Saturday, November 26, 2005

SHF/IMBB Cookie Swap: Two is better than one

I appreciate the singular elegance and simple beauty of a plain butter cookie, say, as much as the next person. But if truth be told, my maximalist leanings more often than not point me in the direction of sweets where too much is, quite frankly, just about enough. In this spirit of gleeful excess, why have one cookie when you can have two? Even better if two are actually one, welded by a rich and creamy filling. Enter the cookie sandwich; few things excite the lily gilder in me more. So for this month's joint SHF/IMBB Cookie Swap event hosted by Jennifer, The Domestic Goddess herself, a threesome of twosomes based on citrus, nuts and chocolate respectively. I've given the recipe for the first, which has sufficiently meandered from its original inspiration (from a recent cookbook purchase) to merit writing down. Recipes for the second and third can be found in the referred books.

Sablés Diamant Vanille with Yuzu Curd

The sablé part of the equation comes from the magnificent The Cook's Book, edited by Jill Norman (yes, that legendary Jill Norman, the editor of Elizabeth David's classic cookbooks and current literary trustee of the David Estate). This is no ordinary how-to book - each and every lavishly photographed chapter has been contributed by a top drawer chef. Ever fancied the likes of Ferran Adrià teaching you how to make foams, or David Thompson guiding you through the intricacies of cracking coconut cream, or Marcus Wareing unveiling the secrets of Pétrus' signature Tourte de viande? It's all here; the roll call of 18 chefs reads like a veritable pantheon of the culinary demi-gods.

But, I digress. For me, the two chapters contributed by Pierre Hermé (Pastry & Sweet Doughs; Desserts) alone were worth the price of the book. A few of the preparations are repeats from his previous English books - but with the added benefit of goofproof step-by-step illustrations in classic Dorling Kindersley style. The sablé recipe is new. And its exceedingly short texture, thanks to the lack of eggs and the extravagant quantity of butter, the very definition of "sablé" (sandy).

Having found my new inimitably crumbly sablé benchmark, I contrived to use it in a cookie sandwich. The filling in my mind's eye would need to enhance, and be enhanced by, the melting butteriness of the shortbread, not dominate or overwhelm. Yuzu, the delicate Japanese citrus fruit, is in season, and has made its fleeting appearance on the aisles of the local Japanese supermarket. The ethereal fragrance of its zest and juice, utterly unlike any other, makes for the most voluptuous citrus curd. So distinct yuzu is, in fact, the curd tastes best when tempered with a proportion of lemon juice for balance. Bottled yuzu juice, available year-round, makes a decent (if decidedly less perfumed) substitute. And of course, if all this sounds like a whole lot of bother for a mere cookie, there's always lemon (or lime, or tangerine, or grapefruit...) curd.

Sablés Diamant Vanille
Adapted from The Cook’s Book, edited by Jill Norman

Makes 50 (for 25 pairs)

*225gm unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature *100gm caster sugar *1 vanilla pod *Finely grated zest of a yuzu (substitute zest of a lemon if fresh yuzu is unavailable) *1/4 tsp fleur de sel or other sea salt, finely crushed *320gm plain all-purpose flour *Granulated sugar to finish

Make dough in a food processor, stand mixer, or by hand following the same procedure, taking care not to overwork the ingredients. Cream butter. Mix in the sugar, the seed scrapings from the vanilla pod (save the pod for another use), the yuzu zest, and the salt. Cream until well mixed. Sift in flour. Mix until just combined, no more. Chill dough well; an hour or so. Roll out to 1cm thickness. Stamp out rounds using a fluted or plain cutter about 5cm in diameter. If cut-out tops are desired, stamp out smaller inner circles from the centres of half of the rounds. Spread granulated sugar onto a sheet of baking parchment. Lightly press top of each cut-out cookie top into the sugar. Chill the cookies another hour or so, or even overnight; baking the cookies from a well-chilled state ensures good shape retention. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the cookies onto a baking parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until the edges are just starting to colour, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container until ready to assemble; unfilled, the cookies keep at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.

Yuzu Curd

Makes 1 cup

*75gm caster sugar *1Tbsp finely grated yuzu zest (substitute lemon zest if fresh yuzu is unavailable) *2 eggs *2 egg yolks *60ml yuzu juice, freshly squeezed (used bottled yuzu juice if fresh is unavailable) *30ml lemon juice, freshly squeezed *75gm unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature

Blitz the sugar and zest together in a processor or blender until the sugar is pale yellow and fragrant. Whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar together in a medium heat-proof bowl until smooth. Add the yuzu and lemon juices and whisk again. Place the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly with a spatula and being sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, until it thickens (the consistency should be like that of sour cream), but do not let the mixture come to the boil. Immediately take the bowl off the pan, and push the mixture through a chinois or other fine-meshed sieve into a mixing bowl. Now add the butter, which should be very malleable but still cool, a few cubes at a time, stirring each addition until completely incorporated before adding the next. Press clingwrap against surface of the curd (this prevents a skin from forming) and chill until of a pipeable consistency; about 4 hours. Stores in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

To Assemble

Sandwich the cookies on the day you plan to eat them. Fill a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle with the yuzu curd. Flip the cookie tops over. Pipe a thin ring of curd around the circumference of the cut-out inner circle on the underside of each cookie top. Flip the cookie bottoms over. Pair off tops and bottoms, pressing them gently together, keeping edges aligned. Pipe a dollop of yuzu curd into each cut-out centre. Finish each cookie with a tiny piece of candied citrus peel, if you feel like. Store assembled cookie sandwiches in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 12 hours; any longer, and the sablés will soften too much. Bring to room temperature (about 30 minutes) before serving.

Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies

From Emily Luchetti's A Passion for Desserts, fat little discs of hazelnut shortbread are sandwiched with globs of Nutella - enough said, as far as the Nutella addict is concerned, no?

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies with Truffle Cream Filling

The recipe for these decadent dainties is from Chocolate Obsession by Michael Recchiuti and Fran Gage, a fairly new release that I've been eagerly anticipating, replete with achingly exquisite photographs by Maren Caruso.


Blogger Nic said...

I can't decide which I am more tempted by: the hazelnut sandwiches or the sables. All three cookies look simply divine, though, J. Wonderful entry!

4:55 am, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Sam said...

always so beautiful, as usual.
I wouldn't expect anything less from you, J!

4:56 am, November 26, 2005  
Blogger deborah said...

Gorgeous, and so delightful! It is so good to see someone actually uses cooking books the way they are meant to.

Hazelnut shortbread with nutella inside... mmm time for breakfast I think!

6:35 am, November 26, 2005  
Blogger tanvi said...

what a lovely use of nutella! i'll keep that in mind next time i make shortbread or some such similar cookies. cookies with filling are so much more sublime, arent they?

8:12 am, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree: "Why have one cookie when you can have two [or more!]" Scrumptious looking. I'd love a taste of all of them, but especially the top cookies! Yum! Yum! Yum!


3:18 pm, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Michelle said...

All three look so fabulous if they were set in front of me, I think I would have to have one of each! I'm also green with envy of your cake stand - I've been looking for one just like that!

4:39 am, November 27, 2005  
Blogger Cathy said...

I'll take one of each please. :)
All are gorgeous and sound fantastic!

1:19 pm, November 27, 2005  
Blogger Ruth Daniels said...

J, As usual - stunning photos of pure heavenly delights. I wish I had the patience to make suck delectables.

Thanks for sharing - now if only there was a way to really reach in and grab them....

11:43 pm, November 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dee-lightfully beautiful! you are an inspiration my dear to cookie loving bakers everywhere!

2:35 am, November 28, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joycelyn, only you can make that beautiful cookies, great job!

8:11 am, November 28, 2005  
Blogger Babe_KL said...

oooohhhh.... they all looked so heavenly! thanks Jocelyn for sharing such lovely pics.

3:00 pm, November 28, 2005  
Blogger Vivilicious said...

Jocelyn, you are the goddess of baked goodies, I do declare! So impressive as usual, every time I pop by your site, I salivate. And I don't even have a sweet tooth! I live in the UK/France and was just in Singapore for a visit, should have come around to yours for tea by the looks of it! Well done.

7:20 pm, November 28, 2005  
Blogger Lori said...

I'll take all of the shortbreads you have, please! :P

11:55 am, November 29, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh so pretty! I love how your desserts always look so decadent but in petite size so easily justifiable =) Magnificently photographed as always.

1:11 pm, November 29, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just so gorgeously edible....makes me want to begin a bit of baking again!

2:09 pm, November 29, 2005  
Blogger Jocelyn:McAuliflower said...

Oh dear! the passions you stir up...

wonderful assortment of shapes, colors and flavors!

3:12 pm, November 29, 2005  
Blogger Michèle said...

Hi J, absolutely gorgeous as usual! I would be a happy girl if I participated in a real swap and ended up with your cookies!

2:30 am, November 30, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

now that i am back to my own kitchen I will cook and blog in vengeance.. hehehe

amazing cookies and I feel so bad to have missed this but heck I will post my recipes..

new domain , Ihave a new playground..

5:44 am, November 30, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

never heard of yuzu till now.. another culinary word another discovery and the mouthwatering choc shortbread is surely is so tempting

5:47 am, November 30, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mmmmm these are SO gorgeous!!

5:14 pm, November 30, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So beautiful, and so tempting! Your creations always look like they could come straight from the pages of a cookbook, they're so perfect. And speaking of cookbooks, thanks for your review of The Cook's Book. I've been rationalizing with myself over whether I need it or not. Of course we know what the outcome of that will be... ;)

8:18 pm, November 30, 2005  
Blogger Chubby Hubby said...

Awesome as usual. And thanks for sharing the sablés. They were delicious! Only problem was you don't make enough ;-)

12:41 pm, December 01, 2005  
Blogger Reid said...

Hi J,

The sablés sound amazing. I'm trying to find some fresh yuzu here so that I can make some jam and some curd. I think I found a few, but they are quite expensive. About US$3.00 per fruit!!!

I see you purchased Chocolate Obsession. I thought of you when I purchased the book a couple of weeks ago. Your photo looks as good as any I've seen in the book.

Beautiful photos and wonderful usual!

4:04 pm, December 01, 2005  
Blogger Swamy VKN said...

Wow what a treat. We liked the hazelnut one. All look yummy!

My Dhaba's rock cookies are yet to be released. We cant wait anymore. :-)

11:01 pm, December 02, 2005  
Blogger Steffles said...

Awesome threesome! Can't decide which one I would like - they all look so pretty....

1:51 pm, December 04, 2005  
Blogger Unknown said...

I shall echooooooo....the previous 29 visitors and make it a round 30 great applause! I just saw yuzu in the local supermarket - freaked out over the price $5 per yuzu!!!

3:51 pm, December 05, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i've visited your blog once & was very captivated by the pictures & the food! congrats on being the winner!
those hazelnuts sandwich cookies are so tempting!

9:21 am, December 10, 2005  

Post a Comment

<< Home