Kneads and Cravings: Keebler elf on a shelf

The holidays are coming upon us with a vengeance. If it’s not the shopping, the wrapping, or the postal stampeding, we’re stressing about the food. In my family, I’m a glorified Keebler elf; I handle all of the holiday cookies because I’m the only one that hasn’t tried to chuck the cookie gun against the wall. I’m also a solid baker, given that I’ve been gifting cookies since I was 11 or 12 and haven’t poisoned anyone (yet). I decided to test my baking skills and try a recipe that would replicate my father’s favorite cookie from his childhood bakery.

My father practically inhaled the 50 some-odd Linzer cookies (that I nearly lost my sanity trying to bake; don’t worry I figured out a nifty method that I’ll share with all of you). Evidently the cookies I served up were just as good as the Linzers from his childhood, so now I’ll be adding them to my extensive holiday cookie roster. If you also have a parent that reminisces about bakeries from the Bronx/Yonkers area (or a relative that enjoys almond cookies), try whipping these up for your holiday festivities.  

Linzer Cookies

makes 40-50 cookies

2 ¼ cups flour

2 sticks butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

½ cup toasted almonds

1 ½ teaspoon almond extract

½ teaspoon salt

parchment paper

1 round 2 inch cookie cutter

1 round 1 inch cookie cutter


powdered sugar

jam (raspberry or strawberry)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the almonds on a pan. Bake the almonds for 10 minutes or until they’re fragrant. Once the almonds cool, grind them into a fine powder and combine with the flour and salt. While the almonds are toasting, beat the sugar, eggs and almond extract together. Gradually stir the dry mix into the wet mix. Once everything has been well mixed, chill the dough for at least an hour (this makes it easier to roll out). Take half the chilled dough and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper until the the dough is ⅛- inch thick. Use a two-inch cookie cutter and make cuts into the dough (since it is a wet dough don’t lift away the cut cookie) pull away the extra dough and roll it back into a ball and let it chill. Place the parchment paper with the cookies on it on a baking sheet and bake for 9-10 minutes. (The parchment paper is an actual life-saver; I spent at least an hour trying to lift away the cut cookies before realizing it would just be easier to bake them on the parchment paper.) Repeat the process, making sure to cut out a one-inch hole from the center of half of the cookies (for when you put them together). Once all the cookies are baked and cooled, take the cookies with the hole in the center and sprinkle them with powdered sugar. Spread a thin layer of jam on the full cookies, place the sugared cookie on top of them and add a little extra dollop of jam in the center of each hole (to make them pretty) and then they’re all ready to eat.

Chef’s note: You can make your own jam to go with the cookies or you can buy it from the store. If you decide to make your own jam, don’t try to make it the same day as the cookies. It will only bring you frustration and sorrow. Also, it’s much easier to spread cool jam than hot jam on a cookie.