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.

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Nut Wedges

Cookies, Recipes

Last weekend I realized that it was only just about four more weeks until Christmas! It is not even really December yet and does not feel like pre-Christmas-time at all! Never mind. Pre-Christmas time means baking, so off to the kitchen I headed.

Each year I start my Christmas-baking with Nut Wedges. This has become something of a tradition. Nut Wedges are ideal, as with one baking session I will get a big tin of cookies. This immediately gives me the feeling of having achieved something, and also of having a bit of a stock of cookies. Nut Wedges are also my son´s favorites – another reason to start my baking with them!

Nussecken 1

The list of cookies I want to bake this year is a long one! “Linzer Augen“, „Linzer Stangen“, Vanilla Crescents, Heart-Shaped Cookies with Rose Hip Jam, Star-Shaped Cinnamon Cookies, Caramelized Nuts in Chocolate, Coconut Wedges, Nut Cookies with Marzipan, and more… Let´s see how far I´ll get!

The recipe for these Nut Wedges is ancient – it is from a TV magazine from the late 80s or early 90s, I do not really remember. Nut Wedges were among the first Christmas cookies I ever made. As back then I was just getting started with baking, I found the recipe challenging, especially as there was a mistake with the measurements. Meanwhile I know how to make these cookies fast and without problems, and I have corrected the measurement-mistake long ago.

I always bake Nut Wedges according to this recipe, as I know it will work!

Nussecken 7

Nussecken 6

Ingredients:

Short pastry / Dough:
2 cups (250 g) flour or whole wheat flour
⅓ cup (70 g) brown sugar
1 stick (125 g) butter
1 egg
1 pinch of salt
½ jar of apricot jam (or another jam you like, e.g. strawberry)

Topping:
3 cups (300 g) ground hazelnuts
1 stick (125 g) butter
½ cup (100 g) brown sugar
3 tbsp. water

Chocolate glazing:
8.8 oz. (250 g) dark chocolate, lactose-free
⅓-½ cup (80 g-100 g) butter

Nussecken 2

Preparation:
Short pastry / dough:

Cover a baking sheet with baking paper.

Preheat the oven to 400 ° F (200° C).

Put flour, sugar and salt onto the work surface. Cut the cold butter into small cubes. Add egg and butter to the flour mixture. With your hands, quickly knead to a dough. If possible, let the dough rest in the fridge/a cool place for half an hour.

Alternatively use a kitchen machine:
Knead the ingredients with a dough hook until you get a firm dough. I mostly use this method when making short pastry. It is fast and works well. It also keeps my hands clean!

Roll the dough into a rectangle of about 8×12 inches (20×30 cm). You can do so either directly on the baking sheet (covered with baking paper), or on a sheet of baking paper which you then transfer to the baking sheet together with the dough. Put a baking frame around the dough so you can spread the topping right to the edge.

Evenly spread the apricot jam on the dough.

For the topping, cut the butter into small pieces. Put butter, sugar and water into a small pot and bring to a boil. Remove from the oven and stir in the ground hazelnuts. Allow the mixture to cool.

Evenly spoon the hazelnut mixture over the jam. Spread with a knife or a pastry spatula and press down a little (using your hands helps!).

Bake for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Cut into small triangles while still warm. You do not have to separate the triangles yet.

Let the triangles cool on the sheet.

For the chocolate glazing, cut (or break) chocolate and butter into small pieces. Put chocolate and butter in a small pot and melt in a double boiler, or at low heat on the oven. Stir well. If the glazing is runny, add more chocolate. If it is not runny enough, add more butter.

Dip the Nut Wedges into the chocolate glazing and let them cool on a cooling rack.

Nussecken 5

Keep in an airtight cookie tin.

Brownie Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Topping

Cupcakes, Recipes

Last Thursday I wanted to make chocolate cupcakes with orange topping for Halloween. I thought the combination of dark sponge, orange topping, and dark chocolate sprinkles would look nice.

It did not work out as planned. I mixed yellow and red food coloring in order to get orange, but got some kind of salmon-pink color. It looked a bit like thousand island dressing – not appetizing. I preferred not to add the color to the topping. The cupcakes still look nice with dark sponge, cream-colored topping, and dark chocolate sprinkles, don´t they?

Brownie Cupcakes 2

For the topping I made a cream cheese topping by Linda Lomelino, from call-me-cupake.blogspot.se. She uses it for her Hazelnut Chocolate Minicupcakes, but says that the topping goes with “almost everything”. She´s right. The topping is light, not too sweet, and simple and quick to prepare. I´ll definitely make this topping more often!

Brownie Cupcakes 4

Ingredients:

Sponge:
6,7 oz. (190 g) dark chocolate, lactose-free (Lindt 70%, Merci 72 %)

¾ cups (170 g) butter

2 cups (200 g) ground hazelnuts

½ cup (50 g) ground almonds

½ cup (50 g) flour
1 tsp. baking powder
4 eggs, room temperature
1 pinch of salt
¾ cup (70 g) powdered sugar

Topping:
10.7 oz. (300 g) cream cheese
1¼ cup (300 ml) whipping cream
1 tbsp. Vanilla sugar (no vanillin)
¾ cup (85 g) powdered sugar, sieved

Sponge:
Preheat the oven to 180° C.

Put cupcake-liners into a muffin baking tray. I have an average Austrian muffin baking tray and get 18 muffins with this amount of batter. I therefore prepare two muffin baking trays (one for twelve muffins, one for six muffins ) and bake one tray after the other.

Break the chocolate into small pieces. Cut the butter into small cubes. Put chocolate and butter into a small pot. Melt in a double boiler, or on the oven over very low heat (which is what I usually do).

In a bowl, combine hazelnuts, almonds, flour and baking powder.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, powdered sugar and salt with a hand mixer or a kitchen machine at high speed until the mixture is fluffy and light yellow.

Turn the hand mixer or the kitchen machine down to low speed. Slowly pour the chocolate-butter-mixture into the egg-mixture. Keep beating while doing this. The mixtures have to combine well. (I prefer to do this with a whisk and not a mixer. The chocolate-mixture is heavier than the egg-mixture and will sink to the bottom of the bowl. With a whisk, I can reach the sunken chocolate-mixture better than with a mixer.)

Carefully fold in the hazelnut-mixture.

Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, each ⅔ full.

Bake for about 20 minutes. They will be done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the muffins cool.

Topping:
Beat the whipping cream in a bowl.

In a second bowl, mix cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla sugar.

Add the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture. Whip until the mixture is smooth and firm. If the topping is runny, put it in the fridge for a while.

Fill the topping into an icing bag and decorate the cupcakes with the topping. If you do not have an icing bag, spoon the topping onto the cupcakes and spread it with a butter knife. Decorate with chocolate sprinkles.

The topping will last for 12 cupcakes.

 Brownie Cupcakes 3

Sponge adapted from: Gruber, R. (2013, 2. Aufl.), 130g Liebe. Wien: Christian Brandstätter Verlag.

Topping adapted from: call-me-cupcake.blogspot.se

Biscotti with Chocolate Chips and Roasted Hazelnuts

Other, Recipes

I have wanted to make these Biscotti many times, but never got around to it, mostly because other recipes came in between. Last week I finally succeeded in making them. When I looked through my baking books, I kept coming back to this recipe. I was intrigued by the fact that the Biscotti would be baked twice, and by the mouth-watering list of ingredients. As I had never made Biscotti before, though, I had no real idea about what they would taste like.

Biscotti Schoko 4

Now that I know how good they are, I regret not having made them much earlier. They were incredible. Lots of dark chocolate and roasted hazelnuts in a crunchy dough. You can probably keep them in an airtight container for about three days, but I can only guess that. They did not last that long.

In these Biscotti, the chocolate-flavor is so intense that you should really use high-quality dark chocolate. It´s definitely worth it.

Biscotti Schoko 3

Ingredients:

2 ¾ cups (280 g) flour
½ cup (50 g) ground hazelnuts
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla sugar
¾ cup (175 g) sugar
2 eggs
⅜ cup (45 g) butter
6.2 oz. (175 g) high-quality dark chocolate, lactose-free (Lindt 70%, Merci 72%)
3.5 oz (100 g) hazelnuts

Roast the hazelnuts in a large pan at medium temperature until they become fragrant and the skins crack. Pour the hazelnuts onto a kitchen towel and let them cool a little – they will be really hot! Close the towel over the hazelnuts and rub the nuts against each other so that the skins will come off. Do not worry if they do not come off completely. Let the nuts cool down.

Coarsely chop the roasted hazelnuts.

Coarsely chop the chocolate. Mix with the hazelnuts and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 355° F (180° C).

Cover a baking sheet with baking paper.

In a small pot, melt the butter at low heat. Let it cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, ground hazelnuts, baking soda, baking powder, salt, vanilla sugar, and sugar.

In a small mixing bowl, beat together eggs and melted butter.

Pour the egg-mixture into the flour-mixture. Beat it in well, using a wooden spoon.

Stir the roasted, chopped hazelnuts and the chopped chocolate into the dough.

Mould the batter into two to three small loafs, about 8 inches long and 2.5 inches wide. This might be a little tricky, as the dough is rather dry. You might have to press it together well to keep the loaves from falling apart.

Biscotti Schoko 1

Bake the loaves in the oven for about 25 minutes. Take them out and let them cool on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes.

Turn the oven to 340° F (170° C). Cover another baking sheet with baking paper.

With a sharp knife, cut the loaves diagonally into slices of about ⅔ – ¾ of an inch. I did this directly on the baking sheet. That seemed easier than transporting the loaves to a cutting board and cutting them there.

Biscotti Schoko 2

Put the slices on the baking sheet. Bake them for 7 minutes, then turn them around and bake them for another 6-8 minutes until golden brown.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the Biscotti cool down.

Store the Biscotti in an airtight container, so that they will stay crispy.

 Biscotti Schoko 5

Adapted from: Cynthia Barcomi (2010), Backen: I Love Baking, München: Wilhelm Goldmann Verlag.

Crunchy Granola with Nuts

Granola, Recipes

My kids love breakfast cereals – unfortunately those from the stores, with lots of sugar. For them they are an easy and quick breakfast. They do not care about the fact that they contain a lot of sugar. They like the taste, and the fact that all they have to do in the morning is pour the cereal into a bowl, add the milk and eat. No laborious spreading of butter and jam on a slice of bread. Much easier.

About a year ago I accidentally discovered a recipe for homemade granola, a chocolate granola. I was fascinated. I had had no idea that you can bake your own granola! I immediately tried the recipe and was thrilled by the result. The kids even ate it for breakfast, even though it was not as sweet as the cereals from the store.

I have since been making our granola myself, in different varieties. Apart from the fact that those granolas are a lot healthier than those from the stores, for me this has the additional advantage that I can create a granola that I myself can eat without problems. For example, most recipes bind the dry ingredients with maple syrup or honey. I use rice syrup instead. I also omit dried fruit and use more nuts instead. The granola thus does not contain a lot of fructose and is okay for me.

This variety is a crunchy mixture of flakes and nuts.

Müsli mit Nüssen 1

Granola mit Nüssen 2

Ingredients:
1 ¼ cup (100 g) rolled oats
1 ¼ cup (100 g) spelt flakes
½ cup (90 g) oat bran
½ cup (55 g) almonds, coarsely chopped
½ cup (65 g) walnuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup (65 g) hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup coconut flakes
1-2 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

For the more or less fructose-free variety:
½ cup (120 ml) rice syrup

For the variety containing fructose:
½ cup (120 ml) maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350° F (175° C).

Cover a baking sheet with baking paper.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the coconut flakes.

Spread the mixture on the baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the coconut flakes and bake for another 5 minutes.

Remove the granola from the oven and let it cool down.

Store in an airtight container.

 Granola mit Nüssen 3

Adapted from:

http://call-me-cupcake.blogspot.co.at

Peace Pastry (“Versöhnungsstangerl”)

Other, Recipes

It is really hard to find an English equivalent for the German word “Versöhnungsstangerl”. Reconciliation Sticks? Appeasement Strips? I went for Peace Pastry. I think it is closest to what the German name wants to express.

I do not know how the pastry got its name. Maybe because the pastry tastes so good that you will forget about any fights and arguments when you have one? Or maybe because the wife would serve them to her husband if she wanted to apologize for whatever she did wrong? I have no idea. Whenever I make them, we keep wondering and guessing.

Versöhnungsstangerl 6

I discovered the recipe in the Sacher baking book many years ago. I cannot remember anymore why I tried it. The recipe looked so simple and not spectacular at all. There was also no picture. I assume I just had all the ingredients at home and felt like trying something new.

It was definitely worth the try. This pastry is really easy and quick to prepare, and the result is heavenly. You could really forget about arguing when eating them!

Versöhnungsstangerl 7

Ingredients:
Dough:
10 oz. (270 g) puff pastry, lactose-free (e.g. “Tante Fanny´s Blätterteig”)

Filling:
3.5 oz. (100 g) marzipan paste
2 tbsp. rum or 2 tbsp. milk, lactose-free
1 egg
1 ½ cup (150 g) ground hazelnuts

Additionally:
2 egg yolks
½ cup (50 g) ground (or chopped) hazelnuts
Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 425° F (220° C).

Put baking paper on two baking sheets.

About ten minutes before you start baking, take the puff pastry out of the package. It will thus get a bit softer and easier to handle.

Roll the pastry into a rectangle.

Cut the marzipan paste into small pieces. Add the rum or the milk and beat with a hand mixer or a kitchen machine until smooth. There might still be small lumps of marzipan, but do not worry about those. It is not really a problem.

Add the egg and beat it in well.

Add the ground hazelnuts.

Spread the nut mixture on the lower half of the puff pastry rectangle. Fold the upper half over the lower half. Go over the pastry dough with a rolling pin once.

Versöhnungsstangerl 1Versöhnungsstangerl 2

Cut the pastry dough into strips of a bit more than half an inch. Twist each strip twice and put them onto the baking sheets.

Versöhnungsstangerl 4

Chill in a cold place for about 20 minutes, if you have the time for it. I usually skip this step.

Whisk the egg yolks. Brush the pastry strips with the whisked yolks. Sprinkle the strips with the ground (or chopped) hazelnuts.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy. The pastry tastes warm as well as cold.

Versöhnungsstangerl 5

Comment 1:
I have also tried baking the Peace Pastry with walnuts, which I usually like better than hazelnuts. I would not recommend it. With walnuts, the pastry does not get as crunchy and crispy as with hazelnuts. I definitely prefer the hazelnut version.

Comment 2:
This recipe will make about 20 pieces of pastry. If I have friends over, I usually make the double amount. The pastry is so light and good that people usually have at least three to four pieces. 20 pieces will rather not be enough if there are more than five people.

Adapted from: Kellermann, M. (1994), Das große Sacher Kochbuch. Weyarn: Seehamer Verlag GmbH.