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GRACE AMONG THE LINZER TORTEN
December 20, 2005
 
Of course, there will be only half as many linzer torten as I cut circles for them: it takes two rounds to make each cookie, one on top of the other, with raspberry jam sandwiched in between. An unfortunate metaphor for the season, this: no matter how hard you work to prepare, you only get half as much done as you would like.

Now, we probably can't change this, but we can reframe it. The linzer torten are truly beautiful, brown and rich with ground nuts in the dough, a bright little angel-or-tree-or-star-shaped window of ruby jam on top. Truly beautiful and utterly delicious, they are. Who cares that the number of them fails to correspond to the effort in making them? There's only one Mona Lisa, too, you know.

Cut down the number of things you do until you can genuinely love every last one them. Let love be your guide and your delight, and inhabit a world small enough for that to happen -- it will grow later, as needed, as love fills and softens you and makes you more elastic. God, the author of love, isn't interested in giving us nervous breakdowns at Christmastime or any other time. Love isn't supposed to wear us out. It comes among us to make us strong.

Such good advice, and I am so sincere in giving it. What, then, are we to make of my behavior yesterday, when Q asked me what had happened to his good gloves and I had to admit that I'd lost them, that I must have
put them on to just run out somewhere briefly and couldn't even remember where that somewhere was? He was the soul of understanding, but suddenly I stood among the linzer torten, worthless and awash in self-loathing . I wanted to do everything well, wanted to make perfect linzer torten and never lose gloves or anything else, to count everything and have it all add up, to mail everything and have it all arrive on time. Instead, it was all slipping away -- I couldn't find Q's gloves. I hadn't mailed the package to Minnesota yet. Hadn't put out the creche yet -- the baby Jesus would be here before I'd even prepared a place for him.

I'm going upstairs for awhile, I told him, I can't seem to hold my temper. I climbed the stairs, thinking that I might go to bed and cry for a bit. But I fell asleep instead, and slept for two hours.

When I awoke, I realized that there was a grocery sack full of gloves hanging on the newell post -- a good dozen pairs, maybe more. Not the gloves in question, but gloves, many perfectly good gloves. That nobody would be here to see when I got around to the creche until Christmas Day itself. That we could call Fedex to pick up the Minnesota package and not even have to wait in line at the post office.

And today we found that I hadn't lost Q's good gloves at all. They were in the pocket of his coat the whole time.

Linzer Torten

2/3 c. nuts (I used pecans)
1/2 c. brown sugar (I use dark)
2 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
raspberry jam (about a cup). Apricot is also good.

Pulse nuts and 1/4 cup brown sugar in a food processor until nuts are finely ground. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl. Beat together butter and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Add nut mixture and beat, then beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour and mix until combined. Form into two balls and flatten each into a disk; wrap and chill. Roll out and cut into circles; using a smaller cutter -- or a very steady knife -- to cut out centers from half the circles.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, or until edges are just golden. Sandwich 1 tsp jam between each pair of closed and cutout cookies.

Makes about 2 dozen linzer torten.
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