Monday, 15 December 2014

The Ischler




Usually my opening photo is of the final baked product in its full glory.  Unfortunately, three little monkeys ate all The Ischlers before I could take a photo.  So I guess that is at least three votes of approval for these annoying cookies.

So, The Ischler.  Everything about this "cookie" annoyed me.  As boring as it may be, let me list the ways (which coincidentally follow the recipe flow)


  1. The name prefaced by "The".  How would I know if they were "The" Ischler given I had never knowingly consumed any lesser Ischlers.  I moved on quickly from here, given I am most accustomed to putting my faith in Rose's pronouncements.
  2. The toasting and grinding of "preferably unblanched almonds".  Sigh - unblanched sliced almonds are akin to unblanched sliced unicorn horn.  I mean, ground almonds and unicorn horn are thick on the ground - so in the pursuit of annoyance minimisation and avoiding a trip to the supermarket I used ground almonds (note here as Error 1 - ALWAYS do as Rose instructs at least the first time around)
  3. Actually, not quite everything annoyed me (I am such an exaggerator - some would say).  Mixing these in the food processor was brilliant.
  4. But then I was meant to get moist and crumbly particles which would hold together when pinched.  Nope.  I think this was the fault of the first error.  Mine was more like a buttery biscuity mass.
  5. The dough was then kneaded in a plastic zip lock bag and then divided into four plastic wrapped parcels.  Sometimes I think that Rose has shares in a plastic wrap company.
  6. Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 2 days - I was definitely at the bounds of the two days.  I love that some of Rose's recipes respect that baking is not always a continuous end to end process. (See, I have clearly exaggerated my annoyance - brilliant and love have already been used)
  7. The making of apricot lekvar - seriously, a tablespoon of mixture will take 3 seconds to fall from the spoon?  Is that three seconds to fall off the spoon or to fall from the spoon and make its landing.  All of it?  Or just some of it?  Should it flow in a continuous stream for three seconds or should it just glop out.  I took the glop option.  Fortunately glop must be the right consistency - last time we made this I ended up with apricot concrete, this is kind of usable.  Not in a lekvar on toast with a cup of tea way, more on a wodge it in a biscuit/cake way. So two jars should see me through to the end of my days.
  8. The rolling of the dough.  Ayee.  This was particularly stressful.  A dough with 1/4 butter and 1/4 ground almonds is pretty soft and delicate.  No match for a particularly helpful three and a half year old tag team of cuteness.  They are at the pinnacle of "I can do it on myself" (Error 2 - bake only at night).
  9. So on to the baking.  Bake 4 minutes, rotate the tray half way round and then bake a further 2 - 6 minutes until just beginning to brown.  I think I need to invent some kind of special UV light which detects the beginning of browning, because I cannot work this out with my unaided eye.  Looking at this photo, they were clearly at the very very very beginning of browning.  In my defence I grew up in Australia where the threat of skin cancer makes me paranoid about tanning, so I can only assume this paranoia has filtered into cookie baking. (Error 3)
  10. Making the ganache was a snap.  Well it would have been had someone (but no one who lives in this house apparently) not eaten the 60% chocolate.   Note to self - store chocolate in the safe without the kids, husband or nanny seeing me do so.  Given the kids prowess with technology I am sure they could crack a safe in about 2.7 minutes.  So I cobbled together a mathematical equation of 40% x 75% cacao and 60% of 50% cacao and hoped it was roughly right.  (Error 4)
  11. The the supposed synergy of bringing the three things together.  I am an accountant (I only roll out that admission when it suits me) and when four different volume measures are used in the same sentence for largely the same activity, I start to get a bit twitchy.  Teaspoons and tablespoons I can cope with.  Grams and millilitres for two items of roughly the same viscosity - Rose's ears must have been burning.  Just for the record 3.7ml of lekvar and 6 grams of ganache.  Far fricking out.  Don't even get me started on spreading them 1/8 of an inch from the edge.  (Error 5)
  12. Fair to say rough enough was good enough for me - sorry Rose.  I ended up with 35 love heart biscuits - completely false advertising because by the end, I wasn't wodging them together with much love in my heart.
And that is where the photos end.  I sandwiched these all together in varying degrees of accuracy to the 3.7 mls and the 6 grams and headed to a friend's place for afternoon tea.   I am not sure whether it was the cumulative annoyance a two day (non continuous) baking process or whether it was true fact, but I found these to by the antonym of synergy.  Well, the actual definition is antagonism, but if the antonym of synergy could be expressed in cookie/biscuit terms, then it would be The Ischler.  Now it could be because of Error 1.  It could be of Error 2.  It could have been Error 3 or Error 4 or perhaps the synergy of all four errors brought about the antagonism of The Ischler.

We may never know because I will probably never make these things again.  They just tasted bland to me, overwhelmed by chocolate (Error 4) and underwhelmed by the lekvar (Error 5 - maybe it was 3.2ml of lekvar, rather than 3.7ml?) all surrounded by a bland biscuit (Error 1 and Error 3).  So with that insightful analysis, it would appear that they synergy of errors brought these cookies undone.

Then again, the three monkeys polished of the remaining 27 biscuits on Monday afternoon between them getting home from school and me getting home after work.  There was literally 1/8 of a biscuit left on the dining room table, which had somehow escaped the hoovering of the boys.  I did eat it.  And it almost had me reversing my opinion, but unfortunately I needed more than 1/8 of a biscuit for it to be a valid sample size.

Next week Coffee Crisps.  Can I just say that I am most definitely not a cookie baker.  So much work and they are just consumed in minutes!  

13 comments:

  1. I'm howling! Been waiting all day for your post and it was well worth the wait! Isn't it midnight in your neck of the woods? I totally concur on # 5. Missed that the almonds were supposed to be toasted and put the dough in the freezer instead of the frig. Both seemed to work in my favor as my brain wasn't as fritzed as it normally is after baking one of Rose's recipes.

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  2. Oh Nicola - you had me cracking up as I read your review of these cookies. You've so funny! Oh my... still chuckling. Glad to know I'm not the only one who didn't like these (although I did enjoy making them).

    Patricia @ ButterYum
    http://www.butteryum.org/roses-alpha-bakers/2014/11/6/tbb-the-ischler

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  3. Oh dear. It's a good thing the kidlets liked them, but sad because the poor babes will never get them again. Years from now, these cookies will have attained the stature of Platonic idea of cookiedom, and they'll beg you for them. Will you relent? Stay tuned.

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  4. ב''ה

    "The Antagonism of The Ischler" sounds even more film noire than 'the night of the living Ischler'.

    Too bad these cookies were not better. I highly recommend next weeks cookies, though.

    Rules for Gremlins:
    Don't let them see the sunlight.
    Don't let them get themselves wet.
    Never, ever feed them after midnight.

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  5. Im sorry to hear that you didn't like them. If you left the dough in the fridge for a week like me..the dough will end up very hard and easy to roll..LOL! ;) But the heart cookies look great! LOL! I laughed when you said about tanning and cookies..lol! Well, over here we are also afraid of getting our skin dark..hahaha.

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  6. Oh I love this post! All of it, from the listing of the Errors to the 1/8 of a biscuit left to eat. At least they are all gone now and just a twitchy memory. Onwards and upwards!

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  7. your cookies heart shape look nice and your blog is just step by step is great too , who is that little cutie , I see that you're getting help ,you better hide them before they're all gone..lol...

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  8. OMG, I'm still laughing. What a great post. You had the courage to tell all the errors. Awesome.

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  9. Nicola, your post made my day. My work afternoon is a bit crazy and this post has put a smile on my face. I didn't really bother with weighing the amount of ganache and lekvar either. Your 3 1/2 year old is adorable.

    I am not a big cookie fan either. And it is a little shocking that cookies has more butter ratio than cakes. The cookies for next week is a lot faster to make since it just a cookie dough and you don't have to roll them - I thought you might be happy to hear that :).

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  10. Hilarious!

    I was very surprised that anyone (other than Rose) would consider weighing out tiny amounts of filling for each biscuit. Even the idea makes me want to scratch my own eyes out. I took the 'try it a few ways and test it with your mouth' method to see which was the best amount.

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  11. Oh boy... everyone at work was looking at me, because i been laughing my head off from beginning to end on your post. Between us, I totally agree with you on #5 (she totally has shares!). Like you these were "meh"... but everyone else seem to love them around me - maybe my standards are just higher when it comes to cookies?

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  12. Nicola, so sorry it took me all week to read this, it was brilliant!! What a great idea to store the chocolate in the safe!! I can't wait to read about the rest of the book through your eyes. If you were around the corner I would give you a jar of my peach Melba jam!! Best wishes--Michele

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  13. Sorry to hear you didn't like the cookies. At least your kids liked them so they didn't go to waste. I like your heart shape :)

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