Linzer cookies are always a favourite. These ones are just a bit different than the norm – using apple butter in the middle rather than the traditional raspberry jam. A unique cookie with a very unique taste!
Courtesy of Jennifer Hamilton www.domesticgoddess.ca.
With an electric mixer, beat the butter on high speed until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the granulated sugar and continue beating until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add the egg yolk, lemon zest, vanilla and almond extract and beat until blended.
Sift together the flour, cinnamon and salt into another bowl. Add the toasted, ground almonds and stir to blend. Add the flour-nut mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon until blended. The dough should be quite soft.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide into 4 equal portions and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
Preheat an oven to 350 F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper or a silpat.
Remove 1 portion of the dough at a time from the refrigerator, place between 2 sheets of waxed paper and roll out to ¼ -inch thick. Using a cookie cutter about 2 ½ inches in diameter, cut out the cookies. Using a 1 ¼-inch cutter, cut a hole in the center of half of the cookies. Repeat with the remaining portions of dough, then re-roll the dough scraps as needed to make 24 cutouts total, cutting holes in half of them. If the dough becomes sticky, wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze for 10 minutes before rolling out.
Using a thin spatula, carefully transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies are firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks. Loosen the cookies with the spatula, but leave the cookies on the sheets until thoroughly cooled.
To assemble, spread the solid cookies with a thin layer (about 1 teaspoon) of apple butter to within about 1/8 inch of the edges. Dust the cutout cookies generously with confectioners’ sugar. Top the solid cookies with the cutout cookies.
Combine apples, cider/juice, liqueur, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, cloves, sugar and lemon juice in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring often (to prevent burning) until apples are broken down and look like applesauce (about 1 hour). Mash any large pieces of apple with spoon to help them to break down.
Reduce heat to medium. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are completely broken down and butter is very thick and dark (about 2 – 2 1/2 hours).
Remove from heat and let stand to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to one month in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer.