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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Swedish Christmas baking 2010: Mandelmusslor

Every year my grandmother bakes lots of cookies for Christmas.

When I was a little girl I helped her with some of them, ginger snaps mostly.

This year she had a bad fall in October and broke her arm and once that was healed we couldn't understand why she didn't feel better. She couldn't walk and she was so pessimistic about things she normally wasn't.
Turned out she had fractures on her pelvis. We're not sure if it was from the fall or if it's because of some other condition - she is 87 years old after all.

But it's sorted and she's on the mend. However, baking cookies in any larger quantities is sort of out of the question.

So last weekend I softened 2 lbs of butter and set my Kitchen Aid to work. Most kinds of cookie dough is supposed to rest in the fridge anyway, so I quickly mixed up 5 kinds of cookies in the Kitchen Aid and put them to rest in the fridge.

I baked two kinds on the Saturday, but then life happened and I didn't get to do the others until Monday.

This is a recipe for an old Swedish cookie that's usually reserved for Christmas.

Almond cups. A literal translation would be Almond clams. They're made from a pretty regular cookie dough with added almonds.
I'm pretty sure housewives of old would blanch and peel the almonds to make them as white as possible, but I opted on not doing that.
I was also out of bitter almonds and keeping the peel on the sweet almonds ups the almond taste a little.


The dough is made by mixing sugar and butter until soft, then adding ground almonds (sweet and bitter), flour and an egg.

The dough is put in the fridge over night then you take it out and work with small portions at a time to keep it from going too soft.
If the dough gets too warm the butter will start to leak and the dough is hard to work with.

Soften the piece you're working with and roll it out. The length and size of the roll is not important. Cut it up into smaller pieces and put a piece in each aluminium cup.

Now, about the cups - I borrowed these from my grandmother. They're seasoned and doesn't need to be buttered. New cups will have to be buttered or sprayed with cooking spray otherwise the cookies will not come out of the cups.
It's also possible to use disposable aluminium cups for baking and keep the cookie in the cup if they won't come out. It will be a bit harder to eat them though.

Each dough piece is pushed up the sides of the cup and evenly distributed. If the piece you put in the cup is too small and there are gaps in the dough, just cut up and extra piece and add to what you already have (did that make sense?).

The dough should be thin, but not so thin the cup shows through.

My grandmother has a lot of these cups in various shapes so I work with about 10-15 at a time. Put them on a cookie sheet and bake them at 400 degrees (F) for about 8 minutes.

They shouldn't get too much colour around the edges. Mine are a bit too browned.

Take the cookie sheet out of the oven and let the cups cool. As soon as you can flip them over and some of the cookies might come out of the cups immediately. If not them leave them until the cups have cooled enough to be handled.

I lift the cups up a few inches above the cookie sheet and just drop them. That usually does the trick.
Sometimes there's formed a vacuum between the cup and the cookie. If that's the case then pull on the sides of the cup a little so let air in and try again.

Any broken cups can be ground up and used for breading cake pans. Or you can just eat them off the sheet.

Let the cookies cool completely and store in an air tight container in the fridge or freezer.

Serve the cookies filled with whipped sweetened cream and some nice jam. I like a good strawberry jam, but anything goes. A cinnamon-y apple sauce can be perfection!
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