‘Tis the season to be baking! I’ll be the first to admit, Cookies are not my forte. That’s not to say I can’t bake at all. I can actually manage quite well in the muffin, bread, or pie department. However, when it comes to the seemingly simplest of confections, I’m not as comfortable as I would like to be.
Generally speaking, the art of baking is too darn precise for the “sprinkle here-dash there” style of cooking that I normally employ in the kitchen and, frankly, the only time I find myself using measuring tools is when I’m finalizing a recipe for my beloved blog readers. But no complaints here. I’d do anything for you : ) Cookies, however, take precision a step further with recipe stipulations like “chill dough” and “don’t over-beat” and, to boot, possess shortened baking timeframes wherein one to two minutes extra in the oven can be the difference between extraordinary success and utter failure.
Despite defeat after defeat in the baking department through the years, I always heard a faint voice calling out and prompting me to give it that old “college try” one more time. I recall the famous line by Samuel Becket: ”Ever Tried. Every Failed. No Matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better.” Like maybe this will be the recipe in which I succeed. Or, let’s be honest, it’s conceivably the crazy competitive streak deep within me screaming, “If said person can bake cookies, then I most certainly can, too.”
In spite of my valiant attempts, I am never quite as satisfied with the results of my batch of cookies as I am with one of my savory dinner delights. Most every cookie I’ve ever put into the oven has come out warm and chewy and then hours later hardened into a rock. That is, until now…
Let’s rewind. I’ve always worked better under pressure, so when I saw that Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen were organizing The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, the voice within me whispered, “It’s on. This is an amazing opportunity to connect with your peers in the food blogging world. Are you really going to let a little teensy weensy confection like a cookie hold you back? You must do this.”
And, with that, I signed up and submitted myself to weekends of baking, testing, and experimenting with different doughs, temperatures, and methods of cookie baking. One particular Saturday afternoon during that time, Joe and I didn’t even eat lunch. We found ourselves neck deep in cookies, sampling one after another until we were belly-aching on the couch. Finally, I found a family recipe for rugelach and decided to give them a shot. Rugelach are a traditional Jewish cookie filled with cinnamon sugar and sometimes chocolate. Most of the other doughs I worked with were fattened up with butter or shortening, but these also had cream cheese. Well, maybe it was the cream cheese, or maybe it’s just a damn good foolproof recipe. Either way, batch after batch was successful. I found a dough I could handle and made a cookie that tasted yummy moments out of the oven and even a week later. I decided to swap out the traditional cinnamon-raisin filling and experiment a bit using a nutella-hazlenut-sea salt combo, and ultimately, our favorite and choice for the swap, a raspberry-almond combo. This was a cookie I could be proud of and have confidence in; a cookie that would give me “street cred” and the encouragement to bake again. Hallelujah!
I mailed out my cookies the week before heading down to New Orleans and have gotten some really positive feedback from the bloggers whom received them, which in itself was so rewarding. However, after all of the work that went into experimenting and ultimately deciding, baking, boxing, and shipping my own cookies, I completely forgot that I was also a recipient in the swap. Three different food bloggers mailed me one dozen cookies, including gingerbread snickerdoodles (yum!), maple walnut cookies (delish), and salted chocolate pecan oatmeal cookies (drool!). Needless to say, Joe and I had a field day with these treats. Every night I came home from work and found out there was a package waiting for me, it was like Christmas morning! Who’s the sender? What’s going to be inside? So much fun and such a wonderful opportunity to connect with my fellow food bloggers! This has truly been an inspiring event that I will undoubtedly be participating in next year. I expect that there will be many more cookie endeavors between now and then and hope to further overcome my cookie-phobia by that time. Practice makes perfect, right?
From My Sweetheart
Life Of A Bama Girl
Makes 48 cookies
For the dough:
1 cup of butter, softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
For the filling:
1 cup sliced almonds
1-1/4 cup raspberry preserves
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cups sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
In larger mixer bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add flour and salt and continue mixing until well blended. Wrap and chill dough for at least two hours.
Pulse almonds approximately ten times in a food processor until they resemble a coarse crumble. Do not process into a meal or powder. The sliced almond appearance should be slightly recognizable. Set aside in a small bowl.
Mix the two egg yolks with one part water and stir gently. Set aside. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.
Divide chilled dough into six equal parts. Work with one piece of dough at a time, keeping other parts wrapped and chilled in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll dough ball on a clean surface into approximately a 8 1/2-inch circle. Use a pastry wheel to cut the circle into eight equal pie-shaped wedges. Spread a heaping 1/2 teaspoonful of raspberry preserves onto each wedge. Leave about 1/4″ of the border clean all the way around the wedge. Sprinkle processed almonds onto the preserves and pat down gently with the back of a wooden spoon. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. I used a pastry scraper to gently lift the dough and begin rolling. Arrange the cookies on parchment paper lined cookie sheet with the points tucked under. Refrigerate the tray while you begin working on the next ball of dough. I was able to fit two balls worth of cookies (16) onto each cookie sheet. Once you have filled the cookie sheet, brush the tops of the cookies with the egg wash. Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar.
Bake for 15 – 17 minutes until light golden. Remove from oven and immediately transfer to a wire wrack to cool. Repeat until all dough is finished.
- Need to soften butter in a pinch? Here’s a great trick I uncovered when I gave these my first go.
- I used a scalloped pastry wheel to cut my dough into the pie-shaped wedges. However, I didn’t own one for the first batch I made and a pizza wheel served me just fine.
- I mentioned that the dough should chill for two hours. I also chilled it as long as overnight and it worked just fine. Good to know if you want to prep in advance.