Monday, December 9, 2013
Brown Butter Spoon Cookies
We are traveling at Christmas and I am trying to make a few treats to bring along for the family in Winnipeg. So far I have made fruitcake, cranberry cordial, and granola. Now I'm working on the cookies. I discovered these little gems a few years back on Molly Wizenberg's blog "Orangette". That was the time when I packed several dozen and toted them to Banff, where I spent a weekend with my sisters-in-law and nieces. We all loved the cookies so they will be making a comeback for Christmas this year. These are a simple little cookie; butter is browned and cooled, sugar and vanilla are added, then the flour is mixed in. Once the dough has rested for an hour or two, the fun of shaping the cookies begins. The dough is molded in the bowl of a spoon, eased onto the cookie sheet, and baked. Then each cookie is sandwiched, flat sides together, with your favorite jam. Now the hard part: they must be wrapped airtight and left to "ripen" for forty-eight hours. The reward for your patience is the most melt-in-your- mouth delicious little butter cookie you have eaten in a very long time. I promise! Choose a spoon with a deep bowl, vintage and antique spoons seem better suited to this application. Don't use a measuring spoon! And be prepared to make another batch once your family and friends have sampled them.
Brown Butter Spoon Cookies with Jam
(makes 30 to 35 sandwich cookies)
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
A heaping 1/3 cup fruit preserves (homemade or best quality store-bought)
Fill the kitchen sink with 2 inches of very cold water. In a medium, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter turns golden and smells nutty and flecks on the bottom of the pan turn a rich, caramelly brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the pn from the heat and place it in the sink to stop the butter from cooking further. Cool, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the sink and stir in the sugar and vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and stir until a dough forms. Shape the dough into 2 balls, wrap in plastic, and set aside at room temperature for an hour or two. When you are ready to bake, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Pinch off a small piece of dough and and press it into the bowl of your chosen teaspoon, flattening the top. The dough will fell crumbly, but as you press and mold it, it will become cohesive. Pressing gently, slide the shaped dough out of the spoon and place it, flat side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue forming and placing cookies on the sheet; they can be fairly close together as they don't spread much. Bake the cookies until just pale golden, anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes (mine took 12 minutes). Cool on the sheet pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. You should get about 60 to 70 little cookies. When all the cookies are cool, heat the preserves in a small saucepan until just runny. Pour the jam through a small sieve into a bowl to remove any seeds or solids. Cool completely. Working with one cookie at a time, spread the flat side with a thin layer of preserves. Sandwich with the flat side of a second cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are sandwiched together. Transfer the cookies to an airtight container and wait for 2 days before eating for the flavor and texture to fully develop. The cookies can be frozen if you are making them in advance.