Monday, December 08, 2008

Fingergolatschen Christmas Cookie Memories

My mother -- being a Bavarian through and through, even after fifty years in America -- absolutely loved the Christmas season.  And because just about everything truly genuine (that is, not commercial, not licensed, not marketed and... well, not American) about the season reminds me of Mom, I miss her most every year at Christmas time. 

(To this day, I can't listen to the scratchy audio tape of Mom's live recording of canons and trumpets at a Christmas Eve church service in a tiny, snowy Bavarian town without tearing up.)

One of my favorite holiday memories is making "fingergolatschen" holiday cookies with Mom. She made the really difficult German cookie recipes, like Zimptsterne, by herself (I don't know how many times she told me that they're maddening to make because they have no flour in them and the batter is therefore "impossible"), but I always helped her make fingergolatschen.  I don't know the literal translation of the word, but it really doesn't matter, because to me it's "finger-go-lotsch," where lotch is the sound effect for a thumb making a deep indentation in warm, buttery batter.

Last night Tom and I made Mom's fingergolatschen -- and just because we're in the holiday spirit, we want to share the experience (and, of course, the recipe) with you.

The ingredient list is simple (here, with my favorite holiday photo of Mom and me):

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4 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

6 egg yolks

2 sticks unsalted butter

Zest of one lemon

Raspberry jam

As Mom would say, "Make a big mountain with the flour and sugar.  Then dig out a crater and put the egg yolks into it."  (I save the whites for the icing for my very American sugar cookies.)

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Now cut the butter onto the yolks:

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Yes, all of it.  Both cubes.  All 6342 calories of it.

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If you're three or five or seven years old, this next part is really fun. If you're 52 and can't slip your wedding ring off (no cookies for YOU!), it's just kinda messy: mix the whole mess until you have a solid ball of buttery dough (which we neglected to photograph because the dang flash was being finicky).

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Now break off chunks of dough and roll ping-pong-sized balls (or golf ball-sized balls... but my parents hardly knew the word!) in your hands.  Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees right about now.

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Place the balls about 2" apart on a baking sheet (no need to grease... you did see the amount of butter, did you not?!) and then summon the closest five-year-old child (or child at heart) to do this:

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And this: (Mom, German that she was, mustered all her patience in allowing her grandchildren to actually make a mess with this part, not placing the jam perfectly in the wells.  It wasn't easy for her, but I always insisted that we were really making memories more than cookies.)

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Now ask the most responsible grown-up in the house to do this part (notice, that is NOT me in the photo!):

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8 to 10 minutes later (or about 12 minutes later if you got lazy and rolled balls that are too big, like I did), take them out of the oven.  They should be more golden that the cookies in this picture. 

So I'm lazy and impatient!

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(Buy a new cookie sheet!  How embarrassing!)

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Now grace your set-too-early holiday table with your new cookies!  (Those are seven-layer bars, on the plate above the fingergolatschen. I made them out of laziness one Christmas when the kids were little and now they insist that they're Christmas cookies!)

My dad transcribed Mom's original recipe for me when I was in college.  At this point in his baking instructions he wrote, "Hide from husband -- in silver cookie jar in front hall." That's sooo Dad!

Go ahead, take an hour and bake up a batch of finergolatschen... then let me know what you think!

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7 comments:

Tammy B said...

Awesome! Thanks for posting such clear instructions. I may even be able to make them!

Maria said...

Your pan is seasoned. I wouldn't get a new one, because the new one will never live up. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm too chubby for cookies, but they do look delicious. And cookie sheets are supposed to look like that. It means they're seasoned, not dirty.

wendy said...

can I just come over to your place?...I can smell them from here!

Tonya said...

Yup, I'm 52 and can't slip off my wedding ring...

Tammy B said...

now I can finish my original comment (which was interrupted by my self-involved screaming 3 month old.)

I think I will try to make this one as a surprise for my husband. I don't make many American cookies, but he would be shocked to find me making German cookies, more specifically Bavarian ones, without any instruction from his mom.

Goofball said...

They look great

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