Sunday, October 10, 2010

Savannah Crisps

All this week I wanted to bake. I had this recipe in mind, and also a plum-apple pie thing that Deb posted this week. But stuff kept happening: a parent-teacher meeting here, a drink with colleagues with work there, one family member or the other off doing important stuff like teaching classes or participating in Model UN...well, it seemed I had barely time and opportunity to cook, much less bake.

But I had all the ingredients. I was ready. And so yesterday, I finally seized the opportunity. (Note: see that box of pearl sugar? I bought it in Sweden more than a year ago. It's been schlepped from Sweden to Hattiesburg and back to Le Pecq. And it finally got opened yesterday. I knew I was going to need it!)

This is a really simple and unusual cookie dough. It's not very sweet, it comes together in a food processor, and it's really thin and crisp.

About a minute later, here's the finished dough.

It gets rolled into a log.

And the log gets cut into 20 more or less equal pieces... (I had to leave home for about an hour at this point to take Julia somewhere. It was OK--the cookies still turned out great. You have to love that in a recipe.)

...which are then rolled out as thinly as possible--I could clearly see the printing on the rolling mat underneath. And sprinkled with precious pearl sugar.

Then they are baked until they are golden brown and delicious. They really are delicious. They're buttery and crisp--Claire says they're like puff pastry. Maida says, and she's right, that they stay crisp for a long time. So we enjoyed them, broken into pieces, as a snack. When I came home from the morning's marketing this morning, I caught Claire with one covered with whipped cream. But I was still obsessed with Deb's pie, and I had plums and apples.

So I made this for Sunday dessert. It was delicious, even though we could barely finish it. So, you have a giant cookie, then some plum applesauce (cut up some apples, add some water, sugar, cinnamon, maybe a bit of vanilla, cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, add equal amount of halved prune plums, cook another 10 minutes or so), and then some of that Governor's Crème Fraîche, which has become something of an obsession.

Here's the recipe for the cookies. Get creative with them, or just enjoy nibbling on the crunchy goodness.

Savannah Crisps

2-3/4 c. (13.75 oz.) unsifted flour
1/4 c. (1.75 oz.) sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 c. (4 oz.--1 stick) butter, cold and cut into dice
8 oz. plain yogurt
Crystal or pearl or raw or plain old granulated sugar

Heat the oven to 350; line as many cookie sheets as you can with parchment. Put the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in your food processor (you can also do this in a bowl and pastry blender--it's really like making pie pastry). Pulse a couple of times to mix. Then add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the yogurt and process until the mixture barely holds together. Turn the dough out of the machine onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it holds together. (About the lightly floured surface: I found I needed to re-flour quite often because the dough tends to stick. Keep a little cup or pile of flour handy.) Roll the dough into a 10-inch log. Then cut the log in half lengthwise, and cut each half into 10 pieces. Now, get ready to roll: Roll each piece as thin as you possibly can: Maida says you should get 7-inch rounds. They don't have to be perfect circles, by the way, and I only got up to about 6 inches. Put 3 or 4 on each parchment-lined cookie sheet and sprinkle them lightly with whatever sugar you've chosen. Press the sugar in lightly. Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes, depending on how hot your oven gets and whether you have convection. I have a convection oven and I could do two sheets at once in about 10 minutes. If you don't have a convection oven, switch the position of the cookie sheets after about 5 minutes. Let cool and then get creative.

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