Linzer cookies are handheld riffs on linzer torte, a jam-filled cake from Linz, Austria, that dates to the 1700s. Black currant preserves were traditional in 18th-century Austrian abbeys, but modern bakers customize their linzer cookie recipes in all sorts of ways. Swap blanched and toasted hazelnuts for some or all of the almonds in the flour mixture, add a ¼ tsp. almond extract with the eggs to amplify the nuttiness, or up to ½ tsp. vanilla extract for nostalgic flavor. We like the sweet-tart combination of apricot and raspberry jams in our sandwich cookies, but you can swap in blackberry, mango, strawberry, or whatever jam you love—but do be sure to use jam, not jelly, since the latter is thinner and can create soggy cookies. That said, no law requires you to use a jam-filling. Try spreading Nutella, lemon curd, buttercream, or melted chocolate into your cookie sandwiches.
Shape the cookie dough to suit the season or your mood. Make linzer hearts for Valentine’s Day, trees or stars for Christmas, or use round cookie cutters anytime. If time or energy is limited, simply roll the buttery dough into balls and make thumbprints right on your cookie sheet.
Cooks’ note: You’ll get the best flavor and texture by toasting the almonds and then blitzing them in a food processor. If you don’t have one, cream the butter using an electric mixer (either a stand mixer with paddle attachment or a handheld mixer with beaters). Mix in eggs, followed by the combined dry ingredients, swapping in an equal weight of almond flour for the blanched almonds.