Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Ischler

Erika, a good friend of mine, volunteered to help me with the bake-through project.  "I'll be your sous-baker," she said.  "I'll do anything you tell me to do.  I want to learn how to bake."  I thought this was an excellent idea because I can always use help, and her offer sounded like an invitation to boss her around.  She's not a very bossable person, but this presented a good opportunity.  (I used to be able to boss Jim, but now he reads the recipe ahead of time, and tells me when I'm doing something wrong.)

I made the dough on Friday night so I was ready to start the cookie project bright and early Saturday morning.

Erika wanted to try out my new scalloped-edge cookie cutters, but she started complaining about the dough almost immediately.  "Marie, this dough is too sticky.  I don't think you did it right."  Jim chimed in:  "The recipe says to add more flour when it starts to stick.  I don't think you added enough flour."  I don't know what made me think I could be the boss of either of them.

We soon got into a rhythm, though, and managed to get 74 individual cookies out of all the dough, not too far from the 80 that Rose says the recipe will make.  (As you may have seen, Rose explained in a comment to last week's Roundup that she actually rolls the dough a little thinner than the 1/8-inch directed in the recipe.)

I used these green 1/8" dough markers part of the time, but I actually find them difficult to work with, and I can see that they stretch to fit the size of your rolling pin, making them not strictly accurate.  They did fascinate Erika, though, and made her think she was learning tricks of the baking pro.  Ha.  I didn't tell her the full truth of my ongoing battle with things that require being rolled out, like pie dough and cookies.

"Are we done now?"  Erika asked.  "But aren't they a little ... plain?"  "We're not done yet, and they won't be plain after we make the ganache," I said cheerfully, because making ganache is a lot easier than rolling out cookie dough.

Erika divided the cookies into pairs while I made the ganache, which came together so fast that no one got a picture of it.  Next came the apricot glaze, which I opted for over the lekvar filling, not because I'm lazy (though I am) but because I love Bonne Maman apricot preserves.  But I thought I had 2 jars of it; instead I had one jar of apricot preserves and one jar of orange marmalade.  The orange marmalade would have worked just fine, I think, as would raspberry or strawberry-rhubarb preserves, both of which I had on hand, but I decided to be faithful to the recipe.  "To the store, Jim!" I commanded.  And to his credit, the faithful Jim obeyed.

When he returned, I quickly made the hot glaze, which Erika spooned on while I sandwiched the cookies together.

They're not plain any more!  The interesting thing about these cookies (because I didn't weigh the ganache and the glaze, which, in retrospect, I wish I'd done for at least the first few) is that each one tasted a little different.  Depending on whether we'd been more generous with the apricots or with the chocolate, or whether it was one of the thinner or the thicker cookies, there was a slight distinction in the emphasis of flavor.  Some were definitely more chocolatey and others were fruitier.  I think that the best ratio was about 2 to 1, chocolate to apricot.  The thinner cookies were crispier and nuttier, but so much harder to work with that I would definitely not try to get them any thinner than 1/8".

This was Jim's favorite cookie shot, but I told him I wouldn't put it first because it reminded me of false teeth.

These were a huge hit with everyone who tried them, so much so that I believe I'm going to have to make a few more batches to give away.  Next time, I'll try the plastic wrap on top of the dough trick.


  1. it's nice to know Marie that you can get help once in awhile and that way you can rest because you have so much writing to do on the blog and I know that takes time your post is lovely and the cookies are very delicious.

  2. I hope your sous-baker realises that it's her job to wash up the dishes.

    I recommend the plastic wrap trick - it worked very well for me. I liked these cookies a lot. I wish I had one now.

  3. LOL! You are so funny! I laughed when you said your friend is not a bossable person but still a good opportunity. I filled my cookies wrongly..hahaha.. i dunno what i was thinking..or reading!

  4. ב''ה

    Funny post. You made me laugh. I can see those false teeth. :)

    Your cookies look great.

    Glad you took a picture of those rubber-band-thingys cause' I had trouble visualizing what they were.

  5. False teeth, that's great. I didn't measure the chocolate or lekvar either.

  6. Marie: I hate those rubber bands and never use them. Those things make me crazy. I find them problematic at best, maddening at worst. I ran out of the apricot glaze but it was late and ended up substituting homemade jam instead. Your cookies look great! Love the oven shot, but the false teeth picture is the BEST! GIVEAWAY THIS WEEK!

  7. Hi Marie, you're a good woman--you toasted the almonds for the cookie. And did you didn't make the Levkar! Smart. Now that Jim is reading the recipes and keeping track of your progress, I think you should have him bake and post on alternate weeks! I'd like to see him in action!

  8. Marie, you made the right decision on the photos. They do look like false teeth so it's best not to open with it as we will deter anyone who wants to check out the Alpha Bakers. LOL. Great post as usual, you are so funny. My husband steer clear of the kitchen when I bake Rose's recipes, the only thing I can boss around is the product, if they are misbehaving.

  9. I wish I had a willing volunteer to boss around in the kitchen - do the dishes, sweep the floor, peel me a grape! lol.

    Patricia @ ButterYum

  10. Oh Marie, you cracked me up. Now you have *two* people in the kitchen that cannot be bossed around, ha ha. Loved how they both ganged up on you, telling you that you didn't use enough flour when rolling out the dough. I did use the plastic wrap trick (and dusted it with some flour) and that worked like a charm!

  11. Ah, how helpful -two non bakers who can read on ahead or intuitively know when you have got it wrong. Sounds like it was still fun and very cunning trick getting Jim off to the shops -that evened up the odds!

    Why are the bands annoying? I quite like mine but I have a ginormous rolling pin and they tend to stay put. Have just ordered a set of those pastry wands... Too much rolling in this book to live without them.

    And yes, definitely a set of poorly maintained false teeth.

    Giggles from front to end.

  12. This sounds like a fun day! False teeth -- hilarious!!!

    Lois B @
    Ed used my iPad and even though I keep signing him out, Blogger insists that I can't be me!

  13. I love how you try to boss around Jim during the bake-along and he corrects you - plenty of time I had to bring my husband to read the recipe, since I know that I sometimes get ahead of myself and skip step.. he is like my baking proofreader!

  14. I love your second-to-last photo - the super close-up with both the chocolate and apricot lekvar smooshing out...mouthwatering!