ALMOND-RASPBERRY SANDWICH COOKIES

THIS IS MY 1,600th POST!

These are fun to make and even more fun to share, as they will bring a smile to those on the receiving end. Sprinkles are optional, but how could I think of skipping them?

ALMOND-RASPBERRY SANDWICH COOKIES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for cookies:
240 grams all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks (226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
75 grams sugar
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
raspberry jam to fill the cookie sandwiches

for chocolate coating:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoons unrefined coconut oil
Sprinkles, for decorating

Heat oven to 350F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Reserve. Cream the butter with the sugar in a KitchenAid type mixer with the paddle attachment in low-speed. Add the agave nectar and incorporate. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts and beat until light and smooth. Add the flour mixture. Beat until just combined.

Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip. Pipe the dough onto the prepared baking sheets in 2-inch lines, spaced 1-inch apart. If the dough is too stiff to pipe comfortably, protect the metal tip with a paper towel and microwave the whole bag in increments of 10 seconds, until it is soft enough to pipe, but be very careful and do not allow any of the dough to melt. It might be safer to use the microwave at 50% power. Bake until the cookies are set on top and golden around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool completely, match cookies of similar size and fill with a small amount of jam.

Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave in 15 second increments. Dip the lower part of the cookies in the chocolate letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Sprinkle with the sprinkles. Lay back on a parchment lined baking sheet and place the cookies in the refrigerator to let the chocolate fully set, which will happen quite quickly.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: Let me just reinforce what is the most important thing to consider in the recipe: if you try to squeeze the bag and it is too hard, STOP. Cover the metal tip with a paper towel and place the whole thing in the microwave, 50% power, for 10 seconds. Massage the bag, test to see if it is easier to pipe, if it isn’t do it again. Do not give yourself grievance and a sore hand. Just make sure you don’t warm the dough too much, and all will be fine. It must be easy to pipe, but still form the ridges of the open star tip.

These cookies are a little bit of work, but not too bad, and the pay-off is huge! The delicate almond flavor pairs well with the raspberry jam, and of course…. chocolate! Make it on a weekend when you are in that great Zen mode, and you will thank me later…

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PFEFFERNÜSSE

Pfeffernüsse translates in English as “pepper nuts”, and they are one of the most traditional cookies made during the holidays in many countries in Northern Europe. It is a perfect cookie to offer as a gift, as they are best when consumed a few days after baking. The recipe is found in the cookbook “Classic German Baking“, but it is also available online (click here). I made half the amount of spice mix, and still had plenty leftover.

PFEFFERNÜSSE
(as published in Tasting Table)

For the Lebkuchengewürz spice mix:
5 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1½ tablespoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground mace
¾ teaspoon ground star anise

For the cookie dough:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup honey
¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons, granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lebkuchengewürz
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon baker’s ammonia
1 tablespoon rum, slightly warmed
1 egg

for glazing:
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
lemon juice added to desired consistency

Make the lebkuchengewürz: In a small bowl, whisk together the lebkuchengewürz spices until well combined. Makes about ½ cup. Store in an airtight container.

Make the pfeffernüsse: Heat the oven to 375° and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt to combine. In a small saucepan, combine the honey and granulated sugar over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the lebkuchengewürz and white pepper.

In a small bowl, dissolve the baker’s ammonia in the rum, then stir into the honey mixture. Transfer this mixture to a large bowl and add the flour mixture and the egg. Stir until a smooth dough forms.

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place ½ inch apart on the prepared sheet pan. Bake until the cookies have domed and dried, 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice. If you want a thick glaze, add very little juice, if you want a transparent, thin glaze, add lemon juice and thin further with water. When the cookies come out of the oven, immediately brush them with the glaze. Let the cookies cool completely, then store in an airtight container for 2 days before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I have a very warm spot in my heart for any sweets containing spices, Speculaas probably being at the very top. These cookies were a huge hit with my beloved husband and his golfing friends. You can approach the glaze in two different ways, thick as I made, or very very thin. Some say that the traditional type has super thin glaze, but I prefer the way they look with a thicker coating. Your kitchen, your rules, do whatever feels right for you. They pack a lot of flavor, and because they are so small, you don’t really feel guilty having one. Maybe two. I would advise you to stop before you inhale the fifth one. That might be harder than you anticipate…

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NINE BAKES, WITH LOVE

Time to spread some food blog love around… Today I share nine bakes that are perfect for the season and come from sites I closely follow. All recipes can be retrieved with a visit to the original post, which you will find below the pictures.



BAKE #1
HELEN FLETCHER’S PUMPKIN CAKE DONUTS

(for recipe, click here)

I know I repeat myself, but you simply cannot go wrong with Helen’s recipes. This one goes to my Personal Hall of Fame. Taste and texture could not be better. Her detailed instructions make it a breeze to make. I assume it is still ok to post pumpkin recipes, after all – according to the calendar – it is still Fall (cough, cough). Donuts get a streusel topping and need nothing but a dusting with powdered sugar to shine!


BAKE #2
CELIA’S FUDGE BROWNIES

(for recipe, click here)

Celia used to be a very active food blogger, but although she is not posting often, her recipes are still on the site and each one is a gem. If you like to learn about chocolate tempering, make sure to visit her blog and read one of her posts on the subject. These brownies received two thumbs up from the Resident Brownie Critic. Need I say more? Make them!

BAKE #3
KAREN’S DEVIL’S FOOD THUMBPRINT COOKIES

(for recipe, click here)

Amazing recipe, it is almost like having a little bite-size brownie with jam on top. Simple to make, they will make your holiday table shine, and your guests very happy!

BAKE #4
CARO’S CHOCOLATE CARDAMON CUPCAKES

(for the recipe, click here)

Aren’t those super elegant? I fell in love when Caro first shared the recipe, and could not wait to bake a batch. Cardamon and chocolate go surprisingly well together, so consider making them too… Sprinkles added just because…. sprinkles make life better!

BAKE #5
CARO’S RASPBERRY JAM AND COCONUT SPONGE SQUARES

(for the recipe, click here)

These are delicious, you cannot beat the texture of the cake… and the jam plus coconut topping is perfection. I know that some people don’t care for shredded coconut, but if your group of guests is ok with it, make sure to feature it in your holiday get-together.

BAKE #6
AMISHA’S DATE AND NUT CHOCOLATE BARS

(for recipe, click here)

Super festive, the list of ingredients is long, but it is a reasonably simple recipe to put together. It has all the flavors I adore, including a light hint of rose, that goes well with all the other flavors. You can use ruby chocolate or add pink fat soluble dye to regular white chocolate for the marbling. Check out her blog post, the instructions are very detailed. Gold leaf is optional, but if you happen to have some, it is the perfect concoction to make them shine. Literally.

BAKE #7
LINDSAY’S STUFFED CHERRY AMARETTI COOKIES

(for the recipe, click here)

These are simply amazing! I made them three times, they were originally all going for my weekly donation box, but one batch made it to my beloved husband’s golfing buddies, and they got a lot of praise… Once you bite into the cookie, the soft almond crumb gives room to the sharp cherry inside, and you are forced to close your eyes and dream. Seriously good.

BAKE #8
LINDSAY’S VEGAN AMARETTI COOKIES

(for the recipe, click here)

Another recipe from Lindsay’s blog, Love and Olive Oil. When it comes to “veganizing” a baking recipe, nothing beats macarons and amaretti type cookies, as all you need is remove the egg whites and use aquafaba instead. That is the magical ingredient, that works exactly the same, no loss of flavor, no unpleasant changes in texture. Of course, you could stick a cherry inside those too if you feel like it!

BAKE #9

HEATHER’S PEANUT BUTTER CUP COOKIES

(for the recipe, click here)

Aren’t those the most adorable little bites of heaven? If you are a lover of peanut butter, these are for you! I love Heather’s cookbooks, and her blog is always a source of inspiration, so make sure to bookmark and visit. I had to change the recipe a bit because our grocery store did not have peanut butter chips, so I used candy melts for the drizzle instead. Other than that, I followed her recipe to a T.

So there you have it, nine recipes from sites I love, as this is the season to spread love and gratitude around… I hope you can find something that inspire you to grab that bag of flour, those eggs, pull the mixer out to play, and get busy baking!

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CREMINO ALLA NOCIOLLA

Or, if you prefer, Creamy Hazelnut… paired with a sugar cookie, also flavored with hazelnut and a touch of orange. I adapted this recipe from Gabriella’s blog Siula Golosa (click here for her original version). I’ve been meaning to make these elegant cookies ever since I read her post, but for some reason it only happened now. Better late than never, I say.


HAZELNUT CREAM OVER SUGAR COOKIE
(adapted from Siula Golosa)

for the cookie base:
1 cup (226g) butter
1 cup (200g) sugar
zest of one orange
2 eggs
1 tsp hazelnut bakery emulsion
1/4 tsp orange extract
420g flour
60g cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

for the hazelnut cream:
54g white chocolate
27g dark chocolate
19g Nutella or Nocciolata paste (I used this one)
11g cocoa butter

melted chocolate
gold luster powder
sprinkle to decorate


Make the cookie base: Mix flour, cornstarch, salt and baking powder. Reserve. Rub orange zest on the sugar with your fingers until fragrant. Cream butter with sugar. Whisk eggs with hazelnut and orange extracts, add to the butter/sugar with mixer on low speed, a little bit at a time. Once incorporated, add the dry components and mix on low-speed until a dough forms. Divide in two and refrigerate for 10 minutes before rolling out and cutting small circles. Freeze for 10 minutes, then bake at 350F until edges start to get some color, about 12 minutes. Recipe makes a lot more than you will need.

Make the hazelnut topping: Add all ingredients to a microwave save bowl, and heat at 50% power, in 30 second increments, removing from the microwave and whisking gently. Once melted, pour over a countertop or over acetate sheet and bring the temperature down to 78F by moving it around with a spatula. It is a small volume, so it will get there quickly. Pour into an icing bag, and fill the mold to the top. Allow it to set at room temperature for 1 hour, transfer to the fridge for 20 minutes, and un-mold.

Use a little melted chocolate to glue the hazelnut cream to the top of the cookie. If desired, you can paint the cookie with luster gold and vodka. Decorate the center with a golden bead.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: For the topping you will need this mold from Silikomart. I was very worried about it, because there is so much detail on the surface. But, as always, Silikomart products are excellent and the flexibility of this one was perfect to release the hazelnut component. The mold has 11 cavities, the recipe made exactly 10. Not a single one had any issues, they were all perfect.

Next time I will use the base from Gabriella’s blog, because I think it will be pretty nice, and will also roll it a bit thinner. This was in fact an impulse bake, I had a little bit of cookie dough leftover, and thought that the taste of hazelnut would go well with the creamy top. All things considered, this is a very easy concoction to put together, but it looks like you slaved over it for hours. Perfect to impress your favorite guests!


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