Monday, May 28, 2012

Twisted Sugar Cookies

To say that I have bookmarked this recipe for a long time is an understatement. I think I first saw it back in January but it's been so long I honestly can't remember. One of the reasons why I didn't get around to making it until now was because there didn't seem to be the right occasion for it. I know that I love a challenge and I'm not opposed to trying a recipe that might be a bit more labor-intensive than others, but this one seemed to be a lot of effort for a small sugar cookie. And yet I couldn't completely let go of the idea of making it and so I kept it open on my computer for months on end thinking that eventually I would get around to trying the recipe for myself.

Finally, this past weekend, the occasion came where I felt these cookies would truly be appreciated. The event was somewhat semi-formal and I thought the beauty of these twisted sugar cookies would be sure to impress...and impress they did. The dough fanned out in the oven and created an elegant bow tie-like appearance.

Although I followed the recipe instructions precisely, somehow my first batch of cookies did not turn out correctly. By the time I finished rolling the dough out for the third time (yes it requires three rolls...I warned it was labor-intensive) it became super sticky and needless to say did not fan out properly in the oven. When I made the second batch I followed the exact same instructions and had it turn out perfectly...go figure.

Even though the cookies were very beautiful, I doubt that I will be making them regularly. They were a considerable amount of effort compared to other sugar cookies and, although tasty, did not really stand out in their flavor profile. Let's face it: they were a fancy sugar cookie through and through. My brother commented that they tasted best fresh out of the oven, while they were still hot, but he figured out that microwaving them the next day produced the same effect. I'm glad that I got to make them, if only for the experience and finally being able to tick the recipe off my "to cook/bake" list.

Twisted Sugar Cookies
Note: This recipe makes 64 twisted sugar cookies.
For the dough:
  • 1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast (not instant)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
For the filling:
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  1. In a small bowl combine the yeast, water, and sugar. Stir thoroughly and set aside to proof for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, sift together the flour and salt and cut the butter pieces through. The butter should become the size of peas and be coated in the flour mixture.
  3. Separately, combine the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Once proofed, mix the yeast into the liquid mixture and then add to the flour. Mix thoroughly until a dough comes together.
  4. Divide the dough into two and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, though preferably overnight.
  5. Once ready to bake, mix the sugar and vanilla and spread half onto a clean surface. Cover the rest so that it doesn't dry out.
  6. Remove one of the dough halves from the refrigerator and roll out over the sugar mixture into a large rectangle, about 16" x 8".
  7. Scoop any excess sugar onto the dough then fold the dough into thirds. Repeat the rolling and folding process twice more for a total of three times, being left with a large rectangle in the end.
  8. Divide the rectangle into 8 long strips and then each strip into quarters. You should have 32 pieces total.
  9. Take each piece and twist it twice before putting it onto an ungreased, foil-lined baking pan.
  10. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until the cookies become golden brown. Remove the pans from the oven immediately and lift the cookies by the foil off the pan and onto a cool surface. This will make it easier to peel them off of the foil as the sugar will have caramelized at the bottom.
  11. Repeat with the remaining sugar and dough.

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