Viennese Punch Cookies

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes about

    24

    sandwich cookies

Appears in

In Vienna, a Punschtorte (punch cake) is an elaborate affair of dense sponge cake filled with something akin to a rum ball mixtur—cake crumbs soaked in rum and flavored with a bit of chocolate, some apricot preserves, and some grated lemon and orange zests. Then it’s covered with apricot preserves, a layer of marzipan, and a pink sugar icing. It’s quite sweet but also very delicate. To make this cookie version of the famous cake, I decided to bake the cookie scraps, then grind them up in the food processor, adding the rum, preserves, chocolate, and citrus zests. These are definitely an adult cookie because of the quantity of rum they contain. You can always omit the rum if you wish—just substitute more apricot preserves.

Ingredients

Viennese Cookie Dough

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectionerssugar
  • 1 cup (about 4 ounces/100 grams) slivered almonds, finely ground in the food processor
  • cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into a dry-measure cup and level off)

Filling

  • Baked cookie dough scraps
  • cup apricot preserves, strained
  • 2 ounces (50 grams) semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

Rum Icing

  • 2 cups confectionerssugar, sifted after measuring
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 drop liquid red food coloring
  • 2 cookie sheets or jelly-roll pans lined with parchment or foil

Method

  1. Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°F (180°C).
  2. For the dough, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle on medium speed until soft and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Heat in the ground almonds.
  3. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the flour with a large rubber spatula, mixing until the dough is smooth. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 3 equal parts.
  4. Flour the surface and the dough and gently roll it to about inch (1 cm) thick. Use a plain cutter to cut out 2- to 2½-inch (5- to 6-inch) cookies and place them on the prepared pans 1 inch ( cm) apart on all sides. Reserve the scraps from cutting the cookies in a bowl. Roll and cut the remaining 2 pieces of dough, reserving the scraps from the rolling and cutting with the others.
  5. Hake the cookies until they are firm and dull looking, 15 to 20 minutes. After the first 7 to 8 minutes, place the pan from the lower rack on the upper one and vice versa, turning the pans back to front at the same time. If you know that your oven gives strong bottom heat, stack the pan on the lower rack on top of a second one for insulation. Slide the parchment papers off the pans to cool the cookies.
  6. While the cookies are baking, arrange the scraps in a single layer on a parchment - or foil-lined pan. Hake as for the cookies and cool on a rack.
  7. To make the filling, break up the cooled scraps and place them in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse to grind coarsely. Add the preserves, melted chocolate, rum, and orange and lemon zests and pulse until the filling holds a soft shape.
  8. To fill the cookies, turn half the bases over so that the flattest sides are facing upward. Spread a little less than 1 tablespoon of the filling on the cookie base to within inch (3 mm) of the edge. Top with the other cookies, gently pressing them together.
  9. For the icing, combine the confectioners’ sugar, rum, water, and food coloring in a medium saucepan. Stir until smooth. Place over low heat and cook the icing until it is just lukewarm, about 110°F (45°C). Use a small offset spatula to spread a thin coating of the icing on top of each cookie.

Storage

Keep the cookies in a cool place between sheets of wax paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.

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