In German (according to Bill’s Mom’s recipe) these are Baurenhutchen.
I prefer to call them The Bane of My Existence.
Actually, they’re pretty interesting cookies – they’re kind of two cookies in one – a butter cookie outer cookie and a crispy/chewy meringue inner cookie.
The problem is, I can’t seem to get them to come out right. At least, according to what Bill’s uncle (his late mom’s brother) has said was the way their mother was able to make them. And I know that is a poorly and confusingly constructed sentence, but I blame it on these cookies. Anyway, according to what I’ve been told, the cookies – which resemble tri-cornered hats when you shape them – came out of the oven still looking like that – the three sides vertical and touching in the center.
Mine have never, ever, ever looked like that. They taste great – they’re one of Alex’s favorites, and mine – BUT. They look more like hats that someone put away in an under-the-bed storage thing under some sweaters and heavy pants and oops, maybe they shouldn’t have done that because now the perky tri-cornered hat looks like a pancake.
Still, they are yummy and worth the mental anguish.
Here we go:
Oh – and I’m giving you the measurements for the way I make them – which is to double the butter cookie portion because (another of my failings) I always end up with way too much leftover filling. I could just cut the filling in half, but more cookies is always better.
For the butter cookie part, you will need the following:
1 lb all-purpose flour
1/2 lb unsalted butter
1/2 lb granulated sugar
6 egg yolks (save 2 of the whites, you’ll need them for the filling. Save the others. Make meringue cookies with chocolate chips in them. Hide them. Eat them when no one’s around to want you to share them. You work hard. You deserve it.)
2 T thick sour cream
Combine the flour and sugar in your mixing bowl, and then cut in the butter. You can use a paddle if you’re using a stand mixer.
You want to check your progress as you combine them so you don’t over-beat the mixture. You’re looking for a fine, sandy sort of result. Like this:
And now you add in the yolks and the sour cream…
And mix together until you’ve got a nice, smooth dough. Remove it from the bowl, wrap in plastic so it doesn’t dry out, and set aside while you make the filling. Or, if you’re not going to use it til the next day, put it in the freezer.
(Look at those bizarre wrinkles in my hand. You’d think the dough weighed several pounds….)
Okay, now for the filling.
First, you need 1/4 lb of almonds, ground. I used to grind them in a meat grinder, which is what Bill’s mom did, but this year I put the nuts in the food processor and I like that MUCH better. For one thing, when I used the meat grinder, it took a long time. And every year it seems like I make larger batches of cookies, so that adds to the time, AND, sometimes the grinding produces more of a nut butter result than just a ground up nuts result. So that’s my two cents. I’m using the food processor.
Because you can start out with this:
And moments later, you’ve got this:
Oh – and if this looks like way more than a quarter pound of nuts, it is. I was also doing the almonds for the Almond Stars. Figure I’d grind two batches with one process. heh heh.
Okay, now you will also need two egg whites that you hopefully set aside earlier when you were separating your eggs. And about 3/4 of a cup of sugar.
No put the yolks in a PERFECTLY CLEAN (AND I MEAN ABSOLUTELY NO RESIDUE FROM THE OTHER DOUGH LEFT IN THE BOWL OR YOUR WHITES WILL NOT WHIP PROPERLY) and dry bowl, and, using the whisk attachment, whip them to stiff peaks.
And then slowly add in the sugar and beat some more…
Now, the recipe doesn’t say whether you want any sort of peaks or not. It just says to beat 1/4 of an hour – which is because this was originally done by hand. I beat them together until they are soft peaks.
Next you fold in the almonds, and your mixture will look like this:
Okay. Now you’ll need a clear work surface with a light dusting of flour. And some parchment-lined baking sheets. Set your oven on stun. Just kidding. Set it to 325 F.
Take a portion of your dough and roll it out to a thickness that’s comfortable for you to work with. And what thickness is that? Anywhere between 1/8 and 1/4 inch. The recipe says 1/8 – actually it says the thickness of the back of a knife, but that leaves room for way too much variance, so Bill’s mom added "approx 1/8" and then she wrote in – "I like 1/4." So – it’s up to you. Mine was somewhere in between.
Next, you want to cut out circles that are about 3" in diameter. Place the circles on a cookie sheet with at least an inch of space between them. Place a bit of the filling (the egg white and nut mixture) in the center.
Okay, now the amount is another thing you want to play around with until you are comfortable with it. Because the next step is to fold up the sides of the cookie to form the tri-cornered hat shape. This takes a little practice. Also, if you’ve had the dough in the fridge, you want to give it plenty of time to come to room temp before you try making the hats, otherwise the dough won’t bend; it will just crack and tear.
Here’s my left hand (I’m right-handed, but that’s the hold-the-camera hand) trying to demonstrate how to fold up the edges successfully.
Pinch the edges together in the center so they’ll stay in place, at least for now.
Kind of cool, huh? Now I’ve put them in the oven for anywhere from ten minutes to a month to firm the dough up so it’ll keep its shape. And here’s how they looked AGAIN this year, part way through the baking:
FLATTENED. AGAIN. Plus the edges didn’t stay pinched together.
There has GOT to be a way to do this so they stay perky. Either that, or Bill’s uncle is remembering them BEFORE they went into the oven, and I’m feeling insecure and inadequate for nothing.
I thought I’d taken a picture after they were out of the oven, but apparently not. They will basically look like they do above, only a bit more golden brown. You need to bake them for about 20-25 mintues.
And I’ve experimented with different oven temps too. I’ll tell you this – they don’t look good if they’re burnt.
I will keep trying, anyway, and if I succeed, you’ll be the first to know. Because my scream of triumph will be audible around the world, I think.
Oh – and what to do with any leftover filling, you may ask?
Well, you can mix in some mini chocolate chips if you want to,
And bake them until they are crispy and lightly golden on the outside…
And kind of chewy and melty
on the inside.
(I really need to hire a hand model for these shots. My hands are all wrong for this sort of thing.)
Anyway, that’s how to make the
Floppy Farmer Hats – and despite my griping about how they look, they really are pretty yummy.
And the taste, after all, is what will keep bringing stealthy hands back to the cookie jar.