The holidays typically put cherished family dessert recipes front and center. They’re a delightful way to bond over childhood memories and honor one’s cultural roots. Except, when your mother — like Eduardo Garcia’s mother, didn’t let you eat sugar. Luckily, his skilled assistant, Isabelle Kuhn, whose aunt is the founder of the famed New York City brunch institution, Sarabeth’s, was on hand to share her family’s Linzer Torte cookie recipe.
Isabelle, a native New Yorker lives far from home in Montana but making these cookies are a way to bring her family nearer to her. While this particular cookie has won many community bake-off contests, to Isabelle, they mean much more. Growing up Jewish, the jam-filled cookie was often the only dessert in the holiday tray that was not Christmas-shaped but still felt festive. “The color and vibrancy of the raspberry jam and the powdered sugar still gives it that holiday feel. It’s all inclusive,” Isabelle said proudly.
It’s also fitting that she chose to share the recipe for a jam-filled cookie. Before Sarabeth’s became Sarabeth’s, her aunt was newly divorced with two young kids and started to make jam from an old family recipe to support herself. The preserves were eventually sold at Williams-Sonoma, followed by her first namesake bakery in 1981.
Despite her family’s baking legacy, these cookies didn’t always turn out like Isabelle remembered. They’re tricky to get right and she now understands why her mother banished her from the kitchen so that she could fully concentrate on each step. But when the smell of the almond paste hits the air and the powdered sugar dust covers the counter, Isabelle feels right at home.
To make your own version of these, check out the recipe below. Thank you, Isabelle, for sharing your Raspberry Linzer Torte recipe with us!
Linzer Tort Cookies
Courtesy of Lynn Kuhn
A classic holiday almond cookie with some Montana flair sandwiched in between.
Yields: 16 cookies
1 ¾ sticks of unsalted butter
⅔ cup confectioners sugar
¼ tsp almond extract
1 ¾ cup flour
½ tsp cinnamon
½ cup ground almonds
¼ cup ground pine nuts
Purchase skinless white almond slivers and grind in Cuisinart. In a large bowl or kitchen aid mixer, cream unsalted butter, sugar and almond extract until fluffy. Gradually add flour, cinnamon and ground almonds. Divide into 4 parts and refrigerate for one hour or overnight. Using linzer tort cookie cutters, cut cookies into “tops and bottoms”. Bake at 350 for 8 to 10 minutes.
Pro tip: If dough is getting sticky use powdered sugar instead of flour to soak up excess moisture to maintain a moist cookie.
Once cookies have cooled, place dollop of preferred jam onto bottom, place top over jam and finish with powdered sugar.