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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Christmas Cookies - Italian Jelly Filled Butter Cookies

I love baking. I love baking cakes. I love baking loaves. I love baking cookies the best. Baking is different than cooking, which I also love, but whereby cooking usually means sticking precisely to a recipe, I do a lot of baking not only by recipe, but by eye, feelings, textures, smells, hunches, etc.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it goes horribly wrong, but usually baking affords more opportunities to rectify a mistake.

Take for instance this recipe I found on a Facebook Italians from Bensonhurst site...It's entitled, "Ultimate Italian Jelly Filled Finger Sandwich Butter Cookies." The poster promised these are the real thing that you would find in an Italian Brooklyn bakery, say like one on 18th Avenue. There wasn't any photo so I don't know what their results looked like, but when I first took mine out of the oven I was really disappointed. It was probably my fault as the recipe calls for using a pastry bag with a star tip. I didn't have one so planned to use my mother's old cookie press that has pastry tips and sausage nozzles. I use it to fill canneloni. When I took it out of the box I realized the attachment for the pastry tips were missing, so I did what any good Italian baker would do...improvise...and I used the sausage nozzle instead. What a mess!

The texture of the dough made it challenging to put it into the cookie press tube to the bottom. By the seventh time of putting the dough into the press my tennis elbow arm was rebelling and I just gave up by plopping spoonful's of dough onto a baking sheet and sprinkled some colored sugars on them. You won't be seeing any photos of that!

Anyway, when I first saw the little fingers coming out of the oven I was disappointed because they weren't identical and a little thinner than I hoped. I didn't even taste them. I was annoyed that it took me so long to make them and they looked nothing like I had imagined. After dinner my daughter and I sat at the table and began to rectify the "mistakes." First we found pairs that were almost the same size. On one of the cookies we spread raspberry unseeded preserves then pressed the other cookie on top. We did all of them life that. Then we took Baker's dark chocolate and melted it in the microwave. I'd brush the chocolate on the cookie, hand it to her and she would sprinkle the sprinkles on it and then place them sideways on a cookie sheet with parchment paper on it so they wouldn't stick when hardened.

When we tried them I was much happier. Even though they didn't look "professional" they tasted great and according to my daughter way better than bakery ones! Now that is a compliment! I would recommend using a pastry bag or if not, using a plastic ziploc baggie with a star nozzle cut through the bottom. Why didn't I think of that before???? Also, I'm sorry I didn't do half with apricot preserves to mix it up. Naturally, you can use any type of sprinkles, coconut flakes, nuts, or even just powdered sugar as the finishing touch. Two more points...use butter, not margarine and the almond paste is a must. Below is the recipe...Enjoy!



Italia Jelly Filled Finger Sandwich Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

3 1/4 cup flour
7 oz butter room temperature
7 oz shortening
1 cup + 2 tbs confectioners sugar
4 egg whites
3 oz almond paste
salt pinch
1 tsp almont extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
Choice of jelly filling, chocolate for dipping and sprinkles for finish.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350

In a large mixer bowl, cream lightly the butter, shortening and sugar until fluffy and pale, about 3 minutes. Add the egg whites, almond paste, almond and vanilla extracts and mix until combined At low speed add the combined dry ingredients and mix until just blended.

Place into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, pipe onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, cutting 2 inch fingers and spacing two inches apart.

Bake for 10 - 14 minutes just until the bottoms and edges begin to turn golden brown. Remove from pans by sliding the whole piece of parchment onto a large wire rack and cool completely.

Sandwich 2 finger cookies with choice of jelly in between. Dip one end (we did both) in melter chocolate and cover with sprinkles. Or just leave plain with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.



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