Sarah Bernhardt Cookies

December 8th, 2014

Christmas Cookies 14 2

I made a new cookie for the holidays this year.  The minute I received my copy of  A Kitchen in France by Mimi Thorisson, I knew that the Sarah Bernhardt cookies would be on my Christmas table.  Sarah Bernhardt cookies or cakes, as they are sometimes called, originated in Copenhagan Denmark in 1911 where a local chef made them for the French actress when she traveled there to promote the publication of her memoirs.  She was purported to have loved them.  Mimi Thorisson shared that she learned to make them from her Icelandic Mother-in-law.  They have now become a Christmas tradition in her household.  I can see why.

Christmas Cookies 14 3

They start with a meringue made from egg whites, confectioners’ sugar and almond flour.  I had to experiment with how large to make these and whether to use two spoons to form them or pipe them through a pastry bag.  I would recommend the bag.  It was much easier to handle the sticky dough that way.  After the meringues have cooled and put in the freezer for a short chill, they are frosted with a coffee and chocolate infused mixture.

Christmas Cookies 14 4

After the frosted meringues go back into the freezer to chill, they are then dipped in melted dark chocolate.  Even though there are a lot of steps to making them, Sarah Bernhardt cookies are well worth the time.  They are a mouthful of crisp meringue, soft frosting and rich dark chocolate.  I think it will take me some time to perfect this cookie.  For instance, I frosted the rounded side and dipped that in chocolate so that the flat bottoms would be stable.  The pictures I have seen were rounder because the frosting was piled on the flat side and then dipped in chocolate.  They are even more beautiful garnished with candied violets as I saw on one post.

Christmas Table 1

I am well on my way to completing my cookie baking.  So far I have made Mexican wedding cookies,  Chocolate and Pecan Shortbread Bars,  and the Sarah Bernhardt cookies.  This year I am wrapping my cookies in clear plastic bags tied with red ribbons.

Christmas Cookies 14 1

I hope you will find the time to make these delicious cookies.  They are worth a relaxing moment and maybe a sigh of satisfaction with a cup of tea or coffee.


Makes 40 to 50 individual cookies depending on size

For the Meringues:
4 large egg whites
2 1/3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
2 cups almond flour

For the Frosting:
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large egg yolks ( I used pasteurized eggs because the eggs are not cooked)
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder, dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water and cooled
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

11 ounces good dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Make the meringue.  Whip the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until frothey.  Gradually add the sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, and continue whipping until the egg whites form stiff peaks, about 10 minutes.  Gently fold in the almond flour.  Using two spoons or a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, spoon or pipe the egg whites onto the parchment-lined baking sheets.  The meringues should be 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide and 1/3 to 1/2 inch high.

Bake until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheets for 8 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Transfer the cooled meringues to a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze while you make the frosting.

Make the frosting.  With a wooden spoon, in a medium bowl, mix the sugar with the butter until smooth.  Whisk the egg yolks in another medium bowl until pale and thick, then gradually stir into the butter mixture.  Pour in the dissolved coffee, add the cocoa powder, and mix until the frosting is smooth and thick.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to firm up a bit, 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove the meringues from the freezer.  Use a spoon or a palette knife to spread about 1 1/2 teaspoon frosting over the bottom of each meringue.  Return to the freezer frosting side up for 15 minutes to harden.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Bring an inch or two of water to a simmer in a saucepan, put the bowl on top, and melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes ( You can use the microwave if your prefer.)  Remove from the heat.  The chocolate should be just warm to the touch; if it is warmer, let it cool a bit.

Dip the frosted side of each meringue in the melted chocolate so the frosting is entirely covered.  Let set on a large piece of parchment paper.

Line a large container with parchment paper and arrange the meringues in it, layering them between sheets of parchment.  Cover the paper and close the lid tightly.  The meringues will keep in the freezer for up to a month.

Printable Recipe

Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies

March 3rd, 2013

What could be better than rich chocolate brownies with a sweet and tart cheesecake topping?  That would be the same with a hit of fresh raspberries.  I have been cleaning and organizing the Florida house in preparation for our return to Lake Lure.  In the little used cabinet over the refrigerator I rediscovered my notebook of recipes from a whole live time ago.  Yellowed pages, stained and annotated by a younger me, brought back memories of the young wife and mother I used to be.  Dishes that I have not prepared in years reminded me of specific dinners with friends and family.

This brownie recipe is one of them .  It is an old recipe from Gourmet Magazine.  They are relatively easy to make; only requiring a few steps to make the layers.  My husband has always claimed the brownie prowess in our family.  He won a blue ribbon from 4-H for his recipe as a child.  But he is considering  yielding his status as “Brownie Expert” after tasting this rendition.  To me, the cream cheese layer lightens the richness of the chocolate brownie.  In addition, raspberries go so well with chocolate.

I feel like I have found a treasure trove of memories through recipes.  Another recipe I will share soon is my Texas Pecan Torte.  It was a dinner party favorite for many years.  I just hope our diets can survive this onslaught.


For Brownie Batter:
4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

For Cheesecake Topping:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups raspberries
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and butter and flour a 13-by 9-inch baking pan.

Make Brownie Batter:
In a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water melt chocolates with butter, stirring, and cool.  Whisk in sugar and eggs, 1 at a time, and whisk in vanilla and salt.  Whisk in flour until just combined and spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Make Cheesecake topping:
In a bowl with an electric mixer cream together cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy and beat in lemon juice, egg, vanilla, and salt.  Beat in flour and spread mixture in an even layer over batter.
Scatter raspberries over topping and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake brownies in middle of oven 35 to 40 minutes, or until top is puffed and pale golden and a tester comes out with crumbs adhering to it.  Cool brownies completely in pan on a rack and chill, covered, at least 6 hours or overnight.

Cut brownies into bars and sprinkle with confections’ sugar if desired.  Serve brownies cold or at room temperature.  Makes about 24 brownies.

Printable recipe





Christmas Cookies

December 11th, 2010

I have been baking cookies this week.  It is not one of my favorite pursuits, but Christmas seems to dictate the practice and I have done it every year for as long as I can remember.  When my Son was young, the baking was always Christmas cutout cookies and decorative icing.  Now, when I bake cookies it is usually on a whim.  The only constants are Scandanavian Tea Cookies ( shortbread crust cookie topped with chocolate and pecans) and the best chocolate chip cookie recipe that I know from Cooks Illustrated.

But these two cookie recipes are new to me and I enjoyed trying them.  The confectioners’s sugar covered snowball cookies are different than the standard pecan flavored wedding cookies.  These are flavored with lemon and coconut.  The recipe was in a Southern Living book that my DIL gave me for Christmas last year.  The Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies were in an old issure of Gourmet magazine.  I like them because they can be prepared ahead of time and the dough logs kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to slice and bake.  I did have trouble with them though.  The dough was very crumbly and they were not easy to slice.  Add a little water to your mixture when you are forming your logs and this should help them stick together.


1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. coconut extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2Tbsp. grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and extracts, beating well.  Add flour, lemon rind, and salt, beating until combined.  Stir in coconut.  Cover and chill dough 30 minutes.

Shape dough into generous 1″ balls; place 1″ apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes or until goldern on bottom, but pale on top.  Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool 5 minutes.

Place 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar in a bowl, and roll warm cookies in powdered sugar, coating well.  Cool cookies completely on wire racks.  Roll cooled cookies in powdered sugar again, coating well.  Yield: 2 dozen.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest
1/2 cup shelled pistachios (not dyed)
1/3 cup dried cranberries

1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup decorative sugar (preferably coarse)

Stir together flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.

Beat together butter, granulated sugar and zest in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until dough just comes together in clumps, then mix in pistachios and cranberries.  Gather and press dough together, then divide into 2 equal pieces.  Using a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper as an aid, form each piece of dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Square off long sides of each log to form a bar, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until very firm, at least 2 hours.

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Brush egg over all 4 long sides of bars (but not ends).  Sprinkle decorative sugar on a separate sheet of parchment or wax paper and press bars into sugar, coating well.  Cut each bar crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices, rotating bar after cutting each slice to help keep square shape. (If dough gets too soft to slice, freeze bars briefly until firm.)  Arrange cookies about 1/2 inch apart on lined baking sheets.  Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are pale golden, 15 to 18 minutes total.  Transfer cookies from parchment to racks using a slotted spatula and cool completely.
Printable recipe Lemon-Coconut Snowballs

Printable recipe Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies

Friends in New York

September 30th, 2009

I have just returned from a delectable culinary trip to New York City with my wonderfully spontaneous friends. Pictured above from left are, Barbara, Me, Amy (Jackie’s daughter), Jackie, and Karen. We are enjoying dinner at Craft, one of award winning chef Tom Colicchio’s many restaurants. The concept behind Craft is one of simplicity in ingredient pairings to highlight the basic goodness of the dish. My hanger steak with whipped potatoes was delicious.

We had a magical first night in the city. It was a warm night and we finished the evening at an outdoor venue (Can’t remember it’s name) where we ate three chocolate desserts. The beignets with chocolate dipping sauce were unbelievable.

At Central Park the next day we enjoyed a sunny Saturday.

Friends in the famous fountain from Friends.

Before seeing The Jersey Boys on Broadway we went to Ayza’s Wine and Chocolate Bar for a light meal and drinks. Barbara loved her chocolate martini. Ayza is one of the best wine and chocolate bars in New York City. They serve Jacque Torres Chocolates and have an extensive wine list.

Ayza is all about the appetizers. Served with crusty bread, it is easy to feel satisfied. I had Angry chicken lollipops with spicy, sesame, hoisin sauce and crispy rice noodles.
The play was absolutely enchanting. We went to Sardi’s afterwards and the highlight of being there was seeing Jude Law leaving the theater across the street after his performance in Hamlet. Yes, I said JUDE LAW! I had commented earlier in the day that I would love to run into a movie star while in New York. The girls asked me which one – I said Jude Law. Dreams can come true.
Sunday night we went to Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill.

It was the most expensive meal of our trip, but the food and flavors were impeccable and the wait staff and atmosphere at Mesa Grill make it well worth the splurge.

I had New Mexican spice rubbed pork tenderloin with bourbon ancho chile sauce served with sweet potato tamale with crushed pecan butter.

We passed the International Culinary Center one day while shopping. The students serve meals there.

While strolling through Soho we found Babbo, Mario Batali’s famous Italian restaurant. I have eaten there on a previous trip. It is wonderful and expensive.

On Monday night we met with Brooke,the daughter of a dear friend of ours, who lives in New York. She took us to Otto Enoteca Pizzeria, Mario’s less expensive pizza and pasta trattoria. My Spaghetti Carbonara was wonderful. But the star of the evening , recommended by Brooke, was the Olive Oil Gelato. My picture is terrible, but this dessert is amazing. For a better picture and the recipe go to A Beautiful Mosaic, a food blog that I just found. This is not an overly sweet dessert. It is creamy and refreshing with the unexpected addition of fleur de sel.

There are so many experiences I have not included here. We had Ethiopian food one day for lunch just for the experience, not a good experience in our opinion. We went to the Today Show and met Ann Curry who talked to everyone on line for over twenty minutes. She is the most gracious and genuine person I have ever encountered. New York is a varied and friendly city and the girls and I had the best of times. Thank you to all of my blogging buddies who offered suggestions. Dave from My Year on the Grill suggested going to Sardi’s after the play and it turned out to be a pivotal experience. He also had suggested visiting Pomaire, a Chilean restaurant with a pri fixe $29.00 menu and The Greenwich Village Food and Culture Walking Tour. Dave knows his New York and I wish we had had more than four days to take it all in.
Thank you Kristen for taking care of Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen while I was gone. I left it in your good hands and can hardly wait to try your recipes.

Scandinavian Tea Cookies

March 19th, 2009

I am seriously addicted to these cookies. The recipe came from a co-worker whose Mother ran a gourmet cooking store and school. I have no idea where the name originated and, as a matter of fact the name on the recipe was Scandinavian Tea Cake. This made no sense to me because a Scandinavian tea cake is usually a yeasty concoction and these cookies are buttery and crisp. So I have officially renamed the recipe.

They are very easy to assemble and use very few ingredients. The only difficult part of the recipe is grating the chocolate bars and I have simplified that by using chocolate chips. Now if you are a chocolate purist, you could use a high quality milk chocolate bar and they would be even better. One day when I have better gourmet choices at the grocery store I will use a fine quality chocolate. In the past I have used 6 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars, but they were difficult to grate and I had to keep returning them to the fridge to harden enough to take the grate. This time I used Nestle’s Milk Chocolate Chips and they melted and spread very easily. It is hard to go wrong with this recipe. And wouldn’t they be excellent for tea with my Chicken Almond Tea Sandwiches?


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup unbleached flour
6 (1.05 oz.) milk chocolate bars, grated ( I used 7 oz. milk chocolate chips)
2/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a medium mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, and egg yolk until very smooth. Gradually add flour until well blended. Spread dough on lightly greased 15 1/2″x10 1/2″x 1″ sheet pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until medium brown. Sprinkle chocolate shavings or chips evenly over cake. Put in oven to melt and when warmed remove from oven and spread over top. Sprinkle with nuts. Cut into squares when cool.

Printable recipe

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.