Play Me a Recipe

Carla Hall makes Cranberry Ginger Linzer Torte Cookies

Episode Summary

Join chef and cookbook author Carla Hall as she rolls, bakes, and (cranberry) jams her way through her Cranberry Ginger Linzer Torte Cookies recipe.

Episode Notes

On Play Me a Recipe, your favorite cooks will walk you through their most treasured recipes, offering all the insider tips, stories, and tricks you won't get from a written recipe—and you'll be right alongside them, every step of the way. Feel free to pause, jump back, or navigate the steps via the podcast chapters.

If you're cooking along, here's the recipe we're making today. Go ahead and grab the ingredients below (Carla starts listing them at 1:16) before  starting the episode.

(P.S. Missing some tools? We've linked to the equipment that Carla uses throughout the transcript; use promo code COOKWITHUS for a slight discount at checkout. OK, back to the recipe.) 

Cranberry Ginger Linzer Torte Cookies

Cranberry ginger filling

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and ground ginger. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until just combined. Add the vanilla. Gradually add in flour mixture on low just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten into a disk. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Roll the dough 1/4-inch thick and cut into 2-inch rounds with a plain or fluted cutter. With half the rounds, cut a hole from the middle of each round in a desired shape. Place the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet and chill for 15 minutes.
  5. Bake the cookies for 20-25 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown or the cookies are crisp. Remove from oven; let cookies cool for a minute on the pan, then remove to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
  6. Place a teaspoonful of filling on the flat side of each whole cookie, spreading it out to the edges with the back of the spoon. Dust the top of the cut-out cookies with powdered sugar. Place the powdered sugared tops on the filled bottoms. Can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

Cranberry ginger filling

  1. Combine all ingredients, plus 1/4 cup water, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Lower heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until cranberries burst. Continue cooking, mashing fruit a bit with the back of a spoon, until thick as jam, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat to cool completely. Can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

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Episode Transcription

(Psst: Cooking along? Missing some things? The tools you need are linked throughout; use promo code COOKWITHUS for a slight discount at checkout. OK—back to the show.)

Carla Hall: These little inserts are going to be little tiny cookies. I think tiny cookies are in my future...


Carla: This is Play me a Recipe. I'm chef, cookbook author, and Food Network talent Carla Hall. Today we're gonna make Cranberry Ginger Linzer Torte Cookies. The recipe is linked in the show notes if you need to refer to it, but otherwise we’ll be gathering ingredients, mixing, rolling, stamping out, and jamming right alongside each other. Feel free to pause or jump back if you need a little more time.

Linzer cookies remind me of the perfect pop tart, but with a little more flavor. This is also combining my love of making cookies, because I had a cookie company for about 10 years, and my holiday tradition of making cranberry sauce with little tweaks of flavor every now and then. In this case, I give it a punch of ginger and orange.

Ingredients & equipment

Carla: For this recipe, you'll need, for your cookies: all-purpose flour—and before I even tell you the amount, before you even start measuring, let's talk about how you measure flour. So you're gonna put your flour into a bowl. This way you'll have plenty of room to take a whisk and sort of stir it up to aerate it so that it's not so settled. And then you're gonna spoon your flour into your measuring cups. Make a big heap to make sure that you have the perfect cup, and then you take a straight edge and go straight across that cup. That will give you the perfect measure. So for this recipe will need 3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, half teaspoon of kosher salt. You always need salt in desserts. One tablespoon ground ginger. Yep, we're going in strong with the ground ginger and because I like it spicy. We're also adding one teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Three sticks—yeah, I know!—of unsalted butter. Look, they’re cookies! And what makes cookies tender and flaky, like shortbread? Butter.

One cup of granulated sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla. For our filling, we're gonna need 12 ounces of cranberries. Fresh is great. Frozen is also great. Either is perfectly fine here. Two more cups of sugar because come on, cranberries are sour! Two tablespoons grated fresh ginger. You see what I'm doing here? I am bridging that ground ginger that's going to be in the cookie with fresh ginger that's going to be in the filling. The zest of one orange, a half a cup of fresh orange juice from that same orange that we're gonna zest, one quarter cup of water and a pinch of salt to keep things from being too sweet. And to be perfectly balanced.

I also have out a medium mixing bowl with a sieve, a fluted two-inch cutter. You can use any two-inch cutter. I have a smaller cutter—that's gonna be the window of my linzer cookie, my trusty electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. I also have out baking sheets, parchment and plastic wrap. And for the filling, I pulled out a two-and-a-half-quart pot with a lid.

Step 1: Make the filling

Carla: Okay, let’s start by putting together our cranberry filling, and as I talk to you about the background of this recipe, I am peeling my ginger with the back of a spoon. This way I get all of the skin off, but I don't lose any of that ginger flesh. Alright, so that's that. Now I have my grater or a microplane. So now I'm ready to grate my orange and my ginger.

So I love this recipe. It just brings in the holidays for me. Sometimes I use pears. Sometimes I use apples, but this year I'm going to use ginger and orange. All right, that's the oranges. And now my ginger.

Carla: So when you're grating the ginger, you feel like you want to go from the top down, but lay it on its side because it's easier to zest against the grain, than the zest with the grain. Smells so good and so fresh. I have the temperature set on medium-high heat. So I'm gonna bring this [12 ounces of cranberries and two cups of granulated sugar] up to a boil, and what I wanna do is to continue to stir it until the sugar dissolves. When it comes up to a boil, I will lower the heat to a simmer and then the cranberries will burst, and it feels like the holidays right? They will burst—then we’ll continue to cook it, and you can mash the fruit with the back of a spoon or your stiff rubber spatula, and then it'll be thickest jam in about 20 minutes. I mean, it really comes together quickly.

(musical interlude)

Carla: Wow, this is smelling so good. So, take a taste. So now you should feel a little bit of the spiciness of the ginger, and the sweetness, but the tanginess of the orange...and it's nicely sweetened right? When the cranberries burst, you'll start to get some of that sour, but then it should be perfectly balanced. If you feel like it's too sweet, where you're not getting the ginger and the orange, add another pinch of salt. Alright, we're gonna take a taste.

Oh, that's so good. Oh, wow. You taste all those flavors. That is delicious. Okay, so we're gonna pull this off and let it cool while we make our cookie dough.

Step 2: Make the cookie dough

Carla: So, in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, ground ginger and cinnamon. And that should be easy, easy work. I like to create a bridge—when I know that I'm doing two different components of a dish—I try to use two different versions of a particular ingredient. So in this case I have fresh ginger and I have dried ginger. You could also—like I added cinnamon—you could also put a cinnamon stick in the filling. Nutmeg would be nice; you could do—instead of orange, you could do lemon, which would be really delicious. We're gonna put our room-temperature butter into the bowl of an electric mixer, and it's fitted with the paddle attachment. And let's talk about room-temperature butter, so room-temperature, according to butter, dis 68 degrees. So your butter—if you're holding it out of the wrapper, you should be able to bend it, and it doesn't break when you bend it, and it also doesn't just collapse. So that's about the texture that you want to have your butter.

So I'm just pinching off pieces of my butter and putting it into the bowl. I'm gonna start the mixer on low. And then I'm gonna add one cup of sugar. Now what I'm looking for is for the butter and the sugar to just come together. So often, what people do when they're making cookies is that they whip the butter until it's light. But that will whip too much air into your cookie batter, and your cookies will not have structure, so I've just mixed them. This is what's called creaming the butter and the sugar. I'm gonna add a teaspoon of the vanilla. I'm also going to take this opportunity to take my rubber spatula and scrape down the sides and get under the paddle to make sure that nothing is stuck down there where it's not getting incorporated.

Carla: That all looks really good. Now I'm ready to gradually add in the flour mixture. My mixture is gonna be on low. And to make it really easy, I'm going to dump my flour mixture onto a piece of parchment, so this is much easier to get the flour in there, with the parchment. Are you smelling all of those spices? Smells good already. Okay, so you want to keep your mixture going until the dough just starts to come together. Right now, it's looking a little crumbly. And then as everything warms up; as the flour takes on the fat of the butter, it's almost like magic. And it comes together….and done! It's all together.

So now what we're gonna do is dump this mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten our dough into a disc. Alright, so wrap your dough and chill it for 30 minutes. And if you're doing this for the holidays, you can make this dough ahead of time. You can put it in your refrigerator for up to a week. You can freeze it for up to a month. If you want to get a jump on everything, I'm going to go wash up, check on my plants...I'll meet you back here after the break.


Carla: And we're back. I'm Carla Hall and we're in the middle of making my Cranberry Ginger Linzer Torte Cookies. As a reminder, the recipe is linked in the show notes, and we're going through the whole thing right here. Feel free to pause or jump back if you need a little more time. And we're coming back to the point after we've made the filling and the cookie dough, and the dough has been chilling for about 30 minutes.

Step 3: Roll & stamp out the dough

All right, so we're gonna roll the dough to a quarter-of-an-inch thick, and I have put my dough between two pieces of parchment paper because the less flour that I use, the more tender that they are. So I don't add more flour to the dough, I have a piece of parchment on the bottom and a piece of parchment on top. If your dough gets soft during the punching out or the rolling, you can actually pick it up very easily, transfer it onto a sheet pan, and put it in the refrigerator. My dough is pretty stiff, so I just work my rolling pin over the dough, pressing it, turning my rolling pin. But eventually, we wanna have the dough at a quarter-inch thick.

(Pounds dough with rolling pin) Excuse me, I'm sorry! I'm sorry if I'm hurting your ears, but that did the trick. (Laughs) I just sort of pounded it in two different ways. Now, when you're rolling out the dough, be careful not to go over the edge, because the edge gets pinched and you can't pull it up. So try to roll just to the edge and I start in the middle of my dough and I roll out. And then if I have to roll the other side, I just turn my dough 180 degrees and roll the other side. 

My dough ripped; what you can do is pull some of the dough off another end and smush it back together. It is very forgiving. Now, I am using a round cutter, but you can use squares. You can use snowmen. You can use stars. I actually have stars, so I may even do some stars. You really can do anything. And I plan on giving friends these linzer cookies this holiday season because I think that it's a special year. I mean—and imagine if you make extra jam—you can also give jam. You can double, triple the recipe as well. Right now that I've rolled this half out, I'm going to put it on a sheet pan and put it back in the refrigerator and get my other half. That way. When I'm punching out, all of my dough is ready.

(musical interlude) I have all of my dough rolled out, so we are ready to punch out our cookies. I have my sheet pans on standby, and make sure you go straight down so that you get nice clean cuts because you want the cookies to match up. And I go as closely as possible to the last cookie that I punched out. Remember if your dough gets too soft, go ahead and put it back in the refrigerator.

So let's talk about the scraps. With the scraps, I would stack the scraps and you can re-roll them, but try not to ball them up because you don't want to overwork them once all of your circles are cut out.

Go back, and with half of your cookies and use your smaller cutter to cut out that insert. That's gonna be the window so that we can see that delicious jam that we made. Alright. So I'm going to punch out, trying to get it right in the center. These little inserts are going to be little tiny cookies. I think tiny cookies are in my future. Alright, so just press those out, try to make a nice clean cut.

If your cookie tears, which mine just did, feel free to just pinch it back together because the dough will, just come right back together. It's okay, So I'm gonna put my cookies in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes so that they are nice and cold. And then in the meantime, I'm gonna preheat the oven to 350°F.

Step 4: Bake

Carla: Okay, it's baking time! Yep. My rounds are lot less soft than they were when we first put them into the fridge. Some of you may have decided to slide them into the freezer to speed up the process. So let's slide these into our preheated oven and set our timers for 20 minutes. All right? The edges should just be starting to brown. And the cookies should be crisp after 20 minutes. All right, so keep an eye on them.

(musical interlude)

Carla: These look so perfect. I know that they're done because I can see the golden-brown edges, and I actually smell the caramelization of the butter. And there are these little pillows, sort of like bubbles, not really bubbles, but pockets on top of the cookies where they have bubbled up. They look so fantastic. All right, so let's pull them from the oven. We're gonna let them cool for about a minute or so on the pan to finish cooking on the bottom so they could get nice and crisp, and then we're going to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. I'm so excited! Are you excited?

Step 5: Fill & dust the cookies

Carla: Okay, now the fun part. This is when baking becomes crafts. We've done all of this work. And the first thing that I do before I even think about filling my cookies, I make pairs. So I flipped cookies over, the ones that are gonna be the bottoms, I flipped them over and paired them with the top cookie next to it. So I have rows of bottoms and rows of the tops, and I alternate that—bottoms, tops, and bottoms, tops. So I'm gonna place one teaspoonful of filling on the flat side of the whole cookies, and I'll spread it out to the edges from the back of a spoon. Then I'll get those out of the way, onto a piece of parchment paper. Then, I'm gonna dust those with powdered sugar and then I will place the powdered sugar[ed cookie] on top.

Carla: Wow, these things look fantastic. So how excited are you all about this? I am so excited. I can't even stand it. I can't tell you how many....I've actually had some cookies, and I've been eating them like nachos with jam, and we're done. Okay, I had one break on me. So this is gonna be the one that I'm gonna taste that's all together. Let's these are so tasty! The cinnamon and the ginger comes through the cookie, and all of that fresh ginger, and orange, and the tartness of the cranberry comes through the jam. So it is a perfect sandwich. Texture, sharpness. Wow, This tastes like the holidays.


Carla: Thanks so much for making these Cranberry Ginger Linzer Torte Cookies with me today. How did yours turn out? Let me know how it all went by leaving a review. Again, you can find the recipe in the show notes and on Thanks for joining me, Carla Hall on Play me a Recipe today. Happy cooking to you and yours.