Just about a week until Christmas and the signs are everywhere. Big red bows on mailboxes, reindeer frolicking as lawn ornaments, giant snowmen glowing at night, tiny lights strung on Christmas trees and twinkling through windows, my favorite Christmas songs while I shop and most of all, an extra baking aisle with seasonal stuff like candied fruit and black currants appearing in the front of the grocery store, right by the flowers!
Baked goodies at Christmas time was not an unfamiliar concept for me while growing up in India. The famous Plum Cake that I wrote about here, kulkuls, coconut cookies and other Goan specialties were a much-anticipated treat brought over by neighbors during Christmas. But different kinds of fancy cookies were rare and seen only when I could get my hands on cookbooks or magazines that were from out of the country. I would bookmark pages and go to the copy shop to photocopy a few pages, saving them for some later day.
Once I moved here though, it was like hitting the jackpot and a quick trip to the grocery store would give me a cartful of all kinds of flours, baking chocolates, pans....unleashing the wannabe baker in me :) And then I discovered specialty stores with all kinds of cookie cutters and molds and pretty soon ended up with a collection large enough to occupy several boxes in my basement. The shapes they made were like art and I loved to play with them!
These Fruit Linzer cutters were a lucky find. When my teen was still in elementary school, I used to bake these cookies and make little gift boxes for his teachers during the holidays. As he grew older, that practice faded away as did making edible gifts for Christmas. This year, the almost hourly temptations on Instagram were too tantalizing and the urge to bake cookies was impossible to resist. As I was rummaging through my collection of cookie cutters, these came to the surface and so did the memories of baking them in the past as also the ambitious desire to use the same fruit jam as the fruit pattern.
Now with a blog of my own to share them, this looked like a perfect opportunity to finally make them with the different flavors. But being more of a butter with morning toast kind of family, I didn't want to end up with 5 almost full bottles of jam and decided to make tiny batches at home...in the microwave :) And I am using the term, jam, rather loosely here and only after apologizing to all the real jam makers out there! These jams are a quick, easy-fix kind of an option. Some fresh fruit, a little sugar, lemon juice and a bit of pectin. I used the same proportions for all the fruits and they actually tasted amazing. Certainly not for long-term storage but just right for these cookies.....not overly sweet either! I had fun with them and spiced each fruit differently too :)
These cookies would make a great addition to a gift hamper or at a cookie-swap....or perfect for a certain midnight visitor who likes to have them with milk :)
Season's Greetings, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to Everyone!
For the Cookies:
(makes approx. 20 cookies)
1 cup of cake flour or all-purpose flour
3/4 cup oat flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar ( I powdered raw sugar in the blender)
1 tsp orange or vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
Mix the flours and salt in a bowl with a fork or a whisk. Keep aside.
Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the paddle attachment until uniform. Add the powdered sugar and mix until just incorporated.
Add the flour mix in two instalments and mix just until the flour blends in.
Form the dough into a ball and flatten into a disc. Cover with saran wrap and chill for 1/2 hr in the refrigerator.
After half an hour, roll it on a parchment paper until about 1/4 inch thick. You can flour the disc very lightly while rolling.
Transfer the parchment paper with the dough onto a cookie sheet and chill in the refigerator for half an hour. This helps the cookies hold their shape when cut.
While the dough is in the fridge, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove the dough, dip the linzer cutter in flour and dust off most of it. Cut the cookies - an equal number with and without the patterns so as to make sandwiches.
Gather the scraps and knead slightly, make it into a ball and then a disc and refrigerate. Repeat the steps from above until all the dough is used up.
Bake cookies at 350 degrees F for 9-12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. The times vary depending on the oven so watch them from about 9 mins.
Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
Dust the tops with powdered sugar.
Add about a 1 1/2 tsp of the jam to the bottom cookie and cover with the powdered top.
(The flavors I made were pear-ginger, pineapple-pink peppercorn, apple-cinnamon, peach-cardamom and strawberry-vanilla)
1 cup finely chopped ripe fruit
1/3 cup raw sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp regular fruit pectin
Any spice of your choice
Mix the fruit and sugar in a microwave-safe bowl and keep aside for 1/2 hr to macerate. Microwave for 3-4 mins.
Remove and stir and then microwave for another 2 mins.
Add the lemon juice and pectin powder and back into the microwave for another 4-5 mins.
You should still see a little fruit juice but the mixture should look shiny. It will thicken quite a bit upon cooling.
* You can use just the all-purpose or cake flour instead of the mix.
* The cookies tend to soften in a couple of days so would not be a good choice for mailing.