Sunday, July 2, 2017

Orange Meltaways

I am sure you have heard of the saying "it's the little things that count." Little things can count as good as well as bad. We all pick up on certain indicators that tell us we do not want to be around someone, be it socially or in a closer relationship. Some of the factors that turn us off may be ridiculous and others may be understandable.

Someone with bad hygiene is understandable. However, I have been in conversations where the factor may be little, but that does not make it less of a turn off. One person told me that he worked with someone that clicked their pen constantly. He said he could not spend any time with her because that habit, as he said, worked on his last nerve. Other things I have been privy to are discussions concerning women with "big hairy man hands" - unfeminine and a definite turn off. One lady told me that she did not like a man calling her a "broad". That term is so old, I told her that he must have had a previous life back in the days of Speakeasy clubs and newsboys!

This leads me to the subject of English high tea. Back in the days when proper etiquette was the basis for judging people, just the manner in which a man held his teacup could easily mark him as an unsuitable partner.

So, if you find yourself at high tea with someone that is unsuitable or has that "little" thing that you cannot tolerate, let's hope that there is something that you can enjoy while suffering through the company at the table. Which brings me to these orange meltaway cookies, which live up to their name in texture as well as taste. They are a perfect choice when served with tea or coffee. This recipe makes 3 dozen, depending on size and thickness. To get the look of the cookies above, you will need a 1/2 diameter star tip, coupler and pastry bag or zip lock freezer bag (quart size).

Orange Meltaways
adapted from the International Cookie Book

zest of 1 small lemon
zest of 1 large orange
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour
1 egg yolk
2 tsp lemon juice
2-4 tsp orange juice
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks of butter plus one tablespoon (softened and cubed)

1/2 cup strained apricot preserves
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp orange zest
3-5 tbs granulated sugar

Start by getting everything organized and prepped. Prepare the zests according to quantity stated for both glaze and cookies, strain the preserves and measure out the juices. Also, cut the butter into 1/4 inch cubes. Set all the small bowls of these ingredients aside. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Also prepare a piping bag or zip lock bag with tip and coupler.

Sift the powdered sugar into a stand mixer bowl. Take out another bowl and sift together the flour, cornstarch and baking powder, set aside.

Add about 5 cubes of the butter to the powdered sugar and beat on low for about 2 minutes. Then increase the speed to medium and add butter cubes in increments (about 3 at a time) while continuing to beat the mixture. Pause this process a few times and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Once all the butter has been blended and the batter is smooth, turn off the mixer.

Take out a small bowl and add the egg yolk. Use a fork to break up the yolk, then whisk in both types of zests. Stir in the lemon juice and only 2 tbs of the orange juice.  Pour into the sugar/butter batter and blend together on medium speed.

Remove bowl from stand mixer and fold in the dry ingredients. Once blended, let the mixture rest for about 3 minutes. Then test the dough to see if it is the proper consistency to pipe. If it seems too thick, add some of the remaining orange juice to make the dough more pliable.

Fill the prepared pastry bag with some of the dough and pipe onto parchment lined baking sheets in 1 1/2 inch shell shapes and spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart. After piping, let the dough rest again on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes.

As the dough is resting, prepare the glaze by whisking together the strained preserves, zest and juice.

Once the resting interval is completed, place both baking sheets in the oven and set the timer for about 6 minutes. Then rotate baking sheets and place them on the opposite oven rack. Let bake again for another 6 minutes and check. Cookies will have a light golden edge when done. Place both baking sheets on cooling racks.

Brush the surface of the cookies with the glaze and then sprinkle lightly with sugar. Place back in oven for an additional 4-5 minutes. During this time the topping will caramelize and the cookies will turn a darker color on the edges. Remove baking sheets from oven and let sit for 2 minutes, then transfer cookies to a rack and let cool completely.

Tips and Notes:
1. I used parchment paper and the recipe states to grease the baking sheets with cooking spray. Parchment paper will have to replaced after every baked batch, but it makes for easy clean up- especially since there is a baked-on caramelized topping.

2. You can form these cookies without the pastry supplies. In place of the piping instruction, roll the dough into 1/2 inch balls and place on baking sheets. Use the tines of a fork dipped in water and press down the dough to flatten. Press once placing the fork tines from right to left and dip in water and press a second time from top to bottom. Make sure that the dough is lower in thickness than 1/2 inch and not under 1/4 an inch- it may take more than 2 pressings.

3. Even after the glaze is set, the surface of the cookies will still have a bit of stickiness to them, so do not stack.   
                              **LAST YEAR:Neopolitan Cheesecake**