Archive for the ‘cookies’ Category

Coconut Macaroon Tuiles

April 10, 2014

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Imagine a cookie with the flavor of a coconut macaroon, with a undertone of salted caramel. Sort of like the flavor of Girl Scout Samoa/Caramel deLite cookies. Now imagine that this cookie has the crisp texture of a potato chip. That is what these tuiles taste like.

The original recipe comes from a Seattle-based pastry chef, Laurie Pfalzer. When she baked for the bistro at the Salish Lodge and Spa, she used the tuiles as a garnish for creme brulee and layered them with strawberries and whipped mascarpone.

I haven’t decided what to do with these cookies yet. Layer them with lemon curd/whipped cream/strawberries? Drizzle them with chocolate or sandwich them with chocolate (like Brussels cookies or lace cookies)?

The batter is extremely easy to mix up. The tricky part is shaping. The sticky batter must be patted out into thin rounds. This is fiddly work.

The original recipe called for baking the tuiles at 350 for 8-10 minutes, but my tuiles did not bake evenly that way. I had better luck baking them at 250 for a half hour.

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Molten Chocolate Chip Hamantaschen

March 16, 2014

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Ok, I guess this is a bit late in the day to post. But, better late than never!

Chocolate chip cookie dough filled with ganache, served warm so that the chocolate filling is all melted and runny. The hamantaschen will spread if they are not contained, so it is best to enclose the shaped cookies with foil to keep them from spreading.

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Hamantaschen Puff Pastry Shells

March 10, 2014

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This post is for those of you out there who want to make hamantaschen without mixing or rolling out dough, without worrying if the filling is bake-proof and without worrying about the hamantaschen exploding open in the oven.

Part of the answer is using puff pastry dough, and part of the answer is in the method of baking it.  If you have ever tried baking hamantaschen with puff pastry dough, you know that it can be frustrating. Shaped in the traditional manner, from a circle folded into a triangle, puff pastry hamantaschen have an infuriating tendency to explode open when they bake.

So frustrating, right? But a solution is at hand! Instead of working against the tendency of puff pastry to puff, this technique works with it.

Following the method for making puff pastry cases (bouchees and vols-a-vent), the puff pastry is cut into triangles, with a triangle cut out into the center. As the pastry bakes in the oven, the sides of the triangle rise straight up to form a rim around a hollow triangular center. The hollow center can then be filled with whatever you like.

Let me repeat and emphasize this point: the puff pastry hamantaschen are baked without filling. You add the filling later. Baking the shells before filling means that you can use fillings that can’t be baked,  like pastry cream with fresh fruit on top or chocolate mousse (to see how pretty puff pastry shells can look filled with mousse or topped with fruit, take a look at Pastry Pals post about vols-au-vent filled with chocolate chantilly  or passion fruit curd and pinepple).

You could also go with a savory filling. For example, for an appetizer, you could fill the cases with mushrooms in cream sauce.

There are two approaches to making the puff pastry cases. You can use one layer of puff pastry or, for a higher, more elegant case, you can use two layers of puff pastry. With the one layer approach, the center triangle is marked before baking and then, after the pastry case is baked, the triangle is cut out with a knife. With the two layer approach, the bottom triangle of puff pastry dough is the base, and the cut out triangle frame of dough on the top is the rim.

If you go with the single layer approach, you can get 2 1/2 dozen hamantaschen out of a box of puff pastry. You can fill the triangles with different flavors of jam for a very easy and quick batch of hamantaschen.

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Han Solo Cup and Chewie Wookie Cookie

February 27, 2014

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I was very amused by this t-shirt of Han Solo and Chewie as a Solo cup and cookie. So, I equipped a Solo cup with a cardboard Solo Blaster and made some Wookie Cookies. Actually, the cookies are just my favorite Pesach cookies with some white and dark chocolate chips used to make eyes, a nose and some teeth.

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Rose Cookies for Princess Leia

February 20, 2014

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I made Darth Vader hamantaschen, so I thought I would also make cookies that referenced Princess Leia. Actually, these cookies just allude to her famous cinnamon bun hairdo.

You don’t have to flavor these with cinnamon and raisin (although they are delicious that way, too). Basically, this is a rich sour cream rugelach-type pastry dough that is rolled up with meringue. The meringue can be vanilla or chocolate. Optional add ins include raisins, nuts and chopped chocolate.

The inspiration for these cookies was a cryptic e-mail from my sister. She sent a picture of these cookies with no description or comment. When prompted for an explanation, she offered only this: (1) Levana made them; (2) they are filled with meringue mixed with chocolate pudding mix; (3) they are called “foam cookies” in Israel; and (4) a recipe would eventually be forthcoming.

I wasn’t holding my breath waiting for the recipe because it is my understanding that Levana is a “little bit of this and that” and “throw it in a bowl”  kind of cook (“shitarayn”, in Yiddish). So, I did a little bit of research and found that even though Levana calls these Foam Cookies (“Oogiyot Ketzef” in Hebrew?), they are also known as Rose Cookies. In Israel, that would be “Oogiyot Shoshanim.” The recipe comes originally from Eastern Europe and they are also known as Russian Rose Cookies (also see this) or Ukrainian Rose Cookies (Pechivo Troyandiy). I even found a version called Finnish Cookies (Финские Булочки).

(Brief digression: I think that yeast dough versions of this cookie, basically individually baked cinnamon buns or schnecken, are also called shoshanim or roses. Take a look for example at Zucker Bakery’s Chocolate Roses or Tatte Bakery’s Halvah Roses).

I went with the recipe from Pretty Baking in Israel, because that recipe had a filling that called for pudding mix. I didn’t like that filling so much (the problem, admittedly, might have been my KFP pudding mix), so I made the recipe again with a different filling. I also changed the dough a little bit, increasing the sugar to the amount suggested in a very similar recipe on Tastebook for Savta Tova’s Cookies.

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Angelina Ballerina Hamantaschen

February 16, 2014

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My daughter complained that I wasn’t making any girly hamantaschen.

To make Angelina Ballerina (or any other mouse), take the shaped but unbaked hamantaschen and pinch/flatten/shape two corners of the triangle so that they look like mouse ears. It helps if you pinch the hamantaschen completely closed so that there isn’t an opening in the center. Bake the Angelina hamantaschen and let them cool before decorating.

Spread cookie icing on top. Let it dry (I was impatient and didn’t wait long enough. The eyebrows and eyes would have come out better if I had let the icing completely dry). Use food markers to draw on eyes and eyebrows. You can either draw or pipe on the pink ribbon.

My decorating inspiration came from these heart shaped cookies.

Note: I used this hamantaschen dough, but made with 5 ounces of oil instead of margarine or shortening and with the sugar reduced to 3/4 cup.

Darth Vader Hamantaschen

February 14, 2014

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I noticed a while back that hamantaschen that are completely coated in chocolate look a little like Darth Vader’s helmet.  So I decided to try piping a Darth Vader design on top to complete the effect. Piping was kind of a pain. It would have been easier to use this cookie cutter.

Levana’s Almond Clusters

December 2, 2013

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Sometimes simple things can be a bit tricky.

My parents raved about my sister’s macheteniste’s nut cookies. “The best cookies I ever ate,” my dad insisted. “And Levana says the recipe is very simple: just sugar, nuts and egg whites stirred together.”

Naturally, I had to pin down the exact recipe. Turns out, Levana’s almond clusters are close cousins to Carine Goren’s almond thins, but with a few crucial twists: (1) the nuts are slivered instead of sliced; (2) the nuts are piled high into little haystacks instead of being spread into a super thin layer; and (3) the sugar is brown instead of white.

These few changes make the difference between a recipe my dad really liked (the almond thins) and one he was crazy about (Levana’s almond clusters). The brown sugar gives huge uptick in flavor, making the sweetness of the nut cookies more interesting, less flat. I think that adding vanilla and almond extract ramps up the flavor even more, but that is an optional addition.

The difficulty was that Levana is the sort of cook who makes everything by instinct instead of a precise recipe. The recipe I started with was “mix together 3 egg whites, a scant cup brown sugar and enough nuts so that the nuts are just coated.” About a pound of nuts? “Yes, about . . . at least!”

I had to experiment a bit to figure out the right ratio of nuts to sugar syrup. The first few batches of cookies had sugar syrup seeping out of them. The sugar syrup  that seeped out on the baking sheet puffed up as the nut clusters baked, making strange looking, crunchy protrusions from the cookies.

Also, the baking time was originally “until brown.” That took figuring out, too. Some batches of cookies came out a bit chewy instead of crunchy. It took me a while to figure out that the solution was drying out the nut clusters in a turned off oven.

With these issues ironed out, these addictive cookies are indeed extremely simple to make.

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Vanilla Rugelach

November 11, 2013

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Vanilla rugelach sounds not so exciting, as compared to chocolate rugelach, but vanilla rugelach can hold its own any day. The key is to use lots of strong vanilla flavor. Vanilla sugar in the filling and vanilla extract in the soaking syrup imparts an intense flavor that is reminiscent of vanilla pudding. While syrup is optional with chocolate rugelach, it is a must with vanilla rugelach. Adding lemon juice to the syrup gives a dairy taste to the rugelach.

If you want to go with cinnamon or apricot cinnamon fillings, I include recipes for that, too.

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Easy Rugelach (aka Babka Bites)

November 11, 2013

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Did you know that you can make rugelach from challah dough? Well, you can!

These won’t be super flaky yeast dough rugelach. For that texture, you need what is called a “laminated dough,” or a dough that has layers of butter or margarine rolled into it (like puff pastry, croissant or danish dough). The difference between these rugelach and the super-flaky kind is the difference between doughnuts and cronuts.

If you want super-flaky yeast dough rugelach, take a look at this. If you want something easy to make and trans-fat free (no margarine!) that tastes like bite-sized chocolate babka, read on.

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