Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween - Ischl Tartlets

Happy Halloween!!! To 'celebrate,' we made Halloween Ischel Tartlets.

Usually, I only make these cookies for Christmas, but during our quest for orange colored sprinkle sugar for the Spice Spritz Cookies, we stumbled upon these Halloween cookie cutters:SP bought them, thus ensuring himself of rolling dough at Halloween and Christmas time (and maybe Easter, too, since I have bunny & chick cookie cutters!)! Have I mentioned that I don't like rolling cookie dough? I don't. I dread rolling cookie dough.

These cookies are definitely a bit time consuming but not too difficult. Of course as I type that, I recall the last two times we made these and I swore up and down we'd never make them again.It seems I have a love/hate relationship with Ischel Tartlets: I love eating them. I hate making them. The dough can be sticky and it seems to frequently be difficult to get the cut shapes from the waxed paper and onto the cookie sheet, which is my job.

But the end result is delicious, raspberry filled almond-lemon cookies:I started making these when I was 14 years old. My grandmother gave me her recipe & the special cookie cutter. I always assumed that my grandma made these cookies at Christmas time because her family is German and that these are German cookies, but my research has shown that some people say these cookies are a German treat while others say they are an Austrian treat. Whether these are German or Austrian doesn't really matter -- the only thing that matters is that they are delicious!

It all starts with these ingredients:The almonds are supposed to be ground, not slivers like in the package. We ground our almonds in a coffee grinder that we use exclusively for nuts and herbs.I guess I forgot to take photos while we made the dough because there weren't any photos on the camera! It's pretty straight forward. We made the dough Thursday night because it has to chill overnight in the refrigerator. We baked and assembled the cookies Friday night.

SP was in charge of rolling the dough:And I was in charge of cutting the cookies out of the dough and transporting them onto cookie sheets. As I said before, the dough can be sticky and softens quickly. It was tough to get the cookie shapes from the waxed paper to the cookie sheet. This is the part where I get frustrated, some bad words come out of my mouth, and I swear we are never making these cookies again.

Some just smushed up into strange shapes and got tossed onto the dough scrap pile. Others made it OK: And others made it with minor imperfections:They bake for about 8 minutes and then cool. Be careful when removing the cookies to cool, especially the cookies with the cut out centers as they can be fragile and break. If any break, you'll need to make an extra top cookie since you need the same number solid bottom cookies and top cut out cookies.

When all the cookies are cool, it's time to assemble them. This is the fun part, starting with heating the raspberry preserves to make them easier to spread onto the solid cookies.Our top cookies had cut outs of bats, owls, ghosts, witch hats, and pumpkins. There is a cat cut out, too, but I forgot to use it. The last step is sprinkling on the powdered sugar, which you can't really see in the above photo.

When we had just a wee bit of dough left, we used the mini center cutters to make tiny cookies for snacking. They got a little crispy brown because the dough was thinner. But dipped in some heated jelly - yum!These cookies make an excellent breakfast treat. And afternoon tea treat. And evening dessert treat. I am ashamed of just how many I ate yesterday. It was enough that when SP found out, he raised his eyebrows, patted my tummy, and laughed before asking if he needed to hide the cookies from the cookie monster.

Ischl Tartlets

2 & 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 (12 ounce) jar raspberry preserves
powdered sugar for sprinkling

Sift together flour and baking powder. Beat butter, cream cheese, sugar, and egg until fluffy. Add flour mixture and blend. Stir in ground almonds and lemon rind. Turn dough out onto waxed paper and shape into ball. Chill overnight.

Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness on lightly floured waxed paper. Cut out and equal number of solid bottom cookies and top cookies with cut out centers. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool cookies. Heat preserves in saucepan. Spread heated preserves on bottom cookie. Put on top cookie and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.

Makes about 3-3.5 dozen cookies

**This is my handwritten recipe from my grandma, but I've found the exact recipe online at several sites.

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