Thursday, December 23, 2010

[Cookie 094] Gingersnap Palmiers


Hi! It's just like old times, ain't it? I'm back to posting like normal, or even better than normal considering that this is my second post this week. Who needs New Year's Resolutions when you're already kicking ass? Okay, that was obnoxious and totally inaccurate, but I am hoping to keep up this rapid-fire method of churning out cookies and blog posts into 2011. Anyways, it should be easy at least for the next few weeks since I'll be at home in California, with a great kitchen, a great pantry, and a house with no heat--perfect conditions for cookie baking. Of course, being winter, all things spicy and gingery and molassesy are first on the list. Gingersnap Palmiers? Hell yes!


Now, although these cookies look pretty nice, and sound pretty tasty, I'm just going to put it out there that the recipe is a little fussy as far as Martha's recipes go. I liked it; it was more interesting than 95% of her other recipes in this book. I'm usually really bored by these recipes, even the ones that produce great cookies. But this one required multiple steps and produced cookies that look pretty and different. So if you've got a good chunk of time to set aside, I'd recommend these!


But, be forewarned: you will make a giant mess of your kitchen. This delicious gingery molasses syrup will get everywhere. Oh, and here's an important tip: Even though the recipe says to first sprinkle the puff pastry with a sugar-spice mixture and then brush the dough with the syrup, you should do these steps in reverse! First, brush the dough with syrup, and then sprinkle sugar on it! And then roll the dough up by each side and freeze the logs. Another note: make sure to wrap the logs really well in plastic wrap, because the syrup leaks out of the ends of the logs and gets all over your freezer!


So, I don't know bout you guys, but I'm pretty sure I'm one of the only self-professed bakers who has never used frozen puff pastry before. And, I'm just going to put it out there: not so great. I'm sure homemade puff pastry is far better because this stuff is just kinda greasy and artificial tasting. I guess that's why Martha tells you to use a "high quality" frozen puff pastry. I guess if you're a fancy pants baker and you make your own puff pastry, by all means use it; otherwise, maybe splurge for the expensive brand of puff pastry. Or, if you're down with the regular kind, go for it anyway!

When you take the logs out of the freezer, be sure to let them soften up a bit before you try to slice them. This might seem obvious to all you who have used frozen puff pastry before, but I had no idea. The result was that the first few cookies I sliced off cracked and crumbled pretty bad. So....basically they looked like this:


...but then baked up to look like this:


Oh, and ANOTHER tip: After the first 10 minutes of baking, you are supposed to flip the cookies over and brush them with more syrup. First of all, I don't think this is really necessary, but more importantly make sure you let the cookies sit for a few minutes, because right out of the oven they are saggy and floppy and impossible to flip over. After a minute or two, they crisp up a bit and you can go right ahead.


Yeah, so as you can see I had a lot to learn on the fly with this recipe. But I still had fun making them! And they are perfect cookies for holiday parties, amirite?? I am right. So go ahead and get messy because it's worth it. Sure, they aren't the tastiest cookies I've ever made, but they are fun and pretty and make you feel like a professional pastry chef...a little bit.


Gingersnap Palmiers
Makes about 3 1/2 dozen


  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark unsulfured molasses
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 14 ounces good-quality thawed frozen puff pastry, such as Dufour

  • Directions

  • Bring brown sugar, molasses, ginger, and 1/4 cup water to a simmer in a saucepan, whisking until sugar has dissolved. Simmer until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour syrup into a bowl; let cool.
  • Whisk granulated sugar, salt, and spices in a bowl. Lightly sprinkle sugar mixture over a clean work surface; place puff pastry on top. Cut into two 10 1/2-by-7-inch pieces. Sprinkle generously with sugar mixture; press into pastry with a rolling pin. Brush generously with syrup.
  • Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll in from both long sides, meeting in the center; brush with syrup to seal. Sprinkle generously with sugar mixture. Wrap in plastic, and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours (up to overnight).
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut dough crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Dip slices in sugar mixture. Space 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten with your palm. Freeze 30 minutes.
  • Bake 10 minutes. Flip, and brush with syrup. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake until darkened, 10 minutes more. Transfer palmiers to a wire rack; let cool completely. Palmiers can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days.

  • ****
    {End Results}
    Baking Difficultly: 4/5
    Ingredient Accessibility: 4/5
    Tastiness: 3.5/5
    Attractiveness: 4/5
    Is it worth it?: Yeah!

    Drink: Hot cider, or a hot toddy!
    Song: Keep it Rollin' -- A Tribe Called Quest
    Activity: Baking these cookies while listening to the new Kanye album...yeah?

    Sunday, December 19, 2010

    [Cookie 093] Italian Polenta Cookies


    JUST IN TIME FOR HOLIDAY COOKIE CRUNCH TIME......I AM BACK!!!! Sound the airhorns, stop the presses, release the carrier pigeons, send the fair eyed virgins a-dancing! This boat is real!


    Seriously now, how has it been so long? Oh yeah, I remember now: I was in Ghana with a gas stove which had no temperature gauge, could only be set to "inferno" (...more commonly known as "broil" I think), no measuring spoons, no chocolate that costed less than 1 arm and 1 leg, and oh yeah, baking in 90ยบ+ weather...yeah right. But now I'm sitting in my cozy new apartment in Brooklyn and it is cold cold cold! And I've already baked up a new batch of cookies to cut the ribbon, so to speak, of my new life in BK. (Did I mention I live above a Polish Bakery?!)

    Some shots of my new place! Kitchen, fridge, window to the fire escape.

    Yeah, lot's to say in this post, that's for sure! I am just so glad to be back in America, and able to cuddle up with my roommates, make hot tea, watch 30 Rock and Arrested Development, and celebrate my 21st birthday by drinking some hot, boozy apple cider. It's so great. Oh, but you're here to get a cookie recipe right? You're in dire need of a new recipe for that cookie exchange right? Or something new and special to bring to that nondenominational holiday party at your workplace right?


    Well, this recipe might be it. I say "might" only because I found the cookies to be only so-so. But they are still really tasty and definitely unusual; plus, when you tell people they have polenta in them, they'll think you're such a hotsy totsy food snob, which is always a good thing!


    I was technically supposed to make these cookies LAST YEAR for my good friend/roommate/"I-only-eat-Italian-food" Long Islander, but I failed her. And she never let me live it down, until two days ago when I made them. Unfortunately, they didn't look remotely like the photos in the book because a) I used whole wheat flour which gave the dough that lovely beige/sand color (yuck), and b) the dough was way too dry and crumbly for me to squeeze it out of a pastry tube into cute little S shapes. I have no clue why this happened, and I really should have just added more liquid to thedough, but I'm a moron, so I just decided to make drop cookies. The result: THE UGLIEST COOKIES I HAVE EVER MADE, EVER!


    Plus, they tasted a tad bland, so we decided to dip them in chocolate. This did not help their looks, but did make them taste real nice. But the chocolate isn't 100% necessary if you intend to eat the cookies a day or two after you make them, because they do taste better with a little bit of aging. Also, I would recommend using a high quality chocolate if you take that route, because Toll House chocolate morsels are pure shit.


    But hey! What's with all this negativity? What I liked about this recipe was the inclusion of a hefty amount of lemon zest, which you could actually taste. Plus, polenta (I used cornmeal, same diff) is a great texture for a cookie, and definitely different than your usual Christmas gingerbread/peppermint/who-cares cookies. Seriously, no one wants to eat another gingerbread snowflake, OKAY? Well, I'd eat it, but that's because I have to eat at least one of every edible thing within my sight.


    So, now that I'm back fer reeeeal, get ready for major cookie updates. I miss baking so so so0o0o0o0o0o much and cannot wait to really dig my teeth in and bake up a storm. Storm o' flour and butter, watch out! This is only the beginning. I have 1 month and 5 days until classes start, so I'm goin' crazy. Get ready. To get fat. j/k!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    xoxo--missed you all, fair readers. (thanks for the emails by the way, they light up my day!)


    Italian Polenta Cookies
    Makes about 2 1/2 dozen


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Italian polenta, or yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, (1 lemon)
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, polenta, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Put butter, sugar, and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add egg and egg yolk, one at a time, beating after each addition to combine. Mix in vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip (such as Ateco No. 826).
  • Pipe S shapes about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide, spaced 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment. Bake cookies until edges are golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer cookies on parchment to wire racks; let cool about 10 minutes. Remove cookies from parchment, and transfer to racks to cool completely.

  • ****
    {End Results}
    Baking Difficultly: 2/5
    Ingredient Accessibility: 3.5/5
    Tastiness: 3/5
    Attractiveness: 1/5
    Is it worth it?: Yeah, I guess so.

    Drink: A 7-and-7. Don't ask why.
    Song: An oldy, but goody!!!!!!!!
    Activity: LOVING AMER-CUH!!