Hungarian Isler cookies sandwich raspberry jam and are drizzled with chocolate. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los…)
Monika Csaszni of Redondo Beach was one of the 10 winners of last year's Los Angeles Times Holiday Cookie Bake-Off with her Hungarian Isler cookies:
"When I was a little girl, during the holidays we would go to my grandparents' house in the countryside. I fondly recall the magical memories of my family and the holidays that this cookie is responsible for. I can still picture my grandma in the kitchen making the cookie dough, my sister was in charge of cutting the cookies and I was responsible for the chocolate coating and decorating. My mom, who was not the best cookie baker, would handle making the holiday dinner. Meanwhile, in the background you could hear my dad getting mad because he was having trouble putting the light on top of the Christmas tree."
These festive cookies are one of the favorite holiday cookie recipes we've collected in our updated "Los Angeles Times Holiday Cookies" e-book. The cookbook now includes 65 recipes from a wide range of sources, including world-famous pastry chefs, favorite bakeries and home cooks. And check out the favorite holiday recipes we've collected in our "Los Angeles Times Holiday Handbook." The book shares more than 110 seasonal recipes to help you celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's.
Each book is $4.99. They are available at the Los Angeles Times bookstore for Kindle, Nook and iBooks.
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Hungarian Isler cookies
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes, plus chilling and cooling times
Servings: Makes about 2 dozen sandwich cookies.
Note: Adapted from a recipe by Monika Csaszni.
1 1/4 cups (2½ sticks) butter
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) powdered sugar
1 1/4 cups ground walnuts
1 tablespoon rum
Pinch of salt
2 1/4 cups (10 ounces) flour
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1 cup chocolate chips
Dark and white chocolate curls, for garnish (optional)
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar. Slowly beat in the walnuts, rum and salt. Slowly beat in the flour. Cover and refrigerate the dough until well-chilled, at least 1 hour.
2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and break off one-fourth of the dough; return the rest of the dough to the refrigerator so it stays chilled until rolling. Roll each portion of the dough to a thickness of 3 millimeters (a scant one-eighth of an inch); if the dough is a bit sticky, roll it under a layer of plastic wrap or dust the dough lightly with flour. Cut out rounds using a 2-inch cookie cutter. Place the rounds on a baking sheet and bake just until the edges start to turn brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the cookies and cool on a rack.
3. To assemble the cookie sandwiches, spoon about 1 teaspoon raspberry jam in the center of half of one cookie and top with a second. Repeat with all of the cookies.
4. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave using a glass microwave-safe container; stir the chips every 10 seconds until melted. The chocolate can also be melted in a metal bowl set over simmering water, stirring until all of the chips are melted. Place the melted chocolate into a piping bag or into a heavy, sealable plastic bag with one of the corners cut off, and glaze the cookies. Garnish with dark and white chocolate curls for an extra special treat.
5. Store the cookies in a tin container and place in a cool place at least overnight, to give the flavors time to develop.
Each of 24 cookies: 244 calories; 3 grams protein; 25 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 16 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 25 mg cholesterol; 13 grams sugar; 11 mg sodium.