SHAFAQNA- Tender and almost cake-like, these Finnish chestnut fingers should be filed under the “delightfully not too sweet” category.
3/4 cup sweet butter 2/3 cup sugar 4 eggs, well beaten 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 pound peeled, boiled or roasted fresh or canned chestnuts, ground, or 2 cups unseasoned chestnut purée 3 cups flour 1 egg white, lightly beaten Sugar, for sprinkling Ground blanched almonds (optional)
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions. Add salt, cinnamon, vanilla and ground chestnuts or chestnut purée, and beat. Sift flour into mixture and blend thoroughly. Roll into 2-inch strips 3/4-inch thick and press into finger shapes. Brush with lightly beaten egg white and sprinkle tops with sugar or sugar and ground almonds. Place on a buttered and floured baking sheet. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until a pale sand color. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
Karen’s baking notes: Even 44 years after the fact, this recipe is easy and accessible. Most butters sold in this country are sweet butter (as opposed to butter from cultured cream). Choose unsalted. For the chestnuts, I found that two 7.4-ounce jars of cooked, peeled chestnuts, ground in the food processor, made a perfect 2 cups. These chestnuts are convenient, but expensive — I paid $10 a jar. Kudos to you if you buy fresh chestnuts and roast your own.
After brushing with egg white, I sprinkled the fingers with a mixture of 3 tablespoons each of sugar and ground almonds. The leftover went into my oatmeal the next couple of mornings.
Needless to say, you should transfer the cookies to a rack after they come out of the oven to cool before packing them away.
‘Times’ critic enjoys Christmas foods from around the world
Even before she became the restaurant critic for The New York Times, Mimi Sheraton was a force to be reckoned with in the food world. The accomplished food writer, journalist, world traveler, cookbook author and culinary consultant was revered for her painstaking research, dry wit and strong, sometimes acerbic opinions.
She has always had a soft spot for the foods of Christmas from around the globe, which is why we have Visions of Sugarplums: A Cookbook of Cakes, Cookies, Candies & Confections from all the Countries That Celebrate Christmas, an amazing collection of recipes that first published in 1968.
Now in her late 80s, Sheraton — who was the Times’ critic from 1975 to 1983 — is still letting us know what she thinks and knows about food. Her next book, 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die, will be published in January 2015.
Tender and almost cake-like, these Finnish chestnut fingers should be filed under the “delightfully not too sweet” category.