Friday, December 30, 2016

Delightful Linzer Squares

A long time ago, I ate Linzer Squares and was totally enchanted with the flavors. I was given the recipe, so I can truthfully say this recipe is in no way mine, though as it was shared with me, I am now sharing with all my readers. The fact that I really loved these when I first tried them did not, somehow, spur me on to make them right away, and like so many things, out of sight means out of mind, and the recipe has set out there ever since. 

Raspberry Linzer Squares
Raspberry Linzer Squares
This year, I decided enough procrastination is enough and I made them for Christmas Eve dinner. And they are just as wonderful as I recalled. Again, begging the question: Why did I wait so very long to do this? Who knows. But now that I have, I am truly hoping to make them more often.

Raspberry Linzer Squares just cut
Raspberry Linzer Squares just cut
The thing with these squares / bars / cookies is that any flavor of jam can be used, so each time you make them they can have a different flavor. These were made with a seedless raspberry jam as my husband objects to the seeds. Regular raspberry jam, strawberry or apricot are also great. 

I would not mess with the crust part of the recipe, as it is just divine. Looking at the photos, it seems that the crust might be dry, but this is so not the case. It is tender and as it has ground nuts in it, nuts do help with moistness. The kind of nuts to use is entirely up to the individual. I used walnuts as they are my favorites, but pecans, hazelnuts, almonds or even macadamia would also work. The important thing is to have them very finely ground.

One thing the woman who gave me this recipe stated was that normally the lattice top is meant to be rolled out flat and cut into strips to set on top. She felt this was too tedious since the dough is delicate and easily breaks, so she suggested just rolling the  dough into thinner-than-pencil sized strips and setting them on top. It works the same either way and makes life easier.

I am all about making life easier!

Another thing that can be done, but I did not, is to brush the top lattice with an egg wash (1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon of water) before baking. This would make the lattice shiny and more golden. I meant to try it, but I totally forgot in my rush to bake this dessert! So obviously they came out wonderfully well despite this lapse. The dessert is made in a 9 x 9-inch pan, and the final "bars" can be cut into 12 bar type pieces or 16 squares; your choice. And here is the recipe for these wonderful bar type cookies. 

Raspberry Linzer Squares
Raspberry Linzer Squares

Raspberry Linzer Squares

Makes 12 or 16 squares 

1½ cups all-purpose flour +2 tablespoons
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup hazelnuts, ground (or almonds, walnuts, pecans or macadamia)
½ cup unsalted butter at room 

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 whole egg, beaten
¾ cup thick raspberry Jam
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon water

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment for easy removal and cutting later. Spray the parchment with cooking spray and set aside. 

Into a large mixer bowl, measure the 1½ cups of flour. (Reserve the extra 2 tablespoons for later). Add sugar, baking powder, salt, nuts, and butter; mix until well combined. Add lemon zest and egg, stirring with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened. Reserve ½ cup of dough aside. Pat remaining dough evenly into the bottom of the pan. Spread the preserves over dough in pan. To the reserved half-cup of dough, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Roll this dough to very thin pencil like strips and place 9 strips in a diagonal over the preserves, about ½" apart. Place the remaining 9 strips crosswise over the first strips, ½” apart, forming a lattice top.

In small bowl, stir the egg yolk and water; brush dough strips. Bake for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool completely on wire rack in pan. Cut into bars. 

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest (AHOFpin). I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies