Sunday, December 13, 2015

Valrhona Spice Cookies

Inspired by round iced cookies historically made for Rosh Hashanah, later infused with a European spice palette by immigrants to Jerusalem in the 1930’s, and now updated and served in a London restaurant by Yokam Ottolenghia, these spice cookies (with a bit of paleo tweaking) are a delicious blend of cultures, cocoa and candied fruit for the holiday season.

Ingredients for Candied Meyer Lemon Peels (prepare the night before):

6 Meyer Lemons, cut in half and juiced
Water to cover lemons

2 cups water
3 cups pure cane sugar

1 teaspoon pure cane sugar (for finishing)

Directions for Candied Meyer Lemon Peels (prepared the night before baking):

1. Cover the lemon halves with water by 1 inch and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.

2. Pour off liquid, and repeat Step 1. Peels should easily be pierced with a knife (or repeat). Drain and let cool.

Note: for Eureka Lemons or orange rinds, rinse 3 times.

3. Scoop out and discard the inner rind of the halves with a spoon. Slice the peels into 1/4” strips with a knife. Gently scrape the inside of the strips with a knife or spoon to remove any excess pith, leaving a thin film of white against the colorful zest.

4. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water and sugar to a boil. Add the lemon peels and lower heat to a simmer. Cook gently (to avoid making the rinds tough) until the peels are slightly translucent and the temperature measures 220 degrees F.

5. Put a rack over a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. With a slotted spoon, place the lemon peels on the rack to cool. Air dry the cooled peels in fridge overnight. When ready,  cut the peels into various shapes: triangles, rectangles, squares, small strips. Toss the cut peels in a teaspoon of cane sugar, shake off excess, and set aside.

6. Store the candied peels in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a year.

Ingredients for Spice Cookies:

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons currants 
4 tablespoons white grape juice 

2 cups gluten-free flour, preferably Cup4Cup
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ounces Valrhona Guanaja 70% chocolate, finely chopped
2 ounces Ghirardelli 60% chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup pure cane sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste, or extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/2 large egg, beaten

Directions for the Spice Cookies:

1. Soak the currants in the white grape juice for at least 10 minutes .

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda, spices, salt and chocolate shavings. Set aside.

3. In a stand mixer with the beater attachment, mix the butter, sugar, vanilla, and zests together for just 1 minute. Do not aerate too much. With the mixer running, slowly add the egg and mix for another minute. Add the dry ingredients until just mixed together.

4. Remove the bowl from the stand and add the currants (with juice), mixing in with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Then knead the dough with your hands until it forms a cohesive ball.

5. Divide the dough into about 1 3/4 ounce chunks (about 1 tablespoon), and roll with your hands to make balls. Place balls 3/4” apart on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, and let rest in the fridge for an hour.

6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes and check with a wooden skewer. They should be firm on the outside but soft on the inside. Do not over-bake. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan on a rack. Transfer the warm cookies to the rack, and place the rack on top of the baking pan and parchment paper.

7. While still warm, drizzle 1 tablespoon of glaze (below) over the top, and put 3-5 pieces of the candied lemon peel on top.

Serve when cool, or store in airtight container fridge for about 3 days.

Ingredients for Glaze:

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar

Directions for Glaze:

1. Whisk together the lemon juice and sugar.

Makes about 30 cookies.

#cookies #dessert #chocolate #glutenfree #nutfree 

Cookie recipe adapted from the Jerusalem cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi.
Candied peel recipe adapted from The Art of Simple Food II by Alice Waters.

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