It is essential to have capable assistants. Meet mine: Hadley and Hildegard. In this scenario , you are the assistants. Your mom should be Chef. Your father is going to be busy shopping.
This is Hildegard doing the most important thing a baker does in the kitchen . WASH YOUR HANDS! You know all the gross and disgusting things your hands might touch during the day and so do I.
One should always drink hot chocolate while baking Christmas cookies. Candy canes are a good addition , unless you found them at the bottom of the ornament box, like I did. Throw those away.
Be sure to load up some Christmas carols. We like the Cleveland Orchestra because they are the best and they have children in their chorus. Definitely sing along.
Turn on the oven to 325 degrees. Put the oven racks in the middle-ish part of the oven.
Get out your cookie sheets and cover them with parchment. This will allow the cookies to slide off the sheet onto the counter. Oddly, it doesn't keep the sheets clean. There will be grease.
Now to work! Our first cookie is Granny's Russian Tea Cakes. Hildegard is showing you how to use the ice cream scoop. This is the super secret method that pros use to make their cookies identical.
Hadley is showing the non-professional way. It's illegal to touch food, without wearing gloves, in Ohio. Your state has legalized marijuana so they're probably not so worried about health & safety
Hildegard is showing you how to space the cookies. They don't spread much. When the sheet is covered, bake them at 325 for 15 minutes, give or take. They should have brown bottoms.
Voila! Let these cool on the counter. Then, pour a bunch of powdered sugar into a big bowl.
Here, Hadley is demonstrating the bury-the-cookies-then-dig-them-up method of coating the cookies with powdered sugar. You can do them one at a time. Their deliciousness will be the same.
Time for a little clean up and hot chocolate break. Next time you see this counter, there will be dough!
We are going to need melted chocolate later so we'll get it started. Normally , I see big knife and eight year old boys and think Fun! Not this time. Somebody's got to chop this up who isn't you.
Put big chunks in that copper pot your dad was so happy to go get at Williams-Sonoma. Put it over a pan of water and turn on stove to low. Sort of quasi forget it for a while.
2/3 of the chocolate goes into the pot. The rest gets finely chopped. Set it aside.
These are steel bar stock. They are flat and less than 1/4 in square. Probably some number of millimeters. Ask the guy at Home Depot. They will enable you to roll the dough evenly. You 'll see.
Set those bars on the counter thus. Splash a bunch of flour between them. We are going to make Linzer Cookies, which is sort of misleading, but I needed a name and that was what I came up with, Win.
Get the dough out of the fridge 1/2 hr. Before you start. Put it on counter and dust with flour. Use plenty, so the rolling pin doesn't stick. Turn the oven up to 350.
This part is fun. You need to hit the cold dough to flatten it a bit before you begin to roll. Tell people you are going to whack the dough. Some of my people are kind of jumpy.
Hildegard is rolling. See how the pin is going to sit on those steel things and make perfectly even dough? Genius, really.
Hadley rolls now, because my assistants like to share the work. I am doing the crossword puzzle.
Look at that perfect dough! Try to get as many cookies as you can. The scraps will get collected and put back in the fridge. Repeat until dough is gone.
After you cut all the circles, use the small cutter to cut the center out of half. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Don't let the tops get brown, just the bottoms.
Hadley is gathering the dough up to put back in the fridge. It needs to get chilled to make it easier to roll, but also to relax the gluten. Tense gluten makes tough cookies but fabulous bread.
I forget what you call this thing but Hildegard is doing a great job cleaning the counter with it.
Now, Amelia Earharts. We're going to need pastry bag with a coupler and a round tip. So, send your dad back to W-S and tell him I'm sorry I forgot to put it on the Supply List. Really.
This is an awesome, totally professional, way to fill bags. You can also use the glasses to park the bags while you take calls on your iPhone 5s.
Here is the chocolate ganache, yes I said "ganache" because that's what it's called. French for chocolate and cream, melted. And this is dark, Belgian chocolate which is pretty delicious.
These are almond macaroons which need to be filled with ganache. Aren't you glad you have pastry bags? Put a dollop of ganache on one cookie, then sandwich with another . Think Oreos.
Hadley is killing it with the pastry bag! This would be the perfect place to insert a video. But no. She and Hildegard finish filling these in no time. Check the chocolate on the stove.
Hadley is demonstrating what to do with a broken cookie. If this were a video, you'd see her pop it in her mouth. Very efficient .
Uh oh. Another one broke. You know what to do.
When the Linzers have cooled, get out the seedless raspberry jam and 2 good spreading knives. I don't know how Hildegard got that flour on her nose.
Make sure the jam tastes good. These girls are totally dedicated to the mission!
Put about that much jam on the bottoms then put on tops . Oops, what happened to Hildegard's index finger? Maybe she also assists a carpenter?
Get those pastry bags out of the glasses and start filling the holes, comme ca. Aren't they beautiful?
Now for the best part! I hope you didn't neglect that chocolate. It should be melted by now. Here are 2 words you never want to hear- boiled dry. It ruins the choc. , pan, and your father's mood .
Stir well and put in the thermometer. You want the temp to be over 100, but not too much. 110 is perfect. Take it off the heat and put it on the counter.
Get the chopped choc. and start adding. Hadley stirs constantly while Hildegard adds about 1/2 of that bowl. Take it's temp again. We want it to get down to low 90s. This is called tempering
Here is how professional bakers test to see if the choc is the perfect temp. I am not making this up. When the temp gets 90ish, do this. It is warm, not hot. Re-apply as needed.
Get those Amelias and start dipping! Stir the choc once in a while. Hildegard has the technique down!
Put the cookies on waxed paper to set. They will be shiny when the choc gets hard because of tempering. Be sure to tell your friends you can temper choc. They will worship you. As they should.
All finished! Hadley gets started putting the cookies on the tray. It's a beautiful circle.
No, it's a tree..
A tree with limbs?
No, it's a pile! Of gorgeous cookies.
I know that the skills shown by Hadley & Hildegard are those of seasoned pros, but they are, in fact , teenagers. So I pay them in cookies. If you see their fathers/ lawyers, keep it to yourself.
Who is this guy? I don't even know him. Is that a cashmere sweater?