Saturday, November 13, 2010

VeganMoFo: German Triple Layered Gingerbread Cookies... and more!

Well, you smartie pantses out there might be wondering how I would tackle the notoriously not-vegan German cuisine! Skip the sausages, and head straight to the bakery, that's how! Germans definitely know a thing or two about delicious baked goods... so that's the route I took.

German Apple Cake from Joy of Vegan Baking

Baked treats always taste best when shared with others, so first up I made this gorgeous apple cake from Joy of Vegan Baking for an autumn potluck at a gathering of friends. The batter was most decidedly not done after the suggested cooking time, and using the toothpick test proved futile because the simmering apples on top pretty much obscured the results. In the end I overcooked it a bit, unfortunately... but, you know, it's not like I ruined it. The whole thing was gone by the next day. If you know what I mean! But next time I'll watch it more closely. And there will be a next time!

Dominosteine

Next up, I wanted to get into some more seriously German delicacies. I know Germans don't mess around with cookies, especially at Christmas time. So, even though it's a bit early, I set about searching online for some fun cookies to try, and found this most appealing recipe for Dominosteine, layered gingerbread cookies. Yes! A little simple veganizing was in order: EnerG egg replacer for the eggs, agave & brown rice syrup for the honey, and Earth Balance for the butter. Ta-da! Presto, ouila! Vegan! These cookies were absolutely delicious - rich and full of flavor... although they are quite small, they really pack a punch.

(By the way, if you are interested in making this recipe, I really suggest reading the comments in the review as they are quite helpful - I followed her advice and added some dried ginger. I also only did one layer of the gingerbread, and added a little extra rum. Because xmas cookies should be boozy, y'know?).

First up, you bake the gingerbread layer. The gingerbread is a little dry, but it is supposed to be that way... because next you spread on a layer of black currant jelly. On top of that, you roll out a thin layer of almond paste and place it on top. These cookies get better and better as the days go on and the gingerbread layer absorbs some of the moisture from the jelly. The hardest thing was to cut the cookies into 1-inch squares, without causing the jam to smoosh out all over kingdom come. So, after some difficulty, I turned to that classic kitchen utensil: the exact-o knife! Ha! Well, it worked, so don't laugh. First, I gently scored the almond paste. Then I went through again, and cut just the almond paste layer. Then, using a sharp kitchen knife, I was able to cut the ginger bread into squares.

Finally they were all ready to be coated in chocolately glaze!

As you can see, in the end, I had a little problem with the glaze melting around the jelly layer. I think these cookies would be more excellent still with a jelly layer that was more firm and less liquidy. Like if you could somehow cook up the jelly with a touch of agar first, that would be just perfect! Nonetheless, they were beautiful and tasty and definitely a fun project! This chocolate glaze is also a great recipe. It's chocolatey, but also tastes more like "icing" than "ganache"... and was very smooth and pourable. It's probably a recipe I'll come back to for other uses. However, I think next time I make these cookies, I may experiment with using straight-up melted chocolate instead of a glaze. That will solve the jelly problem... but these cookies are mighty rich already, and the pure chocolate might be overpowering. Well, shucks, I'll just have to make them again and find out!

Obviously, these cookies are a special endeavor, but we had a really special gathering of old friends to attend and I was happy to bring something made with so much love & care as an offering.
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I set out to make one more special German cookie: Springerle. I found this recipe online and it caught my eye for a few reasons: all the reviews were very enthusiastic, it called for me to use my special patterned springerle rolling pin, and it called for me to track down a new and exciting ingredient: ammonium carbonate... aka "bakers ammonium." Somewhere along the line, I have developed an adventurous love for new ingredients.

Here they are in all their glory. I flipped one over so that you can see how the underside is full of yummy anise seeds. First you make the dough and leave it out for 24 hours, then you bake them, and leave them out for 24 hours again... then put them away for a couple of weeks before coming back to them. Sooooooo, the verdict's still out on these little treats. I'll let you know in a couple weeks' time how they turned out!

It took me loads of phone calls all over Kingdom Come to track down the ellusive ingredient. At last I found a store called The Cake Works about 30 minute away that carried it. We just happened to have plans that way on Sunday, but lo and behold - they are closed on Sundays. After many more unsuccessful calls, I called back and asked if I could pay with my credit card, and maybe they could leave it by the front door for me (pathetic, but genuinely desperate). Well, the sweet and awesome owner said she would just meet us there on Sunday after church. The timing worked out perfectly for us, and I went home with ammonium carbonate and a heart full of gratitude for The Cake Works. Sound the trumpets!

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p.s. Well, it turns out I was unable to resist the allure of sausages after all. We had a quick-and-cheap "German" meal of Tofurky-brand Beer Brats with mustard and sauerkraut. I've made lots of homemade vegan sausages, but these Tofurky sausages still find their way into my shopping cart. I love the strong flavors and the great texture, and I especially love the Beer Brats flavor. I cooked up some non-traditional kale to go with dinner... and you can see that little Mr. Yummers is quite interested indeed! Meow!

17 comments:

  1. Oooh I made that apple cake a while ago & it was great. I definitely need to try some of those cookies this Christmas time.

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  2. I need to make that apple cake. How pretty it is. Those gingerbread cakes are very impressive indeed.

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  3. Holy crap, Amey! You've outdone yourself again. The apple cake looks amazing, and the layered cookies are so fancy-pants! I also love Tofurkey beer brats, so perfect for the occasion.

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  4. You got me at the Dominosteine ya know, then I saw the Springerleand I was like "OMG!" then I saw the tofurkey sausage and I just licked the freaking monitor and had done with it.
    I'm just loving your posts more and more.
    :)

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  5. Anything that involves almond paste - I'm there! Everything looks delicious!
    I'm doing Vegan MoFo on my blog too, and I'm trying to visit as many fellow MoFoer's as possible. I'm so glad I discovered your blog, it's wonderful!

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  6. Oh yum! The cookies and brats look great!

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  7. You have a springerle pin and you made Dominosteine? Dominosteine? You are my all time baking hero, Amey! These are my all time favourite Chrismas treat and I always wanted to vegainze them. Last year I tried and it was a huge fail.Yours look perfect. Please, can I come over? By the way, they were invented in Dresden :)

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  8. dear amey,
    after much searching on my hands and knees, i was able to locate each of my eyeballs, but it has been quite a workout, because each time i come back to your pictures to formulate something to say, they pop out again.

    i really like the chocolate covered gingerbread cookies the best.

    i really don't understand how none of this stuff made contact with my mouth and/or stomach when we visited?

    also did you hear? i ate all the cookies before i remembered to photograph them. i think you did that on purpose.

    xo
    kittee

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  9. Geez Louise, I mean Amey-
    Those gingerbread chocolate coated German cookies are calling my name. What a delicious post.

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  10. This makes me miss Germany! Everything looks so yummy! Have you tried the Oktoberfest sausages in 1000 Vegan Recipes? They are made with sauerkraut inside them. They were pretty good, but I like the Tofurky Brats too.

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  11. good lord, those dominosteine look completely ridiculously amazing. where do you get almond paste?

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  12. I literally cannot believe you made those gingerbread cookies. I see them EVERYWHERE this time of year and they are so cheap and tempting! I would just love to whip some up for my parents in the states.

    Yay for the 'Schland post, this got me really excited!!!

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  13. They're like tiny little petits fours! Let's have a contest to see who can pop the most cookies in their mouth!

    You featured almond paste and anise, two of my favorite ingredients!

    PS: Kitteh wants sausage!

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  14. I am so super impressed with the Germany post, especially the dominosteine. So many layers of awesome! That German Apple Cake is an excellent reminder of how badly I need to own The Joy of Vegan Baking. Wow!

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  15. The layered gingerbread are calling to me! Thanks for sharing the recipe, I *have* to try making these very soon!

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  16. wow this is just too much goodness for one post! i was like wow to the apple cake and then scrolled down to see the dominosteine..i don't know which i would want to try first! both look so so good!

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  17. Layered gingerbread?! Amazing!

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