butter top bar

butter top bar

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lemon Roll-Out Shortbread Cookies

Let me just start this post off by saying, I will probably be blabbing a bit. My apologies. 
Good evening! How are you? I would love to say that I'm swell, but I have terrible back pain that I can't seem to get rid of. I mean really, really bad pain. Lucky me!
I'm so excited because Jon came into town this past weekend. It was wonderful. I have to admit how much nicer it is to have him around. He's my guy. He's my guy who makes me feel whole.
 I think that's how you know you're in love. If you feel incomplete while your partner in crime is far away from you, you're probably in love. Jon and I have chemistry. We explode every now and then but we belong together for sure. I hope the next 8 weeks go by quickly.
 On another note: All I want to do is bake. 
Literally all I think about doing is baking yummy new things. 
 I've never been very successful at baking cookies that need to be rolled out. This time, I did it with style. No problems. The trick is making sure the cookies are cool enough, so the cookies don't flatten out anymore than they need to. How do I know this? Because I'm sort of a pro.
These cookies are delicious. Feel free to substitute lemon zest for orange or even grapefruit zest. I won't tell. Promise.

Lemon Roll-Out Shortbread Cookies
makes about 30 cookies

zest from two lemons
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon raw turbinado sugar (you can also use granulated sugar)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 eggs, beaten (for egg wash)
extra sugar for sprinkling on top

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt.  Set aside.
Using your fingers, rub together 1 tablespoon sugar with lemon zest until fragrant.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment add butter, lemon-sugar mixture, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar.  Cream on medium speed until slightly more pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  There will still be raw sugar bits floating around.  That’s fine.  Stop the mixer, add the flour.  Mix on low speed until dough comes together.  The dough will be crumbly, then begin to form when it continues to mix.  Dump dough mixture out onto a clean surface and form into a ball with your hands.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.
Divide refrigerated dough into quarters.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough out to a 1/4-inch thickness.  Use a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter to cut cookies, or use a pizza cutter to slice cookies into squares.  Use a fork to prick cookies.  Brush very lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.  Refrigerate cookies while oven preheats.
Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  When oven is preheated, bake cookies for 8 to 11 minutes, until just browned around the edges.  Remove from oven.  Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Cookies last, in an airtight container at room temprature, for up to 4 days.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Rugelach – Raspberry, Nuts and Chocolate wrapped in Cream Cheese Dough

I injured my back. I have no idea how. It hurts, badly. 
I'm so irritated by the doctor I went to. She gave me literally thirty seconds of her time.
They took x-rays, didn't see anything, and she gave me this skimpy little brace and an old lady cushion.
She said she thinks I'm having muscle spasms. 
This she came up with in thirty seconds without an MRI. Wow, she must be the best doctor ever. 
Maybe I need to re-evaluate this doctor.
Maybe instead of making guesses while I'm in agony, we can actually figure out why I'm having these spasms to begin with.
She passed me off to a physical therapist which costs a fortune. I'm still trying to figure out if there is something I can do at home to make my back feel better.

Should I use a chiropractor? Should I look up physical therapy exercises and do them at home? All I know is it hurts.
The cushion hurts it even worse, and this little "brace" if you want to call it that, does nada.
If I'm going to wear the brace, give me a real brace, you know, one that actually has support. I don't care how it looks if it makes me feel better. I think it's time to get a second opinion.

Anyways, enough about me. How are you doing today? Did you stub your toe? 
I'm sorry.
This rugelach recipe uses butter and cream cheese. If you are sold on it just by those two ingredients alone, you're a person close to my heart. If not, and you need more convincing, think about it. Chocolate, jam, nuts, buttery, cream-cheesy dough. So delicious.

Rugelach – Raspberry, Nuts and Chocolate wrapped in Cream Cheese Dough Dough
8 ounces cream cheese
2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (10 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour (measured with scoop and sweep)

1 cup preserves (raspberry, apricot, cherry….)
1 cup chopped nuts, lightly toasted (pecans, walnuts, almonds…)
1 cup chocolate shavings (bittersweet, semisweet or milk)
1/4 cup cinnamon sugar (mix 1/4 cup sugar with 1 tablespoon cinnamon)
“Bubbe’s Traditional” fillings:
2 cups prunes and/or raisins, finely chopped and cooked to a paste in water or orange juice
1 cup chopped nuts, lightly toasted (pecans, walnuts, almonds…)
1/4 cup cinnamon sugar (mix 1/4 cup sugar with 1 tablespoon cinnamon)
For the top:
1/4 cup heavy cream
sugar for sprinkling on top

In a Food Processor cream together the cream cheese, butter and confectioners’ sugar. Add the lemon, zest and vanilla and pulse again to combine.
Add the flour and pulse the dough until it comes together in a soft ball. Divide the ball in two discs and refrigerate for about one hour or overnight. Dough can be frozen for about 3 weeks or until you remember that it is in there.

Preheat oven to 350°F
On a well floured surface,roll the dough to about an 1/8-inch thick round.
Cover with about 1/2 cup of the preserves. Use a Pastry Wheel to cut the dough into 16 equal pieces. I cut the dough into quarters, then cut those in half, and then half those pieces.
Sprinkle on the nuts and/or chocolate if you are using. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
Roll the dough up, starting at the wide end. Continue to roll the dough until the pointy end is tucked under the cookie. Repeat with the rest of the pieces, working rather quickly so the dough doesn’t get too sticky. Place them on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment and lightly greased.
Brush the tops with a small amount of heavy cream.
Sprinkle with sugar.
Refrigerate rolled up rugelach for 10 minutes.
Bake for about 20 to 35 minutes, or until they are light golden-brown.
Remove the cookies from the sheet while they are still warm, so they will not stick to the parchment. Allow them to cool on a wire rack.