Monday, November 9, 2009

Dutch Letters

My name is Erin Dekker Raatjes… and I am Dutch. There…. I said it. Now can I go? Please? SO all my life my mom has made a Dutch pastry that she very much dislikes, banket. The people who she makes it for love it! I like the yummy gooey stuff that bubbles out the ends when she bakes it. Oh… banket is an almond filled pastry surrounded by flakey crust.
Enter Dutch Letters… the younger sibling of banket. This summer we were in the Dutch mecca of Pella, IA and enjoyed Dutch Letters… basically mini banket in the shape of an S… they were awesome! This prompted me to want to make my own. I have NO idea why.
They are in the shape of an S for a reason! Yes Andy… I’ll tell you why… Way back when in the Netherlands… then everyone's favorite treat, the Dutch Letters, were made only as a special treat for Sinterklaas Day (the Dutch Santa Claus Day), December 6th. They are typically shaped into an "S" for "Sinterklaas"
I’m certainly not going to lie to you and tell you these were easy – they weren’t… but they sure are good.

Dutch Letters
What you need!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, chilled
1/3 cup ice water
8 ounces almond paste
1 egg
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar for decoration

What to do!
In a medium bowl, stir together flour and salt. Cut in chilled butter until the texture of the mix is mealy with pea sized lumps. (I grated my butter first and it worked awesome!)
Add ice water gradually while stirring with a wooden spoon until dough forms a ball. Cover your dough and chill for 1/2 hour.
To make filling, in a small bowl, mix together the almond paste and sugar. Add the egg and mix well.
Chill dough and filling for 24 hours
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 to 1/8 inch thickness, making as square as possible. Cut the dough into strips 6 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide (about the width of a ruler). Using a pastry bag or a strong plastic bag with a small hole cut from the corner, pipe almond filling down the center of the strip starting halfway down. Fold the top half of the strip down over the almond filling to match the bottom.
Shape strips into desired letters, brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. If you are using all butter in your recipe, check after 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

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