Monday, 15 December 2014

The Day of the Ischler

The name does bring to mind a sci fi film rather than biscuits. But there's nothing Triffid-like about these, and my cooking experience was apocalypse free (thankfully, after last weeks' confidence-sapping episode).

I was pleasantly surprised by how successful these biscuits were. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it's hot and humid here? (haha) I've been making Christmas biscuits for colleagues, friends and neighbours for quite a number of years. Every year I spend a happy time planning my biscuit choices and anticipating the pleasure of gift-giving, primarily choosing European-style traditional Christmas biscuits. And then every year I curse and sweat late into week nights struggling with butter laden doughs which come out of the fridge too hard to work and about 30 seconds into rolling them out, are too sticky. Sometimes the results can be less than ideal, particularly when I'm trying something new.

The Ischler came at just the right time in the Alpha Baker's schedule* for my Christmas biscuit campaign but had potential for the same sticky dough challenges. And when I made the dough, which includes butter, almonds, icing sugar and a little egg, it turned out very wet. I probably should have been a bit more careful with the amount of egg I put in (no, I couldn't be bothered weighing it). It was so wet and different from the description in the recipe, that I added a little extra flour.  It was still quite moist but I didn't want to change the proportions of ingredients too much. I packaged it up anyway and put it hopefully in the fridge.

I made these biscuits over several nights. The apricot lekvar was a simple process of soaking and cooking dried apricots, and produced a lovely dense paste.


When I took out the first package of dough a couple of days later I was ready to wrestle with sticky dough and spreading biscuits.  However miraculously (a Christmas miracle!?) I was able to roll the dough out quite thinly and get the cut out shapes onto the trays without tears (that's the crying kind).  I made some in a star shape for a bit of Christmas jollity.

I think the relative success with this biscuit dough is due to: the small packets of dough recommended by Rose (so the others can stay in the fridge until needed); the use of gladwrap to roll out the dough; and apparently (according to PastryGirl) the egg Rose puts in gives it more elasticity so it's easier to work with. Having suffered badly from biscuits spreading in the oven the previous year, I also made sure I put the trays back in the fridge while they were waiting their turn for the oven.

I have to say I was a bit shocked by Rose's suggestion that using up the dough scraps was optional. I had to read it twice. As I was munching on some of said scraps.

I needed to package some biscuits up for a colleague who was going on holidays early (Christmas time is our long summer holiday period here) so I whipped up the ganache (burning the chocolate slightly in my haste) and put them together with the apricot lekvar. They looked great despite my slapdash ways. The recipient thought they were delicious and asked for the recipe.

The other biscuit in the picture above is a favourite of mine with spiced fruit and almonds called Alfajores from Movida Rustica. I'm just about to bake another of my favourites - Rugelach from Rose's Christmas Cookies.

*Marie once more proves her omniscience


  1. Such pretty cookies with packaging!! Why didn't i think of wrapping up like this as gift aways?!

  2. I know how you feel about rolling cookies in humid and hot weather! I feel the same way too!

  3. Hi Catherine your post is lovely and your cookies shapes are very nice too and also great blog.

  4. ב''ה

    I was also surprised at the 'optional' comment.

    I like how you were munching on them. Very funny.

    I find that it is often from over-dryness of the dough that it breaks and sticks.

  5. I love your packaging! I'm glad your cookies did not fall apart on you whilst rolling and cutting. The stars are a great shape.

  6. "As I was munching on some of said scraps." Hahahaha! I can't imagine making these in hot and humid weather. I have an antique rolling glass pin that fills with ice. Your's turned out quite nicely.

  7. Great post, so glad for your success after last week's fruitcake!! I wish I lived close enough to visit your friendly kitchen! Michele in the southern USA at GIVEAWAY THIS WEEK!

  8. Good to hear your experience was apocalyptic free. The Lekvar, for me, was a bit nightmarish. Still your end result was clearly successful.

  9. I loved how elegant these cookies look, but I wasn't fond of the flavor, but the dough was super yummy and I munched on quite a bit of it!

    Patricia @ ButterYum

  10. The Day of the Ischler certainly sounds better than The Night of the Living Ischler. I feared disaster after reading your first paragraph--so glad it didn't occur.

  11. Catherine: Flour wand at King Arthur Flour in the USA. Really handy tool! I've had mine for years and years. --Michele

  12. Ahhh all hail the Christmas miracle! I had thought Christmas biscuit giving was a purely American thing, but see it is also a Darwin thing.... Maybe it isn't a country/place thing rather a "making and giving what you are good at" thing?

    Glad these worked so well - I do think the glad wrap and fridge is the secret to sanity.


  13. I LOVE your star-shaped cookies. So adorable! And your bags of goodies, ready to gift, look lovely.

    I'm impressed that you made them in the heat and humidity! The came out so crisp and neat :)