I mentioned in my previous post on acorn cookies that I have an extensive cookie file, and as I was riffling through it, I came across an old Gourmet Magazine article called “Dutch Cookies: A Baker’s Dozen.” I love European cookies because they are often so beautifully made, and because in hundreds and hundreds of years of cookie baking, the so-so recipes got weeded out, and the really good ones remain. Or at least, that’s my theory. I decided to try a recipe for Cinnamon Almond Wafers, called Jan Hagels. There were several things going for these cookies. For one thing, the dough doesn’t have to be chilled, nothing has to be cut out with cookie cutters, there is no frosting to fuss with, and the cinnamon sugar topping called loudly to the little girl in me. I set to work.
I donned my new indigo apron for this occasion, a bit of which is shown above. Actually, real indigo-dyed fabric being in short supply locally, I got some fabric at a local craft store that–in my imagination–looked like it was indigo-dyed, and I made a simple apron with a ruffle on the bottom edge.
Jan Hegels (Cinnamon Almond Wafers)
1-3/4 sticks of unsalted butter (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons), softened
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest
1 large egg, beaten lightly
2-1/3 cups flour
2/3 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and lightly butter a baking sheet. In a medium-sized bowl, cream the softened butter with the brown sugar, the lemon zest, and 1 tablespoon of the egg, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in the flour. Pat the dough out into a 14 x 10-inch rectangle on the buttered baking sheet. (I found it easier to use a rolling pin.) Brush it with the remaining egg, and sprinkle evenly with the almonds. In a small bowl stir together the sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over the almonds. Bake in the 350 degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until it’s golden. While the pastry is still hot, cut it into 2 x 1″ wafers. Transfer to racks and let cool. Makes about 50 wafers.
Baking notes: It’s not easy to measure such a slithery substance as egg yolk–I estimated the amount, and then added a bit more to the dough as I was mixing. I used the grated rind of one lemon–this didn’t add up to a whole teaspoon, but was enough to give the cookie a nice flavor. The recipe calls for the dough to be patted out, but after a moment or two or ineffectual patting, I rolled it out. This may sound odd, but I grabbed an impeccably clean beer bottle to roll out the dough. I have found that the cool glass of the bottle rolls doughs out beautifully. The goal is to roll the dough out as evenly as possible, as this results in a deliciously crisp cookie. The original recipe called for the cookie to bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Mine was done in about 16 minutes. Check your cookie after about 15 minutes, looking for golden brown edges. I checked with a ruler to see how big a 2 x 1″ rectangle was, and then cut the cookies by eye.
Hope you have a good week. Namaste. Fran