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My Grandmother’s Recipe For Franz Josef Cookies – The Secret Is Revealed!

My grandmother almost carried the recipe for her famous cookies to her grave. She was a marvelous cook and had several recipes that were family favorites. She loved getting the praise and glory for producing these specialties for us and could never be coaxed to share the recipes. Finally, at some point in her 80s (she passed away in 1997 at the age of 93) she beautifully typed up the recipe and gave a copy to me and a copy to my sister. I’m not sure who else got copies.

This photo was taken at the last apartment she lived in Los Angeles before she and my grandfather went into an assisted living facility. She must have been in her early 80s at this point. She’s bringing out two cups of tea from the tiny little galley kitchen. I remember working with her in this kitchen making enough potato pancakes for 10 people. We had three pans going and it was a regular assembly line.

Because of her secrecy around her recipes I feel a bit of conflict putting these out online for everyone but I made a comment on Facebook about making these cookies for my father and several people asked for the recipe. So without further ado, here it is, word for word, from the typed sheet she gave me.

Isli Tea Sutemeny (ISCHL COOKIES from Hungary)

These chocolate hazelnut cookies were highly favored by Franz Josef, former emperor-king of Austria-Hungary. They were named in honor of a summer resort in the Austrian Alps where Franz Josef liked to spend his leisure hours.

3 oz. hazelnuts (1/2 cup, shelled) These will make about one cup grated
1 1/2 cup sifted flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cocoa powder
3/4 cup butter
1 tsp grated lemon peel (avoid the white pith)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup apricot or strawberry jam
1/2 pound semi-sweet chocolate for dipping

Lightly grease two cookie sheets. Grate nuts finely and set aside. Sift flour, cinnamon and cocoa together and set aside. Cream butter with grated lemon peel and lemon juice until soft. Add sugar gradually, creaming mix evenly after each addition of sugar. Blend ground nuts into mixture.

Add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar slowly, creaming mixture thoroughly after each addition. Cover bowl and let dough rest about fifteen minutes. Roll on lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into 1 1/2 inch rounds with a lightly floured cookie cutter. Place about 1″ apart on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Check cookies after 10 minutes to prevent burning. When cookies are done baking, place on racks to cool.

When cool, turn one half of them upside down and spread about 1/2 tsp jam on each. Place another cookie on top and squeeze together lightly to make a sandwich until all the cookies are used. Set up two cooking racks and cover surface with waxed paper. Partially melt chocolate in top of a double boiler, remove from heat and stir until chocolate is completely melted. (You may add one tsp butter for a smoother chocolate finish. ) Dip tops of cookie sandwiches in chocolate or spread chocolate on top of cookie sandwiches with a butter knife until smooth. Place cookies, chocolate side up, on waxed paper covered racks and immediately press a whole blanched almond into the top of each cookie, before the chocolate has time to cool and harden. Refrigerate cookies until firm.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

To preserve the delicate almond flavor, blanch almonds quickly in small amounts, say 1/2 cup at a time. Boil enough water to cover shelled almonds. When at a rolling boil, drop in almonds and remove from heat. Allow to stand one minute, remove with slotted spoon to paper towel and pat dry. Gently squeeze almond skins off with light finger pressure. Allow almonds to dry thoroughly.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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