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TBB - The Ischler

Rose's Alpha Bakers

TBB - The Ischler

Patricia Reitz

The Ischler - ButterYum

Today Rose's Alpha Bakers share our 3rd selection as we bake our way through The Baking Bible.  As a reminder, the recipes are generally not shared, but this week you're in luck because the recipe is available here.  Don't miss my full photo tutorial that follow my commentary below. 

This week's selection - The Ischler, an Austrian almond cookie that's traditionally filled with apricot lekvar and dipped in chocolate.  This particular version contains both the apricot lekvar and chocolate inside the cookie.  

Special equipment needed - Half sheet pans, 2 1/4-inch scalloped cutter, rolling pin, optional pastry cloth, and optional pastry wands.

How do they taste - I didn't like them.  I actually liked the dough better raw than baked.  The apricot lekvar is pretty tasty, but I don't really like it combined with the chocolate so I don't get why these cookies are so loved.  I should have know, I've never been a fan of dried apricots dipped in chocolate.  In full disclosure, I liked the cookies a teeny tiny bit more than next day, after they had been stored in an airtight container overnight and softened a bit, but I still wasn't very fond of them.  

How do they look - Elegant, but I think they're more attractive prepared the traditional way, with the chocolate on the outside of the cookie.  

Skill lever required - Overall, intermediate.  The chocolate ganache is a breeze to prepare, but the cookie dough and apricot lekvar could be considered finicky for a beginning baker.

Were the directions clear - Yes, although I wish there was a time breakdown included with each recipe in the book.  When I initially skimmed through this recipe, I completely missed the part that mentioned the apricots needed to soak in water for 2 whole hours before cooking.  My fault for not reading more carefully, but frustrating, none the less. 

What would I do differently next time - I think I would return the chocolate to the outside of the cookie so the chocolate is the first thing that hits the palate.  I'd also replace the apricot with a fruit I prefer to pair with chocolate, say raspberry.   I was speaking with a gentleman from Austria and told him that I had recently made these cookies.  I asked if apricot was the traditional filling and he told me "ribisel" or red currant is more traditional and more delicious.  Just thought I'd pass that along.

Next up - Almond Coffee Crisps, Dec 22, 2014.  Really looking forward to trying them.

Okay, here's my photo tutorial.

These Ischler cookies are made with 3 components - almond cookies, apricot lekvar, and chocolate ganache.  To make the almond cookies, place confectioners' sugar and unblanched sliced almonds in a food processor.

Process until the almonds are finely ground.

Next add the butter, egg, and pure vanilla extract.

Process until the mixture looks like this.

Now add the flour and salt.

Process again until the mixture looks like this, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary.

Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and wrap well in plastic (I only made half a recipe).  Chill for at least 2 hours.

Time to roll the dough to the perfect thickness with the help of these awesome Pastry Wands.

Roll dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness.

Rose suggested rolling the dough between two layers of flour dusted plastic wrap, but I know from experience that a floured pastry cloth and a piece of wax paper is less fussy.  If your cookie dough gets too soft, chill it for a few minutes before cutting the shapes.

Cut the cookie shapes and place them on a lined sheet pan.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, then cool for 1 minute before transferring to a cooling rack.  Reserve until it's time to assemble the cookies. 

To make the apricot lekvar, combine water and dried apricots in a saucepan and let apricots soak for 2 full hours. 

The apricots will plump a bit and their color will lighten after soaking.

Bring the apricots and water to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover; simmer for 20-30 minutes or until a knife easily pierces the apricots.

When I removed the cover, I was surprised to see the apricots had plumped even more.  

Okay, now we transfer the cooked apricots and juices into a food processor and add sugar.

We're going to need a little lemon zest.  Instead of zesting a new lemon, I grabbed a frozen lemon shell that I had stashed in the freezer.

When I juice lemons, I save the shells and place them in a freezer safe container so I always have zest when I need it.

A microplane makes quick work of harvesting the zest from the frozen lemon shells.

Ok, add the zest to the apricot mixture and sugar, then process until smooth.

Transfer mixture to a pan or saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, for 10-15 minutes to concentrate the flavor and thicken a bit.  Be sure to use a good quality nonstick pan for this step.

The recipe makes much more lekvar than is needed to fill the cookies so plan to have a lot leftover.  It'll keep in the fridge indefinitely.  Note: the amount shown in the photo is half the original recipe. 

To make the chocolate ganache, chop chocolate with a serrated knife (a serrated knives is the best knife for chopping chocolate).

Place the chopped chocolate in a microwave safe container and add heavy cream.

Gently heat the chocolate and cream together, stirring every 10-15 seconds until the mixture is smooth and glossy.  Mine was done in about 45 seconds, but my microwave isn't very powerful so be careful if yours is.

It should look like this (try not to eat all the chocolate at this point - be strong, I know you can resist!).

Okay, now that all 3 components are made, it's finally time to assemble the Ischler Cookies.

Flip one almond cookie over so the bottom is facing up and schmear a thin layer of apricot lekvar on it, being careful not to go too close to the outside edges.

Repeat the process with a second almond cookie, only this time add a puddle of chocolate ganache.

Carefully sandwich the two halves together, being careful not to squish them too much or the chocolate will ooze out.   Let the cookies rest for at least 30 minutes to allow the chocolate ganache to set.  

Note: I think the texture of these cookies improves greatly after being stored in an airtight container overnight, allowing them to soften slightly.

links to more alpha baker photo tutorials