Pink peppercorns are one of my favorite spices to use in baking; their subtle spice and characteristically floral aroma come alive in butter and sugar, and the color of their skins adds a beautiful spattering of pink flecks throughout any dough. The key, I’ve found, is to use more of their skins and less of the actual peppercorns. To do this, I rub the peppercorns in a sieve until all their skins fall off, then grind the remaining peppercorns and use just enough of that to spice the cookie dough without overwhelming it. The festive color and aroma of the pink pepper pairs elegantly with the raspberry jam that sandwiches the cookies, although strawberry would work just as well. A final garnish of white chocolate drips adds an extra hit of creaminess, as well as holiday drama, to these otherwise simple, stunning Linzer cookies.
Pink Pepper and Raspberry Jam Linzers
Place a medium-mesh sieve over a large bowl or mixer bowl. Place the pink peppercorns in the sieve then use your hands to rub them against the mesh until almost all of their skins fall into the bowl below. Transfer the skinned peppercorns to a spice grinder and process until finely ground. Scoop out 1 teaspoon ground pink pepper and add it to the skins in the bowl; discard or save the rest of the ground pink pepper.
In the bowl with pink pepper, add the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt and beat on medium-low speed of a mixer until creamy, about 2 minutes (see Baker’s Note). Add the egg and beat until smooth. Add the flour and beat on low speed until just combined. Split the dough in half and place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten each into a disk, wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 1 dough disk on a lightly floured work surface and use a rolling pin to flatten until 3/16 inch thick. Using a 3 ¾-inch-long diamond cutter, cut out cookies, rerolling scraps as many times as necessary, and arrange 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate the cookies on the baking sheets for 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Using a 1 ¼-inch-long diamond cutter, cut out shapes from half the cookies so the holes are slightly off-center. Place the small cutouts around the larger cookies on the same baking sheet or discard.
Bake, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through, until the cookies are set and dry to the touch (they will be barely colored on the bottom), 10 to 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 1 minute, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough to make more cookies.
Spoon 1 teaspoon jam onto each whole cookie, spreading it to within 1/4 inch of each edge. Cover each with a cookie that has a hole cutout. Melt the white chocolate, then drizzle it on the top of each cookie so the lines are parallel with the long center and slightly off-center opposite the cut hole. Let the white chocolate harden before serving.