Banketletters (almond-filled pastries)

Yield: 20 Cookies

Measure Ingredient
1 cup Unsalted Butter; Very Cold (no substitutes)
2 cups All-purpose Flour
½ cup Sour Cream; Cold
1 large Egg Yolk; Slightly Beaten
1 can (8-oz) Almond Paste; or Make Your Own
¼ cup Blanched Almonds
½ cup White Sugar
1 large Egg; Slightly Beaten
⅛ teaspoon Almond Extract

DOUGH

FILLING

The confectioners of The Netherlands rank among the finest in Europe, so don’t get frustrated if you need to try this recipe two or three times to master your preparation. These little almond-based confections are immensely popular for the holidays in The Netherlands.

Banketletters are flaky, puffed pastries filled with a delectable almond paste and shaped into a letter, usually an initial. One of the most popular letters is “M”-- for Mother. “M” also happens to be one of the larger letters to select and serve. No Sinterklaas Eve gathering would be complete without a large pastry letter adorning the serving table.

In a large bowl cut butter into small pieces and add to flour. Utilize a pastry blender or 2 knives and cut the butter into the flour until the butter is the size of peas. In a separate bowl, mix sour cream with the egg yolk and blend into the flour and butter mixture with a fork until the dough forms a ball. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, wrap well and refrigerate for several hours (or several days, if desired). Allow dough to return to room temperature before preparing cookies.

If you are preparing your own almond filling, grind the almonds well and mix with the sugar and almond extract in a bowl. Add the egg and use a wooden spoon or you hands to work the mixture until it is smooth. Almond paste will keep for several weeks when wrapped securely and refrigerated.

To prepare the cookies roll the room temperature dough out into ½-inch thickness and cut dough into strips 3½ to 4-inches long. Work the almond filling into little round sticks about the length and diameter of your finger. Lay the almond paste sticks on the dough strips individually. Place a dab of cold water on the end of each dough stick with almond filling and tuck under. Make sure to place cookies seam-side-down on a cookie sheet.

Sticks may be formed into letters or wreaths, or any shape you desire.

Parts of letters can be joined by adding a dab of water to the joint of the cookie. Prior to baking brush each cookie with 1 egg that has been beaten with 1 Tbs. of water. Bake cookies in a pre-heated 400-F degree oven for 20 to 25 -minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Cookies may be served warm, if desired. Refrigerate to store and serve at room temperature.

Happy Cooking from The Cook & Kitchen Staff at From The Cook & Kitchen Staff at by The Cook <owner-dailyrecipe@...> on Dec 07, 1997

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