it out (between two sheets of parchment paper, to prevent sticking) when it’s still soft and pliable to make the slab that I’ll use to cut cookies from. I then chill the entire slab—either for an hour in the freezer, or overnight in the fridge so I’m not sitting around waiting for it for forever—and then use cookie cutters to stamp out shapes. As long as you work efficiently, the shapes will still be cool and you can bake them directly—there’s no need to stick them back in the fridge and wait for them to chill more! If you find that the cookies are losing their shape, stick them in the freezer, on the sheet pan and all, for 10 to 15 minutes before baking.
- I mentioned this earlier but feel that it’s worth emphasizing once more: linzer cookies are NOT made with the same dough as traditional roll-out cookie dough. The nuts in the recipe cause them to spread more. Avoid using cookie cutters with sharp, precise corners and edges and instead stick to rounder or more forgiving shapes for the cutest linzer cookies. The yield of this recipe will vary depending on your cookie cutter—I used a round, fluted 3-inch and 1 ½-inch cutter from this Ateco set and ended up with 14 cookies. Whatever you use, make sure that you have the same amount of “top” cookies (these are the ones with the smaller cut-outs) and “bottom” (ones with no cut-outs) cookies to make sandwiches.
- At first, the dulcey white chocolate and tahini filling for these chocolate almond linzer cookies will be too melty and loose to be spreadable. Wait 15 to 20 minutes for the mixture to cool slightly; it will thicken and become easier to spread with an offset spatula as it does. But don’t wait too long—the filling is primarily made with melted chocolate, after all, and cooling it completely will revert the chocolate back to its solid shape (surprisingly, the tahini doesn’t really soften the chocolate up). If you’re too impatient to wait (like me, because patience is not one of my virtues), take your bottom cookie and dip it into a shallow bowl full of the melty filling, making sure that only its surface (and not the sides) are covered in chocolate. Immediately top with the top cookie to make a sandwich. I like this method because you can really make sure that every bite of the sandwich cookie has filling—unfortunately, it’s definitely messier!
Chocolate Almond Linzer Cookie Recipe
- 2 ¼ cups 10.15 ounces Bob’s Red Mill Organic Unbleached White All Purpose Flour (I prefer buying organic whenever I can, but their conventional flour is good too!)
- ½ cup 1.75 ounces Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour
- ½ cup 1.5 ounces Dutch-processed black cocoa powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup 8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup 7 ounces granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- For the White Chocolate and Tahini Filling
- ½ cup 3 ounces Dulcey white chocolate, from whole feves or a chocolate bar chopped into ½- to 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- confectioners’ sugar for garnish
- natural unsweetened cocoa powder for garnish
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the Bob’s Red Mill Organic Unbleached White All Purpose Flour, Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, and almond extract. Beat on medium until light, fluffy, and doubled in volume, 3 to 5 minutes, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce the mixer to low, add the egg, and beat until just incorporated. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients and beat until combined. Increase the mixer to medium-low and beat until the dough clumps around the paddle and/or sides of the bowl, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Tip the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper around the size of a half sheet pan and use your hands to shape it into a roughly 6-inch square. Place a second sheet of parchment over the dough, creating a parchment sandwich with the dough in the middle. Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough between the parchment sheets, working from left to right. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat every so often—doing so will help prevent the dough from cracking as you roll it. If the parchment starts to wrinkle and leave creases in the cookie dough, pull the sheet loose and smooth it before rolling the dough more. Continue rotating and rolling until you have a rough oval about 13 inches wide, 18 inches long, and between ⅛ and ¼ inch thick.
- Transfer the slab of cookie dough, still in between the parchment, to a half sheet pan. Freeze for at least 1 hour, or refrigerate overnight.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Remove the sheet pan of dough from the refrigerator. Use the overhanging parchment as handles to carefully lift the slab of dough off the sheet pan and onto the counter. Peel the top layer of parchment from the slab and use it to line the sheet pan once more. Line a second half sheet pan with parchment as well.
- Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes, placing the cookies at least 1 ½ inches apart on the prepared sheet pans. Use a second smaller cookie cutter to cut out smaller shapes from the center of half the cookies. The dough should still be cool and firm to the touch. If not, chill both sheet pans in the freezer for at least 10 minutes before baking.
- Bake one pan at a time (keeping the other pan in the refrigerator) for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown around the edges. Cool the cookies on the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, or until the edges and bottoms of the cookies are set and feel firm to the touch. Repeat to bake the remaining cookies.
- Once the cookies have cooled to room temperature, prepare them for assembly. Organize the cookies so that the cookies with the smaller cut-outs are all on one sheet pan. Garnish these cookies with confectioners’ sugar and/or cocoa powder.
- Melt the white chocolate and tahini in the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl set over a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan filled with a few inches of simmering water (be sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water) over medium heat.
- Let the filling cool in its pan or bowl on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes. Use an offset spatula to spread the filling over the bottom whole cookies; top with the cut-out cookies. Allow the cookies to “set” for about an hour or so; the chocolate will harden to room temperature and “glue” the cookies together. Once set, the cookies can be stored in an airtight container or zip-top bag at room temperature for up to 3 days.