I can’t believe 2017 is already here. It seems like it was just yesterday I was out celebrating 2016 with friends on an unseasonably frigid December night. This year, I spent my New Year’s Eve sick in bed. After battling the cold germs for half a week, I finally succumbed and slept away what remained of last year.
Between Christmas and Hanukkah, I did a lot less cooking than I have in years past. Given that it was the first year without my grandparents, I wasn’t feeling too celebratory, despite overdosing on cheesy Christmas movies on Hallmark Channel. Leading up to the holidays, one thing I did do a lot of was baking. In fact, the week prior to Christmas I baked nine different types of cookies and a Bûche de Noël cake that seems to get easier the more I make it. The highlight, however, was a delicious twist on a German sandwich cookie.
A fair warning: these cookies are a tad tedious to make, but the end result is an equally delicious, show stopping cookie perfect for a special occasion or celebration. I’m not even going to try to trick you into thinking this is a recipe you’ll throw together on Friday night, the evening before you’re planning to serve these. If anything, you’ll likely want to tackle this recipe over the course of three days (including allowing the cookies to set-up over night). Last year, my mother-in-law and I made the mistake of thinking we could put these together the night before her birthday celebration. We weren’t too pleased with ourselves despite the cookies tasting absolutely amazing.
As you’re making this recipe, you might taste the butter cookie and shrug your shoulders. The cookie itself is nothing spectacular, however when you add the almond paste round, apricot glaze and bittersweet chocolate you will likely locate your jaw on the floor. They’re that exquisite.
A great wine pairing for these cookies would be a Moscato d'Asti to pair with the jammy filling.
For this recipe you will need the following:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into chunks
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup apricot or raspberry jam
- 7 ounces almond paste
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
- walnut halves, toasted (optional)
- In a food processor, mix the flour with the granulated sugar and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces remaining. Add the egg and vanilla and pulse until the dough just comes together. Scrape out onto a work surface and roll into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, at least one hour. I found the cooler the dough the easier it is to work with.
- Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick. Using a 1-inch round cookie cutter or shooter glass (here’s to being classy!), stamp out cookies as close together as possible. Gather the scraps, re-roll and stamp out more cookies. You should have about 60 cookies if using a 1-inch cutter.
- Bake the cookies for about 18 minutes, until golden; be sure to rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back nine minutes into baking. Carefully transfer to a rack to cool.
- While your cookies are cooling, combine the almond paste and confectioners’ sugar. There’s two ways of doing this: throw it all into a food processor or mix it with your hands. Personally, I found it much easier to work with when the two were thoroughly combined in the food processor. Roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper and cut out rounds of almond.
- In a small saucepan, warm the jam over moderate heat, stirring, until runny, about 3 minutes. Brush a thin layer of jam on the top of each cookie, gently place a layer of almond paste on top of that and lightly brush another layer of jam to adhere that to another cookie. Alternatively, you can make a sandwich of two cookies and have the third layer be the almond paste.
- Drizzle or paint the top cookie (or almond paste) with the chocolate and place a walnut half on top of the chocolate glaze.
- These cookies really benefit from sitting at least two hours in the fridge. The chocolate will firm up and the flavors will really come together.