last minute cookies; coconut spritz

img_0426If you are like 99% of the people I know, you are in a hurry and trying to get everything done; baking, cooking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping and more.  Even though I am still trying to get my house unpacked from the move, I am also trying to do some holiday baking because it just isn’t Christmas without a small truckload of cookies in the house!  The good news is, that I have found one of the quickest and easiest recipes to prepare.

Coconut Spritz cookies are easy to mix and just as easy to shape.  While the dough can be shaped with a cookie press, it can also be scooped out and pressed with a cookie stamp, a flat bottomed glass or even the palm of your hand.  However, if you have a cookie press, use it, it will save you some time and produce cookies that are consistent in size.  One note, this dough is a bit high in fat and on the soft side.  Like most Spritz recipes, you should press the dough directly onto a sheet pan that is not non-stick or lined with any kind of paper.  While this may go against all you know about cookie baking, if you try to use paper or a treated pan, the dough cannot stick as you press it out and you will spend your time fighting with the press.  Do not worry, after baking, you will be able to get them off the pans by simply letting them set for a minute and then lifting them with a thin spatula.

The coconut flavor mainly comes from the oil so be sure to use a virgin oil that has not been refined and stripped of the flavor.  This recipe also calls for finely shredded coconut and if you plan to use the press, it must be extremely fine.  Whether it is sweetened or not is hardly important but in this case, size absolutely matters! If you cannot find it at the grocery store, try a Latino market, that is where I found mine.

img_7278Coconut Spritz Cookies

makes about 72 pressed cookies

1 cup coconut oil, at room temperature-not melted

5.4 oz sugar (153 g, 3/4 cup)

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large egg yolks

10.75 oz unbleached all purpose flour (305 g, 2 1/4 cups)

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 oz extra fine shredded coconut (14 g, 1/4 cup)

3-4 tablespoons heavy cream

Coarse sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a mixing bowl, cream the coconut oil with the sugar, vanilla and salt until well blended but do not mix it too long-the oil may begin to melt.  Add the egg yolks and mix to combine, scrape the bowl well.  Stir in the flour and baking powder and then the coconut.  Mix until it comes together.  Add the heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time until you have a dough that is soft and easy to shape.  You may not need all of it, and the more you add, the more the cookies spread in the oven.

Using the press, deposit the cookies onto the baking pans, leaving at least 1 inch between them.  Sprinkle the top of each cookie with a little coarse sugar.  Bake until golden around the edges, about 12 minutes.  Rotate the pans halfway through baking.  Let the hot cookies set for a minute then remove them from the pan with a thin, metal spatula and cool completely on a rack.  Store in an airtight container for about a week-if they last that long…

If not using a press, use a small portion scoop such as a #50 scoop.  Dip the top of each ball of dough into the coarse sugar and place onto a pan.  Flatten them slightly with a cookie stamp, the flat bottom of a glass or your hand.  Baking times will depend on the size of the scoop used, watch them closely and adjust the time as needed.


the rugelach that won over France; a tuesdays with dorie post

IMG_2207I have been baking rugelach for at least 25 years.  It all started when I worked in a bakery just north of Sausalito, California.  We did everything by hand there and the rugelach dough was rolled out into large circles, topped with butter, cinnamon sugar, chopped walnuts and currants.  Each round was cut into 12 wedges and then rolled up into crescents.  We made them by the hundreds and after the first taste, I was hooked.

Over the years, I have made rugelach to sell in my bakery and to give as gifts during the holidays.  While the purpose of making them has changed from time to time, one thing hasn’t, the filling; I always made them with the same combination of ingredients that I first learned years ago.  Whenever I would see them for sale with jam fillings, I was always so excited by the choices but in reality, disappointed by the results.  I’ve always thought that cinnamon sugar, walnuts (or pecans) and currants make the perfect filling but this week’s recipe for the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers put that filling combination to the test.

Upon reading the ingredient list for the filling, I was completely skeptical, a little worried actually; my mother was visiting and she would be tasting them too.  While sharing rugelach with your mom sounds harmless, keep in mind that rugelach is one of her favorite things and she likes them the way I make them; no filling upgrades needed or wanted.  How could I possibly dump chocolate, coconut and cherries into her idea of perfection?  So I compromised.  After mixing up a double batch of dough so I could send mom home with a plate of goodies, I rolled out the first portion with cinnamon sugar, pecans and currants.  For the second portion, I combined cinnamon sugar, coconut and chocolate chips.

The directions call for rolling out a very thin sheet of dough that is 12″x6″ and then topped and shaped into a foot long spiral that is about an inch or so thick as well as tall.  If you cut them as instructed, you get a lot of single bite pastries making this a great treat to give as gifts or share at a cookie swap.  But for rugelach connoisseurs like us, bite sized wasn’t going to cut it.


The secret to perfect rugelach, use lots of flour to roll it out but brush it off both sides or it will make them taste doughy.


As I mentioned, I compromised, I added currants rather than cherries but kept the coconut, pecans and chocolate and spread them over a liberal dusting of cinnamon sugar.


In my opinion, the more pronounced the spiral, the better the flavors blend.  To achieve this, I rolled out the rectangle of dough a little wider so that mine was about 12″x 8″ and only about 1/8″ thick.  Despite this fact, the dough was still cool enough to work with and it rolled up easily.


One step I completely eliminated was to freeze the rolled and filled dough.  Honestly, that sounded like a disaster waiting to happen.  With my spiral still on the table, I quickly cut it into thick slices, on the bias.  This change affected the yield greatly; my batch of dough only made about 18 thick slices.


One other change I made, no egg wash.  The leftover melted butter wasn’t going to be wasted on my watch and I brushed it over each roll along with a dusting of cinnamon sugar before they went into the oven.


Once again, the recipe called for baking the rolls at 400F and that worried me.  When I prepared the last Baking Chez Moi recipe, Cranberry Crackle Tart, the instructions to bake at 400F turned out badly for me.  Perhaps the oven in our new home is a little hot, or maybe Dorie’s oven is a little cool, either way, I wasn’t taking any chances and I baked them at 375F.  Oddly enough, at this temperature, they baked in the time called for in the recipe.  Looks like I will be paying close attention to the oven temperature in the recipes from now on!

IMG_2199And as Dorie suggests, the perfect companion to a cup of tea on a dreary winter day.

To see what the other bakers came up with, be sure to visit the Tuesdays with Dorie website and if you like, buy one of the two books we are baking from and bake along with us!