It is a rare treat these days to meet with friends and to have dinner in New York City, so when my long time dearest friend and protégé David Shamah and I planned a special reunion and celebration, the restaurant we chose was Drew Nierporent's new Bâtard. We had a very early 5:45 reservation which we loved because we had a whole hour of quiet conversation before the restaurant filled to capacity and the noise level rose. We were offered a glass of excellent champagne while we perused the menu and enjoyed the lovely decor and perfect subdued lighting (note the exquisite plaster bas-relief walls behind David in this photo). My appetizer was a silken and flavorful work of art: YELLOWFIN TUNA marinated radish, quinoa, bok choi David's appetizer was a richly luxurious terrine: SHORT RIB & TAFELSPITZ TERRINE smoked egg, german sesame, apple For the main course, we shared a fabulous Colorado lamb dish: LAMB FOR TWO roasted rack, confit shoulder, crispy lamb bacon, turnips, grilled lemon Instead of ordering two desserts, we decided to share the epiosse--my favorite cheese: EPOISSES mushroom vinaigrette, cipollini, grilled baguette followed by: CARAMELIZED MILK BREAD blueberries, brown butter ice cream The milk bread was a delicious combination of soft, moist, and airy interior coated with a gossamer-fine crust of wondrously brittle sugar. And just as we thought we had fnished, chef Markus Glocker sent out the amazing Lubeck marzipan cookies. As a non-marzipan lover I was blown away by how perfect these were. The virtue of marzipan is how it keeps its moisture so that the insides of the cookies are moist, creamy, and chewy, the topping crunchy with sliced almonds and lightly browned marzipan. But what elevated them to exceptional perfection of balance was the unexpected highlight of salt. Here is the recipe for you to enjoy for your holiday baking. I encourage you to purchase the Lubeck marzipan which is imported by Swiss Chalet Fine Foods from Germany. (They also carry Darbo--the best apricot preserves.) It has the most silken texture and delicious flavor of any marzipan I've ever tasted. Note: Any leftover marzipan can be frozen for months. Also, I tested the recipe with unblanched almonds, as that is what I had on hand, and liked the added flavor and color contrast. In Austria and Germany this type of cookie is called "marzipan horns" because they are usually shaped to suggest horns, but I've renamed them in honor of the marvelous chef and restaurant:
Glocker Marzipan Bâtards.
Makes: (24) 2 inch cookies
Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C
twenty minutes or longer before baking the cookies.
Set an oven rack at the middle level. Bake 12 to 14 minutes
Special Equipment: One 17-1/4 by 12-1/4 by 1 inch half sheet pan, or 15 by 12 inch cookie sheet, lined with parchment
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the marzipan, sugar, honey, and egg white. Cover tightly and allow it to sit until all ingredients are room temperature--at least 30 minutes. Attach the flat beater and mix on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes until all the ingredients are smoothly combined. Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl, cover tightly, and refrigerate for 2 or up to 24 hours.
Arrange the sliced almonds on a sheet pan or large plate, in a single layer. Have a small bowl of water on the counter to moisten your fingers and palms lightly, which will help prevent the marzipan mixture from sticking. Scoop out 24pieces of dough. If weighing, each will be 17 grams. Roll each piece of dough between the palms of your hands (lightly moistened with water) to form a ball about 1 inch in size. Roll the balls in the almonds to coat them and then press them down into the almonds to flatten to 1/2 inch high by 1-1/2 inch in diameter. Set each cookie a minimum of 1 inch apart on the parchment lined pan. Bake the cookies for 6 minutes.
Rotate the pan and continue baking for 6 to 8 minutes until lightly browned and when pressed in the center they have only a slight amount of give. Remove the pan to a rack and allow the cookies to cool for 10 minutes before brushing them with apricot glaze. In a small microwavable bowl or cup, combine the strained apricot preserves and 3/4 teaspoon of water and heat until just beginning to bubble. (Alternatively heat them in a small saucepan over low heat.) Brush a very thin layer of apricot onto each cookie. You will need only about 2 tablespoons of the glaze. Then sprinkle with the salt, crushing any large flakes between your thumb and index finger. Allow the cookies to cool for 20 minutes before serving.
Store at room temperature or refrigerated. They will stay soft and chewy for about 1 week. To store the cookies, place them in an airtight container with parchment sheets between each layer of cookies.
Note re the apricot preserves: You will need to start with about 4-1/2 tablespoons/3 ounces/87 grams of preserves to get 3 tablespoons/2.2 ounces/62 grams of strained preserves.