Vinarterta linzer cookies

By Anna Olson
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I love when different family traditions come together. When I celebrated my first Christmas with Michael, I learned about the Icelandic-Canadian tradition of vínarterta, a layered prune and cardamom shortbread torte that is cut into fruitcake-sized bites to enjoy. With my Slovak background, prune fillings in cookies were a Christmas staple. Now this linzer cookie merges our two family heritages into a delightful new holiday tradition! The original vínarterta torte benefits from freezing and then thawing, to soften up its layers, and the same goes for these cookies, making them a perfect make-ahead cookie for the holidays.

Make ahead: You can store these baked and assembled cookies for up to two weeks in an airtight container at room temperature. Or to get ahead, make the dough, shape it into a disc, wrap and freeze it for up to three months. To bake, thaw the dough in the fridge overnight before rolling, cutting, filling and putting the cookies in the oven. You can even make the prune filling up to one month ahead and store it in a jar, refrigerated.

SERVES
36
TOTAL TIME

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (260 grams) icing sugar, sifted
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 cups (390 grams) cake and pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups (260 grams) pitted prunes
  • 1/3 cup (80 milliliters) water
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Icing sugar, for assembly (optional)

Directions

  1. For the cookie dough, beat the butter with the icing sugar with electric beaters or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed, or by hand, until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla and almond extracts until well combined.
  2. Sift in the flour, cardamom and salt. Mix on low speed, or by hand, until evenly combined. Shape the dough into two discs, wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least two hours.
  3. For the filling, place the prunes, water, sugar, butter, cardamom and cinnamon in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for five minutes and then set aside to cool to room temperature.
  4. Purée the filling mixture in a blender or food processor or with an immersion blender until a thick, smooth paste. Chill until ready to use.
  5. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C) and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, knead the first disc of dough slightly to soften it (this prevents the dough from cracking when rolling). Roll the dough into a circle just under 0.5 centimeters thick.
  7. Use a five centimeter round cookie cutter to cut out enough cookies to fill a tray, 2.5 centimeters apart. Re-roll the dough as required. Repeat with the second disc of dough.
  8. Use a 2.5 centimeter or smaller cookie cutter of the same shape (or different shape) to cut out the centre of half the cookies. (Be sure you have the same number of cookies with and without the hole in the centre.)
  9. Bake the cookies for nine to eleven minutes, until they just begin to brown a little at the edges. The cookies with the holes will be done about one minute sooner than the others. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. To fill the cookies, spread a spoonful of prune filling on the bottom of each whole cookie. Gently press a cookie with a hole in it on top of each one.

 

Note: Place the cookies with holes cut out on a parchment-lined baking tray and dust them with icing sugar before assembling (pick the cookies up from the sides when assembling, to keep the dusting intact). Place the cookies with holes cut out on a parchment-lined baking tray. Whisk one cup (130 grams) of sifted icing sugar with two tablespoons (30 milliliters) of water until smooth and drizzle over the cookies with a fork or in a piping bag fitted with a small tip. Let the glazed cookies air-dry for two hours before assembling the linzers.

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