Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Drama Queen

When I was growing up, behavior that was considered too emotional and dramatic was characterized as acting like Sarah Bernhardt, the famous actress from the late 1800s.  That association still remains with me (even though kids today probably have no idea who Sarah Bernhardt was), so I was both intrigued and amused when I saw these cookies in Martha Stewart’s cookie book. I HAVE TO MAKE THESE.  Though they are messy, time consuming and multi-step, they are a wonderful combination of flavors, and, yes, dramatic in presentation.  The almond cookie base is crunchy chewy, the chocolate filling is rich and smooth like mousse or a truffle, and then finally the thin layer of melted chocolate on the outside has a slight crunch. These are not your everyday cookie.

Sarah Bernhardt Cookies from Cookies by Martha Stewart
For the filling:
6 ounces semisweet chocolate coarsely chopped
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

For the cookies:
¼ lb. almond paste
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg white
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
pinch of salt

For the coating:
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening

Make filling: In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. Remove from heat and cool.  Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and simmer until clear, about 5 minutes.  Place egg yolks in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water and whisk until warm to the touch, about 2 minutes.

Transfer the bowl to the mixer with the whisk attachment. With the mixer on medium speed, beat in hot sugar syrup.  Raise speed to high and continue beating until cool and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Reduce speed to medium and gradually beat in chocolate until fully combined, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Refrigerate until firm and cold, about one hour (or up to 1 week).

Make cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick mat or parchment paper.  In the mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the almond paste and sugar on medium speed until smooth. Add egg white, almond extract and salt and beat to combine.  Transfer mix to a pastry bag fitted with a ¼ inch tip (Ateco #12) and pipe one inch cookies onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about one inch between the cookies.  Bake until firm and golden around edges, about 12 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through.  Transfer cookies, flat side down,  to wire rack to cool completely.

Transfer filling to pastry bag fitted with a ¼ inch tip ( Ateco #12) and pipe a peaked mound on top of each cookies.  Transfer to freezer until very firm, about 1 hour.

Make coating: In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. Stir in the shortening.  Cool until barely warm. Remove cookies from the freezer.  Working quickly so the filling doesn’t melt, use a chocolate fork to hold the cookie above the bowl of chocolate and spoon the melted chocolate over the cookie. Place, filling side up, on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet.  Cookies can be refrigerated in airtight containers up to 4 days. ((post by susan))

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