Holiday Cookies

For many, the holiday season isn’t complete without cookies and in the kitchen at Succulent Catering we tend to agree. Recently a client asked us to create a Russian themed lunch and we decided cookies were just the thing to complete the meal. How does this align with holiday cookies you ask? One taste of a pryaniki’s spices and you’ll be thinking about gathering family and friends to share them beside the fireplace after a day of playing in the snow.

There are many ways to make pryaniki and I blended a couple of recipes together for the version I made. I chose to use some rye flour as well, increasing the depth of flavor–I’m a big fan of using rye flour in many things. Chef Traci and I chose to roll out the dough and cut it with a cookie cutter rather than the more traditional ball. This resulted in a crispier cookie, like the more well known gingerbread, but I doubt you will mind when you taste it.

I also made rugelach (with chocolate of course, because why not?!), and Russian tea cakes (also known as Mexican Wedding cakes, read more about the origins in this LA Times article, I love a bit of food history). All three of these cookies would make a great addition to any holiday cookie platter.

Happy Baking!

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Pryaniki

Ingredients

Cookie Dough:

  • 400 g ap flour
  • 50 g rye flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp gr. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 40 grams unsalted butter, melted
  • 265 grams honey

Glaze:

  • 110 grams confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons water
  • Orange zest
  • 1/2 tsp gr cardamom

Method

  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and allspice, and salt
  2. Beat yolks, whole egg, melted butter, and honey
  3. Mix in the dry ingredients until well incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour
  4. preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  5. Using a cookie scoop, portion out mounds of dough and roll them in your hands until they are completely smooth
  6. Place on the prepared cookie sheets leaving 2 inches between each cookie. They will flatten out somewhat but still retain a domed shape
  7. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes, or until just golden, rotating the sheets halfway through for even baking. Cool on the sheets until the cookies firm slightly. Transfer to racks to finish cooling
  8. To make the glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and enough water (1 to 2 tablespoons) to form a thin icing. Spread on cooled cookies with a pastry brush

 

Russian Tea Cakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • Powdered sugar

Method

  1. Sift flour and salt together
  2. Cream butter in large bowl until light
  3. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and beat until fluffy
  4. Add vanilla
  5. Mix in dry ingredients in 3 batches
  6. Mix in nuts
  7. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours.
  8. Preheat oven to 400°F
  9. Form dough into 1-inch balls
  10. Space 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet
  11. Bake until just firm to touch, about 15 minutes
  12. Transfer to rack and cool slightly
  13. Roll in powdered sugar
  14. Cool completely
  15. Roll cookies in powdered sugar again
  16. Store in airtight container.

 

Rugelach Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Dough

  • 260 grams ap flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 225 g unsalted butter
  • 225 g cream cheese

Filling

  • Mix together and set aside 1/4 c
    • 135 g granulated sugar
    • 1 1/2 T gr cinnamon
  • 1/3 c finely chopped chocolate
  • 1/3 c toasted walnuts, chopped small
  • 1/3 c dried currants
  • 1/2 to 3/4 c apricot jam

Finish

  • 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water or milk
  • Remaining cinnamon-sugar from above

Make the dough:

Cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in salt. Add flour, beating until it disappears. Scrape dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and form into a flattish disc.

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.)

Form the pastries:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F and line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper
  2. Stir cinnamon and sugar together in a small dish.
  3. Combine coarse mixture of chocolate, nuts and dried fruit in a second dish.
  4. Divide dough into quarters and roll first quarter out on a floured counter into a rectangle about 12 inches wide and 7 to 8 inches long, with the wider side to you. Thinly spread 2-3 T jam to all but the furthest 1/4” of dough from you — which seals better once rolled if bare
  5. Sprinkle with 2 T cinnamon-sugar, then 4 tablespoons coarse fruit and nut mixture.
  6. Roll dough from the 12-inch side in front of you into as tight as a log as you can, using your fingers to lightly seal the ends onto the log. Repeat with remaining logs.
  7. Place log of filled dough in freezer for 10 to 15 minutes; it will cut more cleanly once semi-firm. Trim ends from log so they have a clean shape. Cut log into 10 to 12 even slices. Arrange on prepared baking sheets a couple inches apart from each other.
  8. Brush top(s) lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with a total of 1 teaspoon of the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown on top.
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