From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Opening an old recipe box is a bit like opening Pandora's box. The contents pour out, but there is no unpleasantness to deal with. There may be a flash of sadness as memory conjures a glimpse of faces and places that can no longer be touched or seen, but that passes, and what's left is a special warmth and gratitude for the time and space that was shared and enjoyed with those who have triggered the reverie. On a more practical note, there are also some wonderful recipes to be exhumed, and if it's true that we are what we eat, those kitchen scribblings help to explain whole blocks of our lives. I found this recipe for chocolate nusse among those the Schlesinger's shared with the Silver Fox and me, and I wanted to pass it on to those of you who like the unusual and are fond of barely sweet European pastry. The Schlesinger's were our first landlords and they added color and kindness to the early years of our marriage. Mama S had no daughters of her own, so I became the repository of her wisdom and I can still hear her admonitions, the most serious of which always began with the rather ominous, "lest you have to move your tent to another village". That was never necessary, but I think I spent more time in her kitchen than I did in my own. She was a wonderful cook and I was fortunate enough to be there when she wanted to pass on what she knew. That's how I learned that a nusse is a nut or a confection made with nuts and it's also how I became the recipient of this old-world recipe. It makes an atypical Christmas cookie that I think you will enjoy. I know you will love the ease with which it comes together, and I do hope you'll give it a try. Here is how the cookies are made.
Chocolate Nusse...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
1 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, separated
2 squares semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
Finely grated zest of 1 medium orange
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 to 2-1/2 cups finely chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts)
Ginger marmalade or cherry or apricot preserves
1) Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg yolks. Add chocolate, vanilla, orange zest and cinnamon and blend well. Stir in flour and salt. Chill dough for 1 hour.
2) Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
3) Using a teaspoon measure, form dough into small balls. Drop into egg whites, then roll in chopped nuts. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Make an indentation in center of each cookie by pressing with a 1/4 teaspoon measure. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until nuts are lightly browned. Remove from oven and again press 1/4 teaspoon measure into cookies to form indentation for filling. Cool cookies on tray. Store in airtight containers or ziplock plastic bags. Fill indentations with marmalade or fruit preserves just before serving. Yield: 4-1/2 to 5 dozen cookies.
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