Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Eat my mailbox

What's ten times better than getting cooking magazines in the mail*?
Getting cookies in the mail.

From Amy at This Heart of Mine

From Patricia at Patricia's Patticakes

From Stacy at Baking Bandit

I'm also a fan of sending cookies in the mail.

So long as the recipe makes a lot of extras.

Unlike the seasonal stream of Amazon boxes from my annoyingly on-the-ball sister, which only engender feelings of inadequacy and panic in me, I loved getting these deliveries. The postal-borne bounty was the happy result of The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap**.  To hold up my end of the deal, I turned to my already indispensable copy of Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy by Alice Medrich for inspiration, and was drawn immediately to this cookie recipe for three reasons:

a.  They were supposed to keep and travel well.
b.  I had all the requisite ingredients handy.
c.  The photo in the cookbook made me drool like a St. Bernard on a hot day in July.

Pebbly Beach Fruit Squares
These are everything that photo promised, and more.  The crisp-edged buttery cookie dough, combined with the chewy, tangy dried fruit and dusting of raw sugar on top is both a textural win and a classic contrast of tastes in one bite.  Plus, they get better with age.  I liked them a lot right out of the oven, but truly loved them the days after that, when the flavors had somehow sunk in and mellowed beautifully together.  I'm planning to mail myself a dozen more really soon.  And they will definitely be making an appearance in the dessert room this year!  P.S. Don't be put off by the unusual folding process works!

1 3/4 c. plus 2 Tbs. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon zest, cinnamon, or ground anise (I used lemon and anise with the golden raisins and cherries, and just lemon zest with the dried cranberries)
1 generous cup of moist dried fruit (one kind or a combo): dark or golden raisins, cherries, cranberries, chopped apricots or prunes, chopped candied ginger.  (I made a golden raisin/cherry combo, and some with just dried cranberries) If your fruit is really dry, soak for 20 minutes in cool water, juice or wine, drain completely, and pat very dry before using in the cookies.
2-3 Tbs. turbinado or other coarse sugar

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl, and set aside.

In a larger bowl, beat the butter and the sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth and well blended, but not fluffy.   Add the egg, vanilla, and lemon zest/spices and mix again until smooth.  Add the flour mixture and stir at low speed just until combined.

Divide the dough in half, and form each half into a rectangle.   Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350, and line two cookie sheets with a Silpat or parchment paper.

Remove the dough from the fridge, and let sit for a few minutes to soften slightly.  Place between two sheets of wax paper or parchment paper, and roll out into a rectangle about 8 1/2" by 16 1/2".  Remove the top piece of parchment paper.  Scatter the fruit over one half of the dough.   Using the parchment paper as a handle, fold the other half over the part with the fruit, and gently press the halves together.  Chill the dough as is for few minutes, just until you can peel the top part of the paper off easily.   (I chilled one dough portion while I rolled out the other one, then swapped).

Peel off one side of the dough, and flip onto a lightly floured board, peeled side down. Peel off the top side of the paper. Sprinkle the top of the dough generously with the coarse sugar, pressing gently to make sure it sticks.  Using a sharp knife, cut dough into four strips, and then across in four lines, to form 16 squares.  Trim edges and give your hovering daughter the little scrap pieces to spoil her dinner.

Place squares an inch or so apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until edges are just lightly browned.  Cool completely, then enjoy.  Cookies will keep for a week in an airtight container.

One of my cookie recipients had a gluten-free theme to her blog, so I made a wheat-free version for her.  These were delicious, too, particularly since the oat flour gave them a little hint of nuttiness and texture that went wonderfully with the fruit.  All-in-all awesome.

Wheat-Free Butter Cookie Dough
1/3 c. plus 1 Tbs. (2 oz) white rice flour
1 1/4 c. plus 2 Tbs. (5 oz.) oat flour (I made mine by grinding oats in the food processer)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. baking soda
2/3 c. sugar
2 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature, cut in chunks
3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature, cut in chunks
1 tsp. vanilla

Whisk together the flours, salt and baking soda and set aside.  In a larger bowl, mix together the sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy but not fluffy.  Stir in the flour mixture by hand, just until incorporated.  Follow remaining instructions.

Click to print this recipe!

* Which I LOVE.  So the bar is high here for me to say this is multiples better.
** Yes, it is a bit of a stretch to call myself a great food blogger.  I know that, thank you.


  1. Is Cheesy Pennies on holiday? It has been a very long time since the last post....

    1. I guess I've been on an inadvertent holiday. Is it seriously mid-January already? Back this week with a new post. Thanks so much for checking on me! :)