I made these pretty cookies and so can you!

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Patrick McGough

The assignment was to bake Christmas cookies for an office Cookie Swap. Ok, I'm more of a store-bought slice-and-baker but decided to go all in with a traditional Linzer cookie. In the pages of Southern Living they look so pretty and Christmasy. Did I mention that I'm not a baker? I was flipping through The Southern Cookie Book and came across a recipe for Pecan Linzer Cookies. These beautiful cookies caught my eye and so I put them down as my cookie. The weekend of the "Big Bake," I put on the Hallmark Channel for some Christmas inspiration, gathered the ingredients and pulled out my Cuisinart Food Processor that I bought in 2002 - and have never used. So, I dusted off the fancy food processor, locked in the bowl, put in the ingredients, and pushed "pulse" (several times) but zilch/nothing/nada. I took off the bowl, dumped out the ingredients, reassembled it all and…nothing! My mind was racing through ways to pulse the pecans, flour, and spices together by hand if I couldn't get this dang thing to work. I finally succumbed to a how-to video on You Tube and quickly realized that I had the bowl on backwards – the handle should face me. Duh! Now kids, always read through the recipe FIRST. If I had done that, I would have known that the butter has to soften before making the cookie dough. Hello again, You Tube! In case you're in a pinch, heat up your microwave by boiling 2 cups of water in it, put the sliced butter in a bowl and leave in the closed microwave for 10 minutes. Voila, softened butter! At this juncture, I also realized that the dough had to chill 4 hours.

Nellah Bailey McGough

While the dough chills, I thought I'd give you a little history lesson on the Linzer cookie… According to Foodreference.com, this cookie stems from the Austrian Linzertorte which is thought to be the oldest known torte first made in a 1653 Austrian Abbey. Chilling done and back to baking.

I divided the dough into thirds, keeping the other parts refrigerated while rolling out and cutting each batch. Since these cookies were for Chrsitmas, I decided to go with something more seasonal for my Pecan Linzer Cookies. I decided to go with a round cookie with star cutouts. When they were filled and dusted with powder sugar, these beauties would be perfect for our Christmas cookie swap. Once the cookies were cut out, they had to chill another 30 minutes before baking (UGH!). This recipe got me so worked up that maybe I should have been in the fridge chilling along with the dough! I finally got into a rhythm—letting one pan chill while rolling out and cutting the next batch. Then put the chilled batch in the oven while the 2nd group was chilling. Ask any member of my family and they can tell you that when baking, my M.O. is typically running through the house like a crazy woman after remembering I had something in the oven. Not this time. I set the kitchen timer on the microwave and hovered during the baking of each batch. Note: there is a wee bit of pressure knowing you're baking these cookies for the Southern Living edit staff so I, for sure, wasn't going to mess these up. Plus, I didn't have another 4+ hours to make and chill the dough.

Nellah Bailey McGough

Thankfully I had a full roll of parchment paper (which I overlooked in the ingredient list) and enough cookie pans for chilling and baking. Once the dough was chilled, the rest of the steps went along exactly like the recipe and were easy. The dough rolled out well and cutting it was a breeze with the perfect cookie cutters I found at Michaels. I used the traditional raspberry jam but any flavor will do. The cookies assembled easily and overall was a success.

What I learned:

  1. Thoroughly read the recipe – maybe a couple of days ahead of time.
  2. My oven runs about 5 degrees hot (noted after the first batch which I fed to my family).
  3. My "brand new" 17-year-old food processor is pretty handy and I won't be waiting another 17 years to use it.
  4. This is my first and only foray into making the beautiful and tasty Linzer cookie! While it's not difficult, it does take time to execute and patience is not one of my virtues.
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