You probably already know that we have a major love for the Italian flavor of gianduja (aka hazelnut and cocoa), which is why we have a sweet spot for these Chocolate Hazlenut Linzer Cookies.
We plan trips to its origin region of Piedmont just to eat it (and many other local regional specialties), we use the combination for one of our favorite homemade ice creams, and we’ll always say “yes” to a bicerin! So when we decided to make a twist on the classic Linzer cookie we once again turned to this flavor combination. The result is a bit sweet, crunchy, salty, crispy cookies, and they’re pretty much perfection.
What Are Linzer Cookies
Linzer cookies just might be our favorites: what’s not to like about two buttery cookies sandwiched around a sweet filling?
And clearly, we’re not alone because they’ve been around for a long time. The Linzer cookies come from the Linzer torte of which some form or another of the recipe has been around for over 300 years. It’s commonly agreed that the tart recipe was discovered in an Austrian abbey in the mid-1600s and by the 1800s the recipe had been introduced to the United States.
The cookies’ first appearance isn’t quite as clear cut but now you can find the Linzer torte or Linzer cookies in bakeries across Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and into Eastern France, and Northern Italy. The cookies are known as occhio di bue (pronounced “oh-key-oh dee boo-eh”) in Italian, which translates to ox eyes because of the fact that the top cookie has a hole that reveals the filling (which is traditionally preserves or jam).
Here we decided it was time to give it an update with some of our favorite flavors of all time: chocolate and hazelnut.
Tips To Make These Cookies
The key is to get high-quality whole hazelnuts and make the meal yourself so that the final cookie has a bit of a crunchy texture. Also, you want to make sure you use a top-quality gianduja paste (no Nutella as it has palm oil!) so that you have a clean, pure, not-too-sweet hazelnut-cocoa flavor. The brand that’s easiest to find stateside is Rigoni di Asiago and can be found in gourmet stores or online.
Make The Hazelnut Meal A Bit Coarse
As we said, you don’t want the hazelnut meal to be too finely ground or you’ll lose out on that delicious toasted nut crunch. Pulse the nuts until they’re about the size of polenta.
Roll The Dough As Thin As Is Reasonable
Then you want to roll the dough really thin (at most 1/4-inch thick) so that they get even crispier as they bake. Another reason to do this is that the cookies get sandwiched so they’ll be too bulky if you roll them any thicker.
Chill The Dough Well
The dough is wet and delicate (which is why it’s so delicious) so this is more of an intermediate recipe. A way to make it easier to work with is to chill the dough adequately before you roll it and after you stamp out the cookies (which will also reduce spread as they bake).
Don’t Overdo The Gianduja
Resist the urge to add more hazelnut-cocoa paste that we call for in the recipe as it will just fall out the sides once you sandwich them.
Let The Cookies Sit Before Serving
Finally, once you’ve finished assembling the cookies, let them sit for at least an hour before serving them or packing them in a cookie box so that they can set up nicely.
Chocolate Hazelnut Linzer Cookies Recipe
- 1 cup whole hazelnuts toasted
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (1 cup) room temperature
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large egg yolks room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread
- Make The Hazelnut Meal: Add the nuts to the bowl of a small food processor fitted with a blade and pulse until finely ground (it should look like meal and be powdery). Set aside.
- Mix The Dry Ingredients: Combine the ground hazelnuts, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk until aerated and any lumps are broken up.
- Cream The Butter: Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle and mix on medium speed until airy and light, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix until well combined.
- Chill The Dough: Turn off mixer, scrape down the sides, and add the flour mixture. Mix on low until just combined. Divide the dough in two pieces, place each in a square of plastic wrap or parchment, pat into a square that's 1-inch thick, and wrap tightly. Place in the refrigerator to chill, at least 1 hour.
- Roll Out The Dough: When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350°F and arrange racks in the upper and lower thirds. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let warm up until easy to roll and pliable, at least 10 minutes.
- Stamp Out The Cookies: Place half the dough on a lightly floured piece of parchment or wax paper, and, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll to a 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, stamp out cookies. Using a second smaller cookie cutter, stamp out the centers of half of the cookies to make stars or rings.
- Freeze Before Baking: Arrange cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze briefly, at least 5 minutes, before baking. Gather dough scraps into a ball and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Bake The Cookies: Bake 2 sheets of cookies at a time until the undersides are golden and the tops are set, switching the sheets halfway through baking, about 12 to 15 minutes total. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack then repeat with remaining dough to bake off all the cookies.
- Assemble: To assemble, spread 1 teaspoon of the chocolate-hazelnut spread on the solid cookie then top it with a ring or star-shaped cookie. Repeat to assemble all the linzer cookie sandwiches.