December 27, 2011

Eastern Europe’s Import and Macaroons Sandwich

I am rapidly running out of time so it’s time to step up cookie exchange efforts. My mom and her friend Natalie did a bake-off of their own. Not only did Natalie send me super-detailed recipes but she packed up a box of cookies too (and I can tell you, Rugelach is A-D-D-I-C-T-I-V-E!).

Rugelach with cheeries and walnuts

Chocolate Chip, Cherry and Walnut Rugelach

"Rugelach comes from Russian "rogaliki” - one more wonderful addition to American Cuisine from the Eastern Europe. I omit chocolate chips as well as cinnamon and use Smucker’s Low Sugar Apricot Preserve instead of Sour Cherry preserve, which would be delicious, but is not always the right consistency or readily available. In this case it has to be spreadable. I also prefer toasted almonds or toasted pecan instead of walnuts, but it's all about personal taste. One more thing I learned after making it for year and years, this is not the case where too much filling is a good thing.”

Yield: Makes 32

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 ounces chilled cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons cherry preserves
8 tablespoons dried tart cherries
8 tablespoons miniature semisweet chocolate chips
8 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup (about) whipping cream

For dough:

Blend first 3 ingredients in processor. Add butter and cream cheese and cut in using on/off turns until dough begins to clump together. Gather dough into ball. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces; flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate 2 hours. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated. Let soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.)

For filling:

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 9-inch round. Spread 3 tablespoons cherry preserves over dough, leaving 1-inch border. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons dried cherries, then 2 tablespoons chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar and 2 tablespoons walnuts. Press filling firmly to adhere to dough.
Cut dough round into 8 equal wedges. Starting at wide end of each wedge, roll up tightly. Arrange cookies, tip side down, on prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart and bending slightly to form crescents. Repeat 3 more times with remaining dough disks, preserves, dried cherries, chocolate chips, cinnamon sugar and walnuts. Place baking sheet in freezer 30 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Brush cookies lightly with whipping cream. Bake frozen cookies until golden brown, about 40 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely. (Can be made ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month.)

Chocolate Macaroons
In this recipe the finished cookies and sandwiched using the filling.

Chocolate Macaroon with almonds

1 1-pound box powdered sugar
2 cups whole blanched almonds
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
6 extra large egg whites
1/2 pack of sweetened coconut flakes (coconut can be omitted, but large eggs have to be used instead)

(I made a mistake of using jumbo eggs and the batter ended up being not stiff enough which attributes to somewhat free form shape. I also used 1.5 cups of almonds and 0.5 cup of blanched toasted hazelnuts, just because I like hazelnut's ever so subtle but distinct taste.)

Mocha Ganache
I will be using Mocha Ganache as a filling, but simple Dulce De Leche (try Spanish market or sometimes in the Spanish food section) would be a great as a filling also.

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
9 ounces imported milk chocolate (such as Lindt), chopped (I am using bittersweet chocolate)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bring cream and butter to simmer in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add instant coffee granules; stir to dissolve. Reduce heat to low. Add chocolate; stir until melted. Mix in vanilla. Pour into bowl. Chill until firm enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.

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