Dec 9, 2011


There's a country in Europe that I've always been a fan of when it comes to desserts. Of course, the colourful macarons in France are tres chic and the Italian cannoli may be sinfully creamy and crunchy... but it's hard not to fall in love with the desserts of Austria- and maybe more specifically, the tortes. Classic and true to themselves, Austrian tortes are the most glorious of them all! Sacher torte, Dobos torte, Esterhazy torte...and of course, Linzer torte- the one that I keep coming back to each winter, each year.

Above: my favourite part, making the nutty crust... rich with ground almonds & hazelnuts!

And so the other day, invetably as it was destined to be, I found myself measuring ground nuts, piping jam into tart shells and baking an army of bite size Linzer torte tartlets that then marched under a sweet snowfall of icing sugar.

When I moved to the other side of the ocean, I packed my favourite Linzer torte recipe with me. Scribbled on a piece of paper years ago,  this recipe calls for a rich nutty crust- which is what makes Linzer tarts so charming. So beware of recipes that don't include any sort of nuts- short bread, quick fix crusts don't least not in my kitchen :)

Recipe for Linzer torte (makes large tarts, tarlets or cookies)

200gr (7/8 cup) butter, softened
130gr (5/8 cup) sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon almond essence
70 gr (1/3 cup) ground toasted almonds
70gr (1/3 cup) ground toasted hazelnuts
350gr (3 cups) flour + an extra handful when rolling dough out.
Raspberry jam
Icing sugar

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, butter, cinnamon and almond essence. Add the ground nuts and continue to mix. Then roll your sleeves up, drop the whisks, add the flour and finish mixing the dough with your hands. It's important to feel the texture and ensure that all ingredients have been well mixed. If the dough feels a little dry, you can add some flour- bit by bit. The dough should be supple with a shiny appearance and should not stick to your hands (but never too dry and certainly not crumbly). Place dough in fridge for one hour, and if possible, even overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 180C/350F. Roll out the dough on a board dusted with flour.

For tarts: line the moulds with the rolled out dough and pipe out the raspberry jam into the tart mould. With remaining dough, make long strips and place on top of tart in a criss-cross design. Bake for 20 minutes at 180C/350F. Extend baking time by 5-10 minutes if necessary. When tart has cooled, finish off with a dusting of icing sugar.

For cookies: cut out the dough with a cookie cutter and transfer cookies to a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes at 180C/350F. While the cookies cool, heat the raspberry jam in a small saucepan until it becomes of a thicker consistency. Split the cookies into two batches. Pipe out raspberry jam on one batch and sprinkle icing sugar on the second batch. Then assemble each cookie by sandwiching them up together (the side with the icing sugar on top). 

*If you don't have both almonds & hazelnuts, you can also use just almonds or just hazelnuts (total should be 2/3 of whatever nut you choose).

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