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A Taste of Savannah in Austria

January 29, 2015

On my recent trip back home this past Christmas, I remembered my favorite bakery that I worked at as a teenager - Gottlieb's Bakery.  It was a Jewish bakery that was well loved by the community.  It was established in 1884 by Jewish Russian immigrant, Isadore Gottlieb... on the corner of York and Jefferson Streets.

They moved and expanded several times.  I was fortunate to work at one of their newer locations.  It was my first job, and they were always so kind to me.  Unfortunately, they shuttered the bakery doors in the Nineties.

The memory of the original bakery lived on in the namesake restaurant that Mr. Gottlieb's sons opened - backed by culinary expertise from all along the East Coast and by the old and treasured recipes from the bakery.  Unfortunately, I found out on my last visit that it also shuttered its doors. Very sad. 

My biggest memory of Gottlieb's was me running next door after Mass ended to pick up a few of their Chocolate Chewies.  These cookies were famous.  They were, in short, flourless chocolate cookies with a smooth, meringue-like shell with a chewy center studded with chopped pecans.  They were incredible.

With my husband off on a business trip and El and Lil sick with a bug,  I did what any mom would do... I baked some cookies!

And not just any cookies, mind you,  but cookies that would transport me back in time to when I was a young girl back in Savannah, Georgia... And somehow, bring a little of Savannah to me here in Austria.

I found a recipe I liked from Frances Janisch. There are quite a few others out there. Also, I'm sure I have the original recipe somewhere but I just didn't have the motivation to search for it.  So, I stayed with Frances's recipe.

Right off the bat, I must tell you I used sliced almonds instead of pecans... A deviation from the original with minimal disappointment.

Sift the powdered sugar and salt.

Then, sift the cocoa powder.

Mix slowly with whisk or fork... This stuff flies around otherwise.

Stir til it looks like brownie batter.

Add in your nuts.

Pour the batter by spoonfuls onto parchment paper.  These cookies have also been called 'puddle cookies' and now I see why. 

Be sure to give them space or they could look like this:

Mr. Gottlieb is laughing at me!!  (And now you are, too!!)

Bake them for 10-14 min in a pre-heated 350 deg F oven.  Don't over bake.  If you take them out and they are a little bit soft, don't worry,  they will harden as they cool. 

Enjoy with a glass of milk.  Here's to you, Mr. Gottlieb!!

As for my thoughts on these cookies, they were delicious and definitely gave me the warm nostalgic hug I needed today...  But the cookies, although delicious, were not structurally as I had remembered. 

My cookies turned out more hollow from the underside while I remember the original cookies being more full throughout.  I noticed a few recipes that added flour to the mix and maybe that makes the difference.  I don't fault the recipe I used... it's probably something from my end.  But the saga continues!!

I'm going to try again real soon.  Now, what to do with my two orphaned egg yolks??? Hmmm...  I feel a wave of French shortbread cookies coming - Chocolate Ginger Breton cookies, to be exact!  I'll keep you posted!

If anyone is interested in reading the whole history of Gottlieb's Bakery, there's a book for you!  I think I'll pick one up too, because there are a ton of other delicious recipes for breads and sweets.  Their Challah was to die for!

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