The Ischler is, it seems, a classic sandwich cookie-not one I'd ever encountered before, but then I haven't spent a lot of time in bakeries that have classic Austrian cookies on offer. The dough uses a healthy proportion of ground almonds instead of all flour, and the sugar is powdered sugar, taking the cookie texture towards the delicate shortbread style. It's sandwiched with apricot preserves then dipped in chocolate in the classc form, but Rose's recipe spreads chocolate ganache as a second sandwich filling instead of the chocolate dip.
I made the dough for the cookies before leaving on my quick trip to Walt Disney World for some Christmas activities, thinking I could get the cookies baked and filled before the trip so sister-in-law and the nephew could used the cookies for their cookie bags for teachers. However, time ran out on me, so I put the well-wrapped dough in the freezer to wait until I got back. (Nephew volunteered to have his mom and himself finish the cookies for me, which I turned down knowing that s-i-l was unlikely to have time or want to fuss with a 2-filling cookie. Having completed the baking myself, I'm now sure that was the right call...)
I tackled the actual baking and filling yesterday, and it all took far longer than I'd thought. Part of that was the nature of the cookie--the dough needs to be rolled thin, then there are the two fillings to prepare and which have to be done just before filling all the cookies so as to be at the proper consistency for spreading. The other part was just the handling of the dough. In my somewhat warm kitchen and with my inexpert (which means slow) cookie rolling, I needed some back-and-forth between the counter and the fridge or freezer as the dough got too warm to handle.
--I rolled most batches between 2 sheets of parchment paper, which works better for me than plastic wrap for a difficult dough as it doesn't have the wrinkling issues. I used the plastic wrap a few times when just unwrapping a new batch of dough, and really didn't see a big difference...except for the wrinkles.
--I skipped the making of levkar in favor of apricot preserves, and what I had on hand was "low sugar" apricot preserves (not artificially sweetened, just lower sugar). The texture is looser than full-sugar preserves, and the jar was a little larger than the amount the recipe called for. I heated and strained the whole jar, then reduced it to a little more than the 2/3 cup Rose called for when done properly. (Looking back, I skipped the levkar during the Heavenly Cake Bake-Through too. Must make it sometime, but I need a recipe that calls for more of the yield than here. Having an extra 2 cups of levkar in the fridge while I come up with uses for it is not an attractive prospect, with the number of jars already semi-permanently in residence in my fridge.)
--The chocolate was 62% cacao Ghirardelli chocolate chips that are now pretty standard in the grocery stores around here. Not on Rose's recommended list, but acceptable and not requiring a trip to Whole Foods. Alas, the Whole Foods quit carrying the baking blocks of Scharfen Berger that was my standard while baking through Rose's Heavenly Cakes.
--I almost ran out of apricot glaze despite starting with more than the recipe amount. I'd used a slightly smaller cookie cutter than 2-1/4", but didn't have many over the 80 cookies (to make 40 sandwiches). I must have spread my glaze a little thickly. This may also have been true of the ganache, which I did run out of with about 8 cookies to go even after scraping a bit from some of the most recently spread cookies to eke it out. For the remaining cookies I reverted to the original Ischler: I sandwiched only the apricot preserves, melted a bit more chocolate with a little shortening, and dipped half of the cookie in that. The chocolate was a little streaky after cooling (I didn't make any attempt to temper it), but the half-dipped cookie is still a very pretty effect.
Taste test: Most of these are headed to the office holiday party on Wednesday, but I tasted one last night after all my baking efforts, then offered samples to s-i-l and nephew this evening. Tonight we all agreed that the cookie needed to be a little crisper--I thought it was lovely last night, freshly baked and filled, but despite my sealed container the cookies softened a bit overnight. Nephew wanted more apricot--he liked the cookie but thought the chocolate overbalanced the apricot. I want to hear what he thinks of the version dipped in chocolate instead of a chocolate sandwich, as I think that may give him a little more up-front apricot taste. I do have to agree that the apricot is subtle compared to the chocolate in Rose's version.
In summary, this a very good cookie, but between the long and somewhat difficult rolling-out process and the time to fill with 2 fillings, it's not one I'm likely to repeat, especially if it continues to lose crispness. Rose says it will store airtight for 5 days at room temp, so I should be OK taking these to the party on Wednesday.