Saturday, May 21, 2011

dutch marzipan cookies

When I was going to school in Halifax, I met a tall, blonde girl named Sheri. With a description like that, you might not be surprised to hear she has Dutch parents.

Sheri and I quickly became good friends and even now – more than 4,000 kilometres apart – we are like family. We know each other’s extended families and we cook each other’s recipes.

Every month or two when we were in university, we would find our way to the Annapolis Valley to visit Sheri’s family.
All those visits blur together now into one cozy memory . . . A lot of rooting through piles of brand-name bargains at the thrift store, and sitting around the kitchen table, drinking tea and talking and eating. Sheri's mom had a natural gift in the kitchen: everything Mrs. Brink touched turned to gold and tasted just right.And she had a way of making me feel welcome, like I was home.

One Sunday afternoon, as we set off back to Halifax, she gave us a little bag of gevulde koeken for the drive. These discs of a cookie were like nothing I’d ever eaten before: stiff but chewy dough around a nugget of marzipan. I was enchanted.

The next time we went back to the valley, I made sure to ask for the recipe. Mrs. Brink wrote it out for me on a recipe card, and I think I probably made gevulde koeken as soon as I got back to Halifax.

That was more than ten years ago. My recipe card is splattered and faded now, and carefully tucked into my recipe binder. Just looking at it reminds me of Mrs. Brink bustling around in a warm kitchen.

Mrs. Brink has passed away now, but sometimes I still forget, and I think of her and wonder what she's cooking up.

But I have my little card, to remind me. And, of course, her cookies.

gevulde koeken (dutch marzipan cookies)

marzipan filling
4 oz. ground almonds
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 egg, beaten and split in two parts
1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 3/4 c. wheat flour
            Or, gluten-free flours:
            92 g. (1/3 c. + 1/4 c.) sweet white sorghum flour
            45 g. (1/4 c.) teff flour
            76 g. (1/2 c.) sweet rice flour
            60 g. (1/2 c.) tapioca starch
            1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
about 18 whole almonds to top

Prepare two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Stir all the ingredients of the filling together, but use only half of the egg, as noted. Set aside.

For the dough, cream the butter and sugar. Mix in the egg and almond extract. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour(s) together with the baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir into the creamed butter mixture. Once it’s mixed, the dough should look like you can roll it out fairly easily. If it doesn’t, add a bit more wheat flour or sweet rice flour.

Roll the dough out to between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. (If using gluten-free flours, roll out between sheets of wax paper.) Use a cookie cutter dipped in flour to cut out little circles and place on the pan. Top each with about 1 teaspoon of filling in the centre. Before topping with another dough circle, use your finger dipped in water to “wet” the rim of the dough. Place the dough circle on top. Crimp edges with a fork. Brush tops and crimp marks with beaten egg reserved from the filling.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. (If using gluten-free flours, chill cookies for 20 minutes.)

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes. Let cookies cool before transferring to a rack.

Keeps well in an airtight container on the counter for a few days, and also frozen.

1 comment:

  1. I am usually not a big fan of marzipan, but these cookies look divine! I think I will give them a go this weekend and I am sure that I will become a marzipan convert.