Rugelach

A Pat & A Pinch - RugelachI first experienced rugelach when a child living in Princeton NJ. My parents used to buy them at the local grocery store, Davidson’s (which sadly closed in 1997). My mother doesn’t eat walnuts which are frequently in rugelach fillings, but Davidson’s had a version with hazelnuts and raspberry jam that she loved. I thought it would be a good idea to replicate them.

For the pastry, I went to the excellent blog Smitten Kitchen, which offers a pragmatic approach to rugelach pastry and favours a simple log sliced into bite size morsels and other log variations. However, I still prefer the traditional crescent rolls to the sliced logs. The filling is my own concoction.

If hazelnuts and raspberry aren’t your ideal of a rugelach filling, the world is your oyster. There are many sweet filling choices and I’ve seen some interesting suggestions for savoury rugelach fillings.

One of the great things about rugelach is that they can be made in stages. The pastry can be made several days ahead of assembly and the rolled cookie can be chilled for a day or frozen (before applying the egg finish) for up to a week before baking.  They are best eaten in the first few days after baking, so freezing some of the unbaked ones is a good idea if you want them at their best. It is easiest to freeze the log version, but the crescents can also be frozen.

Rugelach

Dough

2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon fine sea or table salt

1/2 pound (225 grams) unsalted butter

1/2 pound (1 8-ounce or 225-gram package) cream cheese

Filling

1 jar seedless raspberry jam (you won’t use the whole jar)

1 cup hazelnuts, blanched and roasted and chopped very finely

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Finish

1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water or milk

Turbinado or white sugar

Make the dough:

Place flour and salt in a food processor bowl fitted with standard blade. Pulse to combine. Add cream cheese, chopped into large chunks, and run machine until it’s fully dispersed into the flour. Add butter in large chunks and run machine just until dough starts to clump. Dump out onto a clean counter or cutting board and form into four flattish discs. Wrap each disc with plastic wrap.

Chill dough until totally firm — about 2 hours in the fridge you can hasten this along in the freezer for about 30 minutes. (Dough keeps in fridge for up to a week, and in freezer much longer.)

Assemble the rugelach:

Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and hazelnuts together.

On a well-floured counter or board , roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. If the dough has been in the fridge for a while, it might be quite firm but will soften quickly. The dough is sticky so you will need lots of flour on the rolling pin.  I flipped my dough regularly to ensure that it was not sticking.

Leaving a 1/2 inch circle in the centre of the pastry clear, spread the circle with a thin layer of raspberry jam. Leaving this small circle at the centre clear of filling will make it easier to get the pastry to stick to itself when rolled.

Sprinkle 1/4 of the filling mixture evenly across the jammy surface. Lightly press the filling into the dough.

Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut the circle into 12 equal wedges by cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge gently pressing the point into the rolled dough so that it won’t peel back when baking. (For the log version, see the Smitten Kitchen link above.) Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Chill for 30 minutes.

Baking the rugelach:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush each cookie with the egg mixture. Sprinkle the cookies lightly with the turbinado sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

A Pat & A Pinch - Rugelach

 

 

 

 

 

Italian Polenta Cookies

A Pat & A Pinch - Italian Polenta CookiesAs the season for baking ramps up, I’ve been thinking a lot about these cookies. They are quite different from most of the cookies I’ve tried.  If you’ve looked through my blog, you will have seen that I have a penchant for foods that can boast of lemon.  In this recipe the lemon is rounded out by the addition of orange.  The cornmeal gives a lovely crunch and texture to an otherwise very simple and rustic cookie.

The Italian name for these cookies is Crumiri, however, we shape them by hand in the form of Torchettini, the way my mother was taught some years ago.

If you decide to make these, plan to set aside a morning or afternoon to do so. The dough comes together in no time at all, but the rolling and shaping takes a good deal of time.  The dough is challenging but forgiving to work with, and in the end, with a little patience, you will have a lovely cookie that is fantastic with tea or coffee.

Italian Polenta Cookies

6 oz (3/4 cup) butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

zest of two oranges (approx 1 generous tbsp very finely grated or chopped)

zest of two lemons (approx 1 generous tbsp very finely grated or chopped)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups cornmeal

3 cups flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (325 if using dark coloured baking sheets). Line the baking sheets with parchment.

Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs.  Add the vanilla and zests mixing to incorporate.

Add the salt, cornmeal and flour. Mix to create a dough that pulls away from the side of the mixing bowl.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and take a lump of the dough (enough to make a 2 inch round lump) and knead it together in your hands to meld the dough into a more solid mass. Using your hands like a rolling pin, roll the dough on a wooden cutting board to create a long thin tube of dough.

Cut off a six inch piece of the tube and gently fold into a U shape using your fingers to support the curve of the U as you bend the dough.  (The dough has a tendency to crack and will crack during baking as well.  Don’t fret – these are rustic cookies.) Allow one end of the U to be a little longer than the other. Fold the longer end over the shorter end. The two ends should end up approximately even looking in length.

Repeat until all the dough is used.

Bake for 17-22 minutes watching carefully and removing at the first sign of browning. If they cook too long they will be tasty but hard.

Makes approximately 60 cookies.

A Pat & A Pinch - Italian Polenta Cookies

 

Mocha Balls

This recipe is a personal favorite of mine.  As a child, my Omi would always sneak me a “bedtime snack” after dinner, dessert, and even brushing my teeth.  To this day, I find these little cookies irresistible.

In order to create an ‘About Me‘ for this blog, I invited my good friend and photographer Joshua Lawrence over to get some shots of me in the kitchen (and of course to munch on cookies).

Mocha Balls - A Pat & A Pinch

Mocha Balls

1 c. soft butter

1/2 c. sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. instant coffee

1 tbsp. hot water

1 3/4 c. flour

1/4 c. cocoa

1/2 tsp. salt

2 c. pecans, finely chopped

icing sugar

Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla together until fluffy.  Dissolve coffee in hot water and stir into butter mixture.  Sift dry ingredients into mixture.  Add chopped pecans and stir to blend well.  Shape into 1″ balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 325F for 15 minutes or until set.  Roll balls in icing sugar while still slightly warm.

Mocha Balls - A Pat & A Pinch

Mocha Balls - A Pat & A Pinch

Sea Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

My son loves chocolate chip cookies, so I am perpetually in search of the perfect chocolate chip cookie. He likes these cookies, but I love them. The touch of salt is a perfect foil to the plentiful chocolate. This wonderful recipe is from Savory Sweet Life.

The first time you try this recipe, it is important to watch the cookies carefully as they bake – they are so much better if you can get them out of the oven before they brown too much.  Don’t be distressed when their appearance changes while they cool. They will crackle more as they fall slightly and will look a touch gooey at first.

Try not to eat all of them in one sitting and do share!

Sea Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies - A Pat & A Pinch

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened

½ cup sugar

1½ cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2¾ cups (12 oz) all-purpose flour (If possible, weigh the flour)

¾ tsp. smallish-medium coarse sea salt (do not substitute with table salt)

1 tsp. baking soda

1½ tsp. baking powder (make sure it is fresh)

2¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 360 degrees.

Mix the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour in a bowl.

Cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in a mixer until it is fluffy (approx. 3 minutes on medium-high speed). Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes until the colour lightens and the texture becomes almost icing like.

Add the flour mixture beating until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Finally add chocolate chips until well distributed. The cookie batter should be somewhat thick. Chill the batter for at least 30 minutes.

Drop about 2 tablespoons of dough or use a medium cookie scoop and plop the batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the edges are nice and golden brown. Remove from heat and allow the cookies to stay on the cookie sheet for an additional 2 minutes. Pick up the parchment paper with the cookies still on top and transfer to a cool non-porous surface. Allow the cookies to cool on the paper for at least 3 minutes before serving.

Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Cookies

My son needed some cookies for his school lunches and I really wanted to make something a little new for a change. With pumpkin season upon us, he has been keen to roast pumpkin seeds, so I thought the addition of pumpkin seeds to a chocolate chip cookie might fit the bill. I came across a recipe for Seeded Chocolate Chip Cookies by Martha Rose Schulman at the New York Times, and adapted it to what I was looking for.

Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love the result; the pumpkin seeds add a lovely crunch to the texture of the cookies, the oatmeal is scant enough that they are not like an oatmeal cookie but still have the benefit in their texture, and there is a lot of chocolate for my little chocolate lover. With my scoop, I got two dozen cookies from this recipe. Next time, I might double the recipe!

Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Cookies

6 tablespoons/48 grams whole-wheat flour

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds*

½ cup/65 grams all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon/2 grams baking soda

½ cup (1 stick)/ 115 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature

¼ cup/50 grams granulated sugar

½ cup/80 grams packed light brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla/5 milliliters

¼ cup/100 grams pumpkin seeds

½ cup (scant)/50 grams rolled oats

½ teaspoon coarsely ground sea salt

1 cup/225 grams chocolate chips (or more if desired)

* If you don’t have flax seeds on hand, you can substitute with an equivalent amount of whole-wheat flour, hemp hearts, or wheat germ.

Heat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit with racks adjusted to the lower third and middle of the oven if your oven is large enough to take 2 sheets at a time. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stir the flours, ground flax seed and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

In bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until lemony yellow, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of the bowl and paddle. Add the sugars. Continue creaming mixture on medium speed until it is lump free, about 1 minute. Stop mixer and scrape down sides of the bowl and the paddle.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated. Scrape down sides of the bowl and paddle.

On low speed, add sifted flour mixture. Beat slowly until all of the flour mixture is incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add the seeds, oats, chocolate chips and salt and mix in.

Spoon dough by heaped tablespoons or a scoop at least 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake 9 to 14 minutes, depending on your oven, until lightly browned, turning the baking sheets from front to back halfway through the baking. If you cook two sheets at the same time, also rotate them from top to bottom and vice versa.

Remove from oven and slide parchment off the baking sheet and onto a work surface. Allow cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving, or for at least 20 minutes before storing in an airtight container.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Decadence

My son began first grade this week and I wanted to celebrate with a new treat for his lunch box.  Chocolate is a favourite of his and cookie dough is a highly prized item in his food choices, so these bars seemed like the perfect idea. They are adapted from a contribution to The Food Recipe Critic that was, in turn, adapted the recipe from Lifes Simple Measures, the major difference being that these are nut-free.

These bars were a huge hit, even with my dad who began as a sceptic, but they won’t be going in any lunch boxes as they wouldn’t survive the ordeals that lunchbox items must be prepared to endure.

I was a little concerned that the dough might be too soft, so I was careful about the amount of sweetened condensed milk that I added. In the end, I chose not to scrape out the can of condensed milk, leaving a good tablespoon in the can. Even at that, the dough is quite soft when not fully chilled. Consequently, I wouldn’t serve these bars on a hot day when they had to sit out of the fridge for any time.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Decadence - A Pat & A Pinch

In Canada, sweetened condensed milk comes in 300ml cans.  This is roughly 10 oz in size. Not wanting to have part of a can of condensed milk left over, I adjusted the following amounts by 7/10ths and used a loaf pan approximately 9×5 inches in size. The adjusted amounts are in parentheses.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Decadence

½ c. unsalted butter, softened (5 3/5 tbsp)

¾ c. packed light brown sugar (8 tbsp + 1 tsp)

1 tsp. vanilla extract (I like vanilla, so I used a light tsp)

2 c. all purpose flour (1 c. + 6 tbsp. + 1 tsp.)

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk ( 1 300 ml. can)

2 c. mini chocolate chips (1 c. + 6 tbsp. + 1 tsp.)

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (½ c. + 3 tbsp.)

1 tbsp. cream (2 tsp)

1 1/2 tsp. butter (1 generous tsp.)

Line an 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until it is fluffy. This takes about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and beat until combined.

Turn the mixer to low and alternate the flour and the sweetened condensed milk until combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.

Press the cookie dough into the bottom of the 8×8 pan. It will be sticky so lightly flour your hands if needed.

Cover your bars with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight until firm.

To make the topping, combine the cup of chocolate chips, the cream and the butter in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds and stir. Repeat as needed to obtain a smooth consistency but be very careful to not overheat the chocolate or it will become stiff and grainy. Pour and spread over the top of the chilled dough and chill at least for 1 hour until firm.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Decadence - A Pat & A Pinch