Saturday, 26 September 2009

L'Shana Tova!

I can't believe it's already been a week since Jewish New Year! Already the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, is upon us (along with the prospect of a long fast. Oy!).

For Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) I baked a bunch of goodies - it was an interesting baking experience for me. I thought I'd use Dorie Greenspan's cookery book, because it had been gracing my shelf for quite some time without me cooking from it. I know she's a firm favourite with just about everyone but my personal opinions are mixed. For someone who does not eat milk and meat together, her book is not ideal because she seems to put cream cheese is so many things - things that, in my opinion, don't need it, like Date and Nut Loaf.

I made Date and Nut Loaf, Rugelach and Peanut Butter Cookies. A few disclaimers: I omitted the chopped peanuts from the peanut butter recipe. I made the Rugelach exactly as described in the book first time round but in all honesty I found the filling very disappointing - it just wasn't good. To be fair, Dorie does say that she expects cooks to modify this filling. So straight after I made a batch a la Dorie, I remade the whole thing with just a chocolate filling (praline and dark!). I also made mine HUGE, double the size Dorie recommends, because that's how we like them in my family, but I know that the smaller ones are more elegant. Ah, elegant shmelegant!

I gave the cookie platter to Marc's parents, who were meeting my Dad for the first time. I think it went down well!


4 oz. cold cream cheese, cut into 4 piece
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup raspberry jam, apricot jam or marmalade
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts or almonds)
1/4 cup dried currants or chopped dried cherries
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or mini chocolate chips (or chopped regular chips)
1 large egg
1 tsp. cold water
2 Tbsp. sugar, preferably coarse

Make the dough: Put flour and salt in a food processor, and scatter the cream cheese and butter chunks overtop. Pulse the machine 6-10 times, then process, scraping down the sides as necessary. Stop when the dough forms large curds.

Turn the dough out, gather it into a ball, divide it in two, and refrigerate each half in plastic wrap for at least two hours and up to one day

Make the filling: heat the jam in a saucepan over low heat until it liquefies. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and set aside. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone
Shape the cookies: Pull one packet of dough from the refrigerator. If it's too easy to roll, leave it out for ten minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into an 11-12 inch circle. Spoon a thin gloss of jam overtop, and sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar. Scatter over half of the chopped stuff (nuts etc), and use a piece of wax paper to press the ingredients into the dough. Set aside the paper for the second batch of dough.

Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, slice the dough into quarters, and slice each of the quarters into four long, narrow triangles. Starting at the outside rim of each triangle (the base), roll each triangle up so that it becomes a little crescent. Make sure points are tucked under the cookie, and arrange on a baking sheet. Repeat with the second packet of dough. Refrigerate rugelach for at least 30 minutes before baking.

Position racks to divide oven into thirds, and preheat to 350 degrees. Stir the egg and water together, and brush a bit of this glaze over the rugelach. Sprinkle each with coarse sugar. (I didn't have any, so I used more cinnamon sugar.) Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating sheets from top to bottom and front to back half way through. Jam will likely have leaked out, so it's best to scoop underneath each cookie within a minute of removing them from the oven, so that they don't stick to the tray.

Peanut Butter Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of nutmeg
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup chopped salted peanuts
1/2 cup chopped milk chocolate
Raw sugar

Stir dry ingredients. Cream butter and peanut butter. Add sugar. Then eggs one at a time. Combine with dry ingredients. Fold in peanuts and chocolate.
Bake on lightly greased cookie sheets, roll cookies in raw sugar, press down with fingers or fork.
Bake for 12 minutes, cool on rack.