Friday, May 18, 2007

Barb's "best damn cookies"

For tonight's oneg I decided to try some recipes which have been in my box for years but never tested.

Recipe number two is from my college roommate Barb Clark. Barb was from Michigan. I visited her once. Her family reluctantly owned a crazy (inherited) parrot which walked across the bottom of its cage, up the side, across the top, down the other side, all day long, screaming. Hard on their nerves.

I remember thinking back then, in 1973 or so, that these were maybe the best cookies I'd ever eaten. However, I never had the nerve to try them, until now, because I knew the part where the recipe said "spread the dough" would be harder than it sounded.

Kind of like the instructions my ex-husband's dock came with: you build the dock upside down and the last step says: "now flip the dock over."

However, today I decided that, 33 years later, I would ignore my fear. I dutifully tried to "spread" the first batch and it was as ridiculous as I'd imagined - a stiff, sticky dough which clung stubbornly to my spreading device and rolled right up off the silicone pan liner.

The second batch went much better using the technique described below. Perfect! They were as good as I remembered: buttery and crispy and cinnamony and kind of like some kind of Pepperidge Farm cookie but I forget which kind. Thanks, Barb.

Barb's "Best Damn Cookies"

3/4 cup soft butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk (save the white for glazing)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1+ cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix all ingredients except the egg white and the almonds. This makes a stiff, sticky dough. Put dollops all over the bottom of your 9x13 pan and press together into a thin layer (mine didn't stretch all the way to the edges of the pan).

Glaze with egg white and sprinkle with toasted almonds; press together lightly. Cook 25 minutes. Immediately upon removing from the oven, score into squares by pressing into the hot pan with a plastic spatula, but don't try to break the squares into cookies until they're cool. Makes about 40.

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At 6:31 PM, Anonymous Kay said...

Barb's cookies are called Jan Hagel cookies. They are a traditional Dutch holiday cookie. Since I discovered the recipe some years ago I have not made many other kinds ofcookies. Everyone just loves them. I make them for friends every December. Other nuts besides almonds can be used, like walnuts and pecans. I use pecans because everyone seems to like them best. They are very addictive.

At 8:13 PM, Blogger melinama said...

Kay, if you ever come back this way, tell me - how do YOU get the sticky dough to lie nicely across the pan?

At 6:46 PM, Anonymous Kay said...

My recipe for Jan Hagel cookies is a little different, which may explain the stickiness. I use 1 cup of butter and 2 cups of flour (you are using only 1 cup of flour). When I am mixing the ingredients I finally have to resort to kneading it with my hand because it is so thick. When I put it on a baking sheet I press it down with the heal of my hand.
I also use only 1/2 t. cinnamon, and I whip the egg white with 2 t. of water before I glaze the top. I use pecan chips (not pieces) on top (whatever amount I need). The result is fabulous. I hope this helps.

At 8:08 PM, Blogger melinama said...

Thanks, I'll try them some time. These come out very delicate and crisp.

At 9:57 PM, Anonymous Kay said...

Jan Hegal cookies don't come out delicate and crisp. They are more meaty (if you don't cook them too long). You need to be careful not to cook them more than it takes to delicately brown the top.


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