The name ‘Spitzbuebe’ (Little Rascals) is not synonymous with Christmas but the cookie is, at least in Switzerland and many Swiss households around the world. Literally, ‘Spitzbuebe’ translates to ‘little rascals’ or ‘mischievous boys’. I have seen these cookies be called Linzer cookies as well, but I believe Linzer cookies traditionally have a nut flavoring or are made with nuts. Regardless of the names, the Spitzbuebe is a favorite among many. It might be the buttery, smooth nature of the Spitzbuebe cookie, or its simple filling of raspberry preserves or it could be the light dusting of confectioners sugar that ties it all together. I think the combination of all three components make it a very special and amazingly tasty confection. Of course to make these cookies, one needs to begin with fresh, quality ingredients. Unsalted butter, fresh eggs and good quality preserves (any fruit preserves you’d like, raspberry, apricot, blackberry) will dictate how your cookies turn out.
Oh and I mustn’t forget about the time and labor that is required for these little ‘rascals’ – maybe that’s why these cookies are named as such – because of how labor intensive they are!!! Seriously, though, set aside a good amount of time as you can’t rush these cookies! Back on the farm, Nana Mouskouri’s Christmas record would be playing (we’d switch it up with Bony M and Dolly & Kenny) and we would clear the counter, grab the various cookie cutters and make sure there was enough room for all the creativity and baking that was about to go down. We’d make two doughs, cut out tops and bottoms, count the tops and bottoms, count them again, and then again, bake, assemble, fill the tins and hide them! We’d hide them because if we didn’t, then all the cookies would have been eaten before Christmas – we learned this the hard way one year! You’ll see when you make them, how popular these little rascals will be with your family and friends!
Cream the sugar and butter until the mixture is fluffy and light, and becomes pale in color.
Form the dough gently with the dough hook or using your hands.
- 250 grams (1 cup) butter, room temperature
- 125 grams (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla sugar or vanilla extract
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- 350 grams (2¾ cups) unbleached, all purpose flour
- 200 grams fruit preserves, berry preserves or a jelly of your choice (e.g., raspberry, apricot, blackberry)
- Confectioner's sugar for dusting
- In a large bowl or stad mixer, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the mixture is a very pale yellow - about 6 minutes.
- Add vanilla sugar or extract, salt and egg white to butter-sugar mixture, beat for 2 minutes.
- With the dough hook or using a wooden spoon, add the flour and form into a dough.
- Transfer dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap on the work surface and finish forming the dough with your hands.
- Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap, flatten it a little bit and let it chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 400F and line baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it is about 2mm thick.
- Using a 3" cookie cutter, cut out 'tops' and 'bottoms', and place them on the prepared sheets. Using mini cookie cutters, design the 'tops'.
- Place sheets in refrigerator for 10 minutes prior to baking.
- Bake for 6- 8 minutes, do not over bake - you want them to be a little golden brown, baked all the way through, but not brown. I like to test for doneness by lifting a cookie up and checking the bottom - if it is lightly golden, and no longer soft and translucent, then it's done.
- Let the baked cookies cool. Meanwhile, in a small pot, bring the preserves to a simmer and turn the heat down to low, stirring occasionally.
- Using a pastry brush or small spoon, brush a thin layer of preserves onto the bottom of the cookie and cover with a cookie 'top'.
- With a sieve, dust confectioners sugar on top of each cookie! Enjoy!
– You can use even smaller cookie cutters too – a 2″ round cookie cutter makes for a mini version and oh so very cute!
– I find that designing your ‘tops’ while they are on the cookie sheet may be easier as you can avoid a lot of breaking and ripping of the cookie top whilst transferring them from work surface to cookie sheet
– I like to match the baked tops with bottoms before brushing on preserves – technically all the cookies should be the same size, but sometimes they aren’t
– I also found dusting the confectioners sugar on the cookie ‘tops’ before assembly made sure that the top was nice and white and the filling, a glorious bright color to ensure the contrasting beauty