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Monday, May 23, 2011

Dutch Letters

Dutch Letters are a delicious flaky pastry stuffed with almond flavoring. I learned to love them while I was in college. I cannot justify a multi-hour drive to fulfill my sweet tooth so I was delighted when my sister found a recipe for  Dutch Letters here.

When I was a kid I always took baked goods to the 4-H fair. My Mom let me choose something complicated and I would spend most of the winter making it until I could do it perfectly for the July fair. I definitely need more practice on these Dutch Letters as the appearance is far from perfect and I did not think there was enough almond filling. I will let you know when I get it perfected to fair quality, but in the mean time, I thought I would share a fun and tasty creation!

First, I mixed up the filling. I used this almond paste (the full recipe is below)
I used puff pastry rather than making my own dough as I needed to get these made in an evening after work. I set out both squares of puff pastry to defrost for 30 minutes. Once they were not entirely frozen I rolled them out on a (heavily) floured surface.

You will want the pastry to be quite thin. Then, cut one inch strips of dough and dust off any excess flour.
Place a small amount of the almond filling down the middle of the one inch strip. Stop half way down the strip.
Wet the edges of the pastry that have the almond filling.
(I place a bowl on the counter and dip my fingers in the water to wet the edges of the pastry.)
NOTE: you only need to do half of the length of the pastry because you will fold the other half onto the first, wet, half.
Press the pastry together.
Dutch Letters are traditionally in the shape of an S. I learned that making an S shape out of a narrow, filling filled pastry takes more than patience and precision. Actually, I think you have to be a genius to get the shape as perfect as the ladies do at Jaarsma Bakery, the bakery in my college town.  I practiced making many shapes and made a lot of lower case “l” shapes. I justified my unwillingness to fight with the dough to make S shapes because the S Dutch Letter is quite large and I wanted to be able to eat a more moderately sized Dutch Letter.  
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from a pan and finish the tops with a rub of butter and a sprinkling of sugar. (Hint: I tear off one edge of butter and smear it across the top of the Dutch Letter.)
Dutch Letters
Almond Filling:
8 oz. almond paste
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg white

1 package puff pastry

Remove the puff pastry from the freezer and set for 30 minutes until defrosted. Roll out one sheet of puff pastry at a time.

Cut puff pastry in one inch slices.

Place a small amount of almond filling down half of the pastry.

Wet the edges of the half of the pastry without filling. Fold the non-filled pastry on top of the filled portion and seal edges.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 mintes.

Lightly spread butter on top of letters and sprinkle with sugar.

Like I iluded above, these are not yet perfect, but they cannot be that bad as my Mother-in-Law called and during the course of the conversation we asked how she was. She said she was doing well but that she had a problem. We asked what her problem was and she said she was out of Dutch Letters.

I'm glad I have people to help me eat them as I prefect the recipe :)


  1. Hi Tiffany. Its Nathan (Your brother in-law) just in case another Nathan is a offical follower wanted to clarify that before we got to far into this. if you have any extra i would LOVE to test one for you :) Great Job!! Keep the good work! Did you have a hard time shaping the dough because it was to flaky? From my limited Nederlandse brief (Dutch letters in Dutch translation) making i would suggest adding some extra crisco and butter. That always seems to make things go smoother literally! Hop you have a great night!

  2. Nathan, I love your suggestion to add some extra crisco or butter - that always does the trick!

    I'm so glad that you will be a taste tester of Nederlandse for me :)