Among the many things I made with my apple picking haul were some apple butter linzer cookies. These spiced cookies really capture the epitome of autumn. If you haven’t made apple butter, it’s basically a very rich, concentrated form of applesauce. There’s no dairy butter in it, just apples, sugar, and spices cooked down to an intense, spread-like consistency. Many of the apple butter recipes I found have the apples slowly cooked down over an entire day to let the sugar deeply caramelize, but the version I found condenses it down to a couple hours on the stovetop. I imagine longer cooking time would simply concentrate the flavors even more, so feel free to extend the time as you like: it’s a very simple recipe and pretty difficult to mess up, as long as you keep the heat low and check periodically to ensure the apples aren’t burning. The bonus is you get a kitchen that smells gloriously of fall all day long.
You can use apple butter pretty much however you might use jam or other spreads: on toast, scones, pancakes, muffins, etc. They’re really good on savory items too like potato panckes. It’s also great as a filling, like for my favorite linzer cookies.
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It took a bit of looking around to find an apple shaped cookie cutter small enough to work with linzer cookies, but I found one in this set. After I assembled these cookies I realized they also look a little like pumpkins! So if you’re making a holiday pumpkin pie for Halloween or Thanksgiving this would come in pretty handy too.
The apple butter is pretty sweet (and spiced), so it works well with the lighter, nutty taste of the linzer cookie as a backdrop. This cookie doesn’t need any other embellishment; it’s best to let the filling shine through on its own. One note: the cookies will soften quickly after being filled so it’s best not to assemble them until you’re ready to serve them or give them away, and to eat them within a day. This recipe makes plenty of cookies, so they make a nice treat to hand out to hungry trick or treaters!
- 3 lbs apples, cored (you can peel them but you don’t have to if you’re lazy)
- ¾ cup apple juice or apple cider
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2½ cups (315 g) all purpose flour
- ½ cup (60 g) almond meal or ground almonds
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-in pieces
- ¾ cup (150 g) sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the apple butter:
- Combine all ingredients together in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven and cook uncovered on the stove over medium low heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples are soft and tender.
- Puree apples with an immersion blender or use a regular blender until very smooth.
- Return mixture to pot and continue to cook on medium low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, for another hour to hour and a half until dark and thick and jam like. It should hold its shape on a spoon.
- Spoon mixture into container and refrigerate.
- For the cookies:
- Combine flour, almond meal, ground cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
- Combine butter and sugar in food processor and process until light and fluffy, a couple minutes.
- Add egg and process until combined. Add vanilla extract and process until combined.
- Add flour mixture and beat on low speed until the dough just comes together.
- Turn out dough onto a clean surface, divide in half, and form each piece into a flat rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap each rectangle in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours until firm.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Roll dough to about 1/16 inch on lightly floured surface. Cut out shapes with a 2-inch wide cookie cutter. Use a small cookie cutter to make cutouts in half of the cookies, so when you make sandwiches the filling will show through. Arrange cookies on cookie sheets about 1 inch apart.
- Chill cookies on the sheets for about 15 minutes before baking (This will prevent them from spreading).
- Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, until cookies turn golden brown and smell like toasting nuts, rotating sheets halfway through. Cool sheets on wire racks.
- Wait until cookies are completely cool before assembling them.
- To assemble the cookies:
- Spread apple butter over cookies without cutouts. Place cookies with cutouts over the other halves. Store in an airtight container between layers of waxed paper. Serve within a day as the cookies will get soggy.