Just to review, Laura has written a great post on how to make banket, the quintessential Dutch holiday food. Christmas isn’t Christmas without banket…and all that. And really, if you’ve eaten banket, you know that it’s something pretty amazing. For a couple of years now, Laura and I have tossed around ideas of a variations on banket that we were intrigued with. Today we’ve been snowed in and it seemed like the perfect time to do a little banket research.
I started by making my own almond paste…and that was the first place I got creative. I toasted the almonds in the oven first because I love toasted almonds. I also opted to leave the skins on the almonds instead of blanching and peeling them. The final result was tasty but, in the end, it was NOT almond paste. And my family communicated that truth to me quite clearly. Nevertheless, I pushed on.
Laura and I have often discussed the “flaky factor of banket crust.” The colder the butter and the colder the ice water, the flakier the crust is. I’ve always wondered what would happen if I used something other than water in the Banket dough recipe. Specifically, what would happen if I used extremely cold Bourbon or vodka. I know that alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water does. I also know that it doesn’t freeze in my deep freeze, so I could use a liquid chilled to almost zero degrees to make the banket dough. It was definitely worth the research. Somehow, I just KNEW that using a hard liquor would give me the flakiest banket EVER.
So I tried it. I put Bourbon, vodka, and Cointreau in the deep freeze and got them extremely cold. When the recipe called for ice water, I drizzled in the hard liquor and oh MAN! the dough sure seemed like it was going to be incredible. So I went through the whole process of rolling out the dough 3 different times, refrigerating it in between times, finally assembling the banket.
Right up to the moment I put this experimental banket in the oven, it sure SEEMED like it was going to be incredible.
While the banket was baking, my entire kitchen smelled like a tavern and I started to get a little worried. It smelled really strong. When the timer went off, I peeked into the oven and my heart sank.
UGLY, UGLY, VERY UGLY! I don’t know what happened, but the crust was not light and flaky and delicious. It seemed to have shrunk and clumped up. The not-looking-normal almond paste was peeking through the crust all over. That almond paste also never did acquire the right texture even during baking. It did NOT look like banket. I cut the sticks up and served them to my family and…..it did not TASTE like banket either.
Oh my. The almond filling tasted distinctly different than banket filling is supposed to taste. The crust was a disaster. Not at ALL what banket crust should be. (It should be noted that it was still all inhaled in short order by the ravening hordes!)
So I have learned my lesson. Most of the time I LOVE the results of my resourceful, creative inventions in the kitchen. This wasn’t one of those times! Some things, like the shroud of Turin, the US Constitution, and grandma’s banket recipe just should NOT be tinkered with. So don’t mess with the banket recipe. Just don’t.
Tomorrow, I will be a reformed banket rebel. No more experimentation. I plan to stick strictly to the recipe!
Now, I need your help. I have unbaked banket crust in my fridge and a tub of this not-by-the-book-almond-paste. I need to do something with them. Maybe I can create a whole NEW treat. Any ideas for me?
And friends, DO use our real banket recipe. It makes the most incredible banket and people will be begging for it every time Christmas rolls around!
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