I found out about The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap not long after it occurred last year for the first time. When it was announced for this year, I figured it could be fun and it’d be worth a shot. It’s always stressful when you’re baking for other people. You can’t help but think about what they’ll think. You hope they think it looks nice and tastes great. I knew if I was going to do the cookie swap I wanted to do something original. After lots of internet searching I decided on a recipe I found on Brigitte magazine’s website for Heidesand mit Meersalz.
Heidesand mit Meersalz is a German shortbread/sugar cookie. It’s very, very rich. So it’s unsurprising that the recipe calls for the cookies to be rather small (3 cm squares aka 1.18″). But I found they’re very tasty, especially with a cup of tea.
At my husband’s suggestion I made a test batch about a week before the “official” batch. I halved the recipe to try it. And…well…I was really disappointed. First I had to learn how to brown butter. Then the dough was so crumbly and dry that I couldn’t form it into a log. Then when I tried to slice the log for baking it just crumbled apart. But the finished product was good. Really good.
For my “official” batch, things went a little better. I found that letting the butter cool at room temperature — as opposed to chilling it to help it solidify quicker — to be preferable. While the recipe calls for chilling the dough log for 30 minutes, I chilled it both times for a few hours. Also make sure to use a non-serrated knife.
I also found the recipe “neat” because I got to use the Dr. Oetker vanilla sugar packets I’d bought at the German deli in the city. Knowing me, I’m likely to decide I want to try a German recipe and realize I need something we don’t have anything comparable in the States. I did find out that vanilla sugar packets are used in lieu of adding vanilla extract to a recipe. So if you don’t have or have access to vanilla sugar packets, use a teaspoon of sugar per packet a recipe calls for.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and I hope the three bloggers — Nicole at Seven 8 Nine Bakes, Brianna at Miss Piggy’s Kitchen and Amanda at Fake Ginger — I sent a dozen Heidesand cookies to enjoyed them. (And I really hope they arrived as whole cookies and not in pieces!)
Heidesand with Meersalz (Heidesand with sea salt)
from Brigitte magazine (in German)
- 300g butter
- 400g flour
- 175g sugar
- 1 packet of vanilla sugar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsps sugar (for rolling)
- 1 pinch of orange zest
- In a pan on low heat melt the butter and let it lightly brown. From that the dough gets an especially fine, light caramelized aroma. Let the butter cool and become hard.
- Whisk the cold butter with a mixer until creamy. Add the flour, sugar, vanilla sugar, orange zest and salt and mix with dough hooks on the mixer at first. Then knead the dough with your hands until it’s smooth. Form the dough into a square log (3 x 3 x 20 cm) and roll in sugar. Wrap the square log in plastic warp and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. With a sharp knife, cut the log of dough into 8 mm thick slices. Carefully lay the slices on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the oven for about 12 to 15 minutes and bake until light brown and then place on a cooling rack.