Keep pantry and refrigerator always well stocked with the most basic baking ingredients like butter, sugar, eggs, flour, yeast, nuts, chocolate, etc., so you will have everything ready if a rainy, snowy, or stormy day keeps you indoors. The best baking days are thus provided by nature herself.
-Lilly Joss Reichmy recently reorganized pantry, I had everything on hand.
Mandeltaschen (Almond Pockets)
1 cup flour
4 ounces cold salted butter, cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon sugar
2 egg yolks (save the two whites of these eggs for the filling)
1 egg white
2 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks1 egg yolk (save the white to brush over the pastries)
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon brandy
Rub the butter into the flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add the sugar and egg yolks. Fold in with a knife and then work in with your hands until mixture is smooth and forms a ball. Cover with waxed paper and chill 2 hours.
Make the filling by folding the egg yolk into the beaten egg whites, then folding in the almond meal. Stir in the sugar, salt and brandy.
When pastry is chilled, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out half the pastry on a floured board to 1/8" thickness and cut into 4"x4" squares. Keep the extra pastry in the fridge and put any scraps to be re-rolled into the fridge, as well. Fill each square with 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling then fold in the corners (overlapping each other). Place on a parchment-covered half-sheet pan in the fridge to keep pastries cool as you work.
When all the pastries are filled, brush the tops with beaten egg white and bake 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet then dust with powdered sugar.
9 Taschen, with filling left over
Adapted from Lilly Joss Reich's The Viennese Pastry Cookbook, p.35
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Obviously, a combination of Viennese pastries and Viennese operetta is in order. The Merry Widow (1934) is a lavish film adaptation of Franz Lehár's frothy operetta, Die lustige Witwe, which premiered in Vienna on December 30, 1905. It's been a while since I've seen The Merry Widow on stage but I'm pretty sure this film has some substantive differences. However, this version, starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald and directed by Ernst Lubitsch, is a lot of fun, so we'll let it slide. Evidently the two stars loathed each other: MacDonald called Chevalier "bottom-pincher" and Chevalier retorted with "hypocritical prude." It's amazing how well they worked together on screen! Their four films are charming.
The Merry Widow isn't available on DVD, so be sure to catch it Monday on TCM.
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The Merry Widow photos source