Emergency Crostatas My Way - Hamantaschen!
My library was nice enough to host one of my various committee meetings today (Friday). I took advantage of rare weekday off the day before to bake up a storm; several goodies made it to the meeting: Triple Threat Chocolate Chip Cookies and Hamantaschen.
"Wait ... what???" you say. "But isn't hamantaschen a Purim treat? Dena, I know that you are calendarly challenged, but ..."
Correct as usual,
As mentioned in a couple other posts, I am a member of Project Pastry Queen. This week's challenge is brought to you by ... ME! I selected Emergency Fruit Crostatas as the recipe that project members should bake. These pastries are large individual tri-cornered pies with fruit filling peeking out of the top center. Get your hands on The Pastry Queen (the book, silly, not the author) and take a good look at page 63.
Now tell me that they don't look like overgrown hamantaschen (pronounced HAH-mahn-tah-shen), those tri-cornered cookies with fruit preserves peeking out of the top center.
So I made an executive decision to reproduce Emergency Fruit Crostatas my way ... a little smaller and less emergency-ish. But with real fruit. And slightly childish-looking (you'll see what I mean later).
Pie and cookie doughs have something in common (besides flour, butter, etc.). They both need to be handled gently to prevent gluten from forming, which makes for cardboard-like results, but with less flavor. Sort of the opposite of bread-making, where you can beat up dough until your arms fall off and the results will still be fine.
When mixing up tender dough and rolling it out, less is more. I gently combined the dough ingredients, stopping the mixer as soon as the dough barely came together. But I was a little heavy on the rolling out part, so the cookies weren't as tender as they could have been. But at least they weren't door stops as in previous times.
My recipe has evolved over the years, tweaking ingredients and quantities as I went. I prefer raspberry or apricot preserves (prune or chocolate can be filling as well), but since this was supposed to resemble the original crostata recipe, I tried frozen blueberries.
This cookie dough is not very sweet, even with a whole cup of sugar and a whole 1/2 cup of OJ. Some people prefer using a standard sugar cookie dough or they sprinkle sugar over the cookies just before baking, but I prefer a less-sweet version.
In case you are a hamantaschen-maven, you probably noticed that butter is listed as an ingredient. To everyone else wondering what I am talking about, hamantaschen are traditionally made dairy-free so that they can be served along with a meat-based meal. This batch is dairy since they were served in the morning. Feel free to substitute margarine if you prefer a parve version.
Yield: 25-30 filled cookies
1 pt. blueberries (fresh or frozen) OR 1 cup fruit preserves, your favorite(s)
1 Tbl. each granulated sugar and all-purpose flour (if frozen blueberries are used)
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine, room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup orange juice
5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus up to an additional 1/2 cup
3/4 Tbl. baking powder
If you are using frozen blueberries, toss them (gently, they make quite a racket) into a colander and rinse with cold water to help with the defrosting. Sprinkle a tablespoon each of sugar and flour evenly over the berries to help absorb the juices. Set aside to finish defrosting.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until lightly and fluffy. Stir in the eggs, oil, vanilla and orange juice.
Combine the flour and baking powder. Mix into the batter at low speed juuust enough to form a stiff dough. Add up to another 1/2 cup of flour if necessary (I didn't, but it probably could have used at least another 1/4 cup).
Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap, taking extra care to make sure the packages are exactly equal. :P Refrigerate at least 1 hour, up to overnight. My directions for some reason said 1/2 hour minimum. That wasn't enough time. Unless it's an emergency, wait at least one hour.
When ready to continue, preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment. Find a cookie cutter or drinking glass about 2 1/2 - 3 inches in diameter.
Hey, kids! It's that educational part of the show! Look at this photo and tell us which glass has a wider rim.
Dum-dee-doo-dada-dum-dee-dummm ... sorry, channeling Jeopardy ...
Can you tell now? Sorry, this is a trick photo ... since the taller glass on left is closer to the overhead lens, it appears wider.
Surprise! They have virtually the same diameter!
But I digress ...
Remove one package of dough from fridge. On a lightly floured surface, quickly roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness.
Using cookie cutter or drinking glass, cut dough into circles.
Place cookies close together, but not touching, on one of the prepared cookie sheets. Gather up scraps, form into a ball, wrap in plastic and return to fridge to rechill.
Spoon about 4-6 (depending upon size) blueberries, or 2 teaspoons of preserves into the center of each circle.
Pinch the edges together securely to form three corners, leaving a small opening in the top; the opening will expand wider upon baking, so try to make the opening even smaller than this.
Remember before when I mentioned childish-looking? Because I only refrigerated the dough for 1/2 hour, it started to warm up and get sticky before I was finished. Several of the cookies looked as if I had help from a 5 year-old. Luckily only appearance was affected, not taste.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
While baking the first cookie sheet, start to work on the second dough package. Wait until the first batch is done to pop the second cookie sheet in.
Finally roll out all the scraps for a third batch.
Allow baked cookies to cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet, then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Store cookies in a tightly closed container at room temperature up to 3 days. They also freeze very well up to a month.
Put your feet up and have a hamantaschen with a mug of tea or coffee.
Whaddaya mean, no cookie for me?