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Christmas and cookies

Once again its Christmas cookie time, and the house fills with delicious smells as they bake in a warm oven. These cookies are an adaptation of the traditional Linzer torte, with a fragrant and pleasing blend of spices, almonds, and lemon. This recipe is from "Gifts in Good Taste," (Atheneum, $10.95). Linzer Cakes 1 cup flour 1/2 cup light brown sugar 1/3 teaspoon ground cloves 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon fresh-grated lemon rind 2 teaspoons pulverized unblanched almonds 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 egg yolk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 cup raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 1 1/2 sets of miniature muffin tins.

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Sift flour into a bowl, stir in sugar, cloves, cinnamon, lemon rind, and almonds. Add butter and, with pastry blender, cut in until mixture is crumbly. With fork, stir in egg yolk and vanilla. Form dough into a ball, using your hands if necessary. Don't overmix. Place dough on floured waxed paper and lightly tap it down with rolling pin until it forms a sheet 1/2-inch thick.

Cut out circles with floured 1 to 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter. Place circle into prepared muffin tins. Indent top of each cake with thumb, place 1/2 teaspoon of jam in each indentation. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until brown around the edges. Cool completely on wire rack before removing from pan. Loosen gently with knife and lift out. Makes approximately 1 1/2 dozen cakes.

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