Recipe

Russian Cigarettes

  • Yield: About 50 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 ounces, or 5 tablespoons, unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 2/3 ounces, or 6 tablespoons, superfine sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 ounces, or 1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon, all-purpose flour
  • 1 ounce, or about 3 1/2 tablespoons, ALMOND AND SUGAR POWDER:
  • 6 ounces, or 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons, blanched or raw almonds
  • 6 ounces, or 1 1/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons, confectioners√≠ sugar
  • FILLING FOR RUSSIAN CIGARETTES:
  • 5 1/4 ounces, or 3/4 cup, granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 ounce, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon, light corn syrup
  • 3 ounces, or 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon blanched almonds
  • 1 3/4 ounces, or 1/3 cup plus 4 teaspoons confectioners√≠ sugar
  • Kirsch, dark Jamaican rum or curacao
  • Green food coloring
  • GLAZE FOR RUSSIAN CIGARETTES:
  • 5 1/4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond oil or neutral vegetable oil

Directions

  • Place the butter in a small stainless-steel bowl and beat with a wooden spatula, warming it over low heat as needed to make it smooth, white, and creamy. Beat in the sugar. When smooth, beat in the almond and sugar powder. Beat in 1 egg white with the wooden spatula. Then beat in the remaining egg whites, 1 at a time, with a wire whisk. Whisk in the vanilla. Sift the flour over the batter and mix it in with the wooden spatula. Cover the batter airtight and refrigerate overnight or for up to 1 week.
  • Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
  • Scoop the batter into the pastry bag, and pipe the batter in domes 1-inch wide, arranging them on the baking sheets in staggered rows and separating them by 2 to 3 inches. (Do not pipe more than 12 or 13 cookies on each baking sheet or you won’t be able to roll them before they cool.) Or, spoon the batter in 1 teaspoon domes using the ice cream scoop. Let rest at room temperature for about 5 minutes before baking. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until the cookies are golden brown around the edges but still pale in the center, about 4 to 7 minutes.
  • While the cookies are baking, place a folded kitchen towel (a smooth, untextured towel, no terry cloth) on your countertop. One at a time, lift each cookie off the baking sheet using a metal spatula and place it upside down on the towel. Roll it around a wooden dowel or metal rod to form a cigarette. As you finish rolling the cigarette, press down firmly on the dowel to prevent the cigarette from unrolling, then slide it off the dowel onto a plate. Work quickly because if the cookies cool they will become brittle. If they do cool and start to crack as you roll them, return the baking sheet to the oven briefly to reheat them. Storage: Covered airtight in a cookie jar or tin cookie bowl for up to 1 week. Pipe the filling into both ends of the each cigarette to fill the entire length. Dip 1 end of each cigarette in the chocolate, clean off the excess on the edge of the pot, and place the cigarette on a sheet of waxed paper until the chocolate sets. Then dip the other end of each cigarette in the chocolate, clean off the excess on the edge of the pot, and return to the sheet of waxed paper until the chocolate on both ends has set. Serve on a serving platter.
  • ALMOND AND SUGAR POWDER: Grind the almonds with half of the confectioners’ sugar in your food processor, stopping to break up any caking as needed, until finely ground but not at all oily. Sift through a medium sieve. Grind the almonds that don’t pass through the sieve with the remaining confectioners’ sugar until reduced to a fine powder. Transfer all of the almond and sugar powder to a bowl, break up any caking with your fingertips, and mix thoroughly.
  • Yield: 12 ounces, or 2 1/2 cups
  • FILLING FOR RUSSIAN CIGARETTES: Combine the sugar, 3 tablespoons of water and corn syrup in a small saucepan or caramel pot and stir to thoroughly moisten the sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Wash down the walls of the pot with a moistened pastry brush to dissolve any sugar crystals that form there. Then continue boiling until the sugar reaches the firm-ball stage, or about 245ºF. Meanwhile, combine the almonds and confectioners’ sugar in your food processor. When the syrup is ready, turn on the food processor and pour in the syrup. Continue process until the almonds paste is completely smooth. It will be hot. Transfer the almond paste to a stainless-steel bowl, cover it with a damp kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out, and let rest to room temperature. Place the almond paste on your countertop and gradually work in the liqueur by kneading it with the heel of your hand. Add sufficient liqueur to make the almond paste soft enough to pipe from a pastry bag, but not runny. Tint the almond paste green by kneading in 1 or 2 of green food coloring.
  • GLAZE FOR RUSSIAN CIGARETTES: Temper the chocolate with the almond oil as follows: Gently melt the chocolate and stir in the almond oil. Dip the bottom of the pot of chocolate in a bowl of cold water and stir the chocolate until it begins to thicken. Immediately remove from the cold water and dip the bottom of the pot of chocolate in a bowl of hot water. Stir over the hot water just long enough to make the chocolate fluid again, then remove from the hot water.