North Dakota: Strawberry Rhubarb Linzer Cookies

North Dakota’s cookie is a simple cutout sugar cookie sandwiching tangy strawberry rhubarb jam.

Recipe source:

I love linzer cookies. They look gorgeous on a cookie plate; you can make them any shape you want, the cutout in the top cookie any shape you want, you can really use any jam you want too, and the jam always looks like a gem peeking out through the cutout.

I also love rhubarb. Up until I think last year I had some in my freezer from my Oma’s garden. I would bring home stalks of it, peel them, chop them up, spread it out on a cookie sheet and freeze it (so it’s closer to IQF than freezing it in one huge mass in a bag) then scrape up, bag, and freeze. I don’t know what happened last year; maybe it was a bad rhubarb year, or I just didn’t speak up about it, but I got no rhubarb and had none. So when I saw that Hannaford had Dole frozen rhubarb, I was relieved. Then I saw that the recipe calls for rhubarb jam.


Maybe it’s because I’m a baking school alum or because I’ve been watching The Great British Baking Show (one ep. into the second collection on Netflix, and these people mutilate themselves more than my entire class did in two years in one episode!) but why not make your own jam (on GBBS they make you make your own phyllo, so they definitely wouldn’t accept a jar of store-bought jam)?

I didn’t, though if I had my Oma’s rhubarb I would have. And yes, I should plant some. But the jam is the star of a linzer cookie. Otherwise you may as well pull a Sandra Lee (the Food Network star, not the pimple doctor) and buy store-made sugar cookies and slap some Smuckers in between them.

If you’re not going to make your own jam, at least don’t cheap out on it. I got Trappist Preserves strawberry-rhubarb jam, because I love their jam, and because the one brand I know has just rhubarb jam wasn’t available at the store I went to this week, hence why it’s not “rhubarb linzer cookies” like the source recipe has. Strawberry and rhubarb are frequently paired, and it’s almost strawberry season. It is a “preserve” so there are chunks. I’ve never tried running preserves through a food processor to blend up the chunks but try if you like. Or leave the chunks in. That’s how you know it’s real fruit, right?

Last time I made linzer cookies, it was Taste of Home’s Cardamom Blackberry Linzer Cookies, and it was for Christmas, and I didn’t yet have my biscuit/donut cutters or my graduated size circle cutters, so I used two sizes of star cutters.

This time I wanted more cookie surface, but I didn’t want just a plain round hole on the top cookie (the source recipe uses a horse shape, and my mom has some “animal cracker” small cutters that would be perfect for this kind of thing). I decided to go for a round cookie with a star-shaped hole.

The finished dough. It was fairly stiff. the instructions didn’t say to chill it unless you planned on saving it to come back to later. I just went ahead with it as is.
This little strainer is so useful for evenly sprinkling flour for rolling, and later powdered sugar for dusting.
The recipe said to roll out the dough but I’ve found it’s easier to work with half at a time at the most.
Like pie dough, you just have to keep lifting and moving it, though unlike pie dough it’s probably too soft to flip more than once. In the background: my son practicing for his part.

To avoid having out of shape top cookie, I cut out and transferred all the rounds to the baking sheet before cutting the middle hole out of half of them. Don’t get carried away and do all of them!

This part my son got into, though I had to tell him to stop after half the sheet.
The nice thing too is you end up with mini star cookies you can sprinkle around your cookie plate, for people who don’t like the jam or who only want a little bite of something sweet.

The recipe said to put two teaspoons of jam on the bottom cookie and squish the cookies together. Maybe my cookies were a little small, but I decided to start with one teaspoon (from my teaspoon cookie scoop) and see how that looks.

Oh yeah, that’s plenty.

A little too much poking out. So I spread the jam on instead:

I ran out of strawberry-rhubarb preserves, so I filled the last few with boysenberry jam, then damson plum jam when I ran out of that. I need to buy more jam.

The powdered sugar soaks into the jam, so you retain that bright gem-like appearance while dressing up (and sweetening up) the cookie.

Overall impressions: The cookie by itself is a tender sugar cookie, not too sweet, pretty much just a base for the jam. The jam of course depends on what kind of jam you use. Mine tasted delicious. Next time I would like to make my own. My family loved them too; I even had to put the container atop the fridge because my son kept pulling it down trying to get into it.

Next time: Buckeye Bars with Shortbread Crust for Ohio, “The Buckeye State.” Peanut butter, chocolate, shortbread. YUM.

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