Hope everyone’s weekend is off to a good start! Today is actually a big day for me – it’s the CA ball. This past September I wrote and passed the UFE – an exhausting and difficult 3 day exam which you need to pass to become a Chartered Accountant. Not to mention that before you can even reach the point where you write the exam you need to pass 6 other modules (each of which is 8 weeks long followed by a 4 hour exam) and spend a summer studying full time to be prepared for the UFE. So today is our graduation. During the morning, there is a formal ceremony where you are introduced as a CA and in the evening we attend a black tie gala. Its very exciting to finally have that part of my life behind me and know that I won’t need to write another exam for a while (or forever?).
So in the spirit of keeping things short, I will share a nice, easy recipe I’ve made countless times – Linzer Cookies! My sister had actually requested the recipe recently since we made linzer cookies as part of our annual Christmas cookie tradition this year and she really liked them. I figured maybe a few of you might also want to try the recipe.
Linzer cookies are a variation from the traditional Linzer torte which originated in Austria. The linzer cookie is made using cookie cutters and a dough made with ground nuts (traditionally almonds). The cookies are sandwiched together, with the centre of the top layer cut out and with jam or preserves in the middle (traditionally black current jam). Today, there are countless variations of the classic dessert and my favourite is a combination of hazelnuts and raspberry preserves – yum!
By February 2, 2013
adapted from Canadian Living
- 1 1/2 cups toasted hazelnuts see Tips below
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp lemon rind
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter room temperature
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup raspberry preserves
- powdered sugar optional
- Use a food processor to grind the toasted hazelnuts. In a medium bowl, combine the ground nuts with the remaining dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, baking powder, lemon rind, cloves and salt.
- In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Then add the yolk and beat until combined again. Lastly incorporate vanilla and mix until smooth.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in two separate additions. Mix until a smooth dough forms. Divide the dough into two discs, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or until firm.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Doll out the dough between two pieces of parchment until about 3mm thick. Cut out using a cookie cutter of your choice. Use a small cutter to make centre holes in one half of the cookies.
- Bake the cookies about 2cm apart on parchment-lined baking sheets for about 11 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown on the bottom.
- Once the cookies are cooled, spread raspberry preserves on half of the cookies, topping each with a second cookie with the centre cut out. Dust cookies with powdered sugar.
- This recipe calls for toasted hazelnuts. I know what you’re thinking… it’s such a hassle to toast the nuts. Do I really have to? Well… yes. It really makes a big difference in taste to use toasted, skinned hazelnuts. The most efficient way to toast the nuts is to place them in a thin layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for about 8 minutes or until the nuts become fragrant and are toasted but not burned. Remove the nuts from the oven and place onto a towel, covering them up with the towel completely. Wait a few minutes for the nuts to cool slightly and proceed to rub the towel over the nuts which will help the skins to come off. It’s not necessary to get all the skins off but most of them should be off.
- Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for 5 days or frozen for longer storage.
Merry Almost Christmas!
My family has Christmas dinner on the 24th every year so it’s almost time for the festivities to start at my place. Things have been very hectic with shopping and prepping for dinner and guests the last couple days. Also, if you’re from Edmonton, you know that we have been hit with a ton of snow (again) so the roads have been awful. Regardless, while I was out running errands the last few days, I couldn’t help but notice how nice people have been – cars letting each other in, people offering for you to go in front of them in lineups, etc. It definitely put a smile on my face since that’s what Christmas should really be about. Also, we have raised over $2,500 for Mark in Ukraine! I have been very impressed with how kind and generous everyone has been this holiday season.
In the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to share another cookie recipe for the holidays. Sugar cookies are a staple for me. I think they’re great for this time of year (and any time of year) since they make excellent gifts if packaged up in a nice tin. Decorating them can also be really fun with a group of friends or even kids (just put icing in squeeze bottles which makes it easier to handle for kids). For now, I am posting a basic sugar cookie recipe that you can either cut out using the cookie cutter of your choice and bake or you can sandwich the cookies with good quality preserves. I will post a royal icing recipe and some tips on decorating soon, so stay tuned.
Enjoy the cookies and have a wonderful Christmas!
Finished sugar cookie hearts with strawberry jam
With it being a hectic couple of weeks, Christmas coming up (4 days!) and all the baking and fundraising we did, I sadly don’t have time to post the recipes for all the cookies we made last week. I promise I will be posting them over time though, and if you have a specific one you want me to share just let me know. I figured for now I would pick one to share with everyone. It was really hard narrowing it down to just one. I ended up picking the chocolate caramel thumbprints. I’ve been making these for years from a recipe I got from a Holiday Cooking magazine and they’re one of my favourite cookies. This year, as part of our Christmas baking, we made 4 times the recipe – that’s how good they are! They’re loaded with everything that makes a cookie great – chocolate, nuts and caramel. I’ve had many people ask for the recipe so I’m sure you will love these!
chocolate caramel thumbprints ready to eat
Our finished Christmas baking from a few years ago
I am getting so excited for Christmas (even though I have none of my shopping done). What could be better than spending time with the people you love, eating delicious foods and enjoying time outside in the snow (I love it when it snows those big fluffy snowflakes!). More than anything though, what makes me feel that Christmas is around the corner is baking with my best friend.
We have a tradition (for over 10 years now) of doing an insane amount of baking just before Christmas. We bake for about 5 full days, from about 8am until 11pm non-stop. There have been times where we’ve actually stayed up past 2am baking and decorating cookies. We book days off from work months in advance, have a huge ingredient list and a strict cookie baking schedule. We make about 25 different kinds of cookies, spend another day arranging plates of cookies and then hand them out to our closest friends. We love handing out the cookies and seeing how happy they make people. So that’s what I spent the majority of last week doing.
I had a great time picking up our ingredients at Superstore where I cleaned out their supply of butter and bonded with a stranger over the rising costs of butter!
Macaron Eton Mess
If you’ve tried making macarons before, you probably know how finicky they can be. The smallest variation in temperature, a slight amount of under or over beating the egg whites, or using bowls which aren’t impeccably clean can result in cookies which are far from perfect.
Cracked macaron shells – often result from not piping out the batter into rounds immediately after it is ready
However, the good news is that while the product may look imperfect, the cookies will generally still taste delicious. As my friends know, I can be a perfectionist when it comes to baking and any cookies which I deem unacceptable for others to eat or see are classified as the “rejects” and generally do not leave my house – for fear that someone will see them or, god forbid, eat the second rate baking! However, I am also very against wasting food. Thus, since it is somewhat impractical for me to eat all of the imperfect macarons which have resulted during my experimentation with past recipes, I have come up with a delicious dessert which can be made with the left over macaron shells. (more…)
I thought it would be fitting to have my first post be about macarons since they are one of my favourite desserts. While the French have been making macarons for centuries, they have only become popular in Canada in the last few years. I became a little obsessed with them partially because they were one of the few things that I attempted numerous times and still did not get right. So naturally I decided that when I was in Paris this fall, it was a great opportunity to take a macaron course and learn from the experts how to perfect the cookie. The macaron recipe from the course is what I’m going to share.
There are two methods for making macaroons: the Italian and the French method. Both are used extensively by Parisian bakers and result in cookies which taste largely identical, but the Italian method yields more stable cookies. As macarons are very finicky, I opt for the more stable method. Regardless, macarons can be tricky to make and will likely require a few tries to perfect them. To help you succeed, read through the entire recipe and tips below before starting. (more…)