Ischler is an Austrian confection, named after the famous spa town Bad Ischl that Franz Joseph I of Austria chose for his summer residence. Bad Ischl lies in the southern part of Upper Austria, in the centre of the Salzkammergut region. One of the town’s sights is the Zauner Confectionery, the “birth place” of Ischler cookies, which was founded by Johann Zauner in 1832 and is still in existence today.
Ischler Törtchen (mini cakes) were created by Richard Kurt in the 1950’s, and they won the gold medal at the World Exhibition in Brussels in 1958. According to the original recipe Ischler consists of two linzer cookies filled with rum-chocolate cream and covered with melted chocolate. The Zauner supplies, furthermore, another type of Ischler with jam and coffee glaze. We Hungarians have taken over the recipe from our Austrian neighbor, of course, but the Ischler preferred by us and can be found in every Hungarian pastry shop is a hybrid of those two recipes: Hungarian Ischler is a jam filled cookie sandwich dipped into melted chocolate.
The dough can be a plain linzer dough or can also be enriched by adding ground walnuts. It’s recommended to choose a sourish jam (red currant, raspberry or apricot), which can balance well the chocolate’s sweetness. Opinions are divided whether the whole cookie sandwich or only the top should be dipped into melted chocolate. It doesn’t matter which one you decide on, it can make no great difference and does not adversely affect the quality.
For the dough:
- 450 g (~3 2/3 cups) flour
- 150 g (~1 1/2 cups) ground walnuts
- 300 g (~1 1/3 cup) butter
- 150 g (~1 1/4 cups) powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the filling:
- red currant or apricot jam
For the glaze:
- 200 g (~7 oz) bittersweet or semi sweet dark chocolate
- 2 tbsp water
- 30 g (~2 tbsp) butter
Place flour, ground walnuts, cinnamon, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add eggs and cold butter cubes, and knead until uniform dough forms. Wrap and place into the fridge for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 356°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a lighlty floured surface roll out the dough to a thickness of 3 millimeters and cut out rounds. Slide them onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until just barely golden. Carefully transfer them onto a wire rack – while they are hot, they can break easily. Once the disks are cool, take a cookie round at a time, spoon jam in the centre and top with another cookie round. Repeat with all of the cookies.
In a small saucepan melt the chocolate with 2 tablespoons of water over low heat. Add the butter and continue to simmer until the glaze is uniform and thick. Dip the cookie sandwiches into the glaze, and leave them on a rack until the glaze sets. When the glaze has hardened completely, place the cookies in a tin container and store in a cool place at least overnight before serving.