Czech Christmas Cookie #1
These sandwich cookies are a buttery, chocolaty, nutty delight with a delicious jelly/preserves and rum-hazelnut filling. They are almost like a mini fancy torte. The original recipe was created in 1849 in the spa town of Bad Ischl, in Austria, as a treat for the Emperor Franz Joseph I of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. If using Czech/Slovak flour, go by all ingredient amounts in grams and the Celsius oven temperature. Otherwise, use the American measurements.
This is the first Czech Christmas cookie recipe (vánoční cukroví) in a series of about 9 or 10. I will post one new Czech cookie recipe every (or every other) day, finishing with a post that lists short intros (and tips), along with links, to all in the series. I will also post one or two recipes for other Czech Christmas goodies.
Cookie Dough Ingredients:
- ¾ cup (85 grams) confectioner’s sugar
- ¾ cup (140 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 packet (8 or 9 g) powdery vanilla sugar
- Pinch of cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 1 ½ oz (40 grams) packed finely ground unskinned almonds
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour or 210 grams of smooth flour (hladké mouky), sifted
- 3 tablespoons (20 grams) unsweetened baking cocoa, sifted
- ~1/2 cup raspberry or red currant jelly/preserves, at room temperature
- Hazelnut rum mixture
- 2 ½ oz (75 grams) finely ground hazelnuts
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) white granulated sugar
- 1 to 2 teaspoons rum, as desired
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons softened butter
- Pinch of salt
- Chocolate glaze
- 4 oz (115 grams) bittersweet or semisweet baking chocolate, melted
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable shortening, melted in chocolate
- Chopped or halved nuts (i.e. hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds)
In a large bowl, beat the confectioner’s sugar with the softened butter with a mixer, until fluffy (2 mins). Then beat in the lemon zest, vanilla and cinnamon. Finely grind unskinned almonds in a mini food processor or nut grinder (makes about 1/3 cup packed ground), and then beat into the buttery mixture. Gradually mix in sifted flour and cocoa powder to form a dough. Create two flat disks from dough, and wrap, separately, in plastic wrap. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325°F (170°C). On a lightly floured surface, roll the first chilled disk of dough into a sheet of 1/8th inch (3.2 mm) thickness. [It may require a couple minutes at room temperature for the dough to be rollable.] Using a cookie cutter, cut dough into desired roundish shapes. [Each sandwich cookie requires two identical cutouts.] I use cutters that are about 1 ½ to 2 inches (3 ¾ to 5 cm) wide. Transfer all cutout cookies to parchment paper lined baking sheets. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and briefly cool on cookie sheet, then transfer to cooling racks. [I transfer them on the parchment paper.] Repeat process with second disk of chilled dough.
Stir jelly/preserves and set aside. To make the hazelnut filling, grind hazelnuts until very fine. Then thoroughly pulse/mix in the sugar, rum, softened butter, and salt. The mix will be slightly grainy, not creamy.
Gently spread a nice layer of jelly/preserves on the under/flat sides of 50% of the cookies, and then spread a bit of prepared hazelnut filling on the under sides of the other 50% of cookies. [You want enough jelly to seep through the hazelnut filling so the two cookies stick together firmly.] Create sandwich cookies by gently pressing a jelly coated cookie onto a coordinating hazelnut filling topped cookie. Let sandwich cookies stand for a bit for jelly to seep into the cookies (helps keep it together), then move on to the dipping process.
Dipping Process: Melt baking chocolate, according to package instructions, and then mix/melt in vegetable shortening. When the chocolate glaze is cool enough (but still quite warm), dip in the top side of a sandwich cookie, holding the cookie so that the sandwich doesn’t fall apart. [Hands do get chocolaty.] Let excess glaze drip off, then carefully put on cookie rack (set over paper or foil), dipped side up. Repeat quickly with remaining sandwich cookies.
Immediately after all cookies are dipped in chocolate, decorate tops with chopped or halved nut(s) of choice. Let chocolate harden for several hours (quicker if done in refrigerator) before serving or storing. Store in airtight container either chilled or at room temperature. These cookies should last well for a few weeks, if not eaten up before then. They even improve a bit with age.
Yields: ~36 sandwich cookies, depending on cookie cutter size