Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Baking Christmas Cookies – Part II

This year, I did do my share of baking for the upcoming holiday season: That's the second batch of my Christmas Cookies. I made the Chocolate Taler after my boyfriend had given me a not-so-subtle hint that he wouldn't mind an all-chocolate cookie... I haven't tried the recipe before and was very pleased with the result: chocolatey but not overly sweet, substantial but not too heavy for happily devouring one after another. Straight from the oven, they are pretty crunchy but get chewy after a few days. The original recipe didn't call for the dunking in rich chocolate ganache but we did not regret this little tweaking.

The other recipe for coconut macaroons is from Molly of Orangette. After reading this delicious description, I knew I had to try it. Alas, I didn't follow the recipe to the letter and the macaroons turned out to be not-so-great. I reckon I'm the one to blame that they were a bit dry - I made them bite-sized, much smaller than Molly did. However, I want to ask her about the details to figure out what exactly I have done wrong. After all, they're not entirely bad...

Chocolate Taler

The ingredients

125 g butter, cold, diced

150 g sugar
100 g ground almonds
250 g mix of flour and 3 tablespoons cocoa
5-10 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon baking powder

Chocolate glaze

Mix dry ingredients on top of your work surface. Rub in butter and start kneading. Use as many tablespoons of milk as necessary for the dough to come together.

Form dough into four strands of equal thickness. Try to do this as quickly as possible so the butter doesn't start melting. Furthermore, try not to roll the dough strands to much as this will cause the strands to fall apart. Chill the dough at least 30 minutes.
Note: I once read that freezing the dough would enable you to cut off neat little discs. Let me tell you, this doesn't work.

Cut off slices about three millimetres in thickness and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for approximately ten minutes.
Note: If you bake the cookies at a lower temperature, they will get cracks. I baked the first batch at 150 degrees Celsius (fan bake) and the second batch as requested. The second batch looked much nicer.

Let cool and dunk in chocolate glaze. I used a chocolate ganache - it tastes wonderful but it doesn't get very firm. Here in Australia, I prefer to store them in the fridge (but let them get room temperature before serving).

The source
Vohenstrausser Kochbuch - an classic old-style cookbook from my homeland, the Upper Palatinate in Bavaria, Germany

Coconut Macaroons

It's best to follow Molly's instructions! Just one hint: She mentions that her recipe for chocolate ganache is much more than you need for dunking the macaroons. I used this ganache for dunking the macaroons, the Chocolate Taler, and for glazing the "Ischler Toertchen". It was just the right amount for all three batches and it tastes way better than any store-bought chocolate glaze!


Molly said...

Hi Eva! I'm so sorry to hear that the macaroons didn't hit the spot. Hmmm, let's see. I'm not sure what to tell you, to be honest, but I'll try...

You mentioned in your comment to me that you stopped the cooking process earlier because the mixture seemed to get dry, right? I've had the same thing happen - and heck, it is sort of hard to decide when to stop cooking the stuff! - but even when it was dry-ish, it baked up just fine. Hmmm. You also mentioned that you didn't chill the mixture, but I'm not sure if that could be the culprit, since I've always chilled it, myself. As to the size of the macaroons, I don't find that it matters much. The recipe on my site uses 1/4 cup batter per macaroon, but I've made them as small as 1 Tbsp. each with no trouble. (They did take less time to bake, though.) So gosh, I'm really not helping you figure out what went wrong, am I?!

My one other thought concerns the coconut. The texture of my finished macaroons looks quite different from the texture of yours. The individual shreds of coconut are much more visible in mine. I wonder if what is sold as "sweetened shredded coconut" in Australia could be quite different from the stuff that goes by the same name here in the States? That could certainly change things a lot. The sweetened shredded coconut that I buy here is very, very moist, fatty, and sweet, and it contributes quite a bit to the texture and flavor of these macaroons.

I hope that helps at least a little. Merry Christmas to you, and happy baking!

Eva said...

Thanks so much for your effort in helping me out! I'm sure it was the coconut! At least I can blame it on that and try again with another brand. Merry Christmas to you, too!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your gift pack of Christmas cookies, Eva. I particularly liked the Chocolate Taler. Merry Christmas.