Cookie Exchange Countdown: Sarah Bernhardt Cookies

The term “Diva” was most likely first attributed to Sarah Bernhardt, a dramatic and tragic French actress who was famous in the early part of the 20th century.

Andre bakes his way through Martha Stewart’s Cookie book  has an excellent history of the Sarah Bernhardt cookie. Apparently while Sarah was touring in Amsterdam, she tasted this cookie and the bakeshop owner named it after her. It was also a secret code during WWII as the cookies looked like radio dials. If someone asked for the cookie in a bake shop they identified themselves with the resistance.

The cookie exchange is five days away!! I have two more cookies to try before deciding which one to take. Like Sarah herself these cookies are divine but take some some finesse to perfect. The flavor combination of almond paste with chocolate makes me swoon. I had to try it at least once.

I stayed with the Martha Stewart Holiday cookie recipe theme. There are three parts: the cookie, the filling and the coating.

The cookie: I used a piping bag to form the cookies on the cookie sheet to bake. After they cooled I popped them into a plastic bag and put them in the freezer.

The filling: The filling has to be refrigerated for several hours or overnight. I used a piping bag to put the filling atop the cookies. Then they are popped back into the freezer to stay firm before applying the coating.

The coating: I balanced the cookie with filling atop a serving fork and poured the coating atop using a ladle. I then put them on a rack where the coating could drip off the cookie to a wax paper sheet below.

Patty’s Points:

1) Lots of steps that takes time and planning and a freezer to accommodate.

2)  Oh my gosh!! Messy!!! The coating was disastrous. I think it would have been better to place the cookies on a rack with wax paper below so that  I wouldn’t have to handle the cookies at all during the pouring of the coating.

3) Yummy! As I anticipated, the combination of almond and chocolate is melt-in-your-mouth wonderful.

4) I wrapped the cookies individually and placed back in the freezer to keep formed. I am afraid that once they come out of the freezer, they will melt easily.

As Sarah herself said, “He who is incapable of feeling strong passions, of being shaken by anger, of living in every sense of the word, will never be a good actor . . .”

Oh Sarah, you are Divine!

One more cookie to go!

Cookie Exchange Countdown: Whoopie Pies

It all started at the hair dressers…….I’m sure that’s how all baking stories begin right?

I was getting my hair done and reading through the Martha Stewart Living. Mmmmm…time to start thinking about baking, gifts, and COOKIE EXCHANGE. I’m excited about it this year. Too many years have passed where I was too stressed out to think about making five dozen cookies!

The Fearless Cooking Club is meeting at a neighborhood Cookie Exchange where 30+ people will gather. What kind of cookie should I make??? So many Christmas and Holiday sweets, treats, and bars to pick from. I am overwhelmed.

I pulled out several cooking magazines and found this Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies magazine from, oh my gosh really? 2001? My how time flies. So many cookies have passed by in the past decade.

I have decided to try out two or three cookie recipes and then choose which one to bring. I saw this recipe for Whoopie Pies. Oh they looked so cute! I have never made them before and they are pretty popular right now in baking circles.

It was a perfect night to bake: seven inches of snow had just fallen, the temperature dropped below zero and the kitchen was warm and toasty.

Whoopie Pie is really a cake sandwich and that tastes like a Hostess Suzy Q. Here’s the cake recipe:

  • 3 1/2 C flour
  • 1 1/2 C cocoa powder
  • 1TBSP baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 lb unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 C buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Sift the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in mixer. Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Then add the dry ingredients a little at a time until completely mixed together.

I scooped the mixture into a piping bag to make similar sized cookies onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake the batter 4 minutes, turn the cookie sheet around, then bake another 4 minutes.

Cool the cookies on wire rack until ready to make the sandwiches.

The filling is Momma Reiner’s Homemade Marshmallow Creme  from Martha Stewart’s website. It consists of soft ball sugar syrup added to whipped egg whites.

Patty’s Points

1) The wet mixture of the cookie batter was pretty sloppy when the buttermilk and eggs were added. Mix slowly.

2) I spooned the batter onto the cookie sheet for the first batch. I then realized that if I was making a sandwich, both sides had to be the same size. That is when I pulled out the piping bag so I could control the size of the batter on the cookie sheet. It made a big difference in uniformity.

3) The cookies can be frozen in advance and should be separated by wax or parchment paper because they easily stuck together.

4) The marshmallow creme would need to be made right before making the sandwiches for presentation. In a pinch, you could buy marshmallow creme in a jar to save that step.

Yummy treat, but oh so messy. I would probably wrap them or place them in a secured plastic bag for the cookie exchange because of the messy factor. Since I work full time, I really want a cookie that will be ready to go in advance and easily transported to a party. Something to think about when choosing which cookie to take.

Martha’s cookie book has 100 cookies to choose from. What next? I’m thinking I’ll stay with something chocolaty. See you next time on the road to the Cookie Exchange!