Thursday, November 2, 2017

doll cinnamon roll cookies (or pie crust cookies)

I was having a hard morning. Sometimes it just happens, doesn’t it? I traced my discontent to the plums trees in the backyard. It turns out, our rental house had 5 cherry plum trees, running along the fence line, which was amazing and also a little bit annoying. The annoying part is because plum pits are toxic for dogs. Each morning in August, no matter how diligent we were in picking them from the tree, there were plums on the ground in the backyard and Duke and Harriet wanted nothing more than to hoover them up, their hound noses scouring the ground. Every day began with me scanning and scooping up plums, so that the dogs could then go outside. It was a little thing, but when it’s 5:30am and the coffee has not yet brewed and I'm in my pajamas hoping the neighbors don't see, it felt bigger. If I missed some fallen plums, which I inevitably did, I had to wrestle them out of the dogs’ mouths and neither one of us walked away happy from that exchange. The dogs were so obsessed, they took to digging under the fence, stuffing their snouts under the boards to snag fallen plums from the neighbor’s yard.

On one particular morning, I was just over the whole circus of it (picking up plums, hollering at the dogs to stop eating plums or digging holes, etc) and frustrated because of a failed dessert the night before. I had this idea of making a plum crostada with fruit from this unforeseen harvest. Doesn’t that sound lovely? A crostada is a like a free-form pie and I thought it would be just perfect to envelope the crust around a filling of tart plum halves. In the afternoon, I made up a batch of Ina Garten’s crostada dough and put it in the fridge. After supper, I washed some plums and set to work to remove the pit. Twenty minutes later I quit the effort in disgust. These plums were darling but absolute son-of-a-bitches to pit. Even when the plum was perfectly ripe, the pit clung resolutely and carving it out was tedious and removed about 40% of the fruit along with the pit. Marilla Cuthbert may be disappointed in me but I just couldn’t continue.

By the next morning my attitude towards the plum trees shifted from lovely bonus surprise to unwanted burden. I had plenty of things to get done, but I decided to just stop and deal with myself. Sometimes the easiest thing to ask ourselves is “what do you need right now?” We can’t always get what we want (sing along here) but acknowledging always helps me. And in this particular case, it led me to taking my crostada dough from the fridge and making a favorite childhood treat.

When my mom would make pie, once the dough was laid into the pie plate, the extra trims from the edges were gathered and set aside to make pie crust cookies. The scraps were rolled out to make their own thin pie crust layer, which our little fingers would spread with butter and then rub in with cinnamon sugar. We were obsessed with them (I particularly loved licking my cinnamon sugar butter coated fingers) and thought they looked like cinnamon rolls for dolls.

As an adult, I have struggled to recreate them. The first few batches seemed to be lacking flavor. I address this by using crostada dough (which has a bit of sugar in the dough itself) and including nutmeg and cardamom along with the cinnamon.

Pie crust cookies

The great thing about Ina Garten's crostada dough recipe is it makes enough for two crusts. Save the extra one for these cookies. But, even if you're not planning to make a crostada, these cookies are so good that it is worth making the dough just for this.

Also, while these would be welcome year-round, I can't help but think they are particularly good this time of year alongside a bit of roasted seasonal fruit, like an apple or pear.

1 batch of crostada dough, chilled. Recipe here.
3 tablespoons butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
all-purpose flour (for rolling out dough)

1) Remove crostada dough from the fridge. If the dough is stiff, give it a few minutes (just a few) to soften up enough to roll out. In the meantime...

2) In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom.

3) Lay down a sheet of parchment paper on the counter top, dust lightly with flour, and roll-out the dough into a large thin round, like you are rolling out a pie crust. Take care to adjust the dough as you roll it so that at the end it isn’t stuck to the paper.

4) Once the dough is rolled, spread evenly, all the way to the edges, with the softened butter. The easiest way to do this is with well-scrubbed hands.

5) Over the buttered dough round, sprinkle over about 6-7 tablespoons of the sugar-spice mixture. Be sure to get it right up to the edge of the dough. (Save the remaining sugar-spice mixture for topping toast or oatmeal.)

6) Starting with the edge closest to you, roll-up the dough into one long log. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

7) In the meantime, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spread parchment paper on rimmed cookie sheets.

8) Remove roll of dough from fridge and slice into ¼ inch rounds, placing on the prepared cookie sheets. I can usually fit about 12-16 cookies per sheet, as these cookies do not spread too much as they bake.

9) Bake cookies for about 12-14 minutes: If you prefer more tender pie crust, I would go with the lower-end of baking time, but if you like things a little more crispy, leave them in a bit longer. In addition to getting crisper, the longer they bake, the sugar on the bottom caramelizes up a bit, adding to the texture.

10) Remove from oven and let rest briefly on the cookie sheet before transferring to cookie racks to cool. Like many baked goods, these are best warm from the oven or same day. But, as always, they are delicious the next morning with coffee.

No comments:

Post a Comment