Oreo Chocolates and Caramelized Nuts (“Knusperle”)

Cookies, Recipes

This December was a bit different from what I had expected. An injured daughter (nothing serious), a very ill cat, a minor car accident, some other “small” troubles, and a massive cold interrupted my plans very much. With all those things going on, I did not get around to baking as much as I would have liked to. At least I managed to make my favorite cookies:

Weihnachtskekse 1

Walnut Cookies, Heart-shaped cookies with Rosehip-Jam, Wachauer Cookies (with chocolate shortcrust and vanilla-buttercream-filling), Marzipan Crescents, Ischler Cookies, Coconut Wedges.

I especiall like it when there is a big plate full of Christmass cookies. In my opinion, this just looks beautiful, very festive and Christmassy.

Keksteller Weihnachten 1

Keksteller Weihnachten 2

I will give you two more recipes now, the rest will follow next year!

Oreo Chocolates

I came across the recipe for these Oreo Chocolates last week, at schaufenster.diepresse.com. They sounded so good that I had to try the recipe. Oero cookies are one of the few store-bought cookies which do not contain lactose, and I am always ready to experiment when I discover a recipe which uses Oreos. In this recipe, Oreos were combined with cream cheese, and the mixture was coated with chocolate – it HAD to taste great, I thought. Well, it does!

Oreo Kugeln 1

In the original recipe, the balls were coated with white chocolate, then decorated with dark-chocolate-patterns and red and white sugar sprinkles. They looked very pretty.

Because of the lactose intolerance, I could not use white chocolate, so I dipped the Oreo Chocolates into dark chocolate. I did not have red and green sugar sprinkles at home, so I used chocolate sprinkles and decorating sugar instead. For decorating these balls, you can use anything you want – go play!

Oreo Kugeln 2

Ingredients:
32 Oreo Cookies (in Austria: 2 packages of Oreo Cookies)
7 oz. (200 g) cream cheese, lactose-free

Chocolate glazing:
200 g dark chocolate, lactose-free (Lindt 70%, Merci 72%)
1-2 tbsp. butter

Slice the Oreo Cookies open. Scratch out the filling with a knife and put the filling into a mixing bowl.

Add the cream cheese to the Oreo-filling. With a hand mixer, combine well.

Put the rest of the Oreos into a plastic bag. With a rolling pin, smash them into very small crumbs. Alternatively you can grind them in a food processor. I prefer the rolling pin method as my food processer somehow cannot grind cookies well.

Add the crumbs to the cream cheese mixture and combine well.

Form balls of about 1 inch diameter. Cool for about one hour.

Cover a baking sheet with baking parchment.

For the chocolate glazing, cut the chocolate into small pieces. Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Add more butter if the glazing is too thick.

Place the balls onto a fork and dip them into the chocolate glazing; they should be completely coated with chocolate glazing. Put the balls onto the baking sheet and immediately decorate with sugar sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles, decorating sugar.

Depending on how big you make them, you will get about 25 Oreo Chocolates.

Store in the fridge.

Nuts in Caramel / “Knusperle”

This is another of my favorite cookies. The recipe is not as simple as it seems. I have made these cookies lots of times, but am always surprised by how much work they are. First of all, it takes a long time until all the nuts are roasted. Second, you might burn your fingers because the nuts and the caramel get unbelievably hot. And finally you will have to work really fast in order to separate the caramel-nuts-mixture into small cookie-sized portions. If you are too slow, you will get a huge caramel-nut-lump which you will never ever get apart again. Lots of work – but the result will be overwhelming, I promise!

Knusperle 3

Knusperle 2

Ingredients:

1 ⅔ cup (375 g) sugar
⅔ sticks (80 g) butter
1 cup (125 g) whole hazelnuts
1 cup (125 g) peeled almond halves
1 cup (125 g) walnut halves

Chocolate glazing:
About 100 g dark chocolate, lactose-free (Lindt 70%, Merci 72%)
2 tbsp. butter

Heat the oven to 350° F (175°) C.

Spread the hazelnuts onto a baking sheet and roast for about 10-15 minutes. The skins should get dry and start to crack. Keep an eye on the hazelnuts: if they get too dark, they will taste burnt and bitter.

When the hazelnuts are roasted, pour them onto an (old) kitchen towel. Close the towel over the nuts and rub them against each other so that the skins will come off. Be careful – the nuts will be very hot! It might be a good idea to wear kitchen gloves while doing this. It is okay if you cannot get all the skins off; it will not matter.

Put the roasted and skinned hazelnuts into a heat resistant bowl.

Roast the almond halves until light brown, add them to the hazelnuts. Roast the walnuts until light brown, add to the other nuts.

Put all the nuts onto the baking sheet again; do not turn off the oven.

Generously butter a second baking sheet.

In a big pan, melt a small amount of the sugar at medium heatd. Gradually add the rest of the sugar and melt until golden brown or light brown.

Now you will have to work fast: Put the baking sheet with the nuts into the oven to warm the nut mixture.

Also put the buttered baking sheet into the oven.

Add the butter to the melted sugar and stir in well.

Remove the buttered baking sheet from the oven and place it onto a heat-resistant coaster.

Remove the baking sheet with the nut mixture from the oven and stir the hot nuts into the caramel until they are thoroughly coated with caramel.

Pour the mixture onto the warm, buttered baking sheet. Make sure you spread the mixture over the entire baking sheet. This will make it easier to form cookie-sized portions as some of the nuts will have separated already.

With two wet teaspoons, immediately separate the caramel-nut-mixture into small, cookies sized heaps. The mixture will firm up fast, so you will have to hurry! Let the mixture cool.

Chocolate glazing:
Cut the chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter.

Coat the bottoms of the Caramelized Nuts with chocolate glazing.

Depending on the size, you will get about 70 cookies.

Knusperle 1

From: Neef, K. (1995). Nürnberger Weihnachtsbackbuch. München: Walter Hädecke Verlag.

Advertisements

Dragon´s Loyalty Award

Awards

Motchi from http://matchamochimoo.wordpress.com/ has nominated me for the Dragon´s Loyalty Award. I was really surprised about this nomination; I hadn´t counted on an award at all! Thank you so much, Motchi!

dragons-loyalty-award1

The rules for Dragon’s Loyalty Award are:

1   Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you.
2   Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and a link back.
3  You must share  7  things other bloggers may not know about you.
4   Nominate up to  15  bloggers for Dragon’s Loyalty Award, provide a link to their blogs in your post, and notify them on their blogs.
5   Copy and paste the award somewhere on your blog.

So here are my nominees, in random order:

http://dorastable.com/
http://hansheaven.wordpress.com/
http://wishfulwhisking.com/
http://bakewithmeblog.wordpress.com/
http://onemomsmess.wordpress.com/
http://simplymadekitchenandcrafts.com/
http://pickybits.wordpress.com/
http://thesunnycook.wordpress.com/
http://thelittlethingssite.wordpress.com/
http://viennafashionwaltz.wordpress.com/
http://justnicestuff1.wordpress.com/
http://heidiemakes.wordpress.com/
http://charlottehoatherblog.com/
http://ifyougiveablondeakitchen.wordpress.com/

I love looking at these blogs! They are all unique and inspiring. Reading them encourages me to keep going with my own blog!

I also have to share 7 things about myself:

I hate ironing.
I grow my own tomatoes each summer.
I possess some small pieces of the Berlin Wall.
I´d love to see Sweden one day, but go on vacation in hot countries every year as I long for heat and warmth and sun.
The first recipe I ever made was from a childrens´s book I was reading, a muesli made of rolled oats, cocoa, sugar, raisins and milk.
Friends say I am kind of restless and can never keep still.
I always have cold hands and cold feet – even in summer.

Vanilla Crescents

Cookies, Recipes

Like the recipe for the „Linzer Augen“, this is my Grandma´s recipe. When I first was about to make Vanilla Crescents according to this recipe, I was wondering about the fact that there was no egg in the shortcrust pastry. I called my mom to ask if this could be right. It was. There is no egg in the shortcrust pastry, so the pastry is rather crumbly. Rolling it into crescents is therefore quite difficult. You rather have to press the pastry into crescent-shape. It´s worth the effort, though – the Vanilla Crescents are unbelievably delicious and crunchy and will melt in your mouth.

Vanillekipferl 6

Vanillekipferl 5

The amount given is enough for 70-80 Vanilla Crescents. I used the double amount of ingredients – my family loves Vanilla Crescents so much that the “normal” amount will not be enough.

Vanillekipferl 3

Ingredients:
1 ¾ cup (200 g) flour
⅔ cup (140 g) butter
½ cup (100 g) fine sugar
1 cup (100 g) ground walnuts

2-3 cups (250 g – 350 g) powdered sugar for sprinkling
3-4 tbsp. high quality vanilla sugar (no vanillin!)

Vanillekipferl 7

Cut the butter into small cubes.

Sieve the powdered sugar into a big kitchen bowl. Mix in the vanilla sugar.

With your hands or a kitchen machine, knead flour, butter, sugar and ground walnuts until you get a smooth shortcrust pastry.

Form two „sausages“ of pasty, each with a diameter of slightly more than one inch. Put them on a plate and refrigerate for about 30-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 355° F (180° C). Cover baking sheets with baking paper.

Cut off small slices of pastry and roll them in your hands until they are smooth. Form little crescents and put them on a baking sheet.

Bake for about 10 minutes. The crescents should still be very light.

Let the crescents cool on the baking sheet for about one minute, then transfer to a large plate. Liberally sprinkle with the vanilla-sugar-mixture while they are still hot.

You can also sprinkle them directly on the baking sheet, as I did here with the last two batches (I only have two baking sheets).

Vanillekipferl 1Vanillekipferl 2

If you want, you can sprinkle the vanilla-sugar-mixture onto the plate even before you transfer the crescents to that plate. This way also the bottom of the crescents will be covered with vanilla sugar – I love that!

Store in a cookie tin in a cool place.

“Linzer Augen” / Linzer Cookies

Cookies, Recipes

This is my Grandma´s recipe. She was from Vienna, and she used traditional Austrian recipes for her cooking and baking, with lots of butter and oil and rich sauces. Her specialities were onion roast and a very traditional kind of dumplings. Grandma also loved eating – we grandkids were always impressed by how much she could eat, especially when it came to sweets or ice-cream!

When we were kids, we especially loved her rich cakes and her cookies. Each December we were waiting impatiently for her Christmas package. There were always gifts, lots of sweets, and cookies. As they had travelled all the way from Vienna to Tirol, which is at the other end of Austria, usually some of the cookies were broken. We did not mind. They always tasted great.

I especially liked the „Linzer Augen“ and the “Vanilla Crescents”, Vanillekipferln. When I started baking Christmas cookies, I asked my mum for the recipes. I could not believe it when I read how much butter there was in the “Linzer Augen”! Unbelievable. I still prepared the cookies according to the recipe, and I still do. The short crust is fantastic. Honestly, these are the best “Linzer Augen” I have ever eaten.

Linzer Augen 8 (2)

Ingredients:
4¾ cups (560 g) flour (not self-rising)
3⅓ sticks (420 g) butter
¾ + ⅛ g (210 g) sugar
4 egg yolks
Apricot jam or redcurrant jam
Powdered sugar

Shortcrust pastry:
Put the flour and the sugar on a clean work surface. Cut the butter into small cubes and put them on top of the flour and the sugar. Add the egg yolks. Go through the ingredients with a knife until you get a crumbly mixture. Knead with your hands until the pastry is smooth. Refrigerate for about 30-60 minutes.

Alternatively you can combine the ingredients in a kitchen machine until crumbly, then knead the mixture with your hands until the pastry is smooth.

Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Cover baking sheets with baking paper.

With a rolling pin, roll out the pastry until it is about 3 mm thin. With a “Linzer.Augen” cookie cutter, cut out „Linzer cookies“. If you do not have that special cutter, cut out round cookies of about 1½ inches (3-4cm). Use e.g. a tiny cookie cutter to cut holes into the cookie tops. You can also make the cookies without any hole – they will still be delicious!

Ausstecher Linzer Augen

Bake the cookies at 350°F (180° C) for about 8-10 minutes. Keep your eye on them while they are in the oven. They should be very pale, not brown.

Linzer Augen 01

Remove from the oven. Let them cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack or a plate. Be careful – they will brake easily when they are hot! Let them cool down completely.

Linzer Augen 02

Put the jam into a small pot and bring it to a boil, then remove from the oven. Spread the bottom halves with apricot or redcurrant jam, then top with a cookie which has a hole in it. Immediately sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Linzer Augen 03

Linzer Augen 04

Linzer Augen 06

The shortcrust pastry will make about 80-90 “Linzer Augen”.

When you put the cookies into a tin, make sure you cover each layer of cookies with baking parchment, not tin foil. They will stay fresh longer that way. Store in an airtight container.

Linzer Augen 7