My Cookie Counterpart: A Buckwheat, Quinoa, Fig, and Nut Delicacy
December 5, 2010 § 2 Comments
Sometimes I get carried away. I mean, is it abnormal to buy 10 pounds of butter at once? Typical or not, yesterday my rare visit to the supermarket in search of some unsalted baking butter left me in awe. Two pounds of high quality butter was on sale for five dollars. Now, I am not sure if you have noticed the price of the butter recently but it is not cheap. Usually my go to butter for baked treats costs four dollars per pound alternatively my bread slathering butter from lancaster costs seven dollars per pound.
Consequentially as I calculated the price of my Christmastime baking escapades my wallet cringed, belly smiled, and my pants tightened. But now I have a refrigerator full of discounted butter, cabinets full of unconventional flours, and a computer full of bookmarked cookie recipes. Let the Christmas giving begin.
During my thorough recipe research to find the perfect cookie escort to Biz’s Cookie Swap next weekend I found what I hoped would be my baked soul mate. Everyone has one. Some people are a dense double chocolate. Some are of the buttery and addictive persuasion. While some are salty and crumby. Think about it and I bet your favorite cookie will tell you more about yourself than you realize. Maybe I have simply indulged in one too many personality tests for my own good.
Personally, I am sweetened with honey, figs, and brandy while still retaining my nutty foundation. I like to surround myself with intriguing qualities like buttery buckwheat or toasted quinoa doughs brightened with citrus and then douse myself with Gran Marinier icing. Tell me about your cookie personality.
Buckwheat/Quinoa Italian Fig Cookies
The inspiration came from here, although the flour experimentation is thanks to Kim Boyce. I made two exploratory batches; one substituting some buckwheat flour and one swapping quinoa flour in for the all purpose flour. The buckwheat creates gorgeous blueberry color with a deep luxurious flavor and the quinoa bakes into a cookie which is nutty is appearance and flavor, it reminds me of peanut butter. Also, I like to make half batches of dough because I make things so often, so I will give the measurements for both whole and half. On the other hand I love fillings, so I doubled the ingredients, again both are listed.
For the fig, nut, and honey filling:
1 cup | 2 cups dried quartered figs (I used Kalamata, like the olives and Turkish but much prefer the Turkish as they are softer and sweeter.)
1/2 cup |1 cup raisins
1/4 cup | 1/2 cup dried chopped dates
1/2 cup | 1 cup honey
1/4 cup | 1/2 cup brandy
1 1/2 teaspoons | 3 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon | 2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon | 2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon | 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon | 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (really, it makes a difference. Go get whole nutmeg)
1/2 cup | 1 cup toasted and chopped almonds
1 cup | 2 cups toasted and chopped walnuts
a dash or two of salt
*optional dark chocolate chocolate chips not added into the filling mixture but placed between the filling and the dough
Soak the figs in the brandy while you prepare everything else (i.e. toasting and chopping nuts, grating nutmeg, and measuring). Now chop all of the dried fruit in a food processor until the pieces are uniform. If you want more textured cookies (next time I do) stir all of the other ingredients in a large bowl with the diced dried fruit. Or you can potentially break a vital piece of equipment and add everything to the food processor and whirl it around. Let the flavors unify overnight or at least 8 hours in the refrigerator.
For the buckwheat and/or quinoa dough:
1 1/4 cups | 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups | 1 1/2 cups buckwheat or quinoa flour
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon | 1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar (I used Florida Crystals, an organic less refined sugar)
1/2 tablespoon | 1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon | 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup, 1 stick | 1 cup, 2 sticks cold unsalted butter
1 egg | 2 eggs
1/3 cup | 2/3 cup whole milk
3/4 teaspoons | 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon | 1 teaspoon orange (or lemon) zest
I toasted my quinoa flour, which is hardly imperative but very aromatic, and I would guess adds a wonderful dimension to the dough. To toast the flour mix the quinoa and all purpose flour together and the put the mixture into a large skillet on medium heat, stir the flours frequently to check the bottom for browning. My flours took about seven minutes to begin to brown and emit a vivd nutty scent. Or just skip this and jump to the next step.
Mix the flours together then sift into a big bowl with the rest of the dry ingredients (sugar, baking powder, salt).
Grate the butter into the dry ingredients (Kim Boyce’s idea) using a cheese grater. This makes breaking up the butter into the mixture much simpler. Now you can use your fingers pinching to incorporate the grated (or cut into 1/2 inch pieces) butter into the flours until they are pea sized bits.
Add the slight whisked egg(s), milk, vanilla, and citrus zest and give everything a nice stir. The dough will be shaggy so at this point I use my hands and gather, almost kneading, the dough into a nice ball. If you are making a whole recipe you now separate the dough into two disks and let them sit in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. I left mine overnight.
Can you spot the difference in the two photos above? One is buckwheat and one is quinoa.
When the time comes to bake:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the dough on a heavily floured work surface and begin to roll (with a floured rolling pin) the disk into a large rectangle (13 x 15 inches to be exact) the thinner the better. My rolling pin is 14 inches so I can easily estimate. Trim the sides down to a 10 x 13 inch rectangle and save the scraps. You want to cut the rectangle into four strips 10 inches long, so quarter the long 13 inch side.
Using your most valuable tools, you hands, place a stripe of filling about an inch wide down the center of each strand of dough (here is where you can add the optional chocolate chips under the fig filling). Wrap the sides of the dough around the filling pinching the edges to secure everything as it may try and escape in the oven. Now flip each log so the seam side is down and cut each long segment into squares or rectangles depending on your size preference.
Bake the cookies in the middle of the hot oven for 16-20 minutes.
Make the icing while the cookies bake:
1/2 cup confectioner sugar
1/2 tablespoon Grand Marnier Liquor (or as much as you need)
1 tablespoon orange juice (or as much as you need)
Mix everything together until it is a gloopy liquid, adjusting to your taste.
When the cookies are out of the oven, have been transfered to a cooling rack and have cooled for about 10 minutes, coat the goodies with a couple delicate brush strokes of the icing. Everything is done. Let the cookies cool before eating too many because you have been staring at and smelling their indecency all day.