Amadeus Cookies... with pistachio/almond filling.
Sept 2008. 4 years ago. 400 recipes later. My culinary journey continues. This year I stopped to reflect a little bit on my path to improve my skills in the kitchen. It wasn't intentional, this "improving" part... I mean, I always considered myself a "pretty good cook". I could throw ingredients together and make a pretty decent meal, even be creative with leftovers. Didn't realize that I had so, so much to learn...
Ten years ago, I moved to Montana... and my life in the kitchen changed. I started focusing on eating healthier, while cooking and baking from scratch. I slowly began to "toss" out the box mixes, the loads of cans, the bought breads, switching them for homemade goods and breads... and then, by default, we stopped going out to eat(for the most part). I challenged myself to open my horizons and try different recipes from all over the world. I slowly realized that over the years I had limited myself to recipes that "came to me on the spur of the moment".... wasn't necessarily bad, but I wasn't really branching out to cook anything unique or different. Sure, I may have tried a new dessert recipe from time to time, or a different recipe for a lasagna or baked dish, but for the most part I didn't deviate from the normal meal that consisted of some type of meat, starch, and a salad or soup. I was stuck in a mold, working with the same basic ingredients/recipes over and over.... and there were a myriad of recipes that were waiting to be tried.
Four years ago, I opened by own blog... mainly to keep a record of the recipes I was trying and loved. I haven't stopped since. I've had my share of failures in the kitchen... and with the blog itself. By trying to make my blog more user-friendly, I "learned" to tweak my own site... by blindly adding/changing the HTML format, placing drop down menus, scrolling bars, a recipe index, a sitemap with labels, etc. All this was done with absolutely NO experience in the world of computer knowledge. At times, I thought for sure, I would lose all my recipes! I've even had my computer hard drive crash... and in the process lost many of my photos. At the time I thought, "maybe it's just time I close the shop down". Somehow I was able to get up and continue...
Now years later, after my very first post, I can only look back with a content feeling of accomplishment because of God's grace. I've tried many recipes, have definitely been humbled in quite a few failures, yet at the same time, I have learned so, so much. Lots of techniques I've implemented, improvements in my baking skills, and learning to bake bread... loads of breads. In the process, I've also opened myself to gluten-free recipes, and using natural good-for-you ingredients. It's been ever so much fun to experience various flavors from all over the world... not to mention that our meals were/are hardly boring:). And in my culinary journey, I have shared with you the recipes I've been privileged to try. I've learned so much from my readers, and have been extremely blessed with God's faithfulness to me throughout these years. So thank you for being a reader!
I had wanted to post a wonderful cake recipe(I still plan on it:)) for this milestone in my life... but somehow thought it best to share this recipe for Amadeus cookies. I stumbled upon this recipe one day... and was simply mesmerized by its uniqueness. And since I absolutely LOVE sandwich cookies, I knew I had to try it. In my quest to cook and bake healthier, I normally shy away from using too much sugar, butter, cream, and the likes. But on occasions, I truly miss baking "normal" recipes. So from time to time, I will let myself be unhindered, though I will normally still try to bake from scratch as much as possible. In any case, these cookies stuck with me... and I needed to try them:).
I chose to make my own homemade almond paste for this recipe(
recipe coming soon), and followed the cookie recipe as close as I could. But I didn't have any Kirsch around, so I ended up looking for a substitute. I read that you could sometimes get away with using a cherry/berry flavored syrup instead. Yet, I didn't have any such syrup on hand either. ... or so I thought. It took me a couple of days to think about the recipe and how I could substitute the Kirsch... I knew that I wanted that flavor to be in the filling (it was the filling that originally caught my eye). But, wait, it finally struck me... the pomegranate molasses I had sitting in my fridge, couldn't that work? I poured a little bit of the molasses in a teaspoon and tasted it. Wow, a revelation... it tasted like a cherry/berry concentrated syrup(of course:)). It would work! So, that's when I knew I could finally take out my butter and sugar to make these Amadeus cookies....
My version of this cookie: A classic British shortbread cookie that meets Middle Eastern flavors. The buttery shortbread cookie melts in your mouth, while the pistachio/almond filling laced with the tang of the pomegranate syrup makes this cookie worthy to be posted. The cookie dipped in melted chocolate brings about an elegance that's fit for the queen:). The cookie has easily become a favorite. Hope you enjoy...
Note: I chose to make these cookies in a 2 day process. I made the filling and cookie dough the day before. Baked and assembled the cookies the following day.... this way the cookies didn't feel so laborious:)... They are a rich sort of cookie, but the tang of the pomegranate-nut filling sort of balances the richness out.
Tip: After dipping the cookie in chocolate, you can then dip the chocolate part in some finely chopped pistachios, if you like.
You will need: adapted from Saveur
FOR THE SHORTBREAD/BUTTER COOKIES:
1 3⁄4 cups flour
12 TBS unsalted butter, softened
3⁄4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 egg yolks
1⁄2 scant tsp fine salt
1 tsp vanilla extract, optional(I added)
FOR THE PISTACHIO/ALMOND FILLING:
Note: The dark color of the pomegranate syrup can turn the filling into a somewhat army-green color, as will the pistachios that still have that outer brownish skin on them. Having clean, skinless pistachios will help preserve the bright green color.... and feel free to use the clear Kirsch.
1⁄2 cup shelled and unsalted pistachios
1 TBS sugar
3 1⁄2 oz. almond paste, at room temperature, chopped
2 TBS cherry liqueur, preferably kirsch*
1 tsp. vanilla extract
*I substituted with pomegranate molasses(2TBS), which gives the filling a slight sour element.... almost like a fruit jelly flavor. You can of course use a cherry syrup, if you don't have the kirsch.
GLAZE: I chose to use melted chocolate but if you want, you can see the original chocolate glaze recipe HERE... I just didn't want to add any extra sugar for mine.
Melted dark chocolate
Make the Cookie Dough:
1. In the bowl of a mixer bowl add 1⁄2 cup flour, softened butter, and confectioners' sugar. Using the paddle attachment beat on medium speed until very light and fluffy( almost the consistecy of frosting)... about 5 minutes or so.... I might have left mine for a bit longer:). Original recipe has you beat it for only 1-2 minutes. I like the longer beating time, felt it makes the cookies be extra light and tender.
2. Add yolks... one at a time. Beat until smooth after each addition. Add vanilla, if using. Mix to combine.
3. Add salt and remaining flour; beat to make a dough. Halve the dough, then flatten into 2 disks. Wrap each disc with plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.... or overnight, which is what I ended up doing.
Preheat oven to 325 deg. F
1. Transfer 1 dough disk to a lightly floured surface and roll with a floured rolling pin to a 1⁄8-1/4" thickness. If you've left the dough in the fridge longer than 1 hour, then you might let it soften slightly on the countertop... but you still want the dough to be cold and firm. The warmer the dough is the harder it is to roll... it will stick too much.
optional: to make the lines on each cookie, I used the back of fork to "drag" it across the rolled out cookie dough, making sure you just slightly score it... don't make the scoring too deep or the cookies can break later on after they've been baked.
2. Using a 1 3⁄4" round cookie cutter, cut out about 24 cookies. Repeat with remaining dough disk. You will need to combine and reroll scraps so that you have about 48 cookies total. The number really depends on the size of your cookie cutter.... so if you are using a smaller/bigger cutter you just want to make sure you have an even pair of cookies.
3. Place cookies 1" apart on 2 parchment paper–lined baking sheets and bake, rotating pans halfway through, until cookies are pale golden, about 12-15 minutes, depending on thickness of the cookie. Do check on them as they can burn quickly towards the end. Let cool.
TIP: You can roll the filling in a log(size a little less in circumference than the cookie), and then when you assemble the cookies, you can just slice the filling into rounds and place between two cookies.
Make the Filling:
1. In the bowl of a food processor, process the pistachios with the sugar until finely ground. Add the almond paste and process until fully combined.
2. Add the kirsch( or pomegranate molasses, as in my case)... and the vanilla. Process until combined; set filling aside. I made this the day before, wrapped it well, and refrigerated it.
Assemble the Cookies:
1. Spoon about 1 tsp. of the filling onto 24 cookies and top with remaining cookies. Very gently press cookies together to sandwich them. The cookies are fragile so they can break quickly.
2. Dip half of each cookie into melted chocolate. Transfer to a parchment paper/plastic wrapped plater. Let set... I placed mine in the refrigerator after they sat out a bit. Even froze some, after the chocolate hardened. Defrosted them the next day and they were delicious!