I come from a long line of Christmas Eve-ers who firmly believed the table should groan from plates upon plates of Christmas cookies and tea breads to go with pots of hot tea while opening presents and singing carols surrounded by dozens of cousins. Those days are long gone but baking these Ischlers brought back that cozy feeling which surprised me, probably because I forgot to toast the almonds, froze the dough by mistake which made it really easy to handle once it thawed a bit and opted for store bought jam. In other words, I didn't get too fiddly with these cookies.
Yesterday I had help mixing up the dough. This is my youngest granddaughter who is four and half. She scooted a chair up to the counter and scooted me out of the way. I did a combination mini food processor and mixer method, opting to grind the nuts with the powdered sugar. This little one is a real Let Me Do It kid and loved pushing the pulse button. Not merely content to add cupfuls of flour, I was informed she was quite capable of turning on and off the mixer after each addition (with inconspicuous close supervision). Today I rolled out the dough with this adjustable rolling pin, a gift from my daughter back in the Heavenly Cake days. It works like a charm.
I used wax paper instead of plastic wrap and popped the dough back in the freezer to rechill before peeling the cut out dough onto the baking sheet with an off set spatula. Speaking of which, I noticed a huge difference between baking pans and how the cookies browned. I have those air cushioned ones but also an older plain one which caused the cookies to bake too quickly. I also noticed baking them higher in the oven was a better option for me, they didn't brown as fast. A dough scraper with a sharp edge was the perfect spatula to move the hot cookies to the cooling rack. I love Trader Joe's organic apricot preserves so that is what I opted for, along with their organic strawberry jam to try on a few for fun, thinking chocolate dipped strawberries.. They did not have the correct percentage of dark chocolate so I used a mix of Valrohona dark and milk chocolate for the ganache,
These cookies plain kept reminding me of Russian teacakes. I rolled a few in powdered sugar and they were really good! So Ischlers are apparently quite versatile either using the traditional apricot and chocolate combination or different jams as well as the powdered sugar coating for children's palates. Now that I've got the hang of rolling, cutting, rechilling and transferring to the baking sheet, I will make them again will all sorts of different jam fillings.