In all honesty, I have a love-hate relationship with sandwich style cookies. They always look beautiful, and I reach for them without hesitating, but I find they are often too much for my palate. It's usually that the cookies are rolled too thick or are cut too large. For me, a sandwich cookie needs to be bite sized—two bites max. Otherwise, it just overloads my senses. Rose’s photographer did this cookie justice; it looks delightful, and I couldn’t wait to try one. Isn’t it true that we eat with our eyes? So here goes my experience with the Ischler.
MAKE THE COOKIE DOUGH—STAND MIXER METHOD
- I used the food processor to process the nuts and the powdered sugar. Then I switched to the mixer to finish the dough, which came together nicely. I refrigerated it for the afternoon, then I reread the recipe and realized I forgot to toast the almonds! Damn.
ROLL AND CUT THE COOKIES
- I’ve never rolled dough with a piece of plastic wrap over it. The idea intrigued me, but I didn’t think I’d like it. Rose was right when she said the dough rolls without cracking, and yields a much smoother texture when complete. They looked great when baked. This technique is a keeper.
- Every dough is a little different and has its own set of tolerances. I learned quickly that the key to this dough is to keep it cold. As it warmed up, the cookie cutter made sloppy edges, and the cookie distorted when I lifted it off the counter with my fingers. With a small offset spatula and cold dough, the edges were clean and it transferred easily to the tray.
BAKE THE COOKIES
- Getting the timing right was critical here. The first tray (the cookies that didn’t stay cold) over baked. For the second batch, I was more careful with the timing and the cookies looked just browned around the edges.
MAKE THE GANACHE FILLING
- Easy and yummy.
MAKE THE LEKVAR FILLING
- Aarrgghh! My first mistake was to pour all that delicious apricot flavored cooking liquid down the drain rather than using it in the puree. Then I remembered the apricot essence that I had in the way back of my drawer (since forever). Water and apricot essence aught to fix it, but I CAN’T get the bottle open, not with all my might. So I went into my husband’s basement (don’t get me started) and I put the tiny bottle in his great-big-man-vice. Three tries! It took three tries! The cap finally eased open. Gees.
- Now the lekvar is on the stove and it’s sputtering all over the floor and stove. Rose said to stir it constantly (she’s always right). So I started stirring. This is my least favorite thing to do. The more I stir, the more moisture is released and the more concentrated the mixture becomes. This is good, but since I added way too much water (such a good idea I had), the 10-15 minutes turned into 30-35 minutes. And in spite of my stirring, the stuff was spitting on my arms and hands, and it hurt because it was burning hot. I had to put on protective lekvar armor: mitts and sleeves. Gees! Anyway, it all worked out, but I didn’t enjoy making the Levkar. I’m still so annoyed with it, I don’t want it on my toast.
FILL THE COOKIES
- When I baked the cookies, I remembered there was a full tray that didn’t cut well and got too warm, and I let them get all mixed up. So I spread them out on my counter and began judging each cookie on its merits, and made two piles: the good ones and the bad ones.
- As I’m spreading the apricot on the cookies, I figured I’d better pair up the cookies so I didn’t fill too many with apricot and not have enough for the chocolate.
THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
- The Ischler is complete. Yay! I took one bite, then three more. The cookie overwhelmed my senses; I took a deep breath and shook it off. I was hoping that wouldn't happen. The flavor was delicious, but I didn’t want another. It was too much for me. My husband on the other hand, made ecstasy faces and walked off with two more in his hand. The difference between us is what makes the world go around.
- WHAT ARE THE ALPHA BAKERS? : Here's how it works: once a week, for the next two years, 25 Alpha Bakers commit to baking their way through every recipe of Rose Levy Beranbaum's newly published THE Baking Bible . Each week we post our experiences on our blog sites: our successes, our failures, our like and dislikes . The recipes are scheduled in advance so that everyone will be baking the same recipe at the same time. Unfortunately, no recipes can be shared in my Alpha Bakers posts due to publishing restrictions, but if you love to bake, THE Baking Bible is a must-have book. You can see other tutorials for the same recipe at the following link The Baking Bible Alpha Bakers at http://rosesalphabakers.blogspot.ca/.