Chocolate almond sticks with cardamom ganache filling

 Chocolate almond cookies filled with cardamom ganache

My husband’s grandma who lived to the blessed age of 93 years was a very sweet lady, always cheerful and interested in what we were up to when we would visit. She would tell stories about how, when she was a little girl, she would sneak to the pasture and ride their farm horse without a saddle and when her father found out, she’d run to hide in the wood and wait for him to calm down. In spite of her misspent youth, she later became a model house-wife, which in the old days apparently entailed things like washing all your windows every Friday, even if it rained. I am not a model house-wife and when the sun shines on our huge front window, this becomes painfully obvious to anyone sitting in the living room. This being the Netherlands, the sun does not shine that often, but still often enough to keep nagging me about the windows. Last weekend this finally prompted me to act. Together with my husband we washed the windows, I on the inside, he on the outside, and in the end it only took us a little over an hour.chocolate almond sticks

I feel about these cookies a bit like I do about washing windows. For some reason, they seem like a lot of work. But in fact, they are not really more work than other cookies and when I make them, it is so worth it and I wonder why I don’t do it more often. The dough is basically just chocolate, butter, almonds and sugar – no eggs. That makes it a bit difficult to roll out, but it is also what makes the cookies melt in your mouth. They are sandwiched together with cardamom and cinnamon scented ganache and dipped in more chocolate. They are probably my favorite Christmas cookies. And I’m sure grandma Dien would have loved them, too.chocolate almond sticks

Chocolate almond sticks
Adapted from Christa Schmedes: Weihnachtsbäckerei
makes about 50 cookies

150 g bittersweet chocolate
150 g butter, at room temperature
200 g icing sugar
200 g ground almonds
50 g corn starch
1 tsp cacao powder

100 g whipping cream
pinch of ground cardamom
pinch of ground cinnamon
100 g milk chocolate
50 g bittersweet chocolate

100 g milk chocolate
50 g bittersweet chocolate

To make the dough:
Melt the chocolate in a small bowl over a pan with gently simmering water. Let cool. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add the chocolate and mix well. In another bowl, stir together the ground almonds, corn starch and cacao powder. Add the flour mixture to the butter and mix well. Wrap the dough in foil and let it rest in the fridge for about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Roll the dough out to the thickness of 4 to 5 mm. Cut into sticks of about 2 x 6 cm. I do get out my ruler to make sure they are about the same size, because otherwise it becomes difficult to pair them later. Put the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Pull the parchment with the cookies from the baking sheet and let cool completely.

Make the filling by heating the cream with the spices. Add the chocolate (broken in pieces), remove from the heat and stir until the ganache is smooth and shiny. Let cool to room temperature, you need the filling to be a nice spreadable consistency. Spread a little filling on a cookie and gently press another cookie on top. Continue until all cookies are used.

For the glaze, melt both chocolates in a small bowl above a pan with gently simmering water. Dip each cookie partially in the glaze on a diagonal. Put the cookies on a parchment and let the chocolate glaze set. Store in an air-tight container in a cool room. The cookies can be made up to three weeks before Christmas.

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