What are Linzer Cookies?
Technically speaking, Linzer cookies are an Austrian cookie where the cookies are made with almond flour and filled with raspberry jam. They are inspired by the Linzer tart which, traditionally is made from an almond crust, filled with raspberry, and topped with a lattice. This recipe has no almond and no jam, but I kept the name Linzer to denote the sandwich type of cookie. Also, the cookie cutters I bought are called Chanukkah Linzer Cookie Cutters, so I just went with it.
How to Make Fig Linzer Cookies
This Fig Linzer Cookie recipe is actually based on my Fig Hamantaschen. I have been craving those hamantaschen for months, which is probably why my mind thought to make a holiday Linzer cookie based on similar flavors. The dough for this recipe is adapted from The International Culinary Center’s Lunette Cookies, which are traditional, oval shaped cookies with two holes in the top cookie exposing the jam and looking like spectacles.
1. Sift and Whisk Dry Ingredients
Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sifting the dry ingredients lightly aerates them, contributing to the crumb of the cookies. Give them a light whisk too to make sure the ingredients are well combined.
2. Cream the Butter and Sugar
This is easily accomplished with an electric mixer. A stand mixer will be faster than a hand mixer. It will take a good 5 minutes to get the two ingredients creamed together, meaning that it is light and fluffy. About half way through, add in the orange zest. You can certainly add the zest in the beginning. I just like to get the butter and sugar going on their own before I add the zest. I suspect it makes no material difference though.
3. Mix in the Yolks and Milk
Add one yolk at a time, mixing until fully incorporated before adding the second one. Again, mix until fully incorporated. Add the milk and mix until fully incorporated.
4. Mix in the Dry Ingredients
You can use the mixer, but you want to be careful not to overmix the dough once the flour is added, as you risk over-developing the gluten, which will result in a less than satisfying cookie. I therefore like to mix the dry ingredients in by hand and follow up with a quick run in the mixer, if necessary.
5. Roll Out and Refrigerate
The dough may be a little crumbly — that is ok! Mound it together on a piece of parchment paper and shape it as best you can into a rectangle or oval. Place a piece of parchment on top of it, and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to approximately ⅛ inch thick. The shape and length do not matter. The goal is to get the dough spread out evenly to ⅛ inch thickness throughout. Slide the bottom parchment onto a baking sheet, and place the entire package in the refrigerator for at least one hour. The baking sheet will ensure that the dough stays flat.
6. Cut and Bake
Use your cookie cutouts to cut the cookies into their shapes. For these Hanukkah Fig Linzer Cookies, I used these Chanukkah Linzer Cookie Cutters. The trick here is to keep the dough cold, so it is better to work quickly. Use the bigger size shape to cut out all the cookies. Pull away the rest of the dough and put in a pile on the side. Then use the smaller cutters in the centers of half of the bigger cookies. Pull out the smaller shapes and add those to the scrap pile. (You can also just bake those off as small cookies.) If the dough gets tricky to handle at any point when transferring to your parchment lined baking sheet, just put them back in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes. Once the cookies are placed on the baking sheet, put them back in the refrigerator or even the freezer for 10 minutes. They will hold their shape better if they go into the oven when they are well chilled.
Mound the scraps together, place between parchment paper and roll the dough out again to ⅛ inch thickness. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes or freeze for 10 minutes, and continue cutting cookies. Keep repeating until you use up all the dough.
7. Make the Fig Filling
The fig filling is so delicious and so easy to whip together. Cut off the stems of the figs and halve them. Dump them into a small pot. Add the rum, water, orange zest, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has mostly evaporated. Transfer the cooked figs to a food processor. Add the honey and process on low until fully combined. If the fig filling seems too thick and not easily spreadable, add water, 1 teaspoon at a time. You may need to add several teaspoons depending on how dry the figs were initially.
8. Make Sandwiches
Spread approximately 1-2 teaspoons of the fig filling on the bottoms of the large cookies without holes in the middle. Cover each with the cookies that have the holes in them. (Suggestion: You may want to glaze the tops of the cookies with the holes and allow the glaze to dry before spreading the fig filling on the bottoms and making the sandwiches.)
9. Glaze the Fig Linzer Cookies
The glaze is super easy to make. Whisk together the confectioners sugar, cinnamon and orange juice. If the glaze is too thick, add more orange juice, one teaspoon at a time, until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Decorate the tops as desired, whether spreading the glaze all over, drizzling it, and/or topping with sprinkles, nuts, or mini-chocolate chips.
Frequently Asked Questions About Making Fig Linzer Cookies
Can I use any cookie cutters to make Fig Linzer Cookies?
Yes! I made these for Hanukkah, but you can use your favorite cookie cutters to turn these into Christmas cookies, Valentine’s Day cookies, or any other holiday or shape you desire.
Can I make these cookies parve (dairy free)?
Absolutely. Substitute the butter for vegan butter and the milk for a non-dairy milk. Almond milk would particularly work great here.
How do I avoid the cookies from falling apart when transferring the dough to the cookie sheets?
If the dough is falling apart, it means the dough has gotten too warm. Refrigerate the dough for at least 10 minutes, and you will be able to move them more easily onto the cookie sheets. I recommend cutting out all the shapes onto a parchment lined sheet, refrigerating all the cut cookies, then place them on parchment lined baking sheets and bake immediately.
Fig Linzer Cookies
- 200 grams all purpose flour (1½ cups plus 2 Tablespoons)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch nutmeg
- 100 grams unsalted butter (7 Tablespoons)
- 100 grams sugar (½ cup)
- ½ teaspoon orange zest
- 2 large egg yolks
- 5 grams milk (1 teaspoon)
- 7 ounces dried figs (stems removed and sliced in half)
- 30 grams rum (2 Tablespoons; can also use Grand Marnier, Orange Liqueur, orange juice or water )
- 45 grams water (3 Tablespoons)
- ½ teaspoon orange zest
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
- 21 grams honey (1 Tablespoon)
- 60 grams confectioner's sugar (½ cup)
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1-2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (or more, as needed)
- Cookie dough. Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a bowl and lightly whisk them together. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar for 5-7 minutes. Add the zest about half way through. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
- Add the egg yolks, one at a time, allowing them to fully incorporate before adding the next one. Then add the milk. You may need to stop the mixer a few times to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just until fully combined.
- Spread the dough onto a large piece of parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment paper over the dough. With a rolling pin, roll the dough until it is approximately ⅛ inch thick. Pulling from the bottom piece of parchment, slide the parchment encased dough onto a baking sheet and place it in the refrigerator for at least one hour. While the dough is chilling, make the filling.
- Fig Filling. Into a pot add the sliced dry figs, the rum, the water, the orange zest, the cinnamon, and the salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the flame as much as possible to maintain a simmer for 10-20 minutes, checking on them at the 5 minute mark and every few minutes thereafter. The figs should be very soft (a fork should easily pierce them) and most of the water should have disappeared. If the figs are very dry and not softening up, you may have to add 1 to 2 tablespoons of additional water and cook for a few more minutes. If the figs were not too dry at the outset, it could take just 10 minutes for them to soften up.
- Once the figs are cooked and soft, move them to a food processer. Add the honey and process until smooth. Allow them to cool. If they are not in a spreadable consistency, add 1 teaspoon of water at time, mixing after each addition, until it is spreadable in consistency. The fig filling can be prepared up to a week earlier and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, allowing it to come to room temperature before using.
- Bake dough. Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and lift up the top piece of parchment paper. With half of the dough, use dough cutters to cut desired shapes for the bottoms of the cookies. Use smaller cutters in the centers of half the larger cookies. If the dough gets sticky, place it back in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes. Gather any scraps, roll them out to ⅛ inch thickness, refrigerate, and cut more cookies. Place the cookies in the refrigerator or freezer for 10 minutes prior to baking. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake 8-10 minutes. The bottoms and edges should be lightly browned.
- Make Glaze. Whisk together the confectioner's sugar and the cinnamon. Add the orange juice, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until you reach a thick, pourable consistency. Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookie tops. Allow the glaze to dry.
- Spread approximately 1-2 teaspoons of the fig filling on the cookie bottoms. Place the cookie tops with the cut outs in the middle on top. Spread glaze on the cookie tops. Decorate with sprinkles, as desired. (Alternatively, glaze and decorate the tops first, allowing the glaze to dry fully. Then spread the fig filling on the bottoms and top with the glazed tops.)
- Keep the dough chilled at all times. If the dough is sticky or falling apart after you cut the shapes, it means the dough has gotten too warm. Refrigerate at least 10 minutes before continuing.
- The fig filling can be made up to one week in advance. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Allow it to come to room temperature before spreading on baked cookies.
- For dairy free, use vegan butter and non-dairy milk.
- Fig Linzer Cookies are best served the day they are made. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. (They may get soggy at room temperature because the cookies will start to absorb moisture from the fig filling.)