Monday, January 5, 2009

A New Year, and a Promise Kept

Well hello, blogging! Nice to see you again after an extended Christmas/New Year's break.

As Jonathan and I tend to do whenever we have a few free days, we escaped to San Francisco for the holidays, and this time had the chance to stick around there for almost two weeks. So, that meant a total of three trips to the Ferry Building farmers market, several walks and jogs to the Golden Gate Bridge, two(!!!) visits to Chez Panisse, one organic, 100% grass-fed beef hot dog on an Acme roll (for Jonathan), and a whole heck of a lot of sitting in that lovely California traffic that I love so much.

[Jonathan eating his organic hot dog, from a cart near the Golden Gate Bridge]

All in all, a great trip, although being out of my kitchen and without a camera made the whole blogging thing a bit difficult. In fact, I even skipped out of December's Daring Bakers Challenge - both a sad and a rare event. Don't worry though, I'll be back for January's challenge (and not just because it is a wee bit easier than December's buche).

But no matter, it's a new year, and that means that everybody in the blogosphere has traded sugar for spinach, butter for brussels sprouts, and cream for carrots. Healthy food is the order of the day, and it's something I both love to make, and, especially at this time of year, love to eat. No more cookies for a good long time, I hope. Well, at least for another week.

The things is, though, I did promise a cookie recipe in my last post, and it would truly be cruel not to include one after my protracted ode to all things buttery and sugary. Besides, the cookie recipe I had in mind is a rather light one made with whole wheat flour, and could be used for any occasion (not just Christmas). So, I'll go ahead and post it, and this time, my promise for a future post will be a hearty and healthy recipe that can be enjoyed despite any New Year's resolution-type restrictions.

Remember those linzer-looking cookies from my photos in the last post? Well, they are really just sandwich cookies made with an incredibly versatile and tasty cookie dough. I originally formulated the recipe last year, in an attempt to make a reasonably healthy Hamantaschen. The result was a less-sweet sugar cookie that has the slightly earthy flavor of whole wheat, the essence of fruit and vanilla, and a mild flavor that pairs perfectly with chocolate or jam.

For my Christmas cookie basket, I slathered some of these little cookie coins with royal icing, and used the rest to make grapefruit marmalade sandwiches. The bitter grapefruit gave these cookies a sophisticated feel which I liked quite a bit, but they are also great plain, dunked in tea, or sandwiched with any number of other fillings (did I mention chocolate?)

Don't be fooled; these aren't the healthiest treats that have ever appeared on this blog (and that would be quite a feat, indeed), but for cookies, they aren't bad, with not too much butter, just enough sugar, and of course, my beloved whole-grain flour. For Christmas, Purim, or whatever other holiday you can dream up as an excuse to make cookies, these are just right.

Just Sweet Enough Cookie Dough

3 c. white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour (or a combination)
2/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
6 tbs. butter, softened
1/2 c. smooth applesauce (or use baby food)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
icing, marmalade, or chocolate ganache, if desired, for filling

In bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light. Add eggs, applesauce, and extracts, and mix until well combined. Mix flour with salt and baking powder in a separate bowl, and then add mixture to the wet ingredients in 3 additions, mixing well after each. Divide dough in two and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so, until dough is firm enough to roll. Using a floured rolling pin and board, roll out dough to about 1/4 inch. Use cookie cutters to cut desired shapes, and bake cookies at 375 degrees F for 7-10 minutes, until they are just golden on the bottom. Allow to cool, and then frost with royal icing or sandwich together with ganache or marmalade.

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