Old-time Christmas recipes, IMHO, are the best. Case in point: these linzer bars, which are a variation of the classic Linzer Torte. Born in Linz, Austria, sometime in the 1600’s, the Linzer Torte is a very short, crumbly flour-and-nut pastry with a strange ingredient, hard-boiled egg yolks. It may sound odd to use hard-boiled egg yolks in pastry dough – stranger yet to press them through a sieve – but the end result is a very rich yet light pastry.
Traditionally, hazelnuts are used for Linzer Torte, but almonds or walnuts can be used. Any tart jam will work. Modern variations on the Linzer Torte omit the hard-boiled egg yolks and use whole raw eggs with good results, but every baker should make the traditional recipe with hard-boiled egg yolks at least once to note the difference. Don’t fret about what to do with all those leftover hard-boiled egg whites. Add them to salads, or eat them as a snack. You can fill them with hummus, Pimiento-Pecan Cheese Spread or Baba Ghanoush for tasty snacking.
|Cherry Linzer Bars |
Adapted from Family Circle Magazine, 12/7/82
Rating: 10 out of 10
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1/2 cup dried sweetened tart cherries
1/4 cup orange juice
2-1/2 cups tart cherry jam*
1-1/4 cups (2-1/2 sticks, 10 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 tsp. Diamond kosher salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 large egg
5 hard-boiled egg yolks, pressed through a sieve
2-2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted before measuring
1 cup finely ground almonds with skins (about 2/3 cup whole almonds)**
About 1/4 cup powdered sugar
Combine dried cherries and orange juice in small saucepan and heat to boiling; cover; steep for 1/2 hour to 1 hour. When cool, stir in cherry jam. Set aside.
Combine butter, salt, sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon, whole egg and sieved yolks in work bowl of food processor; pulse till well combined and fluffy. Add half the flour and half the almonds; pulse till just barely mixed. Repeat with remaining flour and almonds, pulsing till well combined. Scrape dough from work bowl onto plastic wrap, mixing with hands any bits of flour or egg that were not incorporated into dough. Roll plastic wrap up around dough and refrigerate at least one hour, or until dough is chilled and firm enough to handle easily.
Heat oven to 350F. Press 2/3 of the dough in an even layer on bottom and up sides of an ungreased 15 x 10 x 1-inch jelly-roll pan. Spread jam evenly over dough. Roll remaining dough, a small portion at a time, with palms of hands on a floured surface into very thin strips, about 1/4” in diameter. Arrange strips on jam to form a diamond pattern. Bake 30 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into 2” x 1-1/4” rectangles to serve.
TIP: An easy way to sprinkle powdered sugar is to spoon it into a small sieve, then gently shake the sieve over the pastry.