Friday, August 08, 2008

Martha would NOT be proud

In our delightful little Danish village, we are blessed to have several bakeries that make these wonderful little cookies called Sarah Bernhardts. They have a marzipan cookie base that is topped with chocolate filling and coated in chocolate. They are indeed small, but pack a wallop of yummy goodness. At $2 a cookie, they are NOT cheap, so we only splurge on them once in awhile. Last week after enjoying some from a local bakery, Brett and I wondered if we'd be able to make them ourselves. How hard can it be, right? Surely, you can make them cheaper than $2/piece, right?

Well, we hit the Internet as we usually do when we want to know how to do something. A quick Google search of "Sarah Bernhardt" came up with a hit from none other than Martha Stewart. (You can see a beautiful picture of Martha's version above.) "Well, if Martha has a recipe, it MUST be good!" we thought. So, the other night with a hankerin' for SBs, Brett headed to the store to buy the ingredients that we didn't have -- namely almond paste and chocolate. And let me just say, almond paste costs a pretty penny at $6 for seven measly ounces! (That's more than we pay Peet's Coffee for goodness sake!)

So, with ingredients in hand, I started in on the process of making them. Mind you, this is NOT a quick and easy recipe. It has multiple steps, with chilling time between them. You have to:
  1. Make the filling. Chill it for 1 hour.

  2. Make the cookie dough and bake. Cool the cookies.

  3. Top the cookies with filling. Chill in freezer for 1 hour.

  4. Make chocolate coating. Top frozen cookies with chocolate and refrigerate AGAIN.

First, the filling turned out to be problematic. It appeared that the egg was going to cook -- yuck, who wants scrambled eggs in chocolate filling?! Then I couldn't get it "fluffy" when we added the chocolate. I decided to cool my filling in the fridge, and Brett tried to make a batch. We hoped that he would learn from the wisdom of my experience, but he ended up having the same problems that I did. But, once the filling cooled more in the fridge, we were able to whip it up to a fluffy-like consistency. Okay, maybe we could salvage this.

Then, Brett made the cookie dough and tried to make the "60 cookies" that the recipe said it should yield. Well, we got about 40 of the world's smallest cookies out of it. Then, when they were baked, the did NOT come off the pan. Yes, it said to use parchment paper, but who really has that in their kitchen?! Usually, we don't have problems with our cookie sheets so we thought it would be okay. Boy, were we WRONG! Only about 7 of the cookies came out unscathed. The others were nuggets or peanut-shaped.

After all the proper cooling, Brett made the chocolate coating. But when he tried to coat the cookies, the chocolate did not drizzle as expected but hardened immediately on the cold cookies. The whole batch of chocolate coating covered about 7 cookies. So, after three hours of work, we had about 7 complete cookies to show for it! Did they taste good? Well, yes they did. But, not as good as the ones from our local bakeries. I hate to say it, but Martha would NOT be proud.

I suppose the one good thing about the whole experience was that we had a good laugh about it.

P.S. If any of you feel brave enough to try these, here is Martha's recipe.

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