These wonderful cookies bring me back to my childhood, specifically the weeks just before Christmas. One very special event would be receiving a package from my Aunt Margaret, a native of Switzerland. These "little gifts," the English translation of schenkeli, were perhaps my most enjoyed holiday treat. The cookies are made from a fairly simple dough and then fried. In taste they are somewhat reminiscent of crullers, although, to me, without comparison.
|Lightly Salted ButterMelted
|Flour, All Purpose, Unbleached
|Lemon ZestThis is an approximate measure. I grate the rind, just the yellow part, from one medium sized lemon.
|First, find a good pot or pan for frying these little goodies. The pot doesn't need to be very big. My favorite for this is a fairy small saute pan, 8-9 inches in diameter and about 1 3/4 inches deep. I fill it about 2/3's full with safflower oil, my preferred cooking oil for such tasks. Heat the oil slowly to about 330 to 340 degrees.
|The ingredients mix together best when they are at about room temperature, although the melted butter may be just a little warmer.
|In a medium size bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar for a minute or two, until well blended. Add the optional brandy, lemon zest, and melted butter. Add the flour in two parts so that the flour becomes well integrated into the mixture with the first part and becomes like a soft dough with the second addition.
|On a lightly floured board, gently knead the dough just a few turns, pushing with the heel of a hand, turning the dough a quarter turn, about five times or just until the dough is smooth and holds together nicely.
|I put the dough back in the bowl, and using a teaspoon begin the process of shaping and frying the "little gifts."
|Roll between your hands just about a teaspoon of dough so that it looks somewhat like a little finger, fatter in the middle and somewhat pointed at the ends, about 2 to 3 inches long. Gently let the piece fall into the waiting heated oil. It should begin sizzling and cooking right away. I continue adding cookies until their are five or so cooking, taking some care to turn them around in the oil so that they cook evenly. Each takes about 3 minutes to cook. They plump some in the middle, splitting a little, and turning a beautiful reddish brown. I place them on waiting brown paper bags to drain.
|My Aunt Margaret fried these until they were quite crisp. My family seems to like them a little softer. The idea is to find how you prefer them. Length of cooking depends on the size of cookie, heat of the oil, and preference for crispier or softer. Try 3 minutes as your benchmark.