I realize that most people have baked all the holiday cookies they intend to bake. We have moved from decadent treat baking frenzy to after-holiday fatigue and dieter’s remorse. So, my posts now should all be healthy dishes and not rich pastries.
All the same, I am going to share three (not just one, but three) different pastry doughs.
The first recipe is from my Grandma Rose, A”H. She used to make these cookies that looked little miniature danishes. Imagine crisp, flaky pastry with the rich dairy taste of rugelach, filled with with jewel-like drops of jam.
People go nuts over these cookies. They seem so much plainer than rugelach, without the nuts, chocolate, raisins and cinnamon sugar. But the simple contrast of jam and pastry lets the flavor and texture of the crust shine through. The dough, which is like a pie dough, but with sour cream added instead of ice water, puffs up into light flaky layers like buttery puff pastry when it is baked.
I have no idea where this recipe came from, but I pretty sure it is “old world.” I haven’t seen any recipe that uses a pastry dough that is exactly like this, but I have seen other sour cream doughs, and they are all “from bubbe” recipes.
I won’t lie to you. These are not a snap to make. There is a lot of rolling and cutting and shaping and baking.
When you bake them, they have the frustrating habit of exploding open (the dough really rises). It helps to freeze them before baking and to accept that they might still come apart a little in the oven. Dust them with powdered sugar and it won’t really matter so much.
If you have access to oven-proof jam that will help, too, because regular jam boils over in the oven (like with hamentaschen). Apricot lekvar probably would work perfectly. But, Grandma Rose used regular jam/jelly. I tried a few different flavors of jam (the contrasting colors are pretty) and I think that the better quality jams worked out a little better than the cheaper jams/jelly I used.
One more observation: remember this dough for Purim, since it would be make delicious hamantaschen (although you would really have to pinch to prevent them from exploding open and you would need to use oven-proof filling, like lekvar–supermarket jam would for sure make them explode open).
Grandma Rose’s Filled Cookies
From Grandma Rose, A”H.
3 Tbl. sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
8 ounces butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup sour cream
Combine the flour and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the butter pieces and cut them into the flour (as you would when making pie crust), until the flour is evenly coated with butter and you can’t see individual chunks of butter anymore. The mixture will look like cornmeal. Add the sour cream and stir it in until a soft dough forms.
Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Place each portion of dough onto its own large-ish piece of parchment paper or waxed paper. Shape each portion of dough into a rough square and flatten to a 1/2″. Wrap up the dough squares in their pieces of paper, place the wrapped dough packages on a sheet pan and stick it in the refrigerator. Chill it overnight.
Roll out one section of dough at a time. Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper (waxed paper is good, too). Flour the surface to prevent sticking, if necessary. You can also use my paternal grandmother’s trick of using powdered sugar to dust the work surface and prevent sticking. You want the dough to be quite thin, so you should be able to get an 8″x8″ square (or even an 8″x10″ rectangle) from each portion of dough.
Cut the rolled out dough into 2″ squares. You can cut whatever size square you want to get whatever size cookie you want (you can easily get 5 dozen). Place a tiny drop of jam in the center of the square and fold in two opposite corner to meet in the center. Pinch together the corners to seal and press down hard to secure (the dough puff up like puff pastry when it bakes, so these will explode open if you do not press hard enough).
Place the filled cookies on a parchment lined sheet and chill for a half hour before baking. Freezing them is an even better idea (helps prevent them from exploding open). Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until light gold. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Many, if not most, of the cookies may have exploded open, but do not despair–they are still delicious.