Czech Christmas Cookie #4
A crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside cookie with the delights of fruit and nuts, and bittersweet chocolate on the bottom. The batter is prepared in a saucepan, cooled then baked, and later dipped in chocolate. The original recipe calls for candied orange peel with nuts, but other dried fruit (or a combination) could be used. The combination of candied orange peel and dried cranberries (i.e. Craisins), with the nuts, is especially nice for the holidays. I highly suggest using candied orange peel. It gives the cookie its signature lovely flavor. I have found it in gourmet shops, but usually order it online. US ingredient equivalents/substitutions are provided, where necessary. I suggest weighing the fruit and nuts.
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) whipping cream
- 80 grams (2/3 cup) of confectioner’s sugar
- 1 packet (8 or 9 g) powdered vanilla sugar (OR, 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract plus 1 Tbs extra confectioner’s sugar and 1/2 tsp extra flour beyond below)
- 10 grams smooth flour (hladká mouka) or unbleached pastry flour (OR, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour)
- 80 grams slivered almonds – original (OR, 40 grams sliced almonds and 40 grams chopped walnuts – my preference)
- 80 grams of candied orange peel, chopped (OR, an equivalent total weight using one or two candied or dried chopped fruit, such as Craisins, raisins, or the like)
- Chocolate Dipping Mixture (directions further below)
Prepare candied fruit and nuts before next step. Set aside for later.
Combine heavy whipping cream, both sugars (or combination confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract) and flour in a small to medium-sized saucepan and whisk over medium heat until it boils, whisking constantly. When it starts to thicken to a thin pudding consistency, stir in nuts and candied and/or dried fruit. Remove from heat to cool fully. Cooling usually takes an hour, or so. The batter amount will appear small, but it should make 24 to 26 one to two bite sized cookies.
From the cooled mass, make mini rounded high “clumps” (small coffee-spoon size amounts), and place them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. They should be small (one to two-bite size) with plenty of nuts and fruit, otherwise they melt into one big flat disk, which is still yummy, but not as attractive. Bake at 180°C (355°F) for about 10 to 12 mins, or until cookie edges begin to brown. Remove from oven and cool cookies on pan for 10 mins, then transfer (on parchment paper) to cooling rack. Cool completely before dipping in chocolate. If the cookies are a bit oily-looking on their bottoms, perhaps blot the bottoms with a paper towel.
Bittersweet Chocolate Mixture for dipping:
- 70 to 90 g (2 ½ to 3 oz) of bittersweet baking chocolate
- 2 teaspoons vegetable shortening (i.e. Crisco in US, or Omega in CZ).
In a double boiler or microwave, melt the chocolate with shortening according to instructions in baking chocolate package Stir well.
Dip the flat bottoms of the cooled cookies into the melted chocolate mixture, putting the chocolate coated cookies chocolate-side down onto a cool or chilled plastic wrap or wax paper-lined cookie sheet. [To facilitate dipping, I either poke the cookie with a thin metal skewer or lower it into the chocolate on a fork.]
Cool completely until chocolate fully hardens/sets (at least a few hours). You can refrigerate on the cookie sheets to quicken the process. Remove cookies and store in an airtight container, in a cool place.