Austria: Linzer Augen

The Linzer torte, named for the City of Linz, is one of Austria's most famous desserts. Believed to have originated in the City of Linz, the earliest written recipe for this delectable treat was found in the archive of the Admont Abbey dated 1653.

Traditionally this torte consisted of a crust made with flour, ground nuts (traditionally almonds although I have also seen hazelnuts used), sugar, egg yolks, spices and lemon zest that was filled with preserves (traditionally black currant) and then topped with a lattice crust.

Linzer cookies use the same ingredients as the Linzer Torte but present them in a different way; that is, two cookies are sandwiched together with a layer of preserves or jam. Traditionally these cookies are filled with black currant preserves but as black currant preserves are hard to find in North America we usually fill them with a variety of different flavored preserves, most notably raspberry. The top cookie, dusted with confectioners sugar, has a cutout so the preserves are visible. When cut into a round shape with a round cutout they are known as Linzer Augen, or "Linzer Eyes".

These have become beloved cookies on many Christmas cookie platters and at many holiday cookie exchanges here in the United States. Many different types of special Linzer cookie cutters are available with cutouts for all occasions.

Linzer Augen (Linzer Eyes)

1 cup slivered almonds, blanched or toasted
8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. finely grated orange or lemon zest
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

In a food processor, finely grind the almonds using short pulses. If you are using toasted nuts, it would help to put some of the granulated sugar you will be using in with the nuts as you are pulsing them. The sugar will absorb some of the oil that is produced helping to prevent it from becoming almond paste.

In a large bowl, beat the butter on high speed with an electric mixer until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the granulated sugar and continue beating until combined. Reduce the speed to low. Add the egg yolk, orange zest, vanilla and almond extract and beat until blended.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon and salt into another bowl. Add the ground almonds and stir to blend. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon until blended. The dough should be soft.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Divide the dough into four equal portions and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper.

Remove 1 portion of the dough at a time from the refrigerator. Place dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper and roll out 1/4 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, cut out the cookies. Using a 1 1/4-inch cutter, cut a hole in the center of only half of the cookies. Repeat with the remaining portions of dough, then reroll the dough scraps as needed to make 24 cutouts total, cutting holes in half of them. If the dough becomes sticky, wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze for 10 minutes before rolling out.

Using a thin spatula, carefully transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks. Loosen the cookies with the spatula, but leave the cookies on the sheets until thoroughly cooled. To assemble, spread the solid cookies with a thin layer (about 1 tsp.) of raspberry jam to within about 1/4 inch of the edges. Dust the cutout cookies generously with confectioners’ sugar. Top the solid cookies with the cutout cookies and fill the hole with more jam. Makes 1 dozen cookies.

Recipe courtesy of Stephanie Jaworski at

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