Monday, November 2, 2009

German Cookie Bake-Off part 1

Let's start this holiday season off well with a COOKIE BAKE-OFF!!! Allow me to introduce you to my Germans. Below is Maike. We've been friends since high school; since Mrs. Stitt's Biology II class actually. We made models of DNA together out of straws and Cheerios. We got A's and a long lasting friendship. Maike has since made numerous trips back to the US and has brought more German friends to add to my collection. (I have a curio of Germans. They are my most prized possession.) Wouldn't that be weird if it were true.... This trip she brought her best pal, Nadia, who she's known since they were babies! How cute!
(Please note the scale that Maike is using. They measure all of their ingredients by weight. It's actually way more accurate than our cup system. If you don't have a scale, just go to any store where kitchen supplies are sold and pick one up. They aren't very expensive, and it's a nice tool to have around the kitchen.)
This is Nadia. Say "Hi" Nadia. "Hi", she says. Any friend of Maike's is a friend of mine. Nadia is especially easy to like. She's the sweetest, AND she brought many, many recipes for the Holiday cookies that she makes with her mom every December. We had a baking extravaganza and were baking/working for 11 hours, and we didn't even get to two of the recipes! It was a long, long day, but very fun. I learned a few new tricks like how to peel an almond. I'll teach you, too. Our first cookie was called a Wasp Nest. (Say that 10 times fast.) It's a meringue cookie with almond and chocolate. Pictured above is the whipped egg whites. They should be whipped to a stiff peak.
Pouring in mass amounts of chocolate and almond.

Here's Nadia demonstrating how to GENTLY fold the almond and chocolate into the egg white batter.
And now spooning the batter onto the baking sheet. We used parchment paper, but a well greased baking sheet would work too.
Here's the last photo I toke of the Wasp Nests. This is a prebake photo, but they look the same after they've been baked, only dryer.

Wasp Nests
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
Whip 3 egg whites, until stiff, but not dry. Add 250g. white sugar and 8g. vanilla sugar. Whip together quickly for a very short amount of time. Careful not to deflate eggs.
Add 125g. of chocolate – finely chopped, and 250g. slivered almonds. Fold gently into egg mixture.
Drop by the Tablespoon full onto a greased baking sheet.
Bake for 22 minutes.
“Like a child’s laughter,” quoted from my brother, Aaron after eating one. Oh, Aaron.

On to the next cookie! Ox Eyes! I know you're thinking, "Mmmm, how appetizing!"
In Germany, you can get hazelnuts and almonds in a variety of cuts: ground, slivered, shaved, sliced, peeled, etc. They are very particular about their nut! We in America, for the most part, are not so much. So we had to mill our own. Hazelnuts before milling.
Hazelnuts after milling. A few noisy minutes in a food processor should do the trick.
Here's the dough for our Ox Eyes.

Now divide the dough in half.
Roll each half into a long log about an inch in diameter. Wrap up and chill in the fridge. Nadia was in love with the wax paper. Apparently they don't use wax paper in Germany. They've got parchment, but no wax. She bought some to take home with her. I bet the customs inspectors at the airport gave her a funny look.
After they chill out, slice them and roll the slices into balls.
Dot the eyes. With the end of a wooden spoon, make holes. Careful, the dough wants to split and crack. Go slow and hold on to the dough ball with your other hand.
Yay, they've been baked! Now sprinkle with powdered sugar.
And fill with jam or jelly that has been heated on the stove top until runny.
The finished Ox Eyes. Maike said that they need to "dry" uncovered for 2 days. I don't really understand this step, but do as the woman says. She's German. She knows.
Ox Eyes
Preheat oven to 390 degrees F.
Blend the following ingredients together until just combined: 200g. softened butter, 100g. sugar, 2 egg yolks, 1 vanilla bean’s worth of vanilla seeds, pinch of salt, 300g. flour, and 80g. ground hazelnuts.
Divide dough in half. Roll into logs 2 inches thick. Wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Slice ¼ to ½ inch thick and roll into a ball.
Poke a hole in each ball using the end of a wooden spoon. Careful not to rip ball. Bake on a greased baking sheet
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly brown. Let cool.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar and fill with jelly that has been warmed on the stove until runny.
Let cookies “cure” or “dry” uncovered for a couple of days.
Third Cookie: Piped cookies that we named "Ugly Sticks" and "Broken Fingers" - for Halloween. (I'm so glad I got this posted in time for Halloween. Go me.)
Here's the smooth batter before we shoved it into a cookie press. You can use a pastry bag as well to pipe them out onto a cookie sheet, but we didn't have one of those.
Piping turned out to be a two person job. It was kind of a mess, but a hilarious mess at that.
The dough looks really rough and jagged, but it will smooth out in the oven, I promise.
We baked a couple weeks before Halloween, so we made half of the sticks into "Broken Fingers". Maike made the knuckles with a knife edge and made fingernails with almond slices.
Mmm! Fat, broken fingers! Before the blood.
With the other half, we made sticks and decorated them. Maike made one for each of us. Personalized cookies would be great place settings at a dinner party.
Here's the rest of Maike's work. We just used melted dark chocolate and piped it on with a plastic bag.
For finishing the broken fingers, we dipped one end in white chocolate and then dipped it into red sugar. (We were going to use red food coloring to turn the white chocolate red, but we were out of that too.)
The finished fingers. Keep this in mind for next year's Halloween party.
Maike and Nadia got creative and gave a few of the fingers manicures. Lovely, don't you think?
Piped Cookies/Ugly Sticks/Broken Fingers
Preheat oven to 355 degrees F.
Whip 175g. softened butter, 220g. white sugar, 8g. vanilla sugar, and 3 whole eggs until light and foamy.
Mix together 400g. flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, and a pinch of cinnamon, and add to wet mixture.
Pour into a piping bag or cookie press. Pipe onto a lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake for 12 minutes. Let cool. Dip or drizzle with chocolate.
Stay tuned for Part 2 and Part 3 of our German Holiday Cookie Bake-Off.

1 comment:

  1. this looks like too much fun! I'm especially jealous of those broken fingers!