“Why do people even make regular gingerbread?” This is the question I asked myself after eating these Gingerbread Linzer Cookies with dulce de leche centers. I mean, isn’t it a common complaint that gingerbread is too dry? So you just overcrowd it with icing sugar? But then it’s still dry?
Well. NOT WITH THESE LINZERS. They are the opposite, thanks to these delectable dulce de leche centers.
So, what’s a linzer cookie?
A linzer is an Austrian dessert typically made from a shortbread-like dough, but with ground nuts (these linzer cookies don’t have nuts, but you get the picture). They usually have a jam center (they are literally jam-packed) and then topped with another cookie, this time with a hole in the middle so you can see those gorgeous jam centers.
I’ve made more traditional linzers before, but I’m not going to lie, I really like how these are all spiced and s**t. It’s lovely and holiday-esque and I really enjoy them.
Tips on making these linzer cookies
These gingerbread linzer cookies require some assembly and prep work, but they are 1000% worth the effort. To make the baking process as easy as possible, keep these tips in mind:
Chill the cookie dough — You absolutely must chill the linzer cookie dough before rolling it out. This will help firm up the butter in the dough and will give the dough time to relax in the fridge (which will prevent the cookies from becoming tough). 30 minutes of chilling is fine, but the longer you let the dough hang out in the fridge, the better!
Flour your work surface — Before rolling and cutting the cookie dough, liberally sprinkle your work surface with flour. You need to roll the dough quite thin, and it’s impossible to pull it off the counter if it’s not floured well enough.
Dust with powdered sugar before assembling — To create picture perfect linzer cookies, you want to dust the cookies with holes in the middle with powdered sugar before you pop them onto the cookie with dulce de leche. Trust me, you’ll be glad you took the time to do this!
Allow the cookies to cool completely — Alas, you have to wait for the linzer cookies to completely cool before you can sandwich them with homemade dulce de leche. If you assemble the cookies while warm, they might fall apart and the filling will ooze out.
How to store linzer cookies
Because these are filled sandwich cookies, you can’t store them in the freezer for the long-term. Keep these cookies in a sealed container on your countertop. They should last for a few days without going stale. And if they’re still hanging around your kitchen after they’ve gone stale (I doubt they’ll last that long), just dunk them in milk to soften them up.
Remove the labeling from the sweetened condensed milk and place the can on its side in a pot of boiling water. Lower the heat and simmer for 3 hours. Make sure the water covers the top of the can at all times (you will have to pour in more water from time to time). Remove can from water, allow to cool slightly, then open and stir in salt. Set aside.
for the gingerbread shortbread
In a stand mixer, whip butter and brown sugar until combined.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, spices, and salt. Pour into mixer, pulsing until combined.
Separate dough in half and pound into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours).
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
Remove one disk of dough from the fridge and place on a well-floured work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness.
Using a 3-inch fluted edge cookie cutter, cut out disks of dough and place onto baking sheets. Use a 1-inch fluted edge cutter to cut out the center of half of the disks of dough. You can repeat this process again with your leftover scraps of dough.
Repeat entire process with second disk of dough.
Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes. The cookies should be slightly soft to the touch. Allow to cool for 10 minutes on the baking trays, then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely.
Dust the center-cut cookies with powdered sugar. Place a rounded teaspoon of dulce de leche in the center of a full cookie and then sandwich it with the powdered-sugar cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies.