Sunday, April 10, 2016

Citrus Ginger Cookies

At this time, I find myself in a foodie dilemma. I am still drawn to the winter/fall type of recipes. I realize that there is less appeal when things are made out of season, so I should be focusing on the spring and summer recipes.

These particular "S" shaped cookies have helped out the situation. One type of dough is flavored with lemon and orange zest, which equates to tastes of the spring/summer. The other dough is a myriad of spices and some molasses, flavors of fall and winter.

The texture of the cookie reminds me of spritz, except they are not as crisp. The wonderful mix of the complimentary flavors is memorable and unique. As you bite into one of these, the heavy spices strike your taste buds only to have a chaser of citrus to tone it down. This delicious combo rolled together in a cookie makes them perfect for coffee or tea. In addition, they are pleasing to the eye, which makes a lot of people reach for them when served.

This recipe makes about 3-3 1/2 dz cookies.

Citrus Ginger Cookies
adapted from Gold Medal Cookie Contest 

1/3 cup milk
2 egg yolks (beaten together)
1/4 cup molasses
2 tsp vanilla extract 
1 cup or 2 sticks of butter, room temp
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
2 pinches of nutmeg
2 pinches of cayenne
1 cup sugar
3 cups flour and 2 tbs flour (reserved separate)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Place butter inside the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat again another 2 minutes or until mixture is light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and milk. Beat until mixture is thoroughly combined, it will result in a curdled-looking batter.

Take out another bowl and sift together 3 cups of flour, baking powder and salt. Add the sifted mixture in 1/2 cup increments to the butter/sugar batter, beating on low after each addition. Once the sifted ingredients are incorporated into the batter, divide batter in half. Each half should be about 2 cups each.

Remove one half of the dough from the mixing bowl and set aside. Add both types of zest and vanilla extract to the remaining dough in the mixing bowl. Blend on medium speed for about 1 minute to distribute the additions throughout the dough. Shape into 2 even sized balls and cover dough with plastic wrap and set aside.

Clean the mixing bowl and then place the other half of the plain dough inside. Add remaining ingredients (spices, molasses and 2 tbs flour) and mix on low until the add-ins are evenly distributed into the dough. Shape the dough into 2 balls of the same size (like the other) and cover with plastic wrap. Place all 4 of the wrapped dough balls on a plate and put in refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.

Prepare a flat surface by covering with parchment paper. After chilling time is complete, remove one ball of the citrus dough. Place it on the parchment paper and cover with another piece of parchment. Roll dough out to form a a 9x6 rectangle. Do the same with one ball of the spice dough. Lift top piece of parchment off of both rectangles and stack one on top of the other, so all edges of the dough are flush with each other. Press or roll lightly to adhere the layers together.

Place the dough so the narrow ends are at the top and bottom and long edges left to right on the flat surface. Then, form part of a roll by using the parchment paper to help. Roll from the narrow edge over the top of the rest of the dough, stopping at the halfway point. Carefully flip the dough over, with the unrolled narrow edge at the bottom. Again, roll from the narrow edge over the top of the dough and stop, meeting at the same point as the rolled under portion of the dough (just on the backside). The end result will be a spiral log that is "S" shaped. Cover with parchment and place in refrigerator.  Repeat the same process with the remaining 2 rounds of dough.

Let both logs of dough chill for a minimum of 1 hour. 15 minutes prior to completing the dough chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

At the time the dough has chilled for 1 hour and the oven is preheated, remove one batch/ one log from the refrigerator. Slice the log into 1/4 inch-thick pieces and place each piece on prepared baking sheet. There are about 16-18 slices per log and each piece should be spaced about 1-1/2 inches apart on the baking sheet.

Place in oven and bake 8-12 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies have a light, golden hue. Transfer to rack to cool. Repeat the same process of slicing and baking with the remaining dough log.

Tips and Notes:

1. The spices were distributed evenly in the dough. However, the citrus zest may distribute better if the mixture is divided prior to adding the sifted ingredients. It is more liquid at that time and it keeps you from over-working the dough. Also, fresh zest has a tendency to cling together.

2. You may use a little flour in order to roll out the dough, but dampen the surface of the dough before you stack the other layer on top. A damp surface will keep the layers of dough from splitting when baking.
                                   **LAST YEAR: Chocolate Banana Muffins**