Friday, April 1, 2011
Sick of the cabbage yet? Yeah, me too. Have a cookie.
Cookies with stuff in them usually look too fiddly for me to bother with. I think that after my xiao long bao experiment, my idea of what constitutes 'fiddly' underwent a change. I read this recipe in the paper and thought it looked remarkably simple. The photos in the paper looked really good too, maybe I hadn't brought enough snacks with me to work that day. So here they are.
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1, 8-oz brick cream cheese
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt- you will want this if you use unsalted butter. I don't.
later you will need about 2 cups of jam and an egg for egg wash
I got 46, 2" cookies out of this.
trusty pastry tool, and cut in the flour. As soon as all the flour is taken up, scrape down the bowl one last time and put the dough in tupperware to chill overnight. The next day, roll out the dough until it's between 1/4 and 1/8 inch thick. I have no cookie cutters, but the lip of a red wine glass is just the right size.
Each cookie will need about 1/2 teaspoon of jam. Fold up the cookies and put them on sheets in the freezer. Preheat the oven to 350. Once the cookies are frozen hard, you can put an egg wash on their outsides and sprinkle them with a bit of sugar. I did this on my second tray, and it does make them look much nicer. Bake them for about 30 minutes.
1. It doesn't seem to be very important that the butter/cream cheese mixture is "fluffy" as stated in the original recipe.
2. But it is important that when you add the flour, you don't over-work the dough. That's why I strongly recommend the pastry cutter- it will quickly incorporate the flour without causing the gluten in it to sieze up and get rubbery.
3. A pastry cloth helps a lot.
4. Try to cut the circles as efficiently as possible, because while you can squash the leftover dough together and roll it again, each time you do that you will loose some of the tenderness in the finished cookie. 2 squashings and re-rollings is the maximum I would recommend.
5. Also, chilling the dough is indispensable. The first time because it is too gooey to manage otherwise, the second time because freezing will allow the cookies to retain their shape in the oven.
6. The original recipe says to paint a little egg wash around the edge of each dough circle before folding them up. I didn't do that, and as a consequence, some of my cookies unfolded while baking. If you are picky, or if your jam is a rather moist variety, I would say that you should take the trouble to do the egg wash. I'm lazy, and my jam was very sticky, so I decided to live with some amorphous cookies.
7. I made my own jam. It's just about 2/3 of a bag of prunes simmered until they're falling apart and then bashed up with a spoon. This sounds less appealing than it really is, but I did it because a) it allowed me to control exactly how much sugar, moisture, and texture was in the jam, b) plum filling is traditional, c) I like the caramelized bits that you end up with. They're chewy.
These are very, VERY hard to stop eating. The cookie part is really just an amazingly good pie crust, and if I want to make any sweet pies in the future, I'll have to think about using this recipe. It is tender, yet holds its shape, it puffs ever so slightly as it cooks, and it has a hint of flakiness. These are phenomenal while they are hot out of the oven, but once they cool, the cream cheese flavor in the crust comes back out, and the jam filling gets extra chewy.
I had to give 3/4 of the recipe to my siblings immediately. Even so, I caught myself thinking "So you ate 6 cookies earlier. That's not much different than say, a PBJ, right? And there are 6 cookies left. I could have those for dessert. That's like, one slice of pie...