Monday, May 20, 2024

Iced Cherry Almond Linzer Cookies


These iced cherry almond linzer cookies are as lovely to look at as they are to eat, and there’s no special cookie decorating skills required. You can use any small cookie cutters you have to cut the almond cookie dough into your choice of shapes, and the filling is simply store-bought cherry preserves. These beautiful sandwich cookies actually taste best on day 2, so they’re a wonderful make-ahead holiday cookie option.

Christmas-tree shaped cherry almond linzer cookies with icing on cooling rack.

Between the cherry filling and the sweet icing on top, the taste and texture of these linzer cookies actually make me think I’m eating a fancy Pop-Tart! These nutty almond linzers are crunchy right out of the oven, but after icing the top and sandwiching jam in the center, they begin to soften. The magic happens on day 2 when the icing and jam settle into the cookies, making the whole sandwich cookie tender, soft, and deliciously crumbly.


Why You’ll Love These Iced Cherry Almond Linzer Cookies

  • Impressive & beautiful, without requiring special decorating skill (not today, royal icing & piping tips!)
  • Flavors of almond and cherry pair so well, just like in these cherry pie bars
  • Save time by using store-bought cherry preserves/jam for the filling
  • Easy 3-ingredient icing comes together in seconds
  • Linzer cookie cutter set not required—you can use any small cookie cutters you have
  • Cookies’ taste & texture are even better the next day, so this is a great make-ahead cookie option
Christmas-tree shaped iced cherry almond linzer cookies on white plate with frozen cherries in frame.

What Are Linzer Cookies?

Linzer cookies are traditionally made from a nutty almond-based cookie dough. The dough is rolled out, cut into shapes, and baked… just like sugar cookies. Then the cookies are sandwiched together with a filling, usually a sweet fruit jam. These festive, stained glass window-esque cookies are easily some of the prettiest cookies around, especially on holiday cookie trays.

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Fun fact: Linzer cookies originate from an Austrian treat called linzertorte, a type of pastry filled with a fruit preserve and topped with a lattice design.

I adore linzer-style cookies, and have a few varieties already published including raspberry pistachio linzer cookies and caramel hazelnut linzer cookies. If you have a copy of my cookbook Sally’s Cookie Addiction, you’ll find a recipe for raspberry almond linzer cookies on page 65.


Almond Linzer Cookie Dough

Here’s what you need to make these cookies:

ingredients on pink backdrop including flour, jam, almonds, butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and cinnamon.

You need whole almonds for this cookie dough, which you’ll grind down so they are crushed. You do not, however, want almond meal or almond flour because both are too fine. You’ll be much happier with the final cookie with the extra texture from the coarser pieces of nuts.

A small food processor is helpful for coarsely chopping the almonds:

crushed almonds in small food processor.

I usually use brown sugar in linzer-style cookies. Today, however, I chose regular granulated sugar so it doesn’t take away from the almond and cherry flavors.

After that, the dough comes together easily with a stand mixer. Expect a thick, crumbly dough:

slow-up of almond linzer cookie dough in glass bowl with red spatula.

Refrigerate the Dough

Divide the dough in half. If you have a food scale, it helps to evenly divide the dough. If you don’t, however, that’s fine, too. Just eyeball it. This dough weighs about 850g, so each piece should weigh about 425g.

Flatten each piece of dough into a disc and tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Chill the two wrapped discs of dough for at least 3 hours.

almond cookie dough cut in half and shown again flattened into discs.

Similar to this gingerbread cookie dough, when it first comes out of the refrigerator the dough will be really hard. Let it sit out for 10 minutes before you start to roll it out. When you first start to roll it out, the edges may crack a bit, but as you work it, the oils from the almonds release a bit and it quickly becomes more workable.

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Roll Out & Cut Shapes

I decided on a 3-inch tree-shaped cookie cutter (the smallest one from this set) for today’s iced almond cherry linzer cookies, but you could really use any 2- to 3-inch cookie cutter for these. I love these fluted-edge cookie cutters for a more classic linzer cookie look, which I use to make these raspberry pistachio linzer cookies and chocolate gingerbread sandwich cookies.

almond cookie dough rolled out on marble slap and cut into tree shapes.

To make the cutout in the top cookie, so the filling shows through, you need another cookie cutter that’s really small—about 1 inch. You can simply make a round center hole, but it looks extra festive with a little star or heart shape. For the pictured cookies, I used the star from this linzer Christmas cookie cutter set.


What If I Don’t Have a Super Small Cookie Cutter for the Center?

If you don’t have any cookie cutters that small, don’t worry! Try using the end of a straw to make a small round hole in the center, or use a small paring knife to carve a few tiny holes (which would look like red ornaments on tree-shaped cookies!).

All the cookies will be cut with the larger cookie cutter, but only HALF will be cut with the smaller one, for the top cookies. So roll out your first disc of dough, leaving the other disc in the refrigerator for now. Cut out the cookies and bake. These are your bottom cookies:

tree-shaped cookie dough on lined baking sheet.

Then roll out your second disc of dough, cut out the cookies the same way as before, but then use the small cookie cutter to make the little cutout shape in the center of each cookie before baking. These are your top cookies:

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tree-shaped cookie dough with cut-out stars in center on lined baking sheet.

Assembling These Iced Cherry Almond Linzer Cookies

Once the cookies have baked and cooled, it’s time to ice, fill, and sandwich them.

Typically, linzer cookies get a pretty dusting of confectioners’ sugar on top. But I wanted something different here, and almond icing is just SO GOOD.

For the icing, you need confectioners’ sugar, a little milk, and almond extract. You want the icing consistency to be semi-thick, so it’s not too runny. Dip each of the top cookies into the icing, and let any excess drip off.

almond linzer cookies in the shapes of trees and shown again being dipped in icing.

Set the iced top cookies aside to dry, and turn your attention to the bottom cookies.

For the filling, I used cherry preserves, but honestly…any flavor works. If your cherry preserves are pretty chunky, you can use your small food processor to give them a few pulses and smooth out the texture, which is what I did. Pureeing it too much results in a too-thin sauce, though, so go easy.

Spread about 1/2 teaspoon of cherry preserves onto the bottom side of each bottom cookie, then gently place an iced top cookie on top to create a cookie sandwich. It’s fine if the icing hasn’t fully set yet, just hold the cookies carefully by the edges.

spreading jam on underside of cookie and shown again with icing on cooling rack.

Let the assembled iced cherry almond linzer cookies sit out for a few hours for the icing to set, and then you can stack and store them.

It definitely takes some time to make and assemble these linzer cookies, but if you love the look of cut-out cookie cutter cookies, and don’t want to go to the trouble of decorating, these are a fantastic—and just as beautiful—alternative. Plus, again, they’re like a fancied-up cherry pop-tart. 😉

stack of cherry almond linzer cookies on white marble slab.
Christmas-tree shaped cherry almond linzer cookies with icing on white parchment paper.

Sally’s Cookie Palooza

This recipe is part of my annual cookie countdown called Sally’s Cookie Palooza. It’s the biggest, most delicious event of the year! Browse dozens of cookie recipes over on the Sally’s Cookie Palooza page including:

and here are 75+ Christmas cookies with all my best success guides & tips.

Print

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Christmas-tree shaped iced cherry almond linzer cookies on white plate with frozen cherries in frame.

Cherry Almond Linzer Cookies


  • Author:
    Sally


  • Prep Time:
    4 hours (includes chilling)


  • Cook Time:
    12 minutes


  • Total Time:
    4 hours, 30 minutes


  • Yield:
    22–25 3-inch sandwich cookies


  • Category:
    Cookies


  • Method:
    Baking


  • Cuisine:
    American


Description

These iced cherry almond linzer cookies are as lovely to look at as they are to eat, and there’s no special cookie decorating skills required. You can use any small cookie cutters you have to cut the almond cookie dough into your choice of shapes, and the filling is simply store-bought cherry preserves. Take your time with these cookies, especially when handling the dough and sandwiching the cookies together. 



Instructions

  1. Make the dough: Place the almonds in a food processor. Pulse until the almonds are finely chopped, but not so finely that it’s turning into almond flour. See photo above for a visual.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the chopped almonds, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract, and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. The dough will be thick and crumbly, and weigh about 850g.
  5. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions (about 425g each, or just eyeball it), gently flatten into discs, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill the discs in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours (and up to 4 days). 
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Set aside.
  7. Cut out and bake the cookies: Remove 1 disc of chilled cookie dough from the refrigerator. After chilling, the dough will be very hard. Let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes (or 30 minutes, if the dough chilled for longer than 3 hours) before you try to roll it. Generously flour a work surface, as well as your hands and the rolling pin. Roll out the disc to about 1/4-inch thickness. If the dough is cracking a lot when rolling out, wait a few more minutes for it to soften up a bit more. The more you work with it, the softer and easier to work with it will become. Using a 2-inch or 3-inch cookie cutter, cut dough into shapes. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Repeat with the second disc of dough. You should have about 44-60 cookies, depending on size of cookie cutter.
  8. Using a small (1-inch) cookie cutter (see Note if you don’t have one), cut a hole into the center of half of the cookies. Let’s call these the “top cookies,” and the ones without a hole the “bottom cookies.”
  9. Arrange the cookies 2 inches apart on lined baking sheets. Bake the cookies for about 11–12 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before assembling.
  10. Make the icing: In a small bowl, whisk/stir together (I usually use a fork) confectioners’ sugar, 1 Tablespoon milk, and extract/s until smooth. If the icing is too thick to whisk, add a little more milk, a teaspoon at a time, until it reaches desired consistency. You want to keep it on the thicker side.
  11. Lightly dip the surface of each top cookie into the icing, and let any excess icing drip off. Place the iced top cookies on a wire rack or parchment paper. It’s ok if the icing is not completely set before sandwiching the cookies.
  12. Assemble the cookies: Spread about 1/2 teaspoon of cherry preserves on the bottom side of each bottom cookie. Carefully top each bottom cookie with a top iced cookie and press together very gently to create a cookie sandwich. Icing will set in a few hours, so you can stack, store, transport, and gift the cookies.
  13. Cookies will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can chill the cookie dough in the refrigerator for up to 4 days (see step 5), but you can also freeze it for up to 3 months. If you opt for the latter, allow the dough to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before rolling out in step 7. See How to Freeze Cookie Dough for more information. Iced sandwich cookies freeze well for up to 3 months; thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links)Food Processor | Stand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Baking Sheets | Silicone Baking Mats or Parchment Paper Sheets | Rolling Pin | 2- to 3-inch cookie cutter, such as the small tree from this set, or this fluted-edge cookie cutter set | Linzer Christmas Cookie Cutter Set | Cooling Rack
  3. Almonds: I love using salted roasted almonds in this dough, and I recommend them for extraordinary flavor. If you only have raw and/or unsalted almonds, that’s fine, too. An extra pinch of salt in the dough is great if you’re using unsalted almonds.
  4. Cherry Filling: For the cookies pictured here, I used the Bonne Maman brand of cherry preserves, and gave it a few pulses in the food processor to smooth out some of the chunks. You can really use any preserves/jam in these cookies such as raspberry, apricot, or strawberry. If what you’re using is particularly chunky, pulse a few times in a food processor to smooth out. Lemon curd is also delicious in linzer cookies!
  5. If You Don’t Have a Small Cookie Cutter for Center: If you don’t have any cookie cutters for the center (1-inch), don’t worry! Try using the end of a straw to make a small round hole in the center, or use a small paring knife to carve a few tiny holes (which would look like red ornaments on tree-shaped cookies!).
  6. Can I Skip the Icing? Yes, absolutely. Instead of icing the top cookies in steps 10 and 11, dust the cooled top cookies with 2 Tablespoons (16g) of confectioners’ sugar.

Keywords: cherry almond linzer cookies



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