Thursday, November 14, 2013

Three Cookies and One Dough: Cream Cheese Cookie Dough

Cinnamon Pecan Rugelach
It's almost cookie time! I am always in search of new cookies to try out for holiday gifts to teachers, neighbors, dog groomers, you name it.  By the end of December, I do not want to look at another cookie or use my mixer for at least a week (okay maybe a little less than that, but you get the point).  For now, however, it's testing time. I'm trying out different recipes. Tweaking here and tweaking there before the real baking begins. I have four very willing volunteers to taste and give their reviews.  This particular recipe for Cream Cheese Cookie Dough was a hit. It was inspired by a recipe in Fine Cooking magazine.
To see the original recipe, go to www.finecooking.com/recipes/cream-cheese-dough.aspx.  I used it to make three different cookies: the rugelach above, pumpkin butter sandwiches, and peach jam cookies.
Pumpkin Butter Sandwiches and Peach Jam Cookies
Pumpkin Butter Sandwiches and Peach Jam Cookies
For the rugelach, I used a brown sugar, pecan, and cinnamon filling.  For the Pumpkin Butter Sandwiches, I used Trader Joe's seasonal pumpkin butter.  And, for the Peach Jam Cookies, I used a peach jam made at one of our local farms. Try whatever filling you fancy.
All of the cookies turned out great.  The rugelach tastes similar to cinnamon toast and was a favorite of the littlest member of our house.  Personally, I loved the peach jam-filled cookies. Not only are they pretty with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, but I'm just a sucker for anything made of peaches.  My middle child thought the Pumpkin Butter Sandwiches were by far the best, giving the big two thumbs up, arms in the air signal of love it!.  Of course, he's our sucker for anything with ginger and cinnamon in it.

The best part of this dough is that it makes a lot.  I made two logs of dough, using one and freezing the other for another time. Maybe I'll experiment with more flavors or cut them into shapes next time.

Ingredients for dough:
2 1/2 cups of flour
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of cold, unsalted butter (2 sticks)
8 oz. cold cream cheese (in bricks)

Directions to make dough:
Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix well to combine all of your dry ingredients.  Cut your sticks of butter into 8 pieces and then add them to your bowl.  Mix on a low speed until your mixture looks crumbly.
See the chunks of butter
Slice your cream cheese into small cubes and then add them to your butter/flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed for about 3-4 minutes until your mixture is making your mixer struggle for air and it...just...can't...spin...one...more time.
You should still see clumps of the cream cheese
Dump your dough onto a work surface. When working with sticky dough, I love to use parchment paper as my work surface. It's easy clean up and the dough doesn't stick.  Kneed your dough enough to smooth out the texture and help the loose pieces stick.  Shape your dough into a log. I split my dough in half to make it easier to work with.
The cream cheese should give your dough a nice, marbled appearance
Wrap your dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two hours. Anything beyond two will make it difficult to roll out your dough.  You want it cold to make rolling and shaping easier but not so hard you can't move your rolling pin through it.

When ready, roll your dough out into a circle to about 1/8 of an inch thickness. Lightly flour the dough or the rolling pin if needed. I didn't need it for mine, but if you do just try to use the flour sparingly.


For the rugelach: Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spread your filling over the surface of the dough. Use your rolling pin to lightly smush your filling into the dough.  Then, cut your circle into 10 equal triangles. Begin rolling from the outer edge of each triangle to the top.  Place each cookie onto a pan, lying them with the outer tip down so that the cookies won't unroll while baking.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on your oven.

For the sandwich-style cookies: I used a biscuit cutter to cut the dough into perfect circles. I then spread a teaspoon of jam or pumpkin butter onto every other circle and then placed its mate on top.  Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
My secret tool to punch holes: a wine stopper!
Peach Jam Cookies and Pumpkin Butter Sandwiches