What could be better than soft homemade heart cookies for Valentine’s Day or for Mom on Mother's Day? These big, soft, melt-in-your-mouth Linzer Heart Cookies are sure to make your sweetheart swoon.
These big heart cookies are wonderfully tender – and the cutting out and filling the cookies takes only half as long as with the little Christmas Linzer cookies. 😉
What are Linzer cookies?
Linzer cookies are shortbread sandwich cookies filled with a jam which is visible through holes in the top cookie. Linzer cookies are traditional Austrian cookies, likely the most common Austrian Christmas cookies, but they are also made year-round.
Linzer cookies originated in Austria and are a miniature version of the Linzer Torte, a nutty, lattice-topped tart filled with red fruit preserves. The Linzer Torte originated either in the Austrian city of Linz, which is located approximately halfway between Salzburg and Vienna, or in Vienna, and was named after either the city of Linz or a pastry chef named Linz.
This is an original Austrian recipe that I got from my Austrian mother-in-law – and it's one of my most treasured recipes. These cookies are soft and buttery, with a touch of vanilla, and are just a little fruity from the jam.
Linzer cookies: with or without nuts in the dough?
Both! Linzer cookies that have ground nuts in the dough are equally as common as those without. Some prefer the flavor of ground almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts in their Linzer cookies. I definitely prefer the soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture of Linzer cookies made without nuts.
How to make Linzer cookies that are soft:
- No nuts in the dough make the cookies more tender.
- Powdered sugar in the dough gives these cookies a melt-in-your-mouth texture.
- Do not overwork the dough! Even though making the dough by hand can be more messy and difficult than with a mixer, it is essential for achieving the softest shortbread. As soon as you have a smooth dough, stop kneading it and wrap it in plastic wrap to rest.
- Don't overbake the cookies. Bake them just until they start to brown.
- Store finished cookies in an air-tight container.
- Allow the filled cookies to sit for a day or two to absorb some of the moisture from the jam and they will get incredibly soft and stay soft for weeks.
Tips for working with the dough:
- Use cold butter and egg yolks.
- First, cut or rub the cold butter pieces into the flour until you have tiny shreds, then add the rest of the ingredients.
- Knead, squeezing the dough together with your hands, just until a smooth dough forms.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it for at least 30 minutes.
- If the dough is very hard when you take it out of the refrigerator, you may need to let it stand at room temperature for an hour or two before it becomes workable again.
- Use plenty of flour when rolling out the dough: on the counter under the dough, on top of the dough, and on your rolling pin.
- The dough often sticks to the work surface when rolling it out. Carefully slide a thin, flexible knife (I use a small offset palette knife) under the dough to release it.
- Don’t roll the dough out too thinly - because of their big size the cookies will break more easily after baking. Using 3 mm dough spacers or rolling pin attachments really help get the dough evenly rolled out to the exact thickness.
- The last of the dough scraps can be used to make thumbprint cookies: roll the dough into balls the size of walnuts, make an indentation in the middle with your finger, fill the indentation with jam and bake.
What kind of jam should I use for filling the Linzer Heart Cookies?
Linzer Heart Cookies are best filled with a tart red jam like red currant or raspberry. The tartness of the jam is the perfect fruity touch sandwiched between the sweet and tender shortbread cookies.
The jam or preserves should be smooth (without chunks) and seedless. If you don't have seedless jam on hand, you can strain the jam yourself by warming it slightly and putting it through a large mesh strainer.
When using store-bought jam, I also like to stir in a teaspoon or two of freshly squeezed lemon juice to brighten the flavor and make it less sweet.
Before filling the cookies, it's also helpful to gently warm the jam, which makes it much easier to spread.
If you want to make regular-sized Linzer cookies, here is my recipe for traditional Linzer Cookies, which are made using the same recipe.
If you make these Big Linzer Heart Cookies, I'd love to see them! Snap a photo and tag me @living_on_cookies on Instagram!
Big Linzer Heart Cookies
- 2 cups + 2 tablespoons (300 g) all-purpose flour
- A pinch of salt
- 1 cup (110 g) powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting
- 1 pkg. vanilla sugar or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 egg yolks
- ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (200 g) butter cold and cubed
- 7 oz. (200 g) seedless smooth red currant or raspberry jam
- On your work surface, add the salt to the flour and cut or rub the cold butter cubes into the flour until only shreds of butter remain.
- Make a well in the center of the flour, and add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract or vanilla sugar and egg yolks into the well.
- With a fork, mix the egg yolks with the powdered sugar and some of the flour, making a thick paste. Bring all the dough together with your hands and knead it just until you form a smooth dough.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and for up to 2 days. The dough should be cold when you roll it out.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (170°C).
- Roll the dough to ⅛ inch (3 mm) thickness on a well-floured work surface. Cut out hearts with a big (4 inch or 10 cm) cookie cutter and place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Cut a smaller heart out of the center of half the cookies with a small (1 inch or 2.5 cm) heart cookie cutter. Knead the scraps together and repeat rolling and cutting out the hearts.
- Position the baking tray in the center of the oven and bake at 350°F (170°C) for about 8 minutes, or just until the edges of the cookies start to brown. Remove from the oven and carefully pull the parchment paper, with the cookies on it, off the tray and onto a work surface for the cookies to cool.
- Warm the jam for 20 second intervals in the microwave until it is a slightly runny and stir. Using a teaspoon, spread the bottoms of the hearts without holes generously with jam and top with the hearts with the cutouts. Dust with powdered sugar.
- Store cookies in an airtight container for at least two days to allow them to become tender. Cookies will keep for two weeks or more.
~ If the dough is very hard when you take it out of the refrigerator, you may need to let it stand at room temperature for an hour or two before you can roll it out.
~ Use plenty of flour when rolling out the dough: under the dough, on top of the dough, and on your rolling pin.
~ The dough often sticks to the work surface when rolling it out. Carefully slide a thin, flexible knife (I use a small offset palette knife) under the dough to release it.
~ Don’t roll the dough out too thinly - because of their big size the cookies will break more easily after baking. Using 3 mm dough spacers or rolling pin attachments help get the dough evenly rolled out to the exact thickness needed.
~ The last of the dough scraps can be used to make thumbprint cookies: roll the dough into balls the size of walnuts, make an indentation in the middle with your finger, fill the indentation with jam and bake.