Tag Archives: jam

Viennese Whirl Cookies

I don’t remember eating a lot of desserts growing up … crepes, cream puffs, apple strudel, walnut torte with chocolate butter cream icing. Occasionally, my mom would make small crescent shaped cookies with ground walnuts in the dough. It may have been because she just wasn’t that fond of sweets. My dad, on the other hand, had a great sweet tooth. Unfortunately he didn’t bake so desserts were a rare event.

One of the first things I ever ‘cooked’ for my dad, that he loved, was Rice Krispie squares. The microwave made throwing together a pan so easy that I could have made them weekly but I didn’t make them often which made each pan that much more appreciated. (And the no bake cheesecake with Whip and Chill whipped cream, cream cheese, a crumb base, and canned cherry pie filling. My dad LOVED it.)

Over the years, I’ve expanded my dessert repertoire, and recently, UK/British ‘biscuits’ or cookies have become a small obsession.

After some previous successes, I’m iffy on the the most recent biscuit … Viennese whirls. I think it was the ‘idea’ of the cookie that inspired me. Tender shortbread cookies piped into a swirl and baked and then a butter/icing sugar filling and raspberry jam was sandwiched between two of the cookies.

I did some research, watched a few videos, picked a nice simple recipe and made a batch this weekend.

There were challenges in piping the dough which was quite stiff, even after I added some milk. And the cookies used up a LOT of the dough. I was able to pipe sixteen cookies, with which I could only make EIGHT sandwiches. The dough spread on baking so that the two inch cookies I piped out ended up about three inches in diameter. (PS: I had to increase the baking time of the tray of cookies to 20 minutes, because the tops/edges of the cookies remained pale, even after 15 minutes. The underside was a light golden brown by the end.) Handling the cookies was a challenge too since they were so tender and crumbly that the edges broke off when I tried to move them.

Which made filling the cookies a nightmare. When I tried to press down the top cookie to make a sandwich … it crumbled. By ‘smooshing, the buttercream filling down with an offset spatula, I managed to assemble a half dozen, more or less, nice looking cookie sandwiches. The cookies themselves were barely sweet but the filling made up for the lack. The jam (I used the last of my strawberry jam since I didn’t have any raspberry) almost seemed tart in comparison. I sifted icing sugar over the top, since that’s a feature of the cookies, but it’s NOT necessary.

REVIEW: The cookies are edible but, to be honest, you can barely get through one because they’re so BIG. And sweet. I’m sure they’d be appreciated by a lot of people. They just weren’t to my taste.

In conclusion, if I were to make something similar again, I’d try a different recipe and technique for making the cookies. The round ‘mound’ (top left in the picture directly above) I made using the dough scraps spread nicely and was a tasty nibble. No piping or filling necessary. If piping, small (1 inch) rosettes might work as they’d spread during baking, resulting in much smaller and thinner cookes to construct the sandwiches with. A recent post on FB resulted in the suggestion to reduce both the flour and the cornstarch by 25 gm each.

Advertisements

Playing with Strawberry Jam

I didn’t want to title this post just “Strawberry Jam” because someone might assume I was posting about MAKING strawberry jam … and that’s not happening. Ever.

When buying jam, raspberry and apricot are neck and neck for first choice for me. A couple of weeks ago, I visited Freshco and saw that the Smucker’s brand was on sale. I decided to switch things up a bit and picked up a jar of strawberry jam instead. It was a nice treat and besides spreading it on my toasted sourdough bread and using it to fill crepes, I used it in the desserts below.

Strawberry Pop-Tarts – I used my friend Ann’s pie crust recipe for the tarts and read a number of blogs for assembly and baking instructions. The ‘recipe’ posted below is a combination of the best elements gleaned from my readings.

The results were very tasty, though I had some leftover pastry so I know I could have rolled the pastry a bit thinner and made three pop-tarts, not just two, with the pastry I had.

Glazed pop-tarts – I wasn’t sure how much icing I wanted to use so I played

Strawberry Pop-Tarts – makes 3

pie crust pastry, enough to make one 9 inch pie base
3-4 tbsp strawberry jam
1 egg white, beaten with a bit of water (use the egg yolk for the Jammie Dodgers recipe below)
1/4 cup icing sugar
enough milk to make a glaze
red or pink food colouring, if desired

Cut out a 3 1/2 inch by 5 1/2 inch piece of stiff cardboard to use as a template.

Roll out the pie crust pastry into an 11 by 12 inch rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. Cut SIX rectangles out of the pastry using the template above.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.

Line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper.

Place THREE of the pastry rectangles cut above onto the baking sheet. Brush a 1/2 inch strip of beaten egg white around all four edges of each rectangle. Place a heaping tablespoon of jam in the middle of the pastry rectangles and gently spread out, to where the egg white strip begins, with a small off-set spatula or the back of a small teaspoon. Place the tops onto each pastry and press down gently on the edges to seal. Use the tines of a fork to press down and seal the edges fully. With the prongs of the fork or a sharp skewer or toothpick, make vent holes across the top of the pastry.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the tops of the pastries are golden brown. Cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes and then use a spatula to transfer each pastry to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Make a glaze for the pastry tops by adding milk, a teaspoon at a time, to the icing sugar in a small bowl. You may add a drop or two of food colouring to the icing sugar before adding the milk.

Jammie Dodgers -This is the third most popular biscuit in the UK, according to a survey taken last December. By the way, I’ve made the number one pick, chocolate digestive biscuits, and it IS a winner. The recipe I included below is a rewritten version of the one I used, and includes vanilla extract, which that one did not. I had to extend the baking time to accommodate my oven’s idiosyncrasies.

PS: I’m not pointing fingers but the Jammie Dodgers look very similar to Linzer cookies, an Austrian rolled Christmas cookie.

Jammie Dodgers – makes about a dozen 3 inch/8 cm cookies

250 g plain/ all purpose flour*
200 g salted butter**
100 g icing sugar
1 egg yolk, from the pop-tarts recipe above
1 tsp vanilla extract
strawberry jam, to fill the cookies
additional icing sugar, for dusting

* The pastry was so soft I couldn’t pick it up without it ripping, even when I heavily dusted more flour on my work surface and over the pastry. I tried working more flour in … still too soft. I even tried freezing the pastry for half an hour with minimal benefit. Still, I persisted, and managed to get almost a dozen Jammie Dodgers baked.

** I was short on butter so I used margarine. This may have contributed to the soft pastry above but further reading suggested that a short bread type pastry dough, like this one, should have 3 pts flour: 2 pts butter: 1 pt sugar. This means that I should have used 300 g of flour. So that’s what I’ll do next time.

Preheat the to 350 deg F/170 deg C and line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and icing sugar.

Add the butter (or margarine) to the bowl and, with a pastry blender, cut it in until your mixture resembles bread crumbs.

Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and add the egg yolk and the vanilla extract. With a fork, incorporate the dry mixture into the wet. Gather the pastry into a ball and wrap it with plastic food wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Turn the pastry out onto a floured surface and roll out to around 1/4 of an inch/6 mm thickness. Cut your biscuits out into 3 inch/8 cm circles and, from half the biscuits, cut out an additional shape from the middle.

Place your cookies onto the baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the cookies are a light golden colour around the edges.

Once the cookies are cool enough to handle, dust the tops with a little icing sugar. Spread about a teaspoon of jam over the bases and sandwich the tops and bases together.

NOTE: For an even prettier presentation, using a tiny spoon, fill the cut out in the middle with a bit more jam so that it comes to the same level as the top cookie.

“Jammie Hearts” – the cutouts make bite sized cookies

Early October Wrap Up

I haven’t had a lot of inspiration for cooking in the last couple of weeks, and I’m just getting over a bad cold. A woman’s got to eat, however. Luckily, I threw a few things together before it got too bad.

I used the same basic dough recipe that I made those pumpkin and kaiser-shaped rolls with, but I left out the ground oats and threw in an egg and 1/4 cup of sugar. About 1/3 of the dough (300 gm) was rolled out and cut into six strips to wrap around Jumbo hot dogs … for pigs in blankets.

NOTE: Shaping and baking instructions found at link above.

I was going to make caramel rolls with some of the remaining dough but it turned out I didn’t have any caramel sauce in the fridge (just fudge sauce). So I got creative with the leftover cranberry sauce in my fridge and some quince jam from the pantry.

  

I transferred some of the cranberry sauce onto the quince jam portion, cause there was just too much sauce to roll up without it all oozing out. Originally, I was going to make two distinct fillings.

Icing sugar, softened butter and milk glaze

Close-up of crumb inside the rolls

Pantry chili with veggies from the crisper drawer and canned small red kidney beans and diced tomatoes (with herbs and spices). Served over or with those piggy buns.

   

Pasta is always a quick meal like this Shrimp aglio e olio over leftover linguine.  Sometimes finely minced garlic sauteed in olive oil is all you need to dress your pasta. And a sprinkle of pepperoncini (dry hot red pepper flakes). Cooking the pasta takes longer than cooking the shrimp and making the sauce.

Brunch – I love fried eggs over easy and bacon. For breakfast, lunch OR dinner. And some sort of dairy … like cottage cheese, or cream cheese if I can’t get that. Sometimes I pile it on top of toasted home made bread.

  

Red pepper hummus with home made sourdough tortillas for a quick snack or part of brunch

There’s still the weekend left for more cooking, but I think I’ll wrap things up here.

Baked Jam Donuts … 2 recipes

My donuts come from a local bakery these days cause I can get just ONE and it’s a nice treat when I’ve had a bad day or week. I’ve made them myself but, as always, frying keeps me from making them too often. So, a recipe for a baked donut seemed too good to be true. And I don’t mean those cake-y horrors but REAL yeast donuts.

Both of the recipes came from Zsuzsa’s web site … cause if you want a real donut, go to a Hungarian/Austrian/German etc. They know what they’re doing. 🙂

The link to this Austrian version came from a recommendation made by a visitor to her baked donut post, while the 2nd recipe is Zsuzsa’s creative adaptation/modification.

Austrian Baked Jam Donuts (Buchteln) – filled with cubes of quince paste. Other popular jams used include apricot, plum or rose hip as well as poppy seed, Nutella, Dulce de leche, lemon curd or sweetened cream cheese


Zsuzsa’s Baked Jam Donuts (Lekvaros Fank Sutoben Sutve) – filled with seedless blackberry jam


Rugelach and Thumbprint Cookies

Both these cookies are made with the same cream cheese dough and are addictive whichever version you choose to try.

I haven’t made rugelach in ages. The recipe for the cream cheese pastry is very easy but the actual assembly is kind of fiddly. Don’t be intimidated as you can use the basic dough to make thumbprint cookies instead of the rugelach.

The picture (thumbprint cookies on the top row and various rugelach in the other 2 rows) below shows all of the cookies I made from 1/3 of the dough plus the trimming scraps. The yield varies but after making and eating the first batch, you’ll want to whip up another one immediately. 🙂

Making Rugelach

Rugelach with preserves or jam spread on pastry as a glue, ground nuts and sugar, and chocolate chips

Cutting the triangles

Rolling up rugelach

Rugelach Pastry

1 cup (8 oz.) butter, softened slightly
8 oz. cream cheese, softened slightly
2 tbsp (increase to 1/4 cup) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups sifted all purpose flour (plus extra for rolling)

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp cold water for egg wash

Walnut filling recipe follows

NOTE: This is a very soft dough and should be handled as little as possible while chilled, using lots of flour on the working surface and on top of the dough while rolling.

In a food processor, cream together the butter, cream cheese, sugar, salt, and vanilla until they are well combined. Add the flour and pulse just until a dough forms. (If you’ve left the butter and cream cheese at room temperature for a couple of hours it will seem overly soft, more like a batter than a dough, but will firm up during refrigeration. If you are using butter and cream cheese straight out of the fridge, it will be more dough like.)

Divide the dough in half; flatten into disks and wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days, or freeze up to 3 months (thaw before baking).

Preheat oven to 350° F, with racks set in upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a small bowl, combine egg with 1 teaspoon water to make an egg wash.

Working with one disk at a time, cut in half, place dough on lightly floured parchment paper and roll out into a 9-10 inch circle about 1/4″ thick, dusting with more flour if needed. If it cracks at the edges, bring it back together or patch if there are large tears. Using a large dinner plate as a guide, cut around the dough to make a perfect circle; trim off scraps. You can refrigerate this circle before filling if it seems to have gotten too soft.

(Combine all the scraps and form into balls for thumbprint cookies at the end of baking)

Brush the circle with egg wash, if your filling is a dry one, so as to have something for it to stick to. Divide the filling ingredients evenly among the circles made, and sprinkle on the walnut and brown sugar mixture. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut each circle into 12 equal triangles. Starting from the wide end, roll up each triangle of dough. Place the crescents on the lined baking sheets, seam side down. Brush the top of the rolls again with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, 20-22 minutes. Transfer the rugelach to a wire rack to cool completely.

Walnut Filling

1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

Mix the filling ingredients together in a small bowl.

Thumbprint Cookies

1 recipe of Rugelach pastry

1 cup of finely chopped or ground walnuts or almonds
Preserves of choice – apricot, plum

Take a piece of rugelach dough and roll into a small ball (1″ in diameter). Roll in chopped nuts. Place balls about 2″ apart onto a baking sheet which has been lined with parchment paper. Make a small depression in the ball with your thumb and fill with a scant 1/2 tsp jam. Bake for 12-15 min at 350 degrees F.