Vegan Almond Linzer Cookies
Each year as December arrives I get more and more excited about the coming traditions. Each year I seem to add something. A little bit of home, a dash of Germany, trickles from my international friends, and now sprinkles of Mexico throughout.
My name’s day is on December 6th and for German’s that is the start of the holiday season. It marks the day St. Nicholas comes to fill the shoes of all good children with candies and small toys. Only shoes that have been well cleaned will be filled so children are busy cleaning their rooms, clothes and shoes in the days leading up to the holiday.
This year I have the month of muertos behind me where I have to have the whole house clean before leaving November. The first two days of December is spent hanging lights, decking the tree and baking cookies. My grandma arrives today to the Yucatan and I will start celebrating all the joys this December and coming year will bring. Including my names day.
While in Germany I learned the most from my host-mother as I joined her daily in the kitchen. Not only was I practicing my German but I was learning new cooking methods and techniques. By December I was dreaming in German and able to swiftly open the correct cupboard for the next tool or ingredient she requested.
Baking outside of Germany has never felt the same, something about the air and the nostalgia I can never quite reach the same liminal space in my own kitchen, but year after year I dutifully try as I bake tortes, cookies and other holiday fair.
One cookie I hadn’t tried to reach before was the light and crispy Linzer Kekse. We made them together only once, but this was a cookie that came from Grandma and was well cherished around the house. They are buttery, crispy, sugary, but a tart jam cuts through that making them a cookie you can easily eat 5 of before you notice it.
At 16, I was already an avid fan of the tin butter cookies ubiquitous throughout all the states and holiday gatherings. This German version as I saw it was the best of both worlds, and I couldn’t understand why all butter cookies didn’t come with a bit of jam in the middle. In short, they were perfect.
Going vegan at 19, I had sort of forgotten about the butter forwar cookie until I started practicing my German again and blogs that I followed on instagram started to post their versions. While I can’t confirm this taste anything like the original, I can tell you the process of grating, rolling, cutting and baking these cookies brings back enough memories the flavor doesn’t have to be like the original.
Some baking notes:
After you mix up this dough it will still be soft but not too sticky. If the dough is sticky add more flour.
Once ready let rest in the fridge at least 30 minutes to firm up.
After you roll this dough I found it useful to make all the cuts and then freeze the dough 10 minutes before transferring them to a cookie sheet.
Completely frozen dough shouldn’t break.
If your cutouts are breaking freeze a little longer.
Roll this dough between parchment paper, there is no other good way.
If you don’t have parchment paper or silicone mats, better pick a different cookie this time.
The original recipe of course called for butter, and it had you set the cookies in the fridge 10 minutes before baking.
Cold cookies prevent them from spreading as they are cook.
I baked my cookies directly out of the freezer.
If our dough is no longer frozen, cool in the fridge 5-10 minutes.
Store ready cookies in the fridge as you continue rolling and cutting the dough.
I do not add any sugar to the filling so that it is tart and cuts through the sugar of the cookie.
Raspberry filling is the original, but any tastes good.
This can be made with regular sugar or coconut sugar.
Taste more hearty with whole wheat flour, but sift it twice before using.
Also easily made gluten free with Bob’s Red Mill brand premixed flour.
Nik’s Vegan Linzer Kekse
Yield 13 – a baker’s dozen
75 g almonds, ground
130 g flour of choice
½ t salt
Zest of ½ lemon
75 g sugar
113 g cold coconut oil (not solid nor liquid)
½ t vanilla
150 g berry of choice
1 T cornstarch
Read the above baking notes before starting.
This is an intermediate level roll out cookie.
Toast the almonds for 5-10 minutes until fragrant, this is most efficiently done in a toaster oven or cast iron.
Grind the almonds through a hand grinder or in a food processor until very crumbly but not butter.
Mix the almonds with the flour, cinnamon, salt, zest, and sugar.
Mix in the vanilla and cold coconut oil into the dry ingredients and mix well.
Your dough should be wet and soft but not sticky.
Once combined rest the dough for 30 minutes or up to 3 days in the fridge.
Notes on coconut oil, you want a soft butter texture.
This is sometimes the texture your december pantry will provide. You should be able to spoon the oil without seeing it become liquid.
If you live in a hot place like me this is done slowly in the fridge.
Stirring the coconut oil every 5 minutes until you reach the desired texture.
The process can be sped up by freezing your cup and spoon before you start.
It’s okay if there are some pea sized coconut oil disks in the dough.
Solid pieces are much better than liquid ones.
When ready to roll the dough push out with your hands between two pieces of parchment paper.
If the dough isn’t flattening easily with your hands let it warm up 10 minutes.
Use a wooden rolling pin to roll the dough to around 3 mm thick.
Use a 2 or 3 inch round cookie cutter to make as many rounds as possible from the dough.
Cut smaller rounds, or other shape from the middle of half the cookies.
Place closely together but not touching on a cookie sheet.
Store cut cookies in the fridge until baking.
Ball up the dough and continue rolling it out between two layers of parchment paper and cutting cookies until there are none left.
If you are having trouble moving the cut cookies, see baking notes.
Bake the cookies for 12 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Or until lightly brown, careful to not burn them.
Allow the cookies to cool completely on a cookie sheet while you make the jam filling.
I almost always start from frozen berries.
simmer together chopped berry of choice with the cornstarch for 5 minutes to create a thick liquid.
Blend the filling until smooth.
Assemble the cookies
When the filling and cookies have cooled you may assemble them.
Place a small spoon full of jam onto the solid circle sides of the cookies.
Do not fill to the edge.
Place one cut out cookie round on top of the jam.
Continue until all cookies have been paired up.
Enjoy within the week.
Best stored in the fridge.