Cookie Book Cookies: Savory

img_0014For Christmas my son gave me Dorie’s Cookies by Doris Greenspan. It is a cookie recipe book. It was an especially nice gift because he had heard about it while listening to a podcast on Public Radio. Yes! I knew I had raised him right. The book itself is quite beautiful, great cover, lots of pictures ( my kind of recipe book!) and it weighs a ton.

bookThat poundage is because there are 160 cookie recipes in this book. While my son was home he mentioned that he was interested in the savory cookies and sure enough Dorie has a section called Cocktail Cookies that looked pretty interesting. So since the weather outside for the last week or so has certainly been nasty I decided it was time to try two of the savory selections. Half for us and half to be mailed to Nathan.

 

My first choice was Cranberry Five Spice Cookies. Chinese five-spice powder is a blend that includes star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves and fennel. Dorie loves this spice and says it is equally good in sweet or savory dishes. She likes it best when paired with something tart or tangy so that’s why she has put cranberries into the mix. Here’s the recipe:

Makes about 50 cookies

5 Tbls sugar
1/2 C fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 3/4 C flour
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut in chunks, room temperature
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 large egg
1/2 C salted peanuts ,coarsely chopped

Coarsely chopped cranberries and nuts

Coarsely chopped cranberries and nuts

Mix 1 Tbls sugar and cranberries in a bowl, set aside.

Whisk flour and five-spice powder together.

In another large bowl with a mixer or by hand, beat the butter, remaining sugar and salt together till smooth and creamy. Add the egg and beat for one minute. (The mixture will look curdled, that’s ok.) Add flour mixture all at once and mix till it becomes a dough. Spoon the cranberries (drain off any liquid first) and the nuts into the dough and mix just to incorporate. You can do this with a spatula or with your hand. I found my hand worked great. Turn dough out onto counter and knead gently. Divide in half and pat each into a disk.

Put disks between parchment paper and roll to about 1/4 inch thickness. She says then freeze for about an hour. I found this too long. You need the dough firm to cut out cookies but if it is frozen you have to wait till it softens enough to get your cutter through it. Use your judgement.

Preheat oven, 350°, line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using approx. 1 1/2″ cookie cutter, cut and place cookies on sheet. Bake 12 -14 minutes, rotating sheet half way. Cookies should be lightly brown on edges and just firm to touch. Mine needed about 18 minutes.

Cutting out Cranberry Five-spice dough

Cutting out Cranberry Five-spice dough

Repeat with remaining dough and don’t forget to use the scraps as well.

Recipe #2 was Smoky, Cheesy Cookies.

Makes about 45 cookies.

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
4 ounces cold smoked Gouda, cut into tiny cubes
2 ounces shredded sharp cheddar
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly grd black pepper
pinch of cayenne
1 1/4 C all purpose flour

Put the cold butter, Gouda, Cheddar, salt, black pepper and cayenne in a food processor and pulse until butter is in bits and mixture forms small curds. Add the flour and with long pulses mix until dough is moist and forms large popcorn-like curds. (Should be noted, mine took forever to get large popcorn-like curds. They never really were large but the dough finally started to combine and it felt moist so I just turned it out and scrunched it together and then kneaded it.)

Shape into ball, divide in half and do the same rolling, freezing and cutting as above with the Cranberry Five-spice cookies. Put on parchment paper or silicone sheet.

Almost ready for oven

Almost ready for oven

Bake 350 degrees. Bake 16 -18 minutes, rotating half way through. Mine went a little longer here too.

The verdict?

In the Cranberry Five-Spice, I couldn’t detect the five-spice flavoring that Dorie gets all excited about but the nuts and cranberries come through nicely, especially the nuts. She suggested sprinkling salt on the tops before baking and I did this for half. Both are good but my husband prefers the ones with salt. I also think they were better on the second day.

Left: Smokey-Cheesy Right: Cranberry 5-Spice

Left: Smokey-Cheesy
Right: Cranberry 5-Spice

On his initial taste of the Smoky, Cheesy ones my husband said, Cheez-its. Oh no! I went to all this trouble and they taste like Cheez-its. But not really. Yes, they may give you that at first bite but then the smokiness of the gouda comes through. These are quite nice with a little sausage and a glass of red wine or with eggs and bacon for breakfast.

I will definitely be trying more of Dorie’s recipes.

My son’s share went into the mail today. Hope I packed well.

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When Mother Nature gives you a Blizzard, Make Cookies

snowplow

Been watching the weather lately? We are part of the lucky people in the American Midwest who are experiencing a blizzard. I don’t know if it’s an official blizzard where I’m sitting but it has snowed all day and now the wind has whipped up and at 32 degrees there is a mixture of rain and sleet and wet snow slapping at my windows. Eight inches of snow on the ground and maybe three more expected.

Well, I retired two years ago and you know what the best part of retirement is?  I don’t have to go anywhere, and we need more Christmas cookies. Today I’m making Kolackys or Kolachkes,which is a Czech or Slovac soft pastry that holds a dollop of fruit. A Facebook friend, Rose, mentioned she was making these the other day and I hadn’t thought about them in years so I fired up my trusty laptop and looked for a recipe. I thought they were like thumbprint cookies but the recipes I kept finding were little folded up squares so that’s what I made. Here goes.

Cream Cheese Kolacky

3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 C. butter, softened
1 C. flour
Any flavor fruit jam
Confectioners’ sugar

Mix cream cheese and butter till smooth. Add flour slowly until well blended. (A spoon took forever, I finally used my hands for this step).  Shape into a ball and chill overnight or for several hours (I did one hour).
dough

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out to 1/8 inch thick on a floured board.  Cut into 2 and 1/2 inch squares and place approx. 1/2 tsp. of jam in the middle. Overlap opposite corners and pinch together. Place on ungreased baking sheet. (Better yet, put parchment paper on sheet, I’ll show you why below).

plain squares, squares w/ jam, squares pinched

Bake 10-12 minutes ( I found 20 minutes was better) in a preheated oven. Cool.

cookies3

This is why, in retrospect, I should have used parchment paper. Those teaspoons of jam oozed out and are now all stuck to the pan. The cookies came free just fine but I had a second batch of these to bake and I had to use another pan. Also I had prolonged cleanup later. sigh. Another suggestion, use less jam.

Once these are cooled, put a Tbls. of confectioners’ sugar in a small sieve and shake some on to each cookie.

kolachke

You may have noticed I baked these for a lot longer than the recipe called for. Well, after 12 minutes they were just too soft, tasted doughy. After another 8 minutes they achieved a puffy pie crust texture which was much better. I’ll leave it to you on how long to bake. I like them but just as a backup I also did a batch of chocolate chip/walnut cookies.

chocchip

When in doubt, chocolate chip.

Sweet Savory Sables

We don’t post too many desserts because the main chef in this house is a savory kind of guy. But every once in awhile a sweet treat intrigues him enough that he has to try it and so it was with sablé cookies. Sablé cookies are very famous in Brittany on the West Coast of France. They are very similar to shortbread, except they are made with egg yolks. They also have a characteristic sandy outside edge and are very rich in butter. He saw recipes for these in a most unlikely place, our local newspaper. What hooked him wasn’t the name Sablé but the fact that they were Chocolate Pepper Sablés, sweet and savory.

Once he made these – and they were a grand success, (see note written on the recipe) –

yum

he began to search for more sablés and of course Martha Stewart had one listed on her recipe website. The following recipes were followed to the letter, no substitutions, we thought they were good as is. They may look a bit plain but the taste is far from ordinary.

Chocolate Pepper Sablé

1 1/4 C. all purpose flour
1/2 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp freshly grd black pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda
12 Tbls unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 C. packed brown sugar
1/4 C. granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 C. finely chopped chocolate or mini chocolate chips

Cocoa, butter, pepper vanilla, flour

Cocoa, butter, pepper, vanilla, flour, brown sugar

Chopped chocolate

Chopped chocolate

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets w/ parchment paper

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, pepper and baking soda.
In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla and salt. Add the dry mixture to the butter sugar blend, then mix just until the dough forms. Mix in the chocolate chips.

choco sab3
Roll the mixture into 36 walnut-sized balls and arrange on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between them. Use a flat-bottomed glass to gently press and flatten the cookies. Dust glass with flour so it doesn’t stick.
Bake 12 – 15 minutes or until no longer wet looking. Cool on pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Store up to a week in an airtight container or freeze for later.

choco-pepper

Chocolate Pepper Sables just out of the oven.

Orange Sablé

1 1/4 C. whole almonds
1 C. confectioners’ sugar
12 Tbls unsalted butter
3 Tbls finely grated orange zest (3 oranges)
1 large egg
1 Tbls freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour

Flour, almonds, oranges, egg, butter, confectioners' sugar

Flour, almonds, oranges, egg, butter, confectioners’ sugar

Place almonds and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Process until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal; set aside.
Place butter and zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. On low, add almond mixture, beat until combined, 10-15 seconds. Add egg and orange juice; combine. Add flour, combine.
Place two 12 by 16 inch pieces of parchment paper on a clean work surface. Divide dough in half. Form a rough log with each half, place on parchment paper.
Fold parchment over dough; use a ruler to roll and press dough into a 1 1/2 inch diameter logs. Wrap. Chill for at least three hours.

Cookie log cut into rounds.

Cookie log cut into rounds.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Unwrap logs. Cut into 1/4 inch rounds. Place on sheets, one inch apart.
Bake until edges turn golden, about 15 minutes, rotating half way through.
Transfer to wire rack to cool. Bake or freeze remaining dough. Baked cookies store up to two weeks.

Orange Sable Cookies

Orange Sable Cookies

Tasty and good for barter. We traded some of our sables with a friend who brought over  chocolate chipotle cookies last night. Now those were sweet and hot.