Spiced Linzer Cookies with Dulce de Leche

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These crisp and buttery Linzer cookies are flavored with pumpkin spice and filled with homemade dulce de leche. They are easy to make and the sweet, warm and comforting flavors make them the perfect fall or holiday season treat.

Shortbread Linzer cookies with a star-shaped center cutout and a dulce de leche filling on a wooden table with fall leaves.

This post was originally published on Nov. 1, 2015.

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Ingredients for this recipe:

All ingredients needed to make spiced linzer cookies with a dulce de leche filling.

What is dulce de leche?

Dulce de leche (which translates to “candy made from milk”) is a thick, sweet, caramel-like sauce that originated in Latin America and was apparently invented as a way to preserve milk.

In its simplest form, dulce de leche consists of just milk and sugar, cooked until all the water in the milk has evaporated and the sugar has caramelized.

How to make the dulce de leche filling:

Dulce de leche can be made in several different ways and for the recipe here I opted to bake the contents of a can of sweetened condensed milk in the oven until they turned light brown.

The process takes about an hour and a half and is very simple and almost entirely hands-off: You simply pour the sweetened condensed milk into a deep dish pie pan, then cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil, set it in a water bath and bake in a 425-degree oven.

The resulting thick sauce looks like a light caramel but has a much more complex flavor and a sweetness that’s much less harsh than that of caramel.

Sweetened condensed milk and dulce de leche in a pie pan.

How to make the cookies:

These dulce de leche cookies are made with a simple shortbread cookie dough that is flavored with pumpkin spice.

Step 1. In a bowl, whisk together:

  • 1.5 cups and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • a pinch of salt

Set aside.

Dry ingredients being whisked together in a bowl.

Step 2. Add 12 tablespoons unsalted, softened butter and 1/2 cup granulated sugar to a mixing bowl.

Butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.

Step 3. Whip the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Whipped butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.

Step 4. Whip in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, then whip in the dry ingredients. Keep whipping until the dough starts to become clumpy.

Cookie dough in a mixing bowl.

Step 5. Transfer the dough into a large bowl.

Cookie dough in a large glass bowl.

Step 6. Bring the dough together by hand and form into a ball.

A ball of cookie dough in a large glass bowl.

Step 7. Cut the dough ball into two halves.

A ball of cookie dough cut in half.

Step 8. Form each half into a disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Two disks of cookie dough wrapped in plastic wrap.

RECIPE NOTE: You can make the dough up to a week ahead and keep it in the fridge. When you’re ready to use it, let it warm up on the kitchen counter until it’s pliable enough to be rolled out.

Step 9. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F., take one disk out of the fridge and roll it out between two sheets of plastic wrap. (Using plastic wrap allows you to roll out the dough without having to add any additional flour, which would make the dough brittle).

Cookie dough rolled out between two sheets of plastic wrap with a rolling pin.

Step 10. Remove the plastic wrap and transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Cut out the cookies.

Linzer cookies cut out of a sheet of cookie dough.

Step 11. Transfer the cookies onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake until they are starting to brown (12 to 15 minutes).

Raw linzer cookies on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Step 12. Let the cookies cool completely, then bake the second batch of cookie dough. (If the dough is too hard to roll out easily, let it warm up on the kitchen counter until it becomes pliable).

Step 13. Sift powdered sugar onto the top cookies, spread dulce de leche onto the bottom cookies, then top them with the top cookies.

Linzer cookie cutters usually come as a set with one round cookie cutter and several different center cut-outs that can be attached to it. The set I use has five attachments: a circle a star, a diamond, a flower and a heart.

A Linzer cookie cutter set with five different center cut-outs.

To make Linzer cookies, first cut out the base cookies without any of the attachments.

Then use any of the center cut-outs to make the top cookies. Set the attachment into the cookie cutter…

A Linzer cookie cutter with a star-shaped center cut-out inserted.

…and then turn it so that its metal edges slide under the hooks of the cutter.

A Linzer cookie cutter with a star-shaped center cut-out inserted.

Now the attachment is secured and you can cut out the remaining cookies.

More delicious cookie recipes:

Made this recipe? It would be awesome if you could leave a rating. Either tap or click the stars in the recipe card or leave a comment below. Thanks!

Shortbread Linzer cookies with a star-shaped center cutout and a dulce de leche filling on a wooden table with fall leaves.
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5 from 3 votes

Spiced Linzer Cookies with Dulce de Leche

These crisp and buttery Linzer cookies are flavored with pumpkin spice and filled with homemade dulce de leche.
Prep Time:15 mins
Cook Time:2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time:2 hrs 45 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Austrian, Latin American
Keyword: dulce de leche cookies, linzer cookies
Servings: 16 cookies
Calories (estimated): 260kcal

Ingredients:

For the dulce de leche:

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)

For the cookies:

  • 1.5 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar

Instructions:

For the dulce de leche:

  • Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a 9-inch ceramic pie plate.
  • Cover tightly with aluminum foil and set into a roasting pan.
  • Bring a kettle of water to boil and pour the water into the roasting pan so that it comes halfway up the pie plate.
  • Bake until the milk has turned brown, 1.5 to 2 hours (check after about 45 minutes and refill the hot water if necessary).
  • Let cool, then strain into a glass bowl.
  • While the dulce de leche is in the oven, make the cookies.

For the cookies:

  • Whisk flour, salt and spice together in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Whip butter and sugar until well combined and creamy.
  • Whip in the vanilla extract.
  • Whip in the dry ingredients, keep whipping until the dough starts to come together.
  • Bring the dough together into a ball by hand, cut the ball in half and form each half into a disk.
  • Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.*
  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Take one disk out of the fridge, roll out the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap, then cut out the cookies.
  • Bake the cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper until they are lightly browned (12 – 15 minutes).
  • Let the cookies cool, then repeat with the second batch of cookie dough.**
  • Sift powdered sugar onto the top cookies.
  • Spoon a dollop of dulce de leche onto the bottom cookies and top with a cut-out center cookie.

Notes:

*You can make the dough up to one week ahead and keep it in the fridge.
**If the dough is too hard to roll out easily, let it sit on the kitchen counter to warm up until it becomes pliable.

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Shortbread Linzer cookies with a star-shaped center cutout and a dulce de leche filling on a wooden table with fall leaves.
This entry was posted in Cookies.

12 comments

  1. Louise | Cygnet Kitchen says:

    I love the way you describe how you shot these Nicole! You always make everything look so beautiful. It helps aspiring photographers to know that it is not always simple and straightforward to create these images, even when you are very talented! p.s I have never made dulce de leche either, but as always you make me want to try it right now! x

  2. Claudia | The Brick Kitchen says:

    So gorgeous Nicole! I have been dying to make linzer cookies for a while (something about cutting them out and sandwiching together I think!) and love how you have filled them with dulce de leche – I really need to try that method of transforming your can of sweetened condensed milk into caramel, it is genius!

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