Tag-Archive for ◊ almonds ◊

08 Mar 2014 Kipferls (Vanilla Hazelnut Butter Cookies)

kipferl2

I had never, ever heard of Kipferls before.  Then, in two weeks they came into my life twice!  First, my friend Priscilla made some in the Culinary School Pastry Arts program she is enrolled in. I didn’t try one because I don’t like nuts.  I dislike nuts so much that the name of the cookie didn’t even register.  Then I read “The Book Thief” and Kipferls are important in one chapter.  Since I was hosting book club this month and since the author had contributed his mother’s recipe for Kipferls to “The Book Club Cookbook” that my friend Kayte  gave me for my birthday last year, I decided to make the cookie. I had to do a Google image search to see what they looked like! Then came the hunt for Hazelnut Flour.  It’s out there. I found it at Sprouts.  I was shocked by the price.  I told the cashier that there must have been a mistake.  She said she doubted it.  I asked her to call for a manager for a price check.  YEP.  She was right.  There was no mistake.  It’s $16.95 for a 14 oz. packet of Hazelnut Flour (aka Hazelnut Meal). After creating such a fuss, and with my book club in less than seven hours, I bought the dangblasted expensive and pitifully small bag of Hazelnut Flour. BTW, you don’t have to buy this flour to make these cookies.

How to avoid using expensive Hazelnut Flour:

1. Make your own.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 6 ounces (1 1/4 cups) of shelled hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake 8–10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the hazelnuts are fragrant and brown. Remove the nuts from the  oven and let cool slightly. While still warm, though, fold the nuts inside a clean kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove their skins. Place skinned nuts in a food processor fitted with the stainless-steel blade, and process until they are finely ground.

2. Substitute Almond Flour or Almond Meal for the Hazelnut Flour.  Almond Meal is about one-third the price of Hazelnut flour.  My German friend Karin said she always makes her Kipferls with Almond Meal, but her German relatives grind their own nuts.

To continue with my saga…Upon returning home with my $16.95 package of Hazelnut Flour, I got out the recipe and got started.  No! Two vanilla beans?  TWO?  For 36 cookies?  It is now clear to me that I am making World’s Most Expensive Cookie and I am thinking these better be good.  (They were, thank goodness. So good I might have to make them again, and again, and again…)

This recipe is based upon Markus Zusak’s recipe for Kipferls as published in The Book Club Cookbook.  I made some changes to the method and to the ingredients.  Mr. Zusak’s mother mixed her dough by hand, I tried it for a bit, then resorted to my electric mixer.  I split the use of the vanilla beans, putting one in the cookie and one in the powdered sugar, Mr. Zusak put both in the powdered sugar. I had to quadruple the amount of powdered sugar to cover all the cookies, and I covered the cookies with the powdered sugar while the cookies were still warm* so get a crackly, almost melted sugar coating on the cookies. (*Let the cookies cool a little, to firm up a bit.  If you toss hot cookies in powdered sugar, the cookie will break.)

Kipferls

Crisp German Vanilla Hazelnut Butter Cookies

For the cookies

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups Hazelnut Flour or Hazelnut Meal or alternative (see above)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 14 tablespoons (1 ¾ sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, split in half, and insides scraped off with a knife.  Discard the outside of the vanilla bean

For the vanilla sugar

  • 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces (different preparation than above)
  1. Make the vanilla sugar first.  Place the powdered sugar with the chopped up vanilla bean in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Process until the vanilla bean has been incorporated into the powdered sugar, several 10 second bursts.  Place a fine meshed sifter over a small bowl and sift the powdered sugar to remove the unblended pieces of vanilla bean.  Pour vanilla sugar into a large Ziploc bag. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two baking sheets lightly with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  3. Combine all purpose flour, hazelnut flour/meal, and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces and add to flour mixture. Scrape the inside out of the split vanilla bean and add to bowl.  With an electric mixer, mix dough for 3-4 minutes or until a soft dough is formed.
  4. Pinch off small pieces of dough (1 T; 1/2 oz; 15 grams) and mold gently between your palms to form 3-inch ropes, thicker in the middle and tapered at the ends.   This took a bit of doing to master.  I rolled the dough to the length of my three middle fingers.  I rolled the dough a bit more firmly with my ring and index finger so the ends of the dough would be thinner. Fashion each piece of rolled dough into a crescent shape and place onto the prepared trays, see picture above.
  5. Bake in preheated 350º oven for 15-20 minutes or just until the cookies are beginning to turn brown.  Mr. Kusak says that once the Kipferls are brown, they are over cooked.
  6. Remove cookies from oven.  Cool just slightly and then toss into the Ziploc bag with the vanilla sugar–tossing the cookies while they are still hot creates a slightly melted-on, and truly special coating.  Toss  cookies in vanilla sugar.
  7. Remove cookie to a cooling tray and repeat with remaining cookies and vanilla sugar.  If you have vanilla sugar left over, you can re-coat the cookies.
  8. Let cool completely before eating. The cookies will crisp up as they cool.

 Yield: About 3 ½ dozen cookies

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I hope you enjoy the World’s Most Expensive Cookie!  They ARE good and worth the cost and the effort. Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

PS…I am making another batch of these cookies to take to a Tahoe retreat this weekend.  One bag of that dangblasted expensive Hazelnut Flour does make three batches of these cookies…AND, Costco sells vanilla beans now.  Note my friend Sally’s point, put the vanilla beans in the powdered sugar as soon as you get them.  Once you are ready to make the cookies, remove the beans and use as outlined above.  The benefit is that some of the essence of the vanilla beans will have soaked into the sugar…yummmmm.

16 Sep 2010 Veganized! Smokehouse Chick’n Sandwiches
 |  Category: Sandwiches, Veganized!  | Tags: , , , ,  | One Comment

Super easy and deliciously smoky, these sandwiches are an all around winner… Even your non-veg peeps will like them!

Smokehouse Chick’n Sandwiches

1 pkg (4 cutlets) Gardein Chick’n Scallopini, prepared per package instructions. Cool then dice.
1/3 – 1/2 cup Vegenaise, to taste
1/3 cup minced shallot (if you don’t have shallots, minced green or red onion will do nicely)
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup finely chopped smokehouse almonds (chop almonds first, then measure)

In a medium bowl stir together the diced chick’n, Vegenaise, shallot OR onion, tarragon and diced almonds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread on good bread or serve with whole grain crackers!

Makes four to six sandwiches (depending on the size of the bread, how much filling you put in each or how many teenagers are lurking around your kitchen 🙂 ).

This is my vegan version of Polly’s posted recipe: Smoked Chicken Almond Sandwiches.

13 Sep 2010 Drunken Pear Crisp with Cherries

Everyone who tried this last night (last night refers to one night in the fall of 2009) loved it…, except for me.  I didn’t fall in love with it until about an hour ago, when I had a bite of the leftovers.  Soooo GOOD!  What was I thinking earlier?  I had to scrape the bottom of the serving dish to get a leftover helping for myself.

This crisp is made with almost a full bottle of Zinfandel. I’ve served the crisp  with small scoops of homemade vanilla ice-cream, and with whipped cream.  I am going to have to make another batch to figure out which option I like better! Besides that, the picture above is horrible and I definitely need a new picture… (if you make this, can you send me a picture to use in place of this one?)

I made one change to the “Pear Crisp with Dried Sour Cherries”  recipe from “The Top 150 American Recipes” cookbook (aside from renaming the recipe), I thought the filling needed a thickening agent, it did.  I’ve added it into the recipe below.

Start this one day before you plan to serve it—the cherries need time to get drunk.  Kids probably won’t like this…. Let them eat the ice-cream!

Drunken Pear Crisp with Cherries

1 cup dried SOUR cherries (I bought mine at Trader Joe’s)
Approx ¾ bottle of Zinfandel
5 cups thickly sliced pears (about 2 ½ lbs, 8 medium)
1 T. tapioca or cornstarch
½ cup sugar (divided use)
1 ¼ c. flour
1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds
1 T. finely chopped toasted sliced almonds
¼ c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/8  t. ground nutmeg
¼ t. cinnamon
8 T. (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled

In a small saucepan over medium heat combine cherries with enough Zinfandel to cover by 2 inches.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, then remove from heat and let cool.  Place cherries in the refrigerator and let soak overnight (or, at least 8 hours).  Drain the cherries, but reserve the wine.  In a large bowl combine the sliced pears, drained cherries,  ¼ cup white sugar, and cornstarch or tapioca.  Toss well.  Add ½ cup of the cherry-Zinfandel liquid and then let stand for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In another bowl combine flour, remaining ¼ c. sugar, 1/3 cup toasted almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Slowly drizzle in the melted butter.  Stir with a fork until mixture comes together in crumbles. (Do not over-mix and get a big ball of dough-break up any clumps bigger than one inch).  Spoon fruit mixture into a 2 qt. baking dish (8 x 8).  Evenly sprinkle crumbs on top of the fruit mixture. Sprinkle 1 T. finely chopped almonds over the crumbled topping. Bake until mixture is bubbling and topping is browned, about 50 minutes.  Serve hot or warm, with or without ice-cream or whipped cream. Guard the leftovers with your life!

Inviting friends over this fall?  Serve this for dessert.  Trust me.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today! 

15 Jun 2010 Smoked Chicken Almond Sandwiches
 |  Category: Poultry, Sandwiches  | Tags: , ,  | 6 Comments

My daughter, Abby, loves this sandwich. She longs for it. Dreams of it. She gets really excited and happy when I make it. I love that about her! Now I am putting it in her cookbook so she can make it for herself in her apartment.

The sandwich is has bold, hearty flavors from chopped smokehouse almonds. I use really good bread from a really good bakery for this sandwich. Don’t marry a from scratch, great quality filling to some cheap, tasteless bread. I suppose you could dress this sandwich up a bit with crisp lettuce and sliced tomatoes, which would probably be delicious, but we’ve never had time. Once we have the filling made, we want to eat a sandwich!

This recipe includes instructions for poaching the chicken, but if you have already cooked chicken, use that. If I am BBQ-ing chicken I always make extra to use in this recipe. The BBQ-ed flavor in the chicken makes the sandwich even better.

The original recipe came from Epicurious.com, but I fixed it! The Epicurious.com recipe is for tea sandwiches, cut with a circle cutter, and then rolled in chopped almonds. NAH! Too fussy. Enjoy it my way!

Smoked Chicken Almond Sandwiches

3 cups chicken broth or water plus 1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breasts

OR 2 cups chopped cooked chicken (BBQ-ed is especially good)

1/2 cup mayonnaise (original recipe called for 1 cup, but I thought that was too much. Add more mayo if you’d like…)
1/3 cup minced shallot (if you don’t have a shallot use minced green onion OR minced red onion soaked in ice water for 10 minutes and drained before adding to the chicken mixture)
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
salt and pepper, to taste (and you will need some)
1/2 cup finely chopped smokehouse almonds (about half of a 6 oz can–chop the nuts, then measure 1/2 cup)

If you need to cook the chicken, in a large skillet bring the water or the chicken broth to a boil. Add the chicken breasts in one layer. Reduce heat and poach chicken at a mere simmer for about 7 minutes. Turn the chicken over halfway through the cooking time. Remove pan from heat and let chicken cool in the broth for 20 minutes. Drain the chicken from the stock. (SAVE the stock-refrigerate or freeze it-to use in another recipe). Discard any skin, and dice the chicken.

In a medium bowl stir together the cooled and diced chicken, mayonnaise, shallot OR onion, tarragon, and diced almonds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread onto that good bread you just picked up from the bakery. Leftover filling can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for about 3 days.

Makes four to six sandwiches (depending on the size of the bread and how much filling you put in each).

13 Jun 2010 Cookie Cups (for Ice Cream Sundaes, of course!)

Want a REALLY good ice cream sundae? Ice-cream, fresh fruit, whipped cream, chocolate shavings, maybe a few sliced almonds…in a Cookie Cup! The Cookie Cup transforms a familiar, really good dessert a to a special, really GREAT dessert. People swoon. People moan. People linger.

This recipe has been in my files since I was a newlywed in 1981. I have only a photocopy of a page from a cookbook, no notations. I am pretty sure the photocopy is from a Sunset cookbook from the 1980s, but I am not certain.

Use any nuts you want, but I have specified my favorite combination. Other than that, I have made no changes to the original recipe.

Cookie Cups

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar (Light or dark brown sugar was not specified. I’ve used both, and prefer the dark)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
7 Tablespoons flour
1 cup finely chopped nuts (I use half pecans and half sliced almonds–both chopped finely)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add in brown sugar and corn syrup and bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. When liquid boils, remove from heat and stir in flour and nuts until well blended. Stir in vanilla.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a cookie pan with Pam for baking (or any other method you prefer). Make 2 cookies on one cookie sheet. For each cookie, pace 2 Tablespoons of batter in a puddle on the cookie sheet.

Batter  before baking, above.  After baking, below.  See how it spreads?  Only bake two cookies on one sheet!

Cookies will spread A LOT (you can bake 2 sheets at one time, if you move the sheets around after 5-6 minutes). Bake in 325 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are lacy and have a rich golden brown color. Remove from oven and let cookie cool on the tray for a minute or two (but not much longer).

Turn a glass or very small bowl, with a flat, 2-inch diameter bottom, upside down onto counter. When the cookie edges are firm, but the cookie is still somewhat stretchy, with a wide metal spatula, transfer cookie from sheet to OVER the upside down glass on the counter. With your fingers, quickly press the cookie into the shape of the glass. The cookie will harden almost immediately. Leave the cookie there to cool a minute or two (while you get the next batch in the oven).

One cookie cooling over an upside down glass, one cookie completely cooled and removed from glass and standing straight and firm.

Remove cookie cup from glass. Cookie cups can be stored in “rigid” (I use tin) container for up to a week, or frozen for longer storage…, but they are delicate, so be careful.

Just before serving, place ice-cream, fresh fruit, whipped cream, whatever your heart desires, into the cookie cups and serve. You’ll see joy in your guests eyes.

Thanks for visiting my kitchen today.  Stop by again for some homemade ice creams, sherbets and sorbets to put in the ice cream cups!

05 Feb 2010 Swedish Butter Cookies Three Ways

The weekend is upon us and it sounds as if it’s going to be cold and wet almost everywhere. Let’s make cookies!  Here is my favorite recipe for butter cookies. It’s an easy one, and the cookies are melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  I have been baking these cookies exactly as the recipe specifies since the mid-1980s when my friend Kathy gave me the recipe (which she acquired from one of her students).  Just a few days ago, emboldened by all the foodie pages I have been looking at, I decided to play with the recipe a bit.  What fun!  One version, adding lemon peel, was only so-so, but the other two were excellent.  Now I am anxious to create a coffee/latte version. If I get one to work, you can be sure I’ll post it.  Let me know if you come up with any winning variations…, but don’t miss the originals, they are to die for!

Swedish Butter Cookies

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. corn syrup
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Beat butter and sugar and corn syrup together with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes.  Stir in flour and baking soda.  Divide dough into 4 equal parts.  Roll each part into a roll about 6 inches long and 1 inch thick.  Place on a cookie sheet.  Cookies will spread a lot, so space them equidistantly. Bake in preheated 300 degree oven for 20 – 25 minutes.  Cut bars, at an angle, into slices while still hot.  I cut off the rounded ends, then slice each roll into 6 slices to make 2 dozen cookies per batch.  Cool on paper towel.

Coconut Butter Cookies (my favorite version)
Mix dough as above, adding in 1/2 tsp coconut extract with corn syrup.  Cover each roll with 1/2 to 1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut.  Press coconut on roll, slightly flattening the rolls in the process.

Nutty Butter Cookies
Substitute 1/3 cup brown sugar for the 1/2 cup of white sugar.  Stir in 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds with flour.  Partially flatten the rolls before baking (with nuts, the dough doesn’t spread as much). Bake at 325 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes.

Lemon Butter Cookies
If you want to try it, I just added the grated rind of 1 large lemon… But the results weren’t nearly as tasty as the original version.  You simply have to make the originals!

What do you think?  Are you going to try this?
Whatever you decide, thanks for stopping by,