Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tea and cookies


Today was such a relaxing day! We went to dogpark in the morning and then to Blockbuster to pick up some movies. We spent the rest of the day at home watching movies and playing in the kitchen. Well, Jon didn't play in the kitchen, just me. But it made me ever so happy. I made special treats for everyone. For Ringo, I made pumpkin treats. For Jon and I, I made almond horns.

I spent a month studying Health Law in Austria. I lived in Vienna, and it was a wonderful time. I loved sitting in the cafes, drinking melange, and eating croissants. The croissant has a storied history. To many, the croissant is a quintessential French delicacy. But to the Austrians, it is a Viennese tradition. According to the Viennese, the first croissant was made to celebrate the victory of the Austrians over the Turks in the battle of Vienna. Viennese bakers created the pastry in the shape of the crescent found on the Turkish flag.

I miss my days in Vienna, and every now and then try to recreate them here. These almond horns are not Austrian, by any means, but their crescent shape echoes the famous Viennese pastry. I served them with Vanilla Tea, also not Austrian, but I can't do coffee at night or I'd never sleep. So this is my Americanized take on an evening in Vienna.


Almond Horns
1 1/3 cups blanched whole almonds
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 Tbsp orange flower water
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening
8 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
7-8 Tbsp cold water

1) In food processor, grind almonds and sugar to fine powder. Place mixture in large bowl and add orange flower water, butter, almond, and vanilla extracts. Using electric beater on medium speed, beat to a smooth paste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.
2) In medium bowl combine flour and salt. Break solid shortening into small pieces. Cut in shortening and cold butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle cold water, 1 Tbsp at a time over mixture, mixing lightly with a fork after each addition, until pastry is just moist enough to hold together. Divide dough in half. Shape and flatten each piece of dough into disc. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.
3) Heat oven to 350. Working on lightly floured surface, roll out one of the dough halves unto a 12 x 15 rectangle. Cut dough into 4 equal strips horizontally, then 5 strips vertically. Each resulting square will measure 3". Place one of the squares on the work surface with one point facing down so it resembles a diamond. Using measuring spoon, take 1/2 tsp almond filling and roll into log. Place in center of square of dough. Brush edges of dough with tepid water and roll securely. Seal ends. Bend slightly in center to form crescent shape. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining filling and dough.
4) Bake 20 minutes, or until slightly golden. Remove from baking sheet to wire rack to cool completely. Dust lightly with confectioners' sugar.

Vanilla Tea
1 vanilla-caramel tea
1 /4 split vanilla bean
dash of anise

1) Bring water to boil.
2) Place tea bag, vanilla, and anise in a cup. Add boiling water.
3)Let steep 4-5 minutes. Remove vanilla bean.
4)Add sweetener and milk.

3 comments:

  1. Wow! Those look great! Tea at Kate's house, stat!

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  2. Those look SO good. I love any kind of almond cookie. Yum.

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  3. I'm impressed! Not that I ever doubted you, but damn those look good for the next GTG.

    ::nudge nudge::::

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