Cherry Streusel Triangle Cookies

 

Basic Butter Cookie Dough for various cookiesDating someone new entails navigating a precarious route – not unlike those rickety rope bridges suspended above Amazonian rivers. Say the wrong thing, show too much interest – or not enough – and the entire contraption and both of you plunge into the abyss below. Sheer disaster. I’ve learned to tread slowly and deliberately along that path.

Last week, I baked 200 cookies for two catering jobs. On Wednesday, I was also going out with a new guy. My initial thought was to grab a few cookies, pop them in a decorative bag tied with raffia and give them to him as a little gift. Why not? Baking is what I do and I was already in it for over 16 dozen. What’s a few more cookies? Yet dating caution overrode these initial innocuous intentions. How would he interpret the gesture? Would he think I spent all day baking exclusively for HIM? Would I be accused of moving too quickly? I could hear him tell a friend:

“Shit, dude, it was our second date and she was already baking me cookies! Psycho!”

So, I decided against the cookies. I’ll save my talents for now. If we manage to survive a few more dates, then maybe I’ll break out my baking prowess.

This is my favorite cookie dough when faced with a large baking project. The dough can be shaped and flavored in myriad ways limited only by imagination.


Basic Butter Cookies

  • Servings: About 8-9 Dozen, depending on size
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Based on a recipe from Wayne Gisslen’s Professional Baking

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. butter, softened
  • 6 oz. sugar
  • 2 oz. brown sugar
  • 3 oz. egg, beaten (a little less than 2 eggs)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 lb. 8 oz. All-purpose flour
  • For Cherry Triangles
  • 10 oz. cherry jam
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350⁰ F. Cream butter and sugars in a stand mixture until light and fluffy. Slowly add beaten egg and vanilla until incorporated. Add salt to flour and gently stir in. Don’t overmix. Your dough is ready to use!
  2. To make Cherry Streusel Triangles: Cover 9×9” pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang. Butter foil well. Press 9 oz. of Basic Butter cookie dough into pan. Deck dough with fork and bake for about 15 minutes until just beginning to brown. Cool for about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, mix cherry jam with zest and set aside. Mix an additional 2 oz. of Basic Butter Cookie dough with 3 Tablespoons brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon flour and ¾ teaspoon cinnamon.
  3. Spread jam evenly over baked dough, leaving a ¼” rim and sprinkle with streusel. Bake until cherry filling is bubbly, 20-25 minutes. Cool cookies completely. Cut in 16 squares, cut each square in two triangles. Mix powdered sugar with enough water to make a glaze. Drizzle glaze over cookies. Makes 32 cookies.

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Cookie Plate

Cookie Assortment

Gisslen’s Professional Baking recipe was the winner, with some tweaking, of course – more butter, more sugar and ¼ of the sugar switched to brown sugar. Two weeks after the initial batch, I’ve created six different cookie recipes using the same base – each passed my taste test and I’ve gained two pounds to prove it. I also shared them with the masses – coworkers and neighbors. Starting from the top of the plate:

  • Cardamom Caramel Triangles (one of my favorites, but the cardamom scares some people)
  • Almond crescents (very similar to Mexican Wedding Cookies)
  • Hungarian Apricot Disks (easy and popular) – needed a drizzle of glaze
  • Key Lime drops (also easy, but not so popular) – may try lemon next time
  • Cherry Streusel Bars (very popular with the neighbors, but the last cookies on the plate in the office)
  • Walnut Derby Cups – in center (delish, but labor intensive)

I’ve made each of these recipes at least twice, plus three additional recipes that didn’t make the cut (Coriander, Curry  & Coconut anyone?), plus more versions of butter cookie base than I can remember. I submitted the photo and descriptions to the steakhouse and suggested we a schedule a tasting.  This was the answer:

“looks delicious.. how about a choc chip??”

Really, that easy? Chocolate chip?! Ugh – back to the drawing board.

Groundhog Recipes

Cookies

 

Last Sunday felt like the Groundhog Day for recipes. I baked seven versions of basic butter cookie dough – again and again and again. Yep, seven, all using relatively the same ingredients – all distinctly different – and not one passed the test.  Who knew finding the perfect cookie base would be so difficult?

There’s a purpose to my butter cookie baking compulsion – an excellent reason, in fact. The owner of the steakhouse where I briefly worked called me unexpectedly. He wants help with his dessert menu. Me? Me! – for his 4.9 star opentable.com -rated restaurant. They are looking for a citrus dessert as well as a cookie plate, hence seven versions of basically the same cookie. Sadly, none of them hit the mark.

Here’s the lowdown:

Cookies 1-3: The cookie recipes from myrecipes.com, Taste of Home and Good Housekeeping were all similar and didn’t stand out, perhaps from my overworked flavor receptors. Good texture, but tasting like the Wonder Bread of the cookie world. Slap some canned Birthday cake frosting and sprinkle with jimmies and we have Albertson’s Lofthouse sugar cookies with the thick, super-sweet overly colorful frosting.

Pro:        Good texture, minimal spread, versatile
Con:       No flavor

Cookie 4: A straightforward, well-textured cookie – versatile, but with barely more flavor essence than the three above. Possible save – try with more salt and possibly substitute pastry flour for APF. This recipe was from BBC Good Food.

Pro:        Similar to above, good texture minimal spread, versatile
Con:       Limited flavor – try ramping up with salt

Cookie 5: My favorite in regards to taste are these brown-sugar, crisp yet chewy delight from Cookies and Cups. These would be addicting sandwiched with a brown butter frosting or made into a nutty or chocolaty treat. Nutella sandwich cookies, anyone? I however, need The Ultimate in versatility. Nope, not going to work – but a recipe definitely worth saving. I devoured almost the entire Tupperware container of these until I felt sick. True confessions – I even shoveled a few more in my mouth after my stomach protested.

Pro:        Great flavor, minimal spread, good crispy texture
Con:       flavor may not work well with lime

Cookie 6 and re-bake 7: The recipe from Sugarywinzy has the most potential with a prominent butter taste without the limiting flavor of brown sugar. I was so hopeful this cookie would be it. It has a similar texture to the cookie from Cookies and Cups, but these cookies spread in an odd uneven manner.   My first reaction was, “user error” – I didn’t allow these to firm up enough. Unfortunately, I let them set up overnight and they did the same thing the next morning. My next move was to try a hotter oven to set them up faster. Nice try, but no dice, these cookies still spread oddly. Strangely, this recipe didn’t call for any eggs, so I may give it one more try with an egg, but I’m not hopeful.

Pro:        Great Flavor, Great versatility
Con:       Spreads unevenly

Ready to fling the cookie plate across the room and move on to the citrus dessert instead, I have three more iterations to bake this weekend: Cookie 6 with egg, Cookie 4 with salt and pastry flour…and if neither of those work…the recipe in Gisslen’s Professional Baking tome, which I probably should have made first. I have a sneaking suspicion that one is going to be the winner.

Miles to go before I sleep – after I finally decide on a base, I need to decide on the actual cookies.