It’s the holiday season…and you know what that means: holiday baking! Here’s a festive recipe for Ischl Tarts, which are Austrian cookie sandwiches. It’s a warmly spiced cookie and a plain butter cookie sandwiched by preserves in the middle. These cookies are rich with browned butter, cinnamon, and cloves; perfect for the holidays. Serve with a cup of hot cocoa or some hot apple cider for a delicious treat after your main meal!
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Makes about 20-25 cookie sandwiches
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (½ cup will be browned, the other half will be creamed)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
Preserves/jam of your choice (I recommend strawberry or raspberry!)
- For the spice dough, brown ½ cup butter over medium heat. Keep stirring the butter until it melts, crackles, bubbles, and then turns a light brown. Pour into a medium-sized mixing bowl and chill (in the freezer to quicken the process) until firm (to make the process faster, you could start making the plain dough, which is explained in #2 of these directions, while the brown butter chills). When the brown butter is firm, mix with an electric mixer until creamy, then mix in ½ cup of the powdered sugar, one of the egg yolks, 1 tsp. of the vanilla, ⅛ tsp. of the salt, and all of the cinnamon and cloves. Mix in 1 cup of the flour. The dough will be crumbly, but don’t worry, this is normal! Wrap the dough in plastic wrap (and be sure to mark the plastic wrap so that you know that it is the spiced dough!) and chill in the freezer.
- While the spice dough chills, prepare the plain dough (the other half of the cookie). In another medium-sized bowl, beat ½ cup softened butter with an electric mixer until creamy, then beat in the rest of the powdered sugar, the remaining egg yolk, and the rest of the vanilla and salt until fluffy. Mix in the remaining flour. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Flour a hard surface (I suggest the back of a baking sheet or a granite countertop, if you have one), and roll out both doughs. The spice dough will be more crumbly, but use your hands to knead the dough first to fill in the cracks. Use a 2 ½ – inch cutter (dip with flour to avoid sticking to the dough) to cut out each cookie from both the spice dough and the plain dough. If you want, use a smaller cutter to cut designs on the plain cookies, so you will be able to see the jam coming through on top. Place each cookie 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for about 8 minutes or until edges are light brown. The spice cookies will look darker (because of the brown butter and the spices).
- When the cookies have cooled, spread the preserves/jam of your choice on the spice cookies, and top with the plain cookies. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired, and enjoy!
Graphics: Caroline Chang