I guess I'll better take the opportunity and make a timely post on Christmas cookies while you're still in the mood - although I find that it's pretty sad that I only make them around this time of the year, why do I never, ever bake any cookies in summer?
My parents are visiting at the moment and I got my Dad to bake his speciality for us this year - vanilla crescents. They're pretty well-known around the world I guess, and I decided to have them again, despite my vow to only bake new delicacies this year - Christmas just isn't Christmas without them.
My father has been twisting and turning the recipe for a god decade now, so you can be sure that these are the best Vanillekipferl you can possibly make!
Another novelty on our cookie plate this year were mocca beans drizzled with white chocolate. The recipe is taken from a very old special issue of a German women's magazine (Brigitte) - it's battered, torn and full of cookie crumbs in between the pages... we just loved these cookies, quick and easy to make, they bake in just 10 minutes and will please coffee lovers and chocoholics alike.
The recipes have a major flaw: they don't tell you what the yield is going to be. Apologies, but it was impossible to count them, partly because a hungry mob was waiting to eat them almost straight from the oven, but the real difficulty was to determine how much my father had devoured while he was shaping the tiny crescents... I think I even heard him murmur a passage out of Cinderella: "The good ones go into the pot, the bad ones go into your crop."
And before I forget - here's a picture of our nativity scene this year. My daughter and my Mum created this masterpiece. There wasn't enough time to make all the figures needed, so the sheep are filling in for Mary and Joseph - I hope this is not going to cause as much controversy as Turner prize entries usually do...
Dad's vanilla crescents
280 g flour
210 g butter
100 finely ground almonds
70 g sugar
1 pinch salt
250 g icing sugar
10 g vanilla sugar
Knead all the ingredients for the dough together smoothly, then rest in the fridge for at least half an hour. You can make this the day before if you cover it tightly with cling film.
Take tiny portions (about a heaped tsp full) of dough one at a time and roll them into skinny "sausages", then form crescents.
Lay on a non-stick baking tray and bake in the preheated oven (180 C fan) until they're golden brown, this should take around 10 minutes.
While still warm, roll in the sugar mixture and leave to cool.
Mocca beans with white chocolate drizzle
100 g flour
100 g corn starch
100 g icing sugar
50 g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg yolk
175 g butter (at room temperature)
2 tbsp instant coffee (dissolved in 1 tbsp cognac)
100 white chocolate
1 tbsp cream
Combine all the dry ingredients for the dough in a mixing bowl. Knead in the egg yolk and butter, then add the coffee-cognac mixture. Work into a smooth dough.
Using a mocca spoon (half the size of a tsp) take some of the dough to form tiny coffee beans, using a knife for the split on the back. Make sure your keep them really small, as they will rise quite a bit.
In the meantime, preheat your oven to 170 C (fan), then put in the baking tray with the mocca beans and bake for 15 minutes. Leave to cool.
When ready to decorate, put the white chocolate and cream in a plastic sandwich/freezer bag, tie up securely and place in hot water until melted. The bag will later serve as your piping equipment. Shake thoroughly. Using scissors, cut off a tiny bit of a corner, to release a tiny stream of your chocolate mix. Decorate the beans with the chocolate and leave to cool and set.