If you frequent this site, you might have noticed I don’t post cookies often. Sure, as a tastebud-possessing individual, I like a good cookie. What’s not to like about hand-held delights made primarily of butter and sugar? But I don’t tend to have a lot of cookie-related ideas. They seem to be my culinary blindspot. It might be because I don’t find them particularly beautiful. And I am a visual learner and schemer. Now, before you direct me to the plethora of perfectly gorgeous sugar and gingerbread cookies on the Internet, I know they exist. My other Achilles heel is royal icing. So yeah, I can’t even approach cookies from a design standpoint. But every now and then the baking gods come through and bless me with a good cookie idea I can actually pull off. And these Caramel Apple Linzer Cookies are a fine example of such an idea.
So what are we looking at here? Well, you’re looking at two classic Linzer-style cookies accented with freeze-dried apple and apple pie spice with an apple cider caramel sandwiched between them. There’s edible gold glitter in there but that’s just flash. It’s not like gold leaf, it doesn’t add a dose of minerality, it just looks pretty. The cookies are finished with a fine dusting of powdered sugar for that just snowed-on look.
What I like best about these Caramel Apple Linzer Cookies is they look magical, elegant, and a little kitschy. Basically, everything I look for in a holiday anything. And they achieve this look rather effortlessly. Yes, there are a couple of components to make and chilling times to be aware of. But these cookies are not difficult. They are at least not royal icing difficult. So let’s talk about how to make them!
We’re going to kick things off with the cookie dough. Now, a traditional Linzer cookie is made with both all-purpose flour and almond flour. And I have heard good things about swapping the flour for all-purpose gluten-free flour but that’s where I would draw the line at experimentation. What makes a Linzer cookie so good is how tender it is. And that tenderness comes from the moisture in the almond flour. So while it is fairly expensive, don’t sleep on the almond flour.
Start by beating a couple of sticks of butter until fluffy. We’re just loosening up the butter at this point. To the butter sift in some powdered sugar. This is where the cookies will get that melt-in-your-mouth quality from. Mix the sugar into the butter and then add two egg yolks, some salt, apple pie spice, and some blitzed freeze-dried apples. Once everything is integrated, add the all-purpose and almond flours and mix everything on low until a crumbly dough forms. Start streaming in a 1/4 cup of heavy cream until the dough comes together. Form the dough into a ball, cut it in half and press each half into discs. Wrap and chill the dough for an hour.
The dough is a good candidate for making ahead of time. You can leave it wrapped in the fridge for up to two days prior to rolling, cutting, and baking. But if you do chill your dough for longer than one hour, make sure you let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes before you try rolling it out. She will be stiff and prone to cracking if you aren’t patient.
While the dough is chilling, make the caramel. Now, apple cider caramel takes a little more time because there’s an extra step and that’s reducing the apple cider. Luckily it’s very hands-off. Unluckily, it’s very hands-off until it isn’t. It will take a while to reduce which can lull you into a false sense of security. So make sure you check in on it frequently and make sure the pan isn’t at risk of running dry.
Once the apple cider is reduced to a quarter of its original volume, add sugar, butter, and cream. I used demerara sugar so my finished caramel was on the darker side. If you would prefer a more tawny or cognac shade use light brown sugar instead. Cook the caramel until it registers 238°F on a candy thermometer. Transfer the caramel to a heat-proof jar and set it aside to cool. I prefer to leave it at room temperature and let it cool naturally but if you’re in a hurry, you can use the fridge to help speed up the process. Just make sure you don’t immediately put the caramel into the fridge. Let it cool to a lukewarm temperature before sealing the jar and storing it.
While the caramel is cooling, roll one disc of your dough out to a 1/8 of an inch thickness. Cut out your cookies using a Linzer cookie cutter set or one cookie cutter and one a third of its size. I do recommend getting cutters for this purpose. It’s just so much easier. Arrange your cut cookies on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat. Chill the cut cookies for 30 minutes prior to baking. This last blast in the fridge will further encourage them to hold their shape when introduced to heat. While the first round of cookies is baking, get to work on cutting out the second disc. I like to dedicate one disc of the dough to the cookie bottoms and the other to the tops.
Once the cookies are baked, let them cool in the pan before transferring them to a cooling rack and leaving them to cool completely. Once the cookies are cool, your caramel should cool enough to assemble the cookies. It should be quite thick but still spoonable. If it’s really set up, you can give it a quick blast in the microwave, but don’t abandon it there. If you heat it up too much it will be far too liquidy to work with.
Dust the top cookies with powdered sugar and set them aside. Take one of the bottom cookies and spread a teaspoon of the caramel on top. I know it’s tempting to pile the caramel on there because who doesn’t love caramel? But if you add too much caramel, the top cookie will just slide around and the edges will get very messy. If you don’t mind the mess, go for it. But if you want to tuck these beauties into a cookie box or tin as a gift, I would be conservative with your caramel application.
And that’s everything you need to know about these Caramel Apple Linzer Cookies. They’re festive, shiny, and just a little bit tacky. And they give a very good impression of a caramel apple. What’s not to love?
Caramel Apple Linzer Cookies
- 1 Linzer cookie cutter set
- 1 Large skillet
- 2 Large Baking Sheets
- 1 hand or stand mixer
Apple Spiced Linzer Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar sifted
- 2 large egg yolks
- 36g (1.3 oz) freeze-dried apples blitzed
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp ground cloves
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup almond flour
- ¼ cup heavy cream
Apple Cider Caramel
- 1 cup apple cider
- ¾ cup demerara sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter cold, cut into cubes
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ¼ tsp salt
- Additional powdered sugar for dusting
- Edible gold glitter optional
For the Cookies
- Place the butter in a large bowl and beat until fluffy and a slightly lighter shade of yellow. Add the sugar and beat once more until smooth. Add the egg yolks and beat once again until smooth.1 cup unsalted butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 large egg yolks
- To the mixture add the freeze-dried apples, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves. Beat until smooth.36g (1.3 oz) freeze-dried apples, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ½ tsp ground ginger, ½ tsp salt, ⅛ tsp ground cloves
- Add the almond and all-purpose flour to the bowl and mix on low. Once a crumbly dough forms slowly stream in the cream. Mix until the dough comes together.2½ cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup almond flour, ¼ cup heavy cream
- Gather the dough into a ball and cut it in half. Press each half into discs and wrap. Chill the dough in the fridge for one hour or for up to two days.**
- Once the chilling time is up, roll one-half of the dough out to 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut the dough out with the bottom cutter of a Linzer cookie cutter set. Arrange the cookies on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes prior to baking.
- While the cut cookies are chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F and roll out the second half of the dough. Cut the dough using the top Linzer cookie cutter *** Arrange the cookies on a baking sheet and once you've transferred the first half of the cookies to the oven, chill the second half.
- Bake both sets of cookies for 15 minutes or until golden. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes prior to transferring to a cooling wrack. Let cool completely.
For the Caramel
- Pour the apple cider into a large skillet and simmer until reduced to a 1/4 cup. This should take about 10 minutes.1 cup apple cider
- Stir in the sugar, butter, cream, and salt. Continue to cook until the caramel registers 238°F on a candy thermometer.¾ cup demerara sugar, ½ cup unsalted butter, ¼ cup heavy cream, ¼ tsp salt
- Take the caramel off of the heat and pour it into a heat-proof jar. Let sit unsealed until the caramel is lukewarm. From here you can let it cool completely on the counter or store it overnight in the fridge. ****
- Arrange the top cookies on a cooling rack and dust them evenly with some powdered sugar. Set them aside.Additional powdered sugar
- Spread a teaspoon of the room temperature caramel on one of the bottom Linzer cookies. Sprinkle the caramel with a little gold glitter and place a top cookie on top. Repeat with the remaining cookies.Edible gold glitter