07 December, 2014

12 Days of Christmas, Day 7: Linzertorte

Linzertorte.....sure, if you were hanging around last year for the flogging of Europe, then you know that I covered Austria's Linzer Sables last year on Day 5.  But tiny little cookies weren't what the Austrians had in mind when they came up with "Linzer" anything.  Someone came up with the portable version long after the Linzertorte had become a popular Österreichische Weihnachten dessert.  The original was a largish, wonderfully tender hazelnut and butter pastry bottomed confection loaded with sweet raspberry or black currant filling.  Christmas was finally HERE when one of those landed on the middle of the table in Austria.  For anyone that has Austrian ancestry, that may still be the case here.  To this end, I offer this awesome recipe.


Torte Dough
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla paste or vanilla extract
1 c. hazelnuts, skinned
1/2 c. + 2 T. sugar
1/2 c. blanched almonds
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. allspice
12 T. unsalted butter, cut into 1 T. pats and kept cold

1 1/4 c. raspberry preserves
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. heavy cream or milk
1 1/2 T. sugar

Whisk the egg and vanilla together in a bowl.  Process the hazelnuts, almonds, salt, and sugar together in a food processor until they are ground very fine.  Add the lemon zest and pulse.  Then add the flour, cinnamon, and allspice.  Toss the pats of butter into the processor, evenly distributing them around the processor container and pulse the processor until the contents look kind of HUGE wet granules of sand.  With the processor still on, pour in the egg mixture and process until the dough starts to just come together.

Pour the dough out onto the counter and make into one large ball.  Divide the ball in half.  (If you aren't going to make the torte right away, go ahead and refrigerate the dough balls at this point.  They will be alright for a couple of days.)  Take one ball of dough and break it up into small half dollar sized pieces and toss it into your tart pan and set the other ball of dough aside.

Once you have it torn up and in the pan (in what seems like an even distribution of dough) start pressing the dough down into the pan working outwards as you press.  You need to work the dough into the fluted edges and about 2/3 of the way up the edges all the way 'round the tart pan.  Once you've done that pop the tart pan into the freezer for at least 30 minutes to allow the dough to rest and cool again.

 Take the other ball of dough and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper and set it in the fridge to cool or anywhere that is cold.  It was cold enough here that I just stuck it out in the garage.  While those are cooling, take your raspberry filling and mix it with the lemon juice in a bowl.  Lemon juice forces the natural pectin in the fruit to thicken even more when heat is applied to it.  So, even jam/preserves that seem fairly loose will thicken up in the oven when the 350 degree heat is applied to it with the help of the lemon juice.  Never fear!

Preheat the oven to 350 F

When the dough in the tart pan has finished its 30 minute rest, take the pan out of the freezer and line it with aluminum foil and add either a pastry weight chain or...do what I did because I forgot to order them from King Arthur Flour's store for the THIRD year in a row....fill the tart pan half way with uncooked rice or beans.  Works like a charm!

Bake the tart in the oven for 25 minutes, rotating it 180 degrees half way through the baking process.  While it is baking take your other ball of dough that you rolled out and start working with it.  Now, at this point you can decide to do the traditional Linzertorte lattice top OR...you can be cool like me, and do something a little more festive.  I broke out the cookie cutters (mini ones) and cut out shapes with the dough and popped those onto the top of the preserves instead of a lattice top.  It seemed like more fun, and if you are trying to get the children involved in the baking process this is the perfect opportunity to do it.  I picked little snowmen, stars, and Christmas trees.  Once you are done cutting them out, brush the cut outs or the lattice top with the milk and sprinkle on the sugar and pop it in the oven to bake.

It will need to bake for another 50 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden brown color.  Don't worry, it isn't burned.  Hazelnuts just get a very dark golden color when they are baked/toasted.

 I can see why this torte is a big deal at Christmastime.  Not only is it a beautiful centerpiece to the table but, it is a fairly elegant tasting dessert that you don't need to tell ANYone only took you 30 minutes to make and then the oven did the rest of the work!  Shhhh....I won't tell either!

The crust is the perfect crisp when you fork into it, and the raspberry filling holds very well thanks to that tiny little addition of lemon juice.  When it first hits your tongue you expect a crunchier than crunchy crust but, the butter and the nuts just melt in your mouth.  It does, however, still give you a nice contrast to break up the one note texture of all of that jam.  I loved the Linzer Sables last year, but I love this even MORE!  There is no harm in serving this as is but...even just a small tinge of powdered sugar could dress this up immensely and give it the feeling of new fallen snow right there at your dinner table.  Minus the actual wet and cold!

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