Linzer cookies originate from Linz, Austria, but are also a true staple in French baking. The king of French Pastry, Christophe Felder, devotes 4 pages to the Linzer pastry in his book “Patisserie, Mastering the Fundamentals of French Pastry” – a book considered to be the bible of all aspiring French pastry chefs.
The traditional version of the Linzer cookie from Austria comes in a light-brown colored shortbread, with a raspberry jam filling, finished off with a generous dust of icing sugar on top. But growing up in Brittany, France – the land of butter and buttery sables – I only knew them as delicate golden buttery sables, usually filled with strawberry or apricot jam, and certainly with no icing sugar on them. I would often nibble on two or three for my after-school “goûter” (4pm snack time in French), dipping them in a big glass of fresh milk.
And while the traditional raspberry cookies are classics during the chilly Holiday season, I find these “Brittany-style” almond blueberry linzer sables to be simply perfect for spring days. The basic Linzer pastry dough ingredients are still there: ground almonds, white flour, icing sugar and egg yolks – but the ratio of butter is much more generous. These sables have a softer texture (more sandy than crumbly), and a delicate nutty background pairing beautifully with the seasonal taste of an embracing blueberry jam. The lemon zest binds it all together, adding a nice sparkle as well.
I invite you to fill these delightful little sables with any fruit-jam of your choice. Apricot, strawberry, raspberry or even lemon jam are just as lovely. You can also use any shape of cookie cutter, as long as you make sure that your larger cookie cutter is 2-inches wide, and that your smaller cookie cutter (for the holes) is a ½ inch smaller.
Note: I found this very cute bear-shape cookie cutter at Bulkbarn.
Almond Blueberry Linzer SablesPrint This
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cup icing sugar, sifted.
4 large egg yolks
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
¾ cup ground almonds
3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup blueberry jam
In a large bowl, beat together the butter with the confectioners’ sugar, until light and fluffy. Add in the egg yolks and then the ground almonds, vanilla extract and almond extract.
Add in the egg yolks, and beat again until just combined.
Add the flour and the baking powder (previously sifted together), and beat until just evenly combined.
Divide the dough in half and scrape it onto 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Wrap the dough, flatten into disks and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
Preheat your oven to 375 F and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
Take your dough out of the fridge and knead it a little, with the tips of your fingers, to soften it.
On a floured working surface, roll your first disc and start to cut out your sables using a 2-inch cutter (round, teardrop or rectangular) and place them on the first baking tray.
Roll out the second disc, cut out sables using the same cutter, then cut a hole in the center of each, using a cutter that is a 1/2-inch smaller, and place them on the second baking tray.
With the leftover dough, reshape it into a disc, re-roll it and cut more sables. Make sure you keep track so you have the same number of tops and bottoms.
Bake the sables for about 15 minutes, letting the sables without holes remain in the oven an extra 2 minutes. Cool the sables on the tray before filling. (and if you want to bake the holes as well, they will only take 7 minutes in the oven).
Right out of the oven, place the sables on a cooling rack and let them cool to room temperature.
Vigorously stir your jar of blueberry jam to soften it and break up any “chunks”. Spread a teaspoonful of jam on each bottom sable, and gently press a cookie on top of it, and so on.
Let the sables set for at least one hour before enjoying them. They can be kept in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.