Gastronomic Gifts IV: Jam-Filled Turnovers–and a Bigger Prize!
Posted Dec 20 2008 5:54pm
[There's just nothing like a homemade gift for the holidays. This year, with the purse strings a little tighter than usual, I'm determined to make at least a few in my kitchen--and thought I'd share my ideas in case you'd like to partake, too. ]
First, a Menu for Hope update: As I mentioned last time, Menu for Hope is a fundraiser that continues until December 24th. Buy tickets at $10 each, and you can bid on any of the fabulous prizes offered by bloggers from all over the world!
The prize I’m offering, a year’s subscription to Martha Stewart Living, has just been bumped up a notch! Since so many of my recent cookie creations feature coconut oil, the nice folks at Omega Nutrition have donated a large (one-kilo/2 pound) jar of their Organic Coconut Oil to the prize. That way, you can convert all those butter-laden recipes in Martha’s mag to healthier versions!
If you’d like to bid on my prize (a year’s subscription PLUS organic coconut oil), head on over to the main donation page and cite prize code CA 05. And if you’re not keen on Martha, there are loads of other amazing prizes there as well!
When my sisters and I were still tweens, we’d eagerly await the holiday season because it meant an entire day bake-a-thon with my mom. The CFO and I would usually be stationed at the kitchen table chopping nuts in an old-fashioned, spring-loaded manual nut chopper (in my twenties, I found one at a garage sale for 25 cents– twenty-five cents!– and have used it on many occasion since, with great success). There’s nothing quite like the visceral satisfaction one gets after repeatedly pumping that windmill-shaped blade up and down inside the glass jar, watching the whole nuts jump and dance like water sizzling on a hot skillet. Looking at the tiny, uniform crumbs that are created, you can think, wow–Ijust made that, by hand (and also, “ wow, my biceps sure are sore now.”). And of course in those days, no one had even heard of food processors!
My sister and I also acted as sous pastry chefs, slicing up maraschino cherries, zesting oranges or lemons, souring milk with lemon juice or vinegar, or meting out chocolate or butterscotch chips. Over at the counter (where the Sunbeam Mixmaster was parked), my mom would cream butter, blend eggs, stir milk and cocoa and flour and then scoop the final product onto ancient cookie sheets that looked like picture frames with their still-shiny silver centers, bordered with the charred remains of cookies past.
When she was done scooping, Mom would proffer the bowl and wooden spoon, its buttery, sugary amber batter still clinging in spots. At that piont, The Nurse also joined in for the Licking of the Bowl ritual. We all agreed that for certain recipes, the raw mixture tasted even better than the final baked product; and so the yield for those cookies was always reduced by about 30% by the time the cookies were done.
When I was finally established in my own apartment some 1000 kilometers (600 miles) from home, I determined I’d uphold the tradition by making my own tins of cookies for friends and colleagues at Christmas time. To amass a fresh collection of soon-to-be treasured cookie recipes, I’d scour the supermarket checkout each year to purchase the annual mini cookbooks with titles like ”Holiday Baking” or “Christmas Treasures” of “101 Cookies for the Holidays”–pamphlets published by Pillsbury, Crisco (gasp!), Betty Crocker, General Mills, and the like. I’d pore over each page and meticulously mark the recipes I wanted to try with ripped up sticky notes (I mean, why waste a whole one, just as a bookmark?).
Then I’d set up the ingredients assembly-line style and bake away for the entire day, re-creating the buzz and activity of my mother’s erstwhile home bakery. Unfortunately, I discovered that the yield of each recipe in my own kitchen was still reduced by about 30% before the cookies were baked (one of life’s unsolved mysteries, I guess).
These jam-filled turnovers are one of the treats that became a holiday staple back then. Deceptively simple to make, they embody sleek sophistication with their half-moon contour, fluted edge and glossy, drizzled glaze; and each turnover enfolds a dollop of glistening, fruity filling. The original recipe called for cream cheese and butter, with a filling of regular (high-sugar) raspberry jam, its brilliant fucshia glinting with each bite. I subbed coconut oil and silken tofu for the crust (that is, the prototype of the buttery spread), and used slightly less sparkly fillings of Brandied Apricot-Ginger spread or all-fruit strawberry jam.
Perhaps not as rich as the original, this recipe still results in a very malleable, easily rolled dough that bakes up crispy and even a tad flaky on the edges, filled with bright, sweet jam of choice.
These treasures are really impressive when glazed, and I’d recommend doing so if you are comfortable using confectoner’s sugar. I wasn’t happy with the agave-based version I created (it ended up with a texture like chewy candy), but would still suggest brushing these with a mixture of equal parts agave nectar and orange juice or soymilk to provide extra sweetness and a glossy finish to the crust if you don’t glaze them.
Since the cookies are baked on cookie sheets (though mine, of course, are scrubbed meticulously, even around the border), I’m submitting this recipe to Joelen’s Culinary Adventures. The Tasty Tool she’s profiling this month is Baking Sheets.
The first word that comes to mind when you see these cookies is “dainty.” With their fluted edges and delicate shape, these little pockets of sweetness are perfect for a holiday celebration table or as take-away gifts for guests.
2 ounces (60 g.) firm-silken tofu (such as Mori-Nu)
1/3 cup (80 ml.) melted coconut oil
2 tsp. (10 ml.) finely grated orange zest
1/8-1/4 tsp. (.5-1 ml.) salt, depending on your taste
1/2 cup (70 g.) light spelt flour
2 Tbsp. cup (30 ml.) preserves of your choice (I used strawberry and apricot)
Orange glaze (below)
Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray.
In the bowl of a food processor, whir together the tofu, coconut oil, orange zest and salt until smooth and buttery. (Hey! Like a buttery spread!). Add the flour and pulse until you have a soft dough.
Gather the dough and place on a floured board. Roll it out to 1/8 inch (2 mm.) thickness (the thinner you can get the dough, the better). Using a 2-1/2 inch (6 cm.) cookie cutter, glass, or a 1/4 cup (60 ml.) measuring cup, cut out as many circles of dough as you can. Gather the remaining dough and re-roll, then cut more circles; repeat once more if necessary to use up all or most of the dough. (You should have about 12 circles).
Spoon about 1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) of the preserves onto half of each circle. Moisten the edge of half of the circle with water, then fold the dough over the preserves, pinching edges together if necessary. Press the edges with a fork to seal.
Place the cookies about 1 inch (2.5 cm.) apart on prepared cookie sheet . Bake 10-15 minutes or until edges are light brown. Immediately remove from the cookie sheet; cool. Brush with orange glaze while warm. Makes about 12 cookies. May be frozen.
Orange glaze: mix about 2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) orange juice with 2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) water and brush over the still-warm cookies.