My mom lived in Dallas for a couple of years and being a very sociable person, she joined the newcomer’s club, made friends with all of the neighbors, and pretty soon had a fully booked social calendar with bridge parties, luncheons, museum visits and the like.
This is the type of communal cookie I would have liked to make and offer these ladies during their bridge and tea get-togethers. Each person can snap off a piece (as small or large as desired) and savor it with tea or coffee.
The crust is a pâte sucrée, a classic recipe from chef Roland Mesnier’s Dessert University who was the White House pastry chef, baking cakes and cookies to a long string of presidents and dignitaries.
According to chef Mesnier, he always made sure there was a plate of petits fours available at the White House; none of that whimsical stuff though!
The crust is crunchy and buttery and combined with a couple coats of apricot jelly or amardeen and the extra crunch of the almonds scales, it is hard to resist.
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter (8 ounces)
- Rind of a lemon or orange
- 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla
- Dash of salt
- 1 large egg
- 2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 cup of amardeen syrup or apricot jam or preserves
- 1/2 cup of almonds slices
- 1/2 teaspoon of agar-agar if using amardeen syrup (optional)
- dragées, to shape the eyes (optional)
- Place the softened butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer; mix well until the mixture is light-colored, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla, lemon zest and salt. Combine. Add the egg and mix; add the flour and mix until it disappears. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for one hour or longer.
- Tear off half of the dough, leaving the rest refrigerated; taking one potato-size lump of dough, shape it into a narrow tube and set it on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper; continue with more until a snake shape is formed, making the hear fatter and the tail narrower. Using a knife, form a groove all along the snake. Insert almond slices and a couple of eyes with dragées if desired.
- Bake the snake in a 350Foven for 15 to 20 minutes until golden with brown accents; the dough should be crisp when it cools. Cool the cookie.
- Brush apricot preserve, jam or amardeen all over the dorsal part, in two batches; (wait for the first coat to dry). Serve.
NOTE: This dough is sufficient for 2 large snakes or a batch of about 75 cookies. It will freeze well, tightly wrapped, for two months. Shape the dough into a log, refrigerate or freeze and cut in 1/4 inch slices.
To make jam out of amardeen syrup, pour the syrup into a saucepan (you should have two cups); heat until simmering and add 1/2 teaspoon of agar-agar; stir continuously for 30 seconds to one minute. Cool. If you are using one cup, reduce the agar-agar to 1/4 teaspoon.
For a different look:
Simply form ring shapes and insert almonds all around; when bakes into a golden-brown hue, let them cool a bit and apply the apricot jam with a brush.
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