Saturday, August 25, 2012

Amerikaner

Amerikaner
Here are the first things I baked in the new house! Amerikaner! I felt like something sweet and light, and above all, easy to bake. Amerikaner are a vanilla-flavoured soft cookie, decorated with white icing and melted chocolate. I'm told that they were brought over to Germany by American GI's at the end of WWII - hence the name Amerikaner - but now sit steadfastly in Germany's culinary canon. They're popularly given to kids as a snack after school or at birthday parties, and are guaranteed to bring a tear to the eye of any homesick German! I think of them as a being kinda like a Neenish Tart, but without that gross fake cream in the middle to ruin it. (Or, of course, like an American Black and White cookie).

I only had one egg in the house, so I halved the recipe below. With the small quantity, I found that a wooden spoon and a small whisk were sufficient to make the dough, but if you're making the recipe in full quantities, I'd recommend using an electric mixer.
Amerikaner dough
As it's a German recipe, obviously you'll need some German baking flavourings - this recipe calls for vanilla sugar (aka Vanille Zucker) and butter-vanille aroma. I find these pretty easily available at Continental delis, but you could always substitute vanilla extract if you're not up for specialty shopping.

To get even sized cookies, I used a piping bag with a 1.5 centimetre nozzle - every time I pipe dough I get those strange nipple shapes on the dough, hehe.
Piped Amerikaners - pointy

... all you need to do is dip your finger in water and smooth them down and - ta-dah! - smooth biscuits.
Piped Amerikaners - smooth
They only need a very short time baking - remember, you want moist and cakey cookies, not hard and dry ones!
Baked Amerikaners
You need to let them cool sightly before decorating with icing, melted chocolate (and perhaps sprinkles, nuts or coconut if you feel like being creative!) Don't let them cool for too long though - these tender, vanilla-scented little cakelets are best when fresh. Enjoy!


Amerikaner
Recipe adapted and translated from Dr. Oetker's Backen Macht Freude

Ingredients
65 grams softened butter
90 grams sugar
1 packet vanilla sugar
5 drops butter-vanilla aroma
1 pinch salt
2 eggs
250 grams flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
100 millilitres milk

For the icing
200 grams icing sugar
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
Optional: melted chocolate, pistachio slivers, sprinkles, dried coconut etc. for decoration

Method
For the biscuits
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a tray with baking paper.
Beat the butter with an electric mixer until soft and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar, vanilla sugar, butter-vanilla aroma and salt, and beat until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for approx. 30 seconds after each addition.
Sieve the flour and baking powder, and add to the butter mixture in two batches, alternately with the milk.
Place the mixture in a piping bag fitted with a 1.5 centimetre nozzle. Pipe the dough into circles onto the prepared baking tray. Dip your finger in water smooth down any pointy tops. Bake for 10-20 minutes, until just cooked. (Amerikaner can turn dry very easily, so keep an eye on them!)
Allow to cool slightly on a cooling rack before decorating.

For the icing
Sieve the icing sugar in a bowl. Gradually add in as much lemon juice as needed to form an opaque icing. Decorate the flat side of the Amerikaners as desired, with the lemon icing, melted chocolate... anything you like!

Makes 25-30, depending on size

4 comments:

Chris said...

That is very lovely. I love them. I never tried to make them myself, though. Somewhere I even have a recipe that includes marzipan in them. Makes it even more tempting.

msihua said...

You are so good at baking! I wish I had that skill!!

Sarah said...

Chris - Thank-you! Well I guess in Germany they're easy enough to find in the shops! Here we have to make them ourselves, hehe.

I-Hua - Awww, thanks! I've had many years of practice!! :)

xox Sarah

Iron Chef Shellie said...

mmmmm nice way to start baking in the new kitchen! They look fabo!