Friday, February 3, 2012

Cinnamon Crisps

 Here it is: the last recipe in the Maida Heatter book. Sniff, sigh. It's kind of a strange recipe, too, but at least the outcome was good, unlike the last recipe. As you see, it's kind of a cinnamon-raisin snail and reminds me of the little pie crust cookies my mother used to make whenever she made pie. However, these are much more work and involve some rather unusual ingredients and techniques.

The unusual ingredient is vanilla ice cream, which I suppose is there to provide liquid and sweetener and even some egg. It's mixed with butter and flour to make a kind of pâte à choux or cream puff dough, but it then gets rolled out and rolled up and baked. 

The recipe, while fairly simple, takes a long time: there's a lot of chilling involved: make dough and chill a bit. Wrap dough and chill quite a while longer. Roll out and wrap up dough and chill a few hours more. It really could spread out over a few days. However, I was impatient and used my freezer to get same-day results.
The result is a crisp but not flaky, slightly sweet pastry with cinnamon, walnut, and raisin highlights. I enjoyed the sample cookie I had, but it didn't send me into spasms of ecstasy either. It's a good cookie. In a way, it encapsulated many of my Maida experiences over the past few years: "What?? Why?? No!! Oh, OK...Hey, this is not bad!"
I'll do a summary post of the cookbook blog experience later: for now, let me give you this one last recipe to enjoy.

Cinnamon Crisps

1/2 c. (4 oz.) butter
1/2 c. (4 oz.) vanilla ice cream (I would try to do this by weight as volume/weight will vary drastically according to the ice cream brand you use)
Pinch of salt
1 c. (5 oz.) unsifted flour

Put the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until it is melted (this is not a good time for the microwave). Remove from the heat and add the ice cream; stir with a wooden spoon until melted. Add the flour and salt and stir briskly until the dough forms a ball that comes away from the sides of the pan.

It will look a bit like this. Put it in a bowl and then refrigerate it for 20 minutes or freeze it for 10 minutes. Give it a bit of a stir--some of the butter may have separated out--and divide the dough in two. Put each piece of dough on a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper and press into a square. Wrap up and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. I gave mine about 4 hours in the fridge, and I had no problems rolling it out.
When you're ready to roll, get your filling ingredients ready:

2 T. (1 oz.) butter, melted (you probably won't use it all: I didn't)
1/4 c. (1.75 oz.) sugar
2 t. cinnamon
Scant 1/2 c. (1.5 oz.) currants or chopped raisins
1 c. (4 oz.) walnuts, chopped fine

Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl and have the other ingredients handy. Now get one package of dough out of the fridge. Put it on a lightly floured surface and start rolling. Your goal is to get the dough into a paper-thin 12-inch square.

 Well, I almost succeeded. I could see the pattern on the surface beneath, and I had about a 10-inch "square". It took a lot of rolling and patching: the dough likes to crack. I would say I spent at least 10-15 minutes rolling each piece of dough out. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but it is good exercise.

 Now brush the dough with half the butter, leaving a 1/2-inch margin around the edges. Sprinkle with half the cinnamon sugar, half the raisins, and half the walnuts. Roll up the dough into a tight cylinder (again, the dough will probably do some cracking, but at the end it should hold together). Wrap up the cylinder and refrigerate a few more hours or freeze for an hour or so. Repeat with the other package of dough.

 When you're ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 (I went below that a bit--175C--because Maida says these burn easily) and get out your dough cylinders. Slice each into 1/2-inch slices. I'm starting to enjoy using my ruler for this purpose!

Place the dough slices on "unbuttered" cookie sheets (you can line them as you wish; these don't stick, but the sugar may run and caramelize a bit) and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Maida emphasizes that these need to be crisp all the way through, so I let mine go to a darker shade of golden. Cool on racks and devour. I imagine they'd be good with a bowl of the remaining ice cream.

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