you’ll make these anyway

I can warn you. I can tell you all about staying up through the night. About rushing to the store over and over. How I threw out bowl after bowl of ingredients. It won’t matter. You will see a picture of these cookies, look over the recipe and declare “they look delicious” and “it doesn’t sound that hard”. Just as I did.  I find it highly coincidental that the name of these cookies, titled after a French actress known for her role in Hamlet, includes the word “hard”. Google these cookies and you will find that there is a society of people who have suffered and for the most part survived these cookies, and their attempts to better instruct and therefore save others who may decide to make these cookies. They are wonderfully delicious and quite beautiful little chocolate confections. I still don’t understand where things go wrong, but amazingly they did for me. Over and over, which was an unfortunate waste of ingredients. BUT if you dare, the end product is impressive. My best advice is to follow the recipe down to the commas and may you be blessed with a successful first attempt. Good Luck!

evil sarah bernhardt cookies
from martha stewart with alteration from bakeittilyoumakeit.com, a fellow veteran

filling:

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
4 large egg yolks, room temperature, lightly beaten

cookie:

¼ pound almond paste (note: POUND not cup)
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg white, room temperature
1/8 tsp almond extract
a pinch of salt

coating:

12 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tbs solid vegetable shortening

*be sure to follow the recipe step by step, don’t do one thing while waiting on another. It is important in the timing of the recipe!

*when it says simmer, please don’t boil it. please.

filling:

  • In a heat-proof bowl  set over a pan of simmering water,  melt the chocolate until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool (completely and don’t ever reheat it).
  • Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and simmer until clear, about 5 minutes.  remove from heat.
  • Place egg yolks in a heatproof bowl  set over a pan of simmering water, whisking constantly until warm to the touch, about 2 minutes (if you overheat the water the eggs will cook, which is not good). Remove bowl from over the water.
  • On medium, beat in hot sugar syrup. Increase speed to high, and continue beating until cool and fluffy, about 3 minutes (just make sure it is fluffy and aerated, however long it takes you).  Reduce speed to medium, and gradually drizzle  in the cooled chocolate, beating until fully combined. Stop to scrape down sides of bowl several times to ensure chocolate is totally mixed in. Refrigerate until firm and cold, about 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper and set aside.

cookies:

  • In a bowl, combine almond paste and sugar and beat until smooth (this can take a while, but be patient—you can do it!). Add egg white, almond extract, and a pinch of salt; beat to combine.
  • Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch tip, and pipe 1-inch diameter cookies onto a prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between each cookie (about 30 total).
  • Bake until firm and golden around edges, about 12 minutes (rotate halfway through). Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

assembly:

  • Place filling in a pastry bag fitted with the same size tip you used for the cookies. Do not stir the filling after you remove it from the refrigerator (disturb it as little as possible) and pipe a peaked mound onto the top of each cookie. Transfer to freezer until very firm, about 1 hour.

chocolate coating:

  • In a heat-proof bowl  set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate until smooth. Stir in shortening. Cool to barely warm (The filling is delicate and will melt if the coating is too hot).
  • Remove cookies from freezer. Working quickly so that the filling doesn’t melt, use a chocolate fork to hold cookie above bowl of chocolate, and spoon melted chocolate over cookie. Place filling-side up on cooling rack placed over a baking sheet. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Give yourself a hug or a high-five. Or have a good cry. You did it!

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