19 Dec 2012

merry-making: day one

Today's merry making project was the baking of three french (and swiss) inspired Christmas cookies - brunsli de bale, coeur au chocolat blanc et noir and sable aux noix. The first recipe is from a dear friend and the second two I adapted from a french magazine I picked up recently called "la pâtisserie de Noël de grand-mére"- grandma's christmas baking or granny's baked goods. One day this week Reu and I will go round to our neighbours, and later in the week at church - and deliver bundles of these cookies. Maybe its the old french granny in me, but I really do think there is something so lovely about giving home-baked gifts this time of year...
Brunsli de Bale 
This swiss-french cookie recipe is from my dear friend Anne-Claire. She made these for the Christmas markets I organised a few years back at Newtown Mission. These are so good - and possibly my second favourite cookie (after gingerbread) - these are a wonderful blend of real dark chocolate, chewy nuttiness and fragrance of ground cloves. Also with the addition of frothy egg whites and only two tablespoons of flour (which I am certain you could substitute with rice flour for a gluten-free option) they taste very light.

3/4 cups white crystallised sugar
1 pinch of salt
250g ground almonds or hazelnuts
1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoons of ground cloves
2 tablespoons flour
2 fresh egg whites (70g), lightly beaten until frothy
100g dark chocolate (70%)
**optional - 2 teaspoons kirsch**

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl beat egg whites until frothy but not stiff. Add egg whites to dry ingredients and mix. Next melt dark chocolate and stir in kirsch if you using it. Add chocolate to other ingredients and mix well. Using clean hands knead dough into a ball. On a lightly floured surface roll out dough to 1cm thickness and cut into desired shapes. Arrange cookies on trays lined with baking paper and air dry for 5-6 hours or overnight if possible. Preheat oven to 220-250'c and bake cookies for 4 - 6 minutes (they will hardern as they cool down).

Coeur au chocolat blanc et noir 
A simple French shortbread that is sure to please chocolate loving friends and relatives - with both flecks of chocolate throughout the cookie and one side dipped in rich, dark chocolate.

2 cups plain flour
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup chocolate sprinkles
180g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
pinch of salt
70g dark chocolate (70%) for melting

In a large bowl combine the above ingredients (except dark chocolate for melting) and shape with your hands into a ball. Knead smooth on a lightly floured surface. Wrap dough in foil or plastic-wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Meanwhile preheat oven to 180'c. Roll dough out to 1/2 cm thickness and cut into hearts - arrange on baking-paper lined trays bake until golden for 10-15 minutes. Cool. Melt dark chocolate and taking each heart dip one side into the chocolate, letting any excess chocolate drip off - before placing back onto the baking-paper lined tray to dry. It should take about 1 hour or two for the chocolate to set.

Sables aux noix 
Another simple shortbread but this time using walnuts - which are simply called "noix" (nut) in French because well they (at least here in France) are the quintessential nut. I think these are especially delicious.

2 cups plain flour
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup ground almonds or walnuts
180g butter
pinch of salt
100g approximately of walnut halves for topping

In a large bowl combine the above ingredients (except walnut halves) and shape with your hands into a ball. Knead smooth on a lightly floured surface. Wrap dough in foil or plastic-wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Meanwhile preheat oven to 180'c. Roll dough out to 1/2 cm thickness and cut into desired shapes - arrange shapes on baking-paper lined trays and press one walnut-half into each cookie. Bake until golden for 10-15 minutes. Cool and sprinkle with icing sugar.

5 comments:

  1. These cookies look delicious! So much for eating healthy ; )

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  2. Looks absolutely scrumptious, you domestic goddess! I must give this sweet swiss-french a whirl - meep!

    good golly E, I really wish that we were neighbors...much love!

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  3. Love the sight and the sound of each of these cookies!
    Happy Christmas baking to you! :)

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  4. These look fantastic and I'm sure those who receive them will be so happy :-)

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  5. Lovely sweet cookies!!, that birds are cute :)

    I wish you a wonderful Christmas day to you and yours. A big hug from here!

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