Ischl tartletsButter and nuts. Hazelnuts. Flipping through recipes for Viennese cookies, I’m always surprised to see a short list of ingredients and a lengthy description of how to put the sweets together. These are no drop cookies–these take time, but they’re not hard to make. And the results–a filled, glazed cookie with nuts, cinnamon, and raspberry taste are decadent. (Yeah, these scream cookie exchange!)

I recall my mom giving me Rick Rodgers Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafes of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague almost apologetically one Christmas. She explained that she bought it more for the pictures than the recipes. I’d spent a semester in college living in Vienna and she knew that around the holidays I craved their holiday cookies. I wish we had something in the US similar to the Christkindl Markets that they have throughout Austria come December. Around certain streets, vendors just seem to pop up with food, crafts and trinkets (yes, there are chestnuts roasting on an open fire). But since we don’t, here’s a recipe to help you taste a little bit of Europe right from your own kitchen.

Thanks to Vera Marie Badertscher, of A Traveler’s Library who invited me to do a guest post about Daniel Silva’s A Death in Vienna. After writing up the review, I just had to head into the kitchen to make something.

Recipe

Ischl Tartlets

Ingredients

Yield: 30 1½-inch sandwich cookies

Cookie dough

1 cup flour

2/3 cup almond slivers (*note: if I could find hazelnuts for a decent price, I would use them, but since I can’t almonds are the perfect substitute)

¼ teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons butter (NOT margarine), at room temperature

2/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)

¼ teaspoon nutmeg and/or cinnamon (optional)

Filling

1 cup raspberry preserves

Glaze

(For dipping, if you want the cookies completely coated in chocolate double this recipe)

5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 Tablespoons water

1 Tablespoon heavy cream

2 Tablespoons butter

½ teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Pinch of salt

1/3 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

Directions

  1. For the cookie dough, in a food processor place the almond slivers, flour, cinnamon, salt and zest (if using). Blend until the almonds almost become powdery.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and powdered sugar together until smooth.
  3. Using a wooden spoon or stiff spatula, combine the flours into the butter. Do not over mix. (The dough will be stiff and may have some crumbles.)
  4. Divide the dough in half and place each portion into waxed paper and then a large plastic bag and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, up to 2 hours.
  5. On a floured work surface, roll half of one of the dough balls out to 1/8”. Try to keep the dough as cold as possible.
  6. Using a 11/2” round cutter or a Linzer cookie cutter, stamp out the cookie shapes.
  7. Line a baking pan with parchment and place the dough cookies on it. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the cookies 7 to 10 minutes or until just BARELY browned. The cookies will burn easily, so keep your eyes on them.
  9. Cool slightly before removing from the pan. Cool entirely before adding filling and glaze.
  10. For the filling—Using a kitchen knife add ½ to 1 teaspoon preserves on the bottom part of the cookie, place another cookie on top, bottom end facing the filling so that the nicer outside part shows on both sides. Repeat with the remaining cookies (and eat any cookies that don’t have a matchJ
  11. For the glaze—In a large, glass measuring cup or bowl, slowly heat up all the ingredients. I usually set the microwave for half power and cook at one-minute intervals or until the chocolate just begins to soften. Whisk until smooth.
  12. Dip the cookies one-half into the chocolate and then place on waxed paper or parchment. Alternatively, place the entire cookie in the chocolate glaze to coat. (It helps if you refrigerate the cookies before dipping.)
  13. Allow the chocolate to set on the waxed paper (you can speed up this process by placing them in the refrigerator).
  14. Top with chopped pecans. These cookies should keep well for 3 to 5 days.

*This recipe is a tweaked version of Rodgers.

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