Decadent Almond Meringue Cookies!
At this time of the year I often get nostalgic for anything Icelandic . . . as they remind me of my many happy long, dark winter days spent with family and friends preparing lots of goodies, decorations and gifts for Christmas!
In our family, we used to make seventeen different types of cookies that were shared among all those who dropped by our home to help bake and join in the fun . . . often while drinking a cup of coffee or a glass of Glögg served with a Saffron Buns or a Gingerbread Cookie!
Here in Greece, I wouldn’t dream of baking that many types of cookies but I always try to make at least one or two types; a Greek one like Kourabiedes and one or two Icelandic or Nordic that I normally get from one of my granny’s handwritten leather-bound cookbooks.
This year I decided to do a batch of really rich & decadent almond meringue cookies that we call Sörur in Iceland . . . officially known as Sarah Bernhardt Cookies which are not complicated to make but need a bit of work! The best thing about them though, apart from their scrumptious taste, is that they can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge, or even better, frozen until ready to serve.
Originating in Denmark, and named after the famous French actress who visited Copenhagen in the early 20th century, these yummy almond meringue cookies—topped with chocolate buttercream and dipped in chocolate have in recent years become a real favorite for Christmas in Iceland.
My recipe is an adapted version of a recipe from Granny Karitas, who spent much time in Denmark and excelled in cooking delicacies from that country . . . many of which we have adopted in Iceland!
Please see recipe below:
Sarah Bernhardt Cookie Recipe
NB! For this recipe you will need 4 eggs (65g each), room temperature: Yolks & whites need to be separated and used for the meringues & the butter cream as per instructions below:
Start by making the Butter Cream:
½ cup water
½ cup granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
250 g butter (without salt) room temperature
20 g sifted top quality cocoa
Place water and sugar in saucepan over medium high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reaches 115C or 242°F, about 10 - 15 minutes. Once ready, set aside to cool a bit.
Place egg yolks into mixer and whisk for about 2 minutes. Then, with machine on medium, beat in slightly warm sugar syrup. Increase speed to high, and continue beating until cool and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Now add the softened butter a little at a time, and then the cocoa, mixing well.
Place in glass bowl and refrigerate for about 45 – 60 minutes. The buttercream needs to be cold and stiff before proceeding dipping the meringue with butter cream into chocolate glaze.
While the butter cream is cooling, make the Almond Meringues:
250 g blanched almonds (for lighter version use 150g)
1 tblsp granulated sugar
250 g confectionery sugar
4 large egg-whites
Place almonds with 1 tblsp sugar in a blender or food processor bowl and process until finely ground. Add confectioners' sugar a little at a time and process or blend. Scrape bottom and insides of bowl to loosen clumped almond mixture, then continue to process until very finely ground. Set aside.
Beat egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk and mix until stiff glossy peaks form. Fold in almond/sugar mixture a third at a time. With a teaspoon, put small dollops of dough on a baking sheet covered with baking paper or if you prefer transfer to a large pastry bag fitted with a 0.7cm (1⁄2" )plain pastry tip. Pipe 1" (2.5cm) rounds about 2cm (a bit less than an inch) apart onto baking sheets.
Bake at 175°C (350°F) for about 15–18 minutes or until cookies have a very light golden hue and feel stiff. Leave to cool and then transfer to a baking wire rack.
When ready to assemble, mound about a tblsp of buttercream to the bottom of each meringue and if needed, smooth with a small knife that has been dipped into hot water. Place on tray and then refrigerate or place in freezer for buttercream to harden. Once hardened, then dip cookie in chocolate as per recipe below.
250 – 300g Semi-sweet dark chocolate
1 tblsp vegetable shortening (optional)
Depending on chocolate – 2 – 4 tblsp water or coffee.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over boiling water (or in microwave). Add a bit of coffee and if you like a little vegetable shortening to mixture and mix with a wooden spoon or whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and cool to about 40°C (104°F).
Dip cookies, buttercream side only, in chocolate to fully coat. Place meringue-side down on a baking sheet and refrigerate until chocolate has hardened.
Yield: About 60 cookies
If cookies are not eaten immediately, make sure to store them in the freezer.
Serve them directly from freezer . . . as they have a really as they thaw really quickly!
If you are making the lighter almond meringue cookies, when baked, I normally sandwich them together with the buttercream as they will be thinner due to their consistency and then dip one of the cookie half's in the melted chocolate.
Also, the lighter version is also great to eat as a crunchy cookie . . . without the buttercream or chocolate cover!
Hope you enjoy the holidays . . . and the cookies!