Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mulled Wine Jammers

Due to social media, there is a lot of focus on image. I am sure that if you are on the social sites a lot, you will find the projected image of that perfect life for a lot of people. It may be instagram pictures that show someone's exotic travels in which they are always rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous. Also, it maybe on Google reiterating the phrase "oh it's such a wonderful life."

We all know that these pictures and/or comments just barely skim the surface of people's real life.  It is just projecting the best part of it. The person that travels may hate it and the person with a so called wonderful life may truly be miserable. However, no one wants to project a bad/sad image, so we are not informed of the other side.

I have more interest in people that project reality-someone that is middle ground and down to earth. I consider the source of this recipe to be just that type of person, Dorie Greenspan. I have read quite a bit about her and how her career has developed. It is nice to bake something once in a while that was created by someone that you like and can relate to. Which brings me to this wonderful recipe.

This cookie is made up of 3 components, which makes it unusual as well as delicious. The base is a butter or sable cookie. On top of the base sits a sweet, yet spicy, mix of wine, fruit and jam. Lastly, the top of the stack is scattered with streusel. The textures and flavors make it a perfect accompaniment to hot tea or coffee.

These cookies can be baked in a muffin tin, but if you are all into appearance (which I am), try the 2 inch pastry rings. While they are not cheap, I loved the look of these and will probably use the rings again and again for other types of things. This recipe makes 2 dz cookies. if you plan on making these, consider the hours of chilling time required for each component.

Mulled Wine Jammers
adapted from Dorie Greenspan 

1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 tbs cold butter (cubed)
1/3 cup cornmeal
2/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbs light brown sugar
3 tbs granulated sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
3 tbs dried raisins
1/3 cup cherry jam
1 1/4 cups fruity red wine
2 strips of orange or tangerine peel (3-4 inches long 1/2 inch wide)
1 tbs honey
2-3 inch stick of cinnamon
2 points from star anise
2 whole cloves

Ingredients/Cookie Base
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 egg yolks (room temp)
2 sticks (1 cup) butter (cubed/room temp)
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp vanilla extract

The first step is to make the filling. The spices need to be enclosed so they can soak in the wine. You can use a small tea strainer or or a sachet made with cheesecloth. Fill the container with the spices (cinnamon stick, anise and cloves) and close. Place the filled container in a small saucepan and add wine, honey and fruit peel. Cook the ingredients over medium heat until boiling. Once it boils, turn the heat down so the mixture is only simmering. Let cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Add all the dried fruit and stir as it continues to cook. As it cooks, the liquid will evaporate. Evaporation should take about 8 minutes. Then remove saucepan from heat. Take the sachet of spices and citrus peel out of the mixture and discard. Lastly, stir in the cherry jam. Empty into a heat proof bowl, cover and place in fridge to cool.

As the filling is cooling off in the fridge, the streusel can be made. Place the flour, cornmeal, both sugars, cinnamon and salt in a food processor and pulse until all is blended. Then drop in the cubes of butter and pulse mixture until it becomes like wet sand and clumps together. Add the vanilla extract and pulse again. Empty mixture into a bowl, cover and place in fridge to chill for at least 1 hour. For better results, 3 hours is recommended.

The last component is the cookie dough. Start by whisking together both sugars and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Then use the beater blade attachment and turn the mixer on medium speed. As it mixes, drop in cubes of butter in 3 separate intervals, each interval beating for about 1 minute. After every interval stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer down to low and add 1 egg yolk and beat until yolk is completely mixed in. Repeat with the 2nd egg yolk and then mix in the vanilla extract.

Remove bowl from stand mixer. Add flour to batter and stir it into the dough using a wooden spoon. Once the flour is completely mixed in, cut 4 sheets of parchment paper about 10 inches wide. Place 2 sheets side by side on a flat surface. Divide divide dough in half and placing each half on one sheet of parchment paper. Cover top of each dough mound with the other parchment sheets. Flatten with your hands and then take a rolling pin and roll out each piece to a 1/4 inch thickness. Place on baking sheet, stacking if needed. Then put in refrigerator and let dough chill for 2 hours.

For the baking step, butter the interior of muffin tins or pastry rings. If using pastry rounds, line 1 baking sheet with parchment paper and butter the interior of each ring. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Take out one slab of dough from refrigerator and peel off top sheet of parchment and then peel dough off of bottom sheet and lay back on bottom sheet. Use a 2 inch cookie cutter and cut dough into circles. Place dough in each cavity of the muffin tin. If using pastry rings, cut out dough with ring and place dough filled ring with dough down on baking sheet. Continue until muffin tin is full or all 12 pastry rings have a dough layer in the bottom. In the process you may have to re-roll the scraps and cut out dough circles.

The next layer is the filling. Place one teaspoon of the filling in the center of each circle, leaving an edge border of dough. After filling, use the back of a spoon to slightly flatten any tall mounds on the dough circles. Take the streusel out of the refrigerator and crumble up any big chunks that may have formed. Sprinkle streusel over the top of the filling, making sure the dough circle and the filling are completely coated. After coating all the dough circles, place pan in oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes and rotate pan. Bake for an additional 10-12 minutes. If making with pastry rings, the baking time may need to be increased a few minutes.

Cookies are completely done when the streusel is golden. The cookies in the muffin tins require a cooling time of 15 minutes before transferring to a rack to completely cool. The ones baked in pastry rings require 20 minutes.

Let baking equipment completely cool, then wash and dry for the next batch. The 2nd disc of dough is cut, layered and baked in the same manner.

Tips and Notes:
1. Since jam fillings have a tendency to dry and get gummy when exposed, be careful not to go the the dough edge when placing the filling on the dough circle.

2. Evenly rolled dough is the key to getting the exact amount of cookies noted. I ended up with more cookies. The end result was I had to make more streusel and used all the filling. The recipe stated there would be some extra filling.

3. The streusel, when I made it was not dry and crumbly at that stage. The chill time does dry it out a bit.

4. While the dried fruit is not to be pulverized, keep in mind the size of these cookies when you are chopping the cherries and cranberries.

5. To truly experience the best texture and flavor of these cookies, warm them slightly in the microwave prior to eating or eat after they bake once removed from the tin or pastry rings.

6. If you want to make quick work of these, prepare streusel and filling components in advance and refrigerate. Making the dough, assembling and baking the next day will reduce prep time. The filling, if kept covered in the fridge, lasts for 2 weeks. The streusel has the same refrigeration time, but you can also freeze for up to 2 months. In addition, cookies can be completely assembled and frozen in the raw state. Just make sure they are wrapped tightly. The maximum freeze time would be 2 months. To bake, take cookies right from the freezer and bake as directed, adding a few minutes to cover for the frozen factor.  
                                **LAST YEAR: Raspberry White Chocolate Cookies**