Raspberry Linzer Cookies – Once Again, Gluten-free and Vegan

Contender for my favorite cookie of all time: Raspberry Linzers

Gluten-free Vegan Christmas Cookie Series, Part 2 of 3!

I have a bit of a hoarding problem. Only a touch, nothing that would get me hauled onto the show or anything, but it’s true that with a few select items, I have a bit of a problem. One of them, along with cookbooks,  is cooking magazines. I still have pretty much every cooking magazine I have ever either purchased or received by subscription. Yes, it’s a little excessive, and yes, I really should go through and do some serious clearing out – but sometimes it pays off. And this weekend was one of those times.

Some of my very favorite food magazine editions are the holiday collections or specials (rivaled only by the grill & garden spectaculars of summer), and three such holiday specials are front and center for me every year since they came out: a holiday issue of Bon Appetit, a cookie compilation from Cook’s Illustrated, and the December 2005 issue of Gourmet (RIP, sniff). In each, I’ve found versions of what might be, if forced to choose, my very favorite cookie of all time, the raspberry jam-filled sandwiches made with a hazelnut dough, rolled out and cut beautifully, then showered in powdered sugar. I have a major weakness for raspberry anything, and this is the perfect setting for it.

Gourmet’s version was divine and I’ve made it numerous times since discovering it, though, alas, not for the last two, due to the gluten issue (and, truth be told, having a baby and then a young toddler to wrangle, and not having the time or energy or patience for cutout cookies, or homespun holiday creations of any kind, really). This year heralds the return of the Linzer cookie into my holiday lineup, I’m happy to say.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well it translated into both gluten-free AND vegan – I don’t think the texture suffered at all, and the taste is just how I remember it. The fact that it already uses finely ground hazelnuts takes you halfway there already, really. now that hazelnut flour is more widely available, I considered using it, but MAN, is it far from frugal. Much more economical to toast and grind the hazelnuts yourself – and truly, it’s not a difficult task at all. I worried that pairing the ground hazelnuts with almond flour might make it too heavy, but it worked just fine.

One disclaimer: I am far from an accomplished baker, especially when it comes to delicately detailed techniques, so my final products are a little rough around the edges. I’m reminded of what Dorie Greenspan said in her formidable, definitive “Baking” about some rolled cookies, that if some go raggedy, just call them ‘rustic’. I realize there’s really no way Linzers ever qualify as rustic, but I’m invoking Dorie’s authority all the same.

GLUTEN-FREE, VEGAN RASPBERRY LINZER COOKIES, adapted from Gourmet magazine

1 cup hazelnuts
1 tablespoon flax meal plus 3 tablespoons warm water
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup potato starch (plus extra for rolling surfaces)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 sticks/1 cup Earth Balance
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup seedless raspberry jam (or regular jam, strained through a sieve)
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Toast hazelnuts on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes, until very fragrant and skins are a deep, dark brown, then turn off the oven, as you’ll need to chill the dough for a while before rolling and baking. Stir the flax meal into the warm water with a fork and set aside to thicken up.

Once the nuts have cooled down, pulse the nuts until fairly finely ground but not turning into but butter. Whisk the flours, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum and spices together. In a stand mixer, cream the Earth Balance with the brown sugar until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the flax meal and vanilla and continue mixing until combined,scraping down the sides periodically, then do the same with the ground hazelnuts. Reduce the speed and add the dry ingredient mixture in 2 or 3 portions, but take care not to overbeat it. Flour your hands in a bit of potato starch (or rice flour is fine, if you have some on hand), pat the dough into 2 equal balls and then flatten them into discs, about 5 inches wide or so. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours – I left them over night, in fact.

When you’re ready to roll, so to speak preheat the over to 350 again.  Set up two baking sheets with parchment or Silpat liners, and have a bowl with a bit of potato starch (or rice flour) on hand in case things get a tad sticky. Unwrap one of the dough discs and roll it out between 2 sheets of wax paper – you’re going for about 10-11 inches wide. Cut out as many big cookies as you can (I used a combination of snowflakes and fluted circles), and transfer them carefully to the baking sheet. With a smaller cookie cutter (and if you don’t have one, an inverted shot glass would work in a pinch), cut out the centers of HALF the cookies. Reroll the scraps and repeat the process, but only do this one time.

What to do with the leftover dough? I actually just baked the irregular scraps along with the cookies, so as to have taste-testable samples without losing one of the aesthetically pleasing ones. They’re also good to have on hand for kids, spouses and other passers-by.

Anyway, bake the first round for about 10 minutes, until the edges are becoming golden, and then transfer them immediately (and carefully) to  wire rack to cool – a thin metal spatula is best for this task. You’ll repeat this process with the second dough disc. When all the lovelies have cooled, stir the jam up with a fork and put the powdered sugar into a sifting mug if you have one, otherwise using a fine mesh strainer is 100% fine. Sprinkle all the cookies with the sugar, taking extra care with the cut-out top cookie. Spread approximately 1/2 a rounded tablespoon of jam onto the bottom layer, then top with a matching windowed cookie. Repeat with all the pairs.

As you can see, mine are far from professional bakery perfection, but I think they’re still quite pretty in their own right, and more importantly, they’re seriously SO tasty, I’m thrilled with how well they translated into GF/V form. Take these winter wonderland beauties to a family gathering, and consider possibly not even mentioning it (unless it’s relevant to another person with sensitivities, of course); I’ll bet just about anything that no one would guess.

Other blogs showing some Linzer love:

Linzer Tortztravaganza from In My Box
Linzer Hearts from Elana’s Pantry
Linzer Tart from Orangette
Apple Linzers from The Domestic Goddess

–posted by Anne

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