Gluten-free Hazelnut Linzer Hamentaschen
The Jewish holiday of Purim arrives early this year: February 24. This brilliant idea for a riff on Hamentaschen–the traditional folded-triangle filled cookies– hit me last year after Purim was already over, so I filed it away in the mental Rolodex until now.
I debated whether to even share this recipe or not. On one hand, it’s extremely labor intensive– the dough is soft and melty like you’d expect a shortbread to be, and there is a lot of back and forth between active time and freezer time to get it right. On the other hand, the results are SO INCREDIBLY delicious, that perhaps it’s worth the trouble. The cookies are nutty and buttery and delicately textured; an absolutely indulgent treat. If you’ve got a season of Downton Abbey or House of Cards to catch up on, perhaps you can devote a Saturday night to cookie-making and TV as my husband and I did; the stops and starts wont be as annoying when you’ve got high drama paused on your screen.
Let’s backtrack: I’ve blogged previously about making my grandmother’s hamentaschen recipe gluten-free. It worked out just fine, though anytime you’re working with rolling out gluten-free dough for a recipe, excess handling can really be taxing. The doughs are temperamental, and can get sticky or too soft in a heartbeat. When you have to cut out circles, then fold over those corners to make the triangles, and then transfer the folded cookie to a baking sheet, all sorts of trouble can ensue. And often, when you’re using jam as a filling in Hamentaschen, it liquifies and leaks out of the corners, creating burnt little corners and leaving you with a half-empty pocket.
But in a linzer scenario, all you need to do is roll out the dough, cut into triangles with a cookie cutter, and bake flat. Furthermore, since we’re using triangles, the shapes “tesselate”–meaning they can be cut back to back like tiles, leaving virtually no wasted scrap in between shapes. I recommend you cut the dough this way; it reduces the number of times you’ll need to consolidate scraps and re-roll the dough to make use of it all, since–as you will see–this is not a dough that likes to be worked. It cuts best when very cold, and once it starts warming, you’ll need to go back to the freezer for a few minutes in order to get your shapes cut and removed onto a baking tray with ease. Since the jam goes in AFTER the cookies are baked, each cookie retains a nice, full center of well-textured filling. There you have it: all of our gluten-free Hamentaschen problems, solved.
A few tips and technical notes:
- You will want a stand mixer to do this type of recipe properly. Most of the gluten-free Linzer cookie recipes I consulted agree on this point.
- You can use the same Carol Fenster gluten-free flour blend that I’ve recommended previously for my gluten-free carrot cake pancake recipe. If you don’t have easy access to sorghum flour, just swap in brown rice flour instead.
- It’s best to cut out our triangle shapes with cookie cutters on parchment paper, and then transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- You will be making/baking two types of triangles: whole triangles (for the sandwich bottom), and ones with a mini triangle cutout (for the tops). I recommend making your first batch of triangles the cutout ones, so you can “recycle” the cutout dough back into the master dough ball to be re-rolled.
- You will need 2 sizes of triangular cookie cutters to make this recipe work easily.
- If your dough starts getting too soft and melty to work with, just return to the freezer for a few minutes to firm it up and try again.
Recipe: Gluten-free Linzer Hamentaschen
Yields about 2 1/2 dozen 2.5″ sandwiches (~72 triangles)
- 1 1/3 cup finely ground hazelnut flour (you can substitute almond flour)
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (or alternative shortening as desired)
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups Carol Fenster’s gluten-free flour blend
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Filling: 1/2 cup thick jam, poppy seed filling or Nutella
- Optional: confectioner’s sugar and a fine sieve or sifter
Equipment: parchment paper, triangle cookie cutter(s), stand mixer
- Preheat oven to 325°. Spread nut flour into a thin layer on a cookie sheet and roast for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through to ensure evenness.
- With a stand mixer or electric hand beater, beat butter with brown sugar until well mixed. Add egg and vanilla, mixing until well incorporated.
- Add gluten free flour mix, chestnut flour, hazelnut flour, cinnamon, xanthan gum and salt. Beat until you’ve got a smooth dough. (It will be wet– but fear not.) Roll dough out between two pieces of parchment until it is 1/2-inch thick and freeze for 10 minutes. Do not roll too thin or the cookies will be too delicate to handle raw or break easily once baked.
- Remove dough from freezer/fridge and cut with triangular cookie cutters to desired size. Remove the excess dough from between the cookies.
- Using a spatula and working quickly, gently move the cookies to a parchment lined cookie sheet(s).
- Use a smaller cookie cutter (or knife) to cut mini-triangles out the centers of half of the cookies on a baking sheet. Ideally, segregate the cutout halves from the intact halves on different trays, as the ones with cutouts may have a slightly shorter baking time. Gently remove the inner shape with the tip of a small knife to keep from damaging the outer cookie.
- Place the baking sheet(s) in fridge to keep the cookies chilled. Repeat until you’ve used up all the dough.
- Once all the dough has been cut with cookie cutters and the shapes are arranged on a baking sheet, place the baking sheets in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325° while they are chilling.
- Bake cookies for 14 minutes, or until they are very lightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool on pan for 5 minutes before moving the cookies, with their attached piece of parchment, to a cooling rack.
- Allow to cool fully. If you are not serving in the next day or two, freeze the unadorned cookie halves as-is and remove/thaw when ready to decorate and fill.
- To serve: Arrange cutout halves (tops) on a working surface, and dust with confectioner’s sugar. Spread filling onto the intact triangle cookie bottoms. Top each frosted cookie bottom with a sugared cutout cookie top. Voila!
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