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Islar Cookies

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In East Vancouver there is a very small, independent bakery on the famed Commercial Drive called Elizabeth Bakery. It has been there as long as I can remember (at least 20 years) and although its store front is nothing fancy, easy to miss in fact, it faithfully produces many very delicious things, the greatest of all, in my opinion, being the Islar Cookie. The Elizabeth Bakery Islar Cookie is enormous; easily 6 inches across and so rich that it will turn the paper bag you buy it in transparent with butter in a matter of minutes.

But what makes the Islar Cookie so good?

Perhaps it’s the cookie itself: something between a sugar cookie and shortbread – not too sweet, meltingly tender and simple, simple, simple.

Or maybe it’s the generous dollop of apricot jam between the cookies that provides the sweet counterpart to the subtle cookie.

But more than likely it’s the chocolate, in concert with the cookie and the jam, that really sets the whole combination off. Only partially dipped, the dark chocolate adds a depth and interest of flavour, as well as stabilizing the cookies and preventing the sandwich from coming undone.

Now, I certainly make no claims to have successfully reproduced the exact Elizabeth Bakery Islar Cookie. The cookies seen here are a great substitute but they are not the same as the exceptional original. This version is good in a pinch and totally worth making at home, but the exact art and science of the original (as I know it) remains a mystery.

The 2nd Best Islar Cookies

makes 18-24 sandwich cookies depending on the exact thickness you make the cookies and how much dough you eat before you roll it out.

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Filling:

1/2 -3/4 cup your favourite apricot jam

For dipping:

1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips, melted

Prepare 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. If you don’t have parchment on hand, lightly grease them.

In one bowl, stir together the salt, baking powder and flour. Set aside. In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until well incorporated. Add the egg and continue to mix until smooth. Add the vanilla and almond extract. Add the flour mixture slowly, mixing well. The dough will be quite stiff.

Dump the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap loosely and form into a ball. Flatten the ball to make a thick disk of dough. Allow to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325° while the dough chills.

Once 15 minutes has elapsed, roll the cookie dough out to a thickness of 1/8″. Cut out cookies with a 2″ cutter. Place cookies on prepared cookie sheets and “dock” with a skewer or fork.

Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes until golden at the edges. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before making the sandwiches.

To fill them, press a small blob (1/2-3/4 of a teaspoon or so) of jam between the bottoms of 2 cookies. Fill all the cookies before dipping them, one at a time, in the melted chocolate. To get the crescent of chocolate on just part of the cookie, I dipped it straight down into the chocolate (melted in a shallow bowl) and rocked the cookie back and forth along it’s side to get a curved coating along one edge, but you could dip as much or as little as you like.

Allow the chocolate to cool and harden before stacking or storing. These are even better the second day, provided you can keep your hands off of them and because they are  sturdy and crowd pleasing, they’d make a great dessert for a picnic or barbecue.  Enjoy!

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