Rugelach

SUMMARY – crunchy, sweet, buttery, nutty, sticky. Spirals of goodness that call out for a doubled recipe.

adding-butter

One of the great things about growing up in and still living in update NY is a unique level of ethnic diversity. By diversity, I mean, I was surrounded by (mostly European) immigrants. In my family and neighborhood, and within my circle of friends, there were Poles, Italians, Quebecois, Ukrainians, Greeks, Scots, French, Irish, English, East Asians, Chinese. Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists. First, second, third generation immigrants.

adding-vanilla

A lot of this diversity came out in food. I know exactly what rugelach are, even though my family never made them.

finished-dough

In comparison, my roommate Bill is from Missouri, with a short layover in San Diego (from his dad’s Navy deployment). By his own admission, he knows Mexican food and Kansas City BBQ. He does not know what a rugelach is.

different-fillings

He knows what they are now, though! ?

rolled-dough

These reminded me a little of the Cookie Strudel we made a few months back. Make a simple dough and top with fruit, nuts and a sticky filling. Roll it up.

dough-portioned

I made the dough in the food processor. A quick observation – don’t use frozen butter. Let it soften up a bit first.

portioned-cookie-dough

I made two different batches of these. One was apricot, raisin (currants are technically Zante raisins) and walnut sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. The other was mini chocolate chips, almonds and strawberry jam sprinkled with turbinado sugar.

topped-cookie

I portioned the apricot batch out as a 12-cut. But I had some cuts that were bigger than others. Don’t you hate it when your pizza has skinny and fat pieces?

into-the-fridge

To make it easier, I portioned the strawberry batch out as a 16-cut. They were smaller, but the sizes were more consistent.

into-the-oven

I rolled them up, put them in the fridge, brushed them with milk, and coated them with either the cinnamon sugar or turbinado sugar. Put them on the foil and into the oven.

baked-rugelach

And … I had the same problem that Marie had. Sticky jelly on foil = super glue. This was similar to the problem with the birch twigs on a Silplat.

foil-aftermath

I did manage to get most of the cookies off the foil. I had a lot of bakers treats from them, that’s for sure.

cooling-rack

Even with that problem I would make these again. I brought some into work and they went over big!

rugelach-closeupjpg

I would try the Silplat. No egg white!

“The Dutch” Pecan Sandies Banner
SUMMARY – an unassuming cookie that is tender, buttery, nutty, crunchy and cinnamony all at once. This recipe proves your freezer is a baking tool.

browned-butter

When I first looked at this recipe, I checked out the picture of it. OK, it’s a round sugar cookie with sugar sprinkled on it. Been there, done that.

browned-butter-strained

As a kid I was a big fan of pecan sandies that the elves baked in their tree. They were also one of the very few packaged cookies that my mom would buy, probably because my dad liked them, too. Only if she had a tripled coupon, though.

butter-bits

There had to be something to these cookies, though. I saw plastic wrap, cooling and resting in the freezer these called for. Looks like a 2-day project, if only not to fill the kitchen sink with dirty dishes.

sugars-cooled-butter

I browned the butter first. Which took a while to do, since I didn’t want to scorch the last bit of the good Irish butter. I did that and worked on dinner (and played Farmville o.O).

creaming-butter-sugar

As an added bonus, I was heating up chicken cassoulet for dinner. Yes, this is leftovers in my house, the other half of the big batch I made a few weeks ago. After I strained the browned butter, I scooped out the solids and put them on the cassoulet breadcrumb topping. Butter on top of crunchy chicken skin and butter? Not thinking this is bad. Of course, my cholesterol numbers may disagree.

dry-ingredients

I measured the butter out (a little more than the recipe needed but it’s butter!) and put it in the refrigerator to cool during dinner.

dry-to-wet-ingredients

After the dinner dishes were corralled I started on the rest of the dough. It’s a good thing I heated up leftovers instead of dirtying a cutting board, knives and pans, since I had to break out the mixer and food processor for the dough.

kneaded-dough

Cream together the butter and sugars? Check. Grind the pecans with the flour and dry ingredients? Check. Great idea here to prevent over-processing the nuts. This would probably be even better in a recipe with toasted nuts. Toasting the pecans for this recipe might be interesting, as it would reinforce the nuttiness of the browned butter. I’ll file this idea away.

divided-dough

Scoop out the dough and knead it? Yeah … ugh … plastic wrap is involved.

rolled-dough

I hate plastic wrap. It doesn’t stick to what you want it to stick to, only itself. The stupid cutter thing on the box never works right. I think Rose uses top-secret special plastic wrap. Wrap that is nice and wide, sticks what you want it to stick to, and cuts nicely. Navy Seal Team “Cookie” brings it to her. Shhhh.

cookies-cut-freezer

I managed to get the dough divided and into the refrigerator without too much incident.

cookies-sugared-panned

The next night, after dinner, and after letting the cold dough warm up, I finished up the cookies. Again, with my off the shelf plastic wrap. Sigh.

cookies-cooling-overhead

I finally used my hexagonal cutters (a Christmas present from last year), so there wasn’t much re-rolling. The last batch I cut had only a little bit of dough left. There was no sense in re-rolling it, we ate it. Yum!

cookies-cooling-closeup

Because of the freezer rest time, the cookies took longer than a drop cookie. But the results I think were worth it. Tender and crunchy, nutty and buttery, cinnamon and pecan, so good.

cookies-plated

As I was eating one, I thought that this dough would make really good pie crust for a pumpkin pie. Or for the pumpkin-pecan pie we made last year. Ooooo …. another idea to file away!

Mini Gateaux Breton

SUMMARY – buttery, nutty and tender, these tiny cookie gems will impress even your most fussy aunt or mother-in-law. Double the recipe because these will disappear quick.

toasted-almonds-sugar-in-processor

These cookies were so good and so easy!

processed-sugar-almonds

I, like Marie, didn’t have the exact correct pan. I did a little digging through my pantry, and found a super-mini bundt pan that I must have bought specifically to make these cookies. I don’t remember what I actually bought it for!

finished-dough

The hardest part about making these cookies was finding good butter. I went back to PriceRite to get more high-fat European style butter for $1.99 for 7 oz, but of course they were out. I got some Kerrygold Irish butter from the coop instead.

mini-mini-bundt-pan

The dough came together easily. My smallest cookie scoop makes 10 gram dough scoops so I didn’t have to scale every single cookie. Of course I did scale a few of them to make sure how much to fill the scoops. I didn’t care much if some cookies were 12 grams instead.

scooped-cookies

I sprayed baking Pam on the pan indents, plus dropped the dough balls onto a floured plate, and dusted my hands with flour. to roll them.

dough-in-pan

The cookies didn’t stick at all. I over-baked the first batch a little, but the cookies still didn’t stick. No need to work them out with a needle or skinny knife. Yay!

finished-cookies

I didn’t use my pinkie finger to press the dough in, I used the flat end of my big whisk. It worked. The last batch I forgot to press into the molds. The design was looser but still visible.

closeup-finished-cookies

These cookies are so cute! Like Barbie bundt cakes.

tops-of-cookies

I will make more of these, and double the recipe. Maybe dunk them in some melted chocolate. Mmmmm. These might also be good made with almond meal instead of flour. I might have to try that, too.

I have three projects in one post this time.

I do actually make most everything for Alpha Bakers, but I don’t always get a chance to sit down and post it. I can do the baking, but writing about it is harder.

So I am rectifying this, sort of, in a late (or early!) post about some of the projects I made, but didn’t talk about.

White Christmas Peppermint Cake

Project #1 – White Christmas Peppermint Cake ➡️ Ornament Cupcakes

I don’t like making large cakes unless I have a specific event that requires an actual cake, like a birthday party, wedding, anniversary. I would much rather make small cakes that I can easily transport and give away.

cake-batter-mixing

I decided on cupcakes because I was inspired by a Christmas ornament! A mini-cupcake with lots of sprinkles. How could I not make cupcakes that look like my ornament?

baked-cupcakes

The other thing  about this cake was the peppermint. Don’t get me wrong, I like peppermint. But not in a cake. I skipped the peppermint extract and went with the vanilla in the cake base.

frosting-started

It was a good cake, too. It had nice flavor and light color. I would use this cake again if I wanted really white cake, and not a yellow-ish cake.

frosting-finished

The frosting … oh the frosting! It was creamy, chocolate-y, light, fluffy, great to work with. A perfect frosting.

sprinked-cupcakes
I piped the frosting on the mini cupcakes and decorated. I had gold sugar nonpareils and crunchy pink sugar crystals flavored with peppermint. Not too much mint, but enough to get them somewhat back to peppermint.

cupcakes-with-ornament

There was a lot of frosting left over from this recipe. I packed it up and waited for another project to use it up.

This bonus frosting was used in …

Faux-reoCookies

Project #2 – Faux-reos

My mother gave me a King Arthur boxed cookie mix a while ago. It was rolled chocolate cookies with white frosting. Sort of like homemade oreos. I finally got tired of looking at this box in my pantry and made them.

dough-started

To me, they were strictly OK. Certainly better than something out of a plastic sleeve, but still, not that great. I brought some down to the corner market to get rid of them. The clerks down there really liked them! One of the girls, Briana, begged me to make more of them for her birthday.

dough-done-mixing

Since King Arthur doesn’t make this cookie mix anymore, I decided I could do a lot better. I already had some really tasty frosting. I just had to find a cookie recipe to go with it.

ready-for-baking

In Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery cookbook (which I have renewed twice from the library because I don’t want to return it!) I found a recipe for TKO cookies. Chocolate shortbread cookies filled with white chocolate ganache. Ding ding ding!

plated-cookies

The cookies were really really good. They got even better filled with Rose’s frosting. They were so good, I almost didn’t want to give any away! But I dropped a container off at the store for Briana. She really liked them. I really liked them! I may have even found another fair recipe.

These cookies lead to …

Pink Pearl Lady Cakebecomes Pink Pearl Baby Cakes

Project #3 – Pink Pearl Lady Cake ➡️ Pink Pearl Baby Cakes

Believe it or not, I really wanted to do the full cake this time. Or at least heart-shaped small cakes. I have a silicone heart pan with cupcake-sized hearts in it.

starting-batter

I showed my roommate Kathy this recipe and she wanted to help me make this. Kathy does pottery, so she was really interested in working with the fondant. Interestingly enough, the last time I made a fondant cake was her wedding cake! And I was somewhat traumatized by the whole fondant process, so I was quite happy to get an offer of help with it.

batter-finished

The day I planned to make the fondant, I was sick. I had a nasty headache, stomach ache, and felt just plain lousy. I didn’t want to go to the store and find glycerin and glucose. Even though I didn’t make the fondant, I decided I could still make cupcakes instead.

egg-whites

I went ahead and made mini-cupcakes. I overfilled the little cups, and forgot to grease the top of the pan, so I had to excavate the cupcakes. Sigh.

finished-frosting

This frosting wasn’t as nice as the white chocolate frosting for the earlier cupcakes. I worried that the frosting would be too warm! I wrapped a cold pack around the bowl bottom. Then the frosting was too cold. I held my hands on the bottom of the bowl to warm it up. I was Goldilocks and the Three Bears of Frosting. It finally came together. Whew.

finished-cupcakes

It wasn’t easy to pipe out, either. It wasn’t warm enough. And there wasn’t enough of it. Some cupcakes didn’t have quite enough frosting.

finished-cupcakes-closeup

The frosting tasted pretty good. But the Ornament Cupcakes were just a teeny bit better.

Hopefully I will get the Breton cookies done. And written about. I don’t have mini brioche pans, but I think I have a solution worked out. We shall see!

My Chocolate Chip Cookies BannerSUMMARY – brown butter and a rest in the fridge give these cookies added taste. Crunchy on the bottom, cakey on the top. You will have to hide these if you want them to yourself!

chocolate-chip-cookie-ingredients

Chocolate chip cookies were a household staple when I was growing up. Not store-bought chocolate chip cookies. But homemade cookies, from the recipe on the back of the yellow chip bag, made with butter. Kinda crunchy and kinda chewy at the same time.

browned-butter-cooking

It wasn’t just my mom who made them. My great-grandmother made them, and kept them in the freezer. My grandmother made them too, but she was cheap and used shortening. But given a choice between shortening and no cookies, we kids chose somewhat lousier cookies.

toasted-walnuts

My current favorite cookie recipe is King Arthur Flour’s Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies. I tweak the recipe a bit, going with regular flour and skipping the butterscotch flavor.

butter-sugar-mixed

You could say chocolate chip cookies are in my blood. I was looking forward to these, wondering what Rose would do to make cookies special.

flour-added

Browned butter and rest.

finished-dough

I’ve seen some different versions of chocolate chip cookies, different variations for soft, crunchy, thin, etc. cookies. But I never saw browned butter as a variation.

scaling-cookies

I used Finlandia butter in these, since I can get 7 oz for 99 cents! It’s cheaper than regular butter! So there was more actual butterfat in the butter, and there may have been more brown bits.

cookies-into-oven

It’s a revelation. It adds a subtle nutty flavor to the cookies, beyond even the toasted walnuts. The texture was light and even cakey, with a crunchy bottom.

cookies-on-rack

A rest in the fridge was a little surprise, but yes, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt says the same thing. And he is another big food geek.

cookies-on-rack

These really were good chocolate chip cookies. Straight out of the oven and soft chips? Some very good cookies.

cookies-and-milk

Would I make these again? Absolutely. But I would double the recipe. Because 20 are not nearly enough!

hands-off-my-milk

This post is part of the Alpha Bakers bake-along. It’s an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Most of the recipes made during this project will not be shared. If you see something amazing and want to know about the recipe please let me know. You might want to get the book for yourself, or at least check it out from your local library before deciding.

Spritz Butter Cookies

SUMMARY – tender and flavorful, Spritz cookies are the ultimate holiday cookie. Ground, toasted almonds add extra flavor and make them more special than pure sugar cookies.

almonds-toasted
I have been making the Spritz cookies from Rose’s Christmas Cookies for years. I  have sent Spritz cookies to friends across the country, Canada, Korea and New Zealand!

chopping-almonds

They are such great cookies. They ship well, you can decorate them, color them, use different cookie press design, and you can make them by the trayful.

dry-ingredients

This updated Spritz recipe is better than the original. Substituting cornstarch for some of the flour makes them a little more tender. Plus, more importantly, you can put these in the cookie press or piping bag immediately and not have to wait until the dough is the perfect temperature to use it!

dough-processing

Of course, I discovered this fact by accident.

dough-finished

I made the dough on a Tuesday night. And, the dough was super simple to make in the food processor. My plan was to bring the dough to my parents house on Wednesday night, when I usually go over there and make dinner. I wrapped the dough and put it in the fridge, and left it in the car during the day on Wednesday to soften up.

ribbons-cooling

Bad move.

Even after leaving in the car and at warm room temperature for a couple of hours, it was still too hard to press or pipe properly. Bummer.

trees-cooling

I ended up bringing the dough back home, now warmer, and running it in the food processor again to soften it up. Luckily that worked! And because of the corn starch and ground almond it in, the dough didn’t toughen up.

trees-cooling-closeup

I used my cookie press to make ribbons of cookie first. I cut the ribbons up after baking and cooled them. Then I changed the press disk and made some decorated trees.

cookies-plated

After the ribbons cooled, I made some chocolate filling with some melted chocolate chips, cream and confectioners sugar. I spread some filling on one side, and completed the sandwich. I wish I had made more filling to dip the ends in the chocolate and then dip them in chopped nuts. I will do that next time.

cookies-plated-closeup

My household loved the cookies, and I even brought some into work. One of my co-workers though the chocolate filled ones tasted like Milano cookies!

cookies-plated-cocoa

I will for sure be making this recipe again, since I can make the dough and immediately pipe or press a bunch of cookies.


This post is part of the Alpha Bakers bake-along. It’s an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Most of the recipes made during this project will not be shared. If you see something amazing and want to know about the recipe please let me know. You might want to get the book for yourself, or at least check it out from your local library before deciding.

Summary – clarified butter creates a tender, nutty cookie that melts in your mouth.

Kourambiethes collage

Ooooo cookies this week! Great! What’s not so great, is it’s summer and H O T! Almost hot enough to melt the butter without help. But I digress.

clarified butter for Kourambiethes

About the clarified butter. The day before baking, I popped the pound of butter into my mini crockpot to melt it. Worked good and I didn’t have to stand over the stove. I poured it out through a strainer with cheesecloth, but the solids on the bottom weren’t particularly solid and the cheesecloth didn’t catch much of it. Yikes.

I ladled out a lot of the ghee and put it in a plastic container. The rest I left in a glass bowl. Put both containers in the fridge and crossed my fingers.

My plan to bake was to do it early Sunday morning. The forecast was a high of 95 and thunderstorms. So in the morning it was before the house turned into a sauna. I soaked my cooling cloth and got to work.

Kourambiethes clarified butterI started heating the oven and got the almond in to toast. I pulled out the clarified butter and it looked great! Nice color. I got it out of the glass bowl, and the milk solids settled out to the bottom of the bowl. Sweet! Just popped the butter brick out of the container and chopped it up a bit. Into the bowl with the sifted powdered sugar. Set the timer for 10 minutes and let it beat.

While I was doing that, I chopped the almonds down. I thought a knife would work but had to break out the mini chopper. And dirty another dish 😉

10 minutes later, I had a bowl of what looked like whipped cream. Cool! Added the other wet ingredients, using Grand Marnier instead of brandy or OJ. Orangey booze? Absolutely.

Added the dry ingredients and the dough came together. I covered it and gave it a rest in the fridge. IKourambiethes on baking sheet needed a rest in the fridge! Instead I had an iced coffee break. And heated up the house again in anticipation of cookies.

Fortified by cold caffeine, I broke out the silpat, baking sheet and cookie scoop. Scooped out a dozen, cooled off my hands, rounded and shaped them up. Into the oven for 8 then 8 minutes.

I got my cooking / sugaring station ready and offloaded my cookies to the rack. I loaded them down with a blizzard of sugar and got a 2nd dozen ready.

I could only bring myself to bake 2 sheets, since the temperature was heading into sauna-land.

raspberriesSo the verdict? Everyone seemed to like them! I tasted too much of the liquor so maybe next time I will use the OJ instead. And wait til cooler weather!

In thanks for treats, my neighbor was nice enough to bring over fresh raspberries from the bushes in her yard. They are so good!

Til next week and ElderBlueberry Pie!

 

 

Kourambiethes finished


 

This post is part of the Alpha Bakers bake along. It’s an online project where a group of food bloggers bake our way through The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Most of the recipes made during this project will not be shared. If you see something amazing and want to know about the recipe please let me know. You might want to get the book for yourself, or at least check it out from your local library before deciding.