Friday, December 14, 2012

Tastelishes Terraces

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Terraces are one of the most popular Christmas cookies in Germany. It is a tender butter cookie, cut out with different sizes of cookie cutters to build a terrace, baked, spread with a thin layer of raspberry jam, or red currant marmalade, or strawberry marmalade, and dusted with confectioners' sugar. This is one good looking, tasty cookie that you do not want to miss out on this Holiday Season!

You will need: (Makes about 50 Terraces)

500 grams unbleached, all-purpose flour, sifted (King Arthur flour recommended for best results) (1.1 pounds)
250 grams unsalted butter or unsalted margarine, cold, cut into flakes (8.8 ounces)
375 grams white sugar, fine granulated (13.2 ounces)
6 large egg yolks
pinch of salt, optional
1 envelope vanilla sugar or 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract, optional (DrOetker vanilla sugar is available in the baking aisle at local supermarkets.)
4 - 5 drops Arrak aroma/extract or 1 tablespoon Cognac or lemon zest of 1/2 lemon, optional
powdered sugar/confectioners' sugar for dusting

Sift the flour into a bowl (measure first, then sift). Sifting is recommended, but the cookies will turn out just fine without sifting the flour. Spread the butter flakes evenly over the flour. Add the rest of the ingredients on top and mix it all together, using your hands. Form it neatly into a ball, cover the dough with plastic foil, and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Chilling the dough makes it less sticky and less brittle. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and discard the plastic foil. Dust your workplace with flour, place the dough on top, and roll it out with a rolling pin (about 3 - 4 mm = 1/8- inch thick). Use 3 different sizes of cookie cutters with beveled edges to build a terrace. Or use other items as cutters (a glass or cup) and to achieve the beveled edges, position the glass or cup onto the dough and cut around the edges with a pastry or pasta wheel. Cut out even amounts of each of the 3 sizes to make 3 layers for one terrace. Bake only cookies the same size at a time. The larger-sized cookies will require a longer baking time than the smaller-sized cookies. Cover a large baking tray with parchment paper and place only same-size cookies on top. Space them apart a little. Bake at 350 - 375 degrees Fahrenheit (175 - 190 up to 200 degrees Celsius), for about 10 minutes (largest sized cookies), on the lower oven rack. The smaller the cookies are sized, the less time it will take to bake. The smallest-size cookies need to be checked on around 5 minutes. They should achieve a golden to deep golden color. Every oven bakes a little different and gives you eventually a lighter or darker tan. It all depends on your personal preference. Just keep an eye on the cookies, since they will bake within a few minutes. Remove the baked cookies from the oven and place them onto wire racks to let them cool completely. Once all the cookies are baked and cooled to room temperature, place a dollop of marmalade (raspberry or red currant compliments the terraces best) on top (center) of the largest-sized cookie. The marmalade will "glue" the cookies together to hold them in place. Place the next smaller size cookie on top of the largest cookie with the marmalade and put a dollop of marmalade in the middle. Add the smallest sized cookie on top. You will now have 3 differently-sized layers to make one Terrace. Repeat this with all the cookies to make Terraces. Finally, lightly sift powdered/confectioners' sugar over each and every Terrace. Store them in aluminum boxes. Layer the bottom of the aluminum box with napkins and place the Terraces on top. Cover the box with a lid. They will keep fresh for a few weeks at room temperature or at a cool place. This is a very old recipe and makes such elegant Terraces, tender in texture with the perfect balance of marmalade, it will definitely be one of the connoiseur's favorite Christmas cookies.



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