Spumoni Cookies

DSC_0323Like many, I feel completely exhausted after the holidays. I love the winter holiday season but it truly does know how to wipe a person out. I feel like ever since Halloween in October it has been non-stop craziness preparing for whatever festivity comes next. If the typical holidays are not enough, the addition of my daughter now fills January with two more celebrations I never had to plan for before. January 17th is my daughter’s name day and January 24th is her birthday. For those that do not know, a name day is a Greek tradition of celebrating the name of the Christian saint you are named after on that saint’s feast day. So now that all of those celebrations have since passed, I finally feel some ease until Easter but it has left me extremely fatigued. It is so bad I hardly feel like doing anything each day, but of course we all know that is not possible with a 2 year old and 100 pounds of med school homework.

DSC_0318Since my energy has been sapped as of late it has really took its toll on my baking hobby. When I do manage to summon enough energy to cook outside of making breakfast, lunch, and dinner for my family it needs to be something that isn’t too strenuous. I always used to be against taking baking shortcuts but now that I am a mom and full-time student, any shortcut I can find that still tastes good is acceptable. I even recall as a teen trashing my grandfather’s shortcut cookie recipe that he made with a boxed cake mix. After they were made he had me try one. They were of course delicious and it was then he told me something that has stuck to this day. He said, “As long as you know you can make it from scratch and have it taste good, it doesn’t hurt to take a shortcut every once and awhile.” This has been my motto as of late. I know I can make great cookies from scratch and have done so since I was old enough to see over the kitchen counter, so it doesn’t hurt to take a shortcut when I need one. This recipe is one of those shortcuts.

DSC_0322The reason this recipe is considered a short cut is because it uses store bought sugar cookie dough. If you are completely against the idea of anything store bought, you can make your own batch of sugar cookie dough as I have also done when I have more time and energy, just be sure your sugar cookie recipe produces about 2 pounds of dough. I prefer to take the shortcut method with these cookies though because they are rather involved compared to others already and making your own sugar cookie dough will make the process that much longer. I know anyone with a busy lifestyle will surely appreciate this shortcut method that not only takes less time but is also a special, elegant looking cookie.

DSC_0315What makes these cookies so impressive are the three different layers of color and flavor. This is the spumoni influence on the cookie. Spumoni originates in Italy and is traditionally found as ice cream. Spumoni is relative to Neapolitan, with three flavors, traditionally being chocolate, pistachio, and cherry. I do not care for pistachios so I altered the traditional make-up and used walnuts instead. You can certainly swap out an equal amount of pistachios for the walnuts in this recipe. Even though Spumoni has pretty much disappeared in Italy, it is still much loved in the U.S. with good reason. Give them a try and have a taste of forgotten Italy.

Note: These cookies use three separate doughs merged into one to make the tri-colored appearance. I roll the dough into ropes, place them alongside each other, and roll flat with a rolling pin to merge the dough. You can also roll out each dough ball into equal length and thickness then stack the dough on top of each other and slice with a sharp knife to get a similar effect. Whichever method you choose, be sure to chill the dough slightly to make it easier to get uniform cookies. This recipe produces approximately 3 dozen cookies.

 

Spumoni Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 (16 oz.) tubes Refrigerated Pillsbury Sugar Cookie Dough
  • 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 12 Maraschino Cherries; drained, stemmed, & chopped fine
  • ¼ cup Walnuts; toasted & chopped fine
  • ¼ cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips; melted & slightly cooled
  • Red & Green Food Coloring

 Formula:

  1. Remove cookie dough from refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature, approximately 1 hour. Place both tubes of cookie dough into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add ¾ cup of flour and mix on low until combined. Separate dough into three equal portions and place one portion back into the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the remaining ¼ cup of flour to the dough portion in the mixer bowl. Mix until just incorporated. Add 5 drops of red food coloring and chopped cherries to the dough. Mix until well combined. Shape the dough into a ball and set aside.
  2. Wipe out the same mixing bowl and place back on the stand mixer. Add the second portion of dough to the mixer bowl. Add 5 drops of green food coloring and the chopped walnuts. Mix until well combined. Shape dough into a ball and set aside.
  3. Wipe out the same mixing bowl one last time and place back on the stand mixer. Add the final portion of dough to the mixer bowl. Add the melted chocolate to the dough and mix until well combined. Shape dough into ball. Wrap all three dough portions in plastic wrap and refrigerate until slightly firm, approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Divide each chilled dough portion in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough half into a 12 inch rope. Place 1 rope of each color side by side on the floured surface and gently press together. Refrigerate ropes until slightly firm, approximately 10 minutes. Remove chilled ropes from refrigerator and on a floured surface, use a rolling pin to flatten the cookies and merge the dough ropes together. Once rolled, use a knife to cut 1 inch wide cookies. Place cookies on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Repeat until all dough is used and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Bake chilled cookies until set but not browned, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Be sure to rotate baking sheets halfway through cooking time for even baking. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for approximately 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. Cookies can be stored for approximately 1 week.

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: DONNA BARDOCZ
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2015

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Cherry Cheesecake Cookies

DSC_0373Christmas is quickly approaching and you know what that means… Cookie season!!! Holiday dessert tables always have cookies and are adorned year after year with the traditional family favorites. These favorites typically include sugar cookies, gingerbread men, and anything peppermint infused. I love all of these but sometimes you just want something fresh and new to try. That is why each year alongside the traditional cookies, I always make sure that I add one new cookie to the platter that everyone can try to enjoy alongside the usual favorites.

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It is from that tradition that I created my annual dedication to diverse holiday cookie options in the month of December. For the next few weeks you will be seeing many posts on cookies that I find can be a great addition to any holiday dessert table. I started this year with Cherry Cheesecake cookies. These cookies have been sweeping the social media airwaves as of late but I actually came across this cookie back in 2010 and fell in love. Cherry cheesecake was always a favorite of mine as a kid and melding those flavors into the portable ease of a cookie is heavenly.

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I like to make the cookie dough ahead of time not only to save precious time for baking other things but also because these cookies do not have a very long lifespan after they have been baked. It is best to make them the day they are going to be devoured because the cream cheese filling causes them to spoil at an accelerated rate. Also the extended chilling time will make it much easier to shape and roll the dough balls in the graham cracker crumbs.

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The formula I use makes about 2 dozen cookies and is enough for my family at the holidays, but if you have a larger family you can certainly double the recipe. Once the cookies have been baked be sure to store them in an airtight container for no more than 2 days.

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Cherry Cheesecake Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1¾ cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 1 (8 oz.) Pkg. Cream Cheese; softened
  • 10 tbsp. (1 ¼ sticks) Unsalted Butter; softened
  • ¾ cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 1 (20 oz.) can Cherry Pie Filling

Formula:

  1. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, and sugar together on medium-high speed until the texture becomes smooth and creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture. Mix the dough together until it is incorporated. Do not overmix. Refrigerate the dough overnight.
  2. Heat the oven to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the graham cracker crumbs in a small bowl. Place the cherry pie filling in a shallow dish. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and then roll in the graham cracker crumbs. Place the dough balls 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Use the back of a tablespoon to make an indentation in the center of each dough ball.
  3. Use a small spoon to place 3 cherries in the indented center of each cookie. Be sure to strain off as much of the filling/juice to ensure the cherries do not end up swimming in a cherry bath and creating a soggy-centered cookie. Bake the cookies until golden around the edges, about 12 to 15 minutes. Be sure to rotate the pans halfway through the baking time to ensure even cooking.
  4. Cool cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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SPECIAL THANKS TO:

 

PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY  & STAGING

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM STEPHANIE MATTHEWS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2013

Cherry Almond Cookies

I hope everyone survived our first wave of the holiday season and enjoyed their Thanksgiving. I made it through but I will admit was super tired and have practically slept my days away since. Being seven months pregnant and preparing an entire holiday meal did take its toll on me more than I anticipated but it sure did make a little girl in my belly surprisingly happy to eat thousands of calories. Hopefully all of you had a wonderful meal like she did without packing on too many unwanted reminders found in pounds on the scale the next day. I have fared pretty well so far but am a bit worried about Christmas… where more tempting goodies await me. Which leads me to another installment of my 2012 search for new and unique cookies to introduce to all of you readers, so that you can possibly add these new finds to your own holiday baking list.

My previous post featured the delicious Nutella confection Hazelnut Chewies. Today I introduce to you a sandwich cookie that can rival Oreo itself… the Cherry Almond Cookie. This delicious confection begins with the most simple cookie dough you will ever create and no better time than the holidays to have an extremely simple recipe when you have so many other items to be preparing. Every ingredient is dumped into the food processor and given a twirl until the dough forms. This process only takes a few short minutes and then the dough is ready to be rolled out and cut into shapes. I used a simple round cutter with a fancy edge however if you want to be more in the holiday spirit you could maybe use a holiday cutter. I wouldn’t attempt to use any complicated shapes though because the cookie is very delicate and is prone to break and probably wouldn’t hold up to any intricate designs. You are welcome to try but I don’t want to recommend anything too complex and lead you to disaster on Christmas or whatever holiday your family celebrates. Even without a holiday cookie shape, the color of the jam, whether you use cherry or my other recommended flavor, raspberry, both provide the signature red color of the holidays and will bring the festive holiday spirit to your dessert table.

With that said let’s talk a little bit more about the filling. The almond cookie is so delicate it literally melts in your mouth when you eat it. Not to take anything away from this tender confection, you want a filling that will compliment the almond flavor without overshadowing it but also manage to glue the two delicate pieces together into a sandwich. I chose a cherry preserve because cherry is a favorite flavor of mine and also compliments the almond flavor of the cookie. Another filling that I recommend if you don’t prefer cherries is raspberry jam, as it also compliments the almond flavor profile of the cookie. If you choose to follow this formula for the cherry preserves, make sure to avoid the large chunks of cherries as they will not allow you to press the cookies together firmly. If using raspberry jam then you have it a bit easier 😉 Also be sure to work quickly spreading the preserve or jam once the cookies come out of the oven. If you wait for them to cool they will not stick together as firmly and the cookies won’t absorb some of the flavor from the filling. The final touch I give the finished cookie is an ample sprinkling of sugar on top. I used vanilla sugar but regular sugar works just fine too. If you desire to use vanilla sugar, you can either by a jar carried at most specialty spice stores or make it from scratch using a vanilla bean placed in some sugar for a few days.

One final note: If you don’t have slivered almonds on hand or would rather purchase sliced, you can substitute but make sure you use 1 ½ cups sliced almonds not the 1 ¼ called for in the formula. The following formula produces approximately 2 dozen cookies.

 

 

Cherry Almond Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 ¼ cups Slivered Almonds (see above for alternatives)
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 16 tbsp. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, cut into ½ in. pieces; chilled
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup Cherry Preserves (see above for alternatives)

 

Formula:

  1. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Heat oven to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Process 1 cup flour and almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Add ½ cup sugar and remaining flour. Process until combined. Add butter and vanilla to food processor and pulse until dough forms. 
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to ¼ in. thickness. Using a 2 in. round cookie cutter (or your desired shape: keeping in mind a larger cutter will result in a lower production amount), cut out cookies, gathering and re-rolling dough as needed. Place cut cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until light brown around the edges, about 15 minutes, making sure to rotate pans halfway through the cooking time. Cool cookies on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
  3. Place remaining sugar in a bowl. Working quickly, spread 1 tsp. jam on the bottom halves of the warm cookies, then press the remaining cookies onto the jam, forming a cookie sandwich. Sprinkle the cookies with sugar to coat. Cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days.

 

 

 

 

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

 

PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY  

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM BRIDGET PETERSON

 

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2012

Cherry Apple Crisp

Cherries…Apples…Crisp… Some of my favorite words in the baking world and what’s not to love. The crisp and sweetness of apples, the tartness of cherries and the crunch of the topping all combined into heartwarming goodness. Something about traditional Apple Crisp speaks to me as a Fall/Winter baked good and cherries have always been irresistible to me since I was a kid, so I thought why not combine the two. It would create a great melody of flavors and rich colors for the eye. Little did I know, the flavors could be tart in one bite and too sweet in another and the crisp topping becomes soggy. Hmmm…how to fix such a culinary disaster. Clearly taking a traditional Apple Crisp formula wouldn’t be the trick. While contemplating how to go about things, it certainly didn’t help that my cats would not stay off the kitchen counter. Last thing you need is little kitty hairs in dessert. Not the way to end a meal lol. Once I gave them treats and sent them out of the kitchen it was back to the drawing board.

 The million dollar question of the day was how to achieve the right balance of flavors, with proper texture of the fruit and crisp topping. After coring, peeling, and chopping what felt like 30 pounds of apples I was ready to go. Did I mention how much I despise preparing apples for baking. I mean I really really really would love to find some alternate way to do such. That should be the focus of science research. I mean, we need apples in our diets which would be proper motive right… right. Well enough of my whining as most likely you all know exactly what I’m talking about having at some point experienced the pain of baking with apples so I don’t need to explain. Anyway…so I have my apples all chopped and ready and I did this so that once I get the cherries cooked down in some sugar and a little bit of water, they will be ready to be thrown in the pot. By cooking the apples for a few minutes with the cherries, it allows their excess juice to excrete, which prevents a runny mess later, allows the flavors of the cherries and apples to meld more uniformly, promotes a more even bake and last but certainly not least, a shorter cooking time. Amazing how such a simple step can save so much time and make all the difference in a product, but it certainly does. With that said be sure not to skip that step in the formula below. As the apples and cherries cook down, be sure to mix well so you get an even distribution of the red color. Not only is it your natural food color but also looks striking when plating.

Some quick notes before you delve into baking…If you don’t desire a rich cherry flavor and wish to taste more of the apple, you can omit the dried cherries. When picking the apples, a balance of sweet and tart varieties is best for this formula. Sweet helps tone down the tartness of the cherries, however a few tart apples compliments the already tart factor of the cherries. Using equal amounts of a sweet apple, such as Braeburn or Golden Delicious, along with a tart apple such as the Granny Smith will produce the finest results. The crisp is best served warm and if your anything like me, a scoop of vanilla ice cream is a perfect pairing or a dollop of homemade whipped cream. Although I’m lactose intolerance I can’t help mixing that melting scoop of ice cream with a heaping spoon of cherry apple crisp

Cherry Apple Crisp 

Ingredients:

Topping:

  • ¾ cup All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ cup Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • ½ cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 12 tbsp. (1 ½ sticks) Unsalted Butter, cut into ½ in. pieces; chilled
  • ¾ cup Old-Fashioned Oats

Filling:

  •  1 # Cherries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 ¼ cups Granulated Sugar
  • ¼ cup Water
  • 2 ½ # Granny Smith Apples; cut into ½ in. pieces
  • 2 ½ # Braeburn Apples; cut into ½ in. pieces
  • 1 cup Dried Sweetened Cherries
  • 3 tbsp. Minute Tapioca

Topping Formula:

  1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat to 400°. In a food processor, pulse flour, sugars, cinnamon, and butter until mixture has the texture of coarse crumbs.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and stir in oats. Using fingers, pinch the topping mixture with your fingers to create peanut-sized clumps.
  3. Refrigerate topping while preparing the filling.

Filling Formula:

  1. Place the fresh or frozen cherries, ¾ cup sugar, and water in a dutch oven and heat over medium-high. Cook until the cherries are softened completely and mixture has reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes. Scrape cherries into a bowl and set aside. Place apples, remaining ½ cup sugar, and dried cherries into the dutch oven and cook over medium-high heat until the apples begin to release their juices, about 5 minutes.
  2. Off heat, add the cooked cherries back into the dutch oven along with the tapioca. Mix thoroughly then pour filling into a 13×9 in. baking dish. Smooth the filling’s surface evenly with a spatula. Remove topping from the refrigerator.
  3. Scatter topping evenly over filling and bake until juices are bubbling and topping is deep golden brown in color, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool. Serve while still warm.

 Special Thanks to: Peter Mendoros (photography) & Diane Unger

 All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2012

Dessert Plating: Dietary Guidelines

Happy Friday once again. Today was perfect for me as I did not have class. Le Cordon Bleu elected to give us Friday off instead of Monday for Columbus Day. With that said it was a short week for plating. We had two days to create two different plates meeting dietary guidelines of our choice. Some examples are Sugar Free, Low-Fat, Dairy-Free, etc. Although I have dietary needs myself (Lactose Intolerance) I opted for Vegan and Gluten free so that I can challenge myself. So let’s start with Plate #1..Gluten Free.

 What initially came to my mind when brainstorming for possible components was how much I miss ice cream being lactose intolerant. So I decided to make items that maybe would be missed by those with gluten allergies or vegans whose morals wouldn’t allow them to ever try such textures and flavors. Of course the obvious item that came to my mind for those with a gluten allergy would be cake. As this is culinary school I can’t simply make any ordinary cake so I made a Chocolate Kahlua Cake cut into proper portions with a round fluted cutter. To make the cake gluten-free, I used Rice Flour and Tapioca Starch to replace regular cake flour or all-purpose usually found in most cake formulas. I also added xanthum gum. The cake tasted delicious on its own but I wanted to add more components and give height to my plate utilizing the cake rather than an external component. To do this I made a White Chocolate Caramel Creme Anglaise which I poured over the cake and allowed to drip over the edge to give that warm, fresh from the oven look. To add texture I placed cherries soaked in brandy over the creme anglaise and topped with another layer of cake. For added adornment and height, I tempered white chocolate and squeezed it into a mold using a baking squirt bottle to create the scroll. The decorative dots outlining the cake were created with a Cherry & White Peach Coulis.

For the final component on of the Gluten Free plate, I created a two-toned chocolate bowl overflowing with cherries. To create the bowl, I used a round chocolate mold. Utilizing the already tempered chocolate used earlier for the scroll, I squeezed abstract lines around the bottom and sides of the mold. I allowed this to chill until firm in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, I tempered dark chocolate for the remainder of the mold. Once the white chocolate had hardened, I poured tempered dark chocolate over the streak of white chocolate until about 1/3 of the mold was filled. I then placed secured the second portion of the mold over the filled portion and allowed it to set up overnight to ensure it would be fully solidified. On the day of plating, I allowed the chocolate bowl to warm slightly, about 10 minutes at room temperature before attempting to remove it from the mold. This ensured the mold removed crisply without cracking. The bowl was then filled with the remaining brandy soaked cherries and tipped over on the plate to create a natural overflowing look.

With the Gluten-Free Chocolate Kahlua Cake plate finished, it was time to move quickly on to plate #2…Vegan. Let me start by saying I have never in my career ever worked with anything remotely vegan except for the common organic fruit and vegetable. Items available to me such as Tofu and Agar Agar were new and I admit a tad bit intimidating.

 Despite the intimidation I pushed forward and ran for the exotic ingredients before the rest of my classmates used them all (our pantry is limited considering the large class size). The first item I snatched was oat flour and thankfully so as it was gone quickly following my usage and there was only one bag to be had in purchasing. Since you are now aware of the main ingredient I’m sure you can almost guess what the bar is…. and if not it is Oatmeal Raisin sillies. Well Oatmeal Raisin Date Bars. Following Vegan dietary concerns, I made sure to plump my Raisins and Dates in Dark Rum free of animal additives used during fermentation. I also was sure to toast my oats in vegan imitation butter and sweeten with Agave. Once the bars were out of the oven and cooled it was the difficult task of cutting them into presentable squares. My largest complaint about the Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Bars is their texture. Even the slightest movement and they crack and shatter into crumbs. It was obviously fate that I made a larger pan then necessary to compensate for the amount I broke in the process of cutting. Finally I managed to get one decent square out of the bars and plated it right away before it shattered in the way of its predecessors. To attract the eye to the bar and add texture to the eye, I created a Banana Poppyseed Coulis which I fanned out from the bar and across the plate. The coulis consisted mostly of banana puree and agave to sweeten.

For the final component and least favorite of all my plates so far is the Vegan Pumpkin Banana Mousse. The reason for such hatred between the mousse and I is its texture/consistency. My idea of mousse is a creamy, velvety yet heavily rich dessert that only takes a few spoonfuls and you are satisfied even though you could devour several spoons if given the opportunity to have a larger dish and scoop. This mousse met none of those requirements. The tofu imparted a distinct flavor and it didn’t fully incorporate with the pumpkin and banana puree, causing small pellets to form even after running through the robocoup (food processor) several times. Also the consistency wasn’t as firm as mousse typically is because it lacked the key volumnizing ingredient (heavy cream) and stabilizer/setter (gelatin). I did the best I could with this dish to be quite honest. I placed dollops in a nice parfait dish hoping to glamorize it somewhat. I layered fresh raspberries throughout to add color and a welcoming familiar texture. The parfait added height to my plate if nothing else, especially with the tempered dark chocolate adornment added to act as a straw.

All in all I did enjoy the vast majority of the components on these plates despite the lack of typical ingredients I am accustomed to working with. You never realize how much heavy cream and eggs are in everything until you are told you can’t work with them due to dietary concerns! I did taste everything and it all tasted well in my opinion except for the mousse. If given the opportunity for a do-over I would replace only the mousse and maybe have made a vegan sorbet instead. I am thankful for the experience of working under dietary guidelines. It will forever be useful to my career and future in baking, especially with the large amount of people living with conditions, diseases, or religious beliefs requiring specific dietary needs. Following dietary guidelines is a must for every pastry chef and even novice baker ready to take innovation to the next level.

All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2011