A linzer cookie can be very loosely defined as a a sandwich cookie with a windowpane-style top that reveals a (usually jam) filling. This definition is something of a departure from the traditional linzer tart that originally inspired the cookie. Linzertorte, or linzer tart, is a classic Austrian pastry made with a buttery, nut-rich dough and a jam filling, that is usually topped with a lattice crust that makes it very recognizable. The new definition keeps the peek-a-boo top crust/cookie and lets a baker get very creative with the cookies themselves and with the filling, while the cookies remain recognizable as linzer cookies.
These little linzer cookies are definitely nontraditional in flavor and filling. The recipe that inspired me to make these is an Anna Olsen recipe for Hot Chocolate Linzer Cookies. Hers are chocolate sandwich cookies with a marshmallow filling. They derive a hot chocolate flavor because she used actual hot chocolate mix (in addition to regular, unsweetened cocoa powder) in the cookie dough. Hot chocolate mix is typically made with sugar, cocoa and nonfat dry milk, and the dry milk is the ingredient that lends the cookies a slightly milky, hot chocolaty flavor, as opposed tasting like plain old chocolate wafers.
I took the same premise and added some extra elements to make Mexican Hot Chocolate Linzer Cookies. Mexican hot chocolate starts out like regular hot chocolate, with sugar and cocoa powder, and frequently includes flavors like cinnamon, cayenne pepper, almond and vanilla. You can buy Mexican hot chocolate mix in most grocery stores (Nestle makes it, and there are several other brands), but you can spice up regular hot chocolate by adding these spices in if you can’t find it. I’ve made notes in the recipe for the spice amounts, and I would encourage you to use the additional spices even if you have mexican hot chocolate just to bring out the flavors more.
The finished cookies, by the time they are sandwiched with the filling, are somewhere between soft and slightly crisp and crumble pleasantly into your mouth when you bite into them. You can taste the spices, but they aren’t overwhelming, and they help to balance out the sweetness of the marshmallow filling. These cookies would also be good with jam, if you want to take a little step back towards the traditional cookies and keep that filling instead of the marshmallow one.
Mexican Hot Chocolate Linzer Cookies
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered hot chocolate mix (Mexican-spiced, if possible)
1 tbsp ground almonds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
approx 1 cup marshmallow fluff (store-bought or homemade)
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in powdered hot chocolate, ground almonds, spices, vanilla extract and large egg until smooth. Gradually, working at a low speed or by hand, blend in the flour mixture.
Shape the dough into two discs, wrap each in plastic wrap and chill for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator. Dough can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator for at least a week.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Lightly flour a flat work surface and roll out one of the chilled dough discs until it is no more than 1/4-inch thick. Work with dough one disc at a time because it can get quite soft at room temperature. Use a 2-inch round cookie cutter to cut rounds and set on prepared baking sheet. Dough may be rerolled once. Repeat with remaining disc of dough.
Using a much smaller cookie cutter, cut a small window into half of the cut cookies (as pictured above).
Bake for about 10 minutes, until cookies are set and slightly firm around the edges. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Cookies can be stored, unfilled, in an airtight container for several days before using.
To assemble, spread about 2 tsp marshmallow fluff onto each of the base cookies, then top off with a cut out cookie. Let cookies set up at room temperature to dry for about 2 hours before serving. If you use too much marshmallow, filling will ooze out when you bite into the cookies (not that that is a bad thing, just a warning!).
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.