Can we pretend that it's still Christmas for 10 minutes? I know I need to move on and head to the gym instead of urging you to play this silly game with me. But I have my reason for that. As embarassing as it may sound, I have procastinated once again and let some Christmas cookies recipes and photos left unpublished. I have been wanting to do that before new year actually, but decided to take a break from blogging. Excuse, excuse. I can almost see you shaking your head through my monitor screen. I wonder if one day the google search of "procastination" would link you to my blog.
Let's talk about these cookies shall we? The one on the top left is Rugelach. The first time I saw them on Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours, I didn't think much about the mini crescent looking cookies. One look at the recipe further dissuaded me from attempting it. The recipe is simply too "time consuming". One has to first, make the dough; chill it for 2 hours,then top it with warmed and cooled jam and nuts, shape (which is an elaborate process), chill again and FINALLY bake it.
So what prodded me to make Rugelach? I don't know. Maybe I wanted to make something different from last year. Or I was simply out of ideas of what to bake! In any case, I am glad I made them. They are de.li.cious! In a way I have never expected a mini crescent lookalike would taste. I could taste the flaky and buttery dough which enclosed the delicious apricot preserve, chopped dried cherries and chocolate chunks in every mouthful. Rugelach is undoubtedly one of the great cookies I discovered in 2007.
The Pinwheel Cookies used the leftover chocolate dough from the Nutella Two Tone Cookies I made and some sweet tart dough which I happened to have in the freezer.Honestly, I think they are just ok. Not the kind of cookies I would write home about.
The snowflakes cookies used the leftover from the vanilla dough of Nutella Two Tone Cookies. It was a good base for cut-out cookies, as the dough didn't spread much during baking.
This Christmas season I also attempted chocolate tempering for the first time. It wasn't as hard as I had envisaged it. Although it certainly took a bit of patience. These rocky roads, with 60% bittersweet chocolate, brazil nuts and marshmallows were part of my goodies packages. OCT and I felt that there was too many marshmallows in the rocky road, and we will probably cut that by half next time. I was too lazy to make my own marshmallows and resorted to the store bought version. I am sure the homemade marshmallow will most definitely enhance the yum factor of the rocky road. Maybe next time....
Now that the Christmas cookies are out of my system, I can move on to embrace 2008!
p/s: do you remember these cookies I submitted to Susan's Eat Christmas cookies event? The hot chocolate cookies has been shortlisted as one of the ten cookies which stands a chance to win Sherry Yard's latest book "Desserts by the Yard"! I feel really honored to be one of the finalists, considering there are 212 absolutely droolworthy entries. And if you love the idea of a crispy chocolatey cookie with a pillowy marshmallow topping, drizzled with decadent melted bittersweet chocolate, would you cast a vote for me? :)If my hot chocolate cookies doesn't appeal to you, do check out the rest of the cookies, and vote for one that calls out to you.
adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours
4 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into 4 pieces
1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped pecans (you can use walnuts or almonds)
1/4 cup dried cherries
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or 2/3 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
For the Glaze
1 large egg
1 teaspoon cold water
2 tablespoons sugar, preferably decorating (coarse) sugar
For the Filling
2/3 cup raspberry jam, apricot jam or marmalade
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
TO MAKE THE DOUGH BY HAND:
Let the cream cheese and butter rest on the counter until very soft but not melted.They should be spreadable.
Put the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl, dump in the butter and cream cheese. With a wooden spoon or silicon spatula, mix everything until well combined. You can use your hands to combine the last few stubborn grains of flour into the dough. Be gentle with the dough!
Turn the dough out, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each half into a disk, wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 1 day.
TO MAKE THE DOUGH BY FOOD PROCESSOR:
Let the cream cheese and butter rest on the counter for 10 minutes — you want them to be slightly softened but still cool.
Put the flour and salt in a food processor, scatter over the chunks of cream cheese and butter and pulse the machine 6 to 10 times. Then process, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, just until the dough forms large curds — don't work it so long that it forms a ball on the blade.
Turn the dough out, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each half into a disk, wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 1 day. (Wrapped airtight, the dough can be frozen for up to 2 months.)
TO MAKE THE FILLING: Heat the jam in a saucepan over low heat, or do this in a microwave, until it liquefies. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together.
Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. (Silicone baking mats are great for rugelach.)
TO SHAPE THE COOKIES: Pull one packet of dough from the refrigerator. If it is too firm to roll easily, either leave it on the counter for about 10 minutes or give it a few bashes with your rolling pin.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into an 11- to 12-inch circle. Spoon (or brush) a thin gloss of jam over the dough, and sprinkle over half of the cinnamon sugar. Scatter over half of the nuts, half of the cherries and half of the chopped chocolate. Cover the filling with a piece of wax paper and gently press the filling into the dough, then remove the paper and save it for the next batch.
Using a pizza wheel or a sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 wedges, or triangles. (The easiest way to do this is to cut the dough into quarters, then to cut each quarter into 4 triangles.) Starting at the base of each triangle, roll the dough up so that each cookie becomes a little crescent. Arrange the roll-ups on one baking sheet, making sure the points are tucked under the cookies, and refrigerate. Repeat with the second packet of dough, and refrigerate the cookies for at least 30 minutes before baking. (The cookies can be covered and refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 2 months; don't defrost before baking, just add a couple of minutes to the baking time.)
GETTING READY TO BAKE: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
TO GLAZE: Stir the egg and water together, and brush a bit of this glaze over each rugelach. Sprinkle the cookies with the sugar.
Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until they are puffed and golden. Transfer the cookies to racks to cool to just warm or to room temperature.
STORING: The cookies can be kept covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months
makes about 32 cookies.
Homemade Rocky Road
adapted from The Great Book of Chocolate
1-1/4 pounds 70% Cacao Bittersweet or 62% Cacao Semisweet Chocolate, chopped
1-1/2 cups roasted brazil nuts (you can also use unsalted peanuts or almonds, toasted)
1 pound of mini marshmallow
1/2 cup roasted Cacao Nibs (optional)
Chop up all the chocolate. Place 16 ounces of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt it over simmering water, stirring frequently, until it is fully melted and smooth.
Remove the bowl from over the simmering water and stir in the remaining 4 ounces of chocolate. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until the temperature falls to the low 80 degree F range.
"Flash" the bowl over the simmering water by putting it back over the water for 3 to 5 seconds at a time, stirring frequently, until the temperature reads between 88 degrees F and 91 degrees F (using care if using a breakable glass thermometer). You’ll need to flash it several times to get it to the correct temperature. Don’t be tempted to keep the chocolate over the heat until it reaches the proper temperature; it will continue to rise after you remove the bowl from the heat. (If the temperature rises over 91 degrees F, you’ll need to begin the process all over again.)
Test the chocolate by spreading a thin layer on waxed paper, aluminum foil or a plate. Let it cool for a few minutes. If it hardens within that period of time, it is tempered. If it stays wet or gets grainy, then it is not properly tempered.
Once you have tempered the chocolate, immediately toss the marshmallows, nuts and cacao nibs into the tempered chocolate until just coated, stirring as little as possible because the chocolate cools as it is stirred and will set up quickly.
Heap the Rocky Road on the lined baking sheet, spread just a bit, and then chill until firm.
Cut the Rocky Road into irregular pieces and serve.
The candy can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.