I wait all year for the baking excitement around Christmastime and planning a new addition to the cookie round up is a big deal to me. (What can I say, maybe my life is too mundane or maybe I'm baking-obsessed?) Old favorites take up considerable cookie plate real estate so a new cookie has to be something special to earn a spot. I knew these ingredients could help an average cookie recipe become "Christmas plate worthy".
I browsed my cookie recipe collection and found one I liked. This Apricot Windows recipe from Martha Stewart gave me a chance to use some cornmeal from my homegrown Bloody Butcher corn, the same corn we used to make our corn husk dolls, and it seemed adaptable to the mystery ingredients.
The bourbon vanilla bean combined with the cornmeal and the maple sugar to make a brilliantly flavorful shortbread. In place of the apricot jam, my shortbread was topped with Michigan sour cherry preserves that had been jazzed up with some freshly cracked Tellicherry peppercorns and fennel pollen. Sour cherry was a better foil for the fennel and pepper together, anise flavors go well with cherry and I love almost all fruit with black pepper. The resulting cookie had an attractive lattice-topped pie appearance and a unique flavor that will earn it a place on this year's cookie plate.
Cherry Pie Lattice Cookies
Based on Martha Stewart's Apricot Windows recipe
Makes 12-16 cookies in an 8"x8" pan
1/2 cup sour cherry preserves or jam, at room temperature
1 teaspoon fennel pollen
1 teaspoon freshly cracked Tellicherry peppercorns
1/2 cup maple sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1 whole vanilla bean
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup cornmeal, medium or coarse for texture
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
-Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
-In a small bowl, mix the jam with the fennel pollen and pepper. Set aside.
-Place the maple sugar and butter or margarine into a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle blade. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean and cream these three ingredients until light and fluffy.
-While the sugar and butter mixture is beating, whisk together the flour, cornmeal and salt in a separate bowl.
-Add the egg to the creamed butter and beat until incorporated. Add the flour mixture in three installments, beating until almost combined each time. Then scrape and beat to create a fully mixed batter.
-Fit a piping bag with a #12 or #11 plain piping tip or use a sandwich bag and cut a 1/4 inch hole in one end. Fill with a 1/2 cup of batter. Fold over or close to keep the batter from drying out and set aside.
-Line an 8 inch by 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with vegetable oil. To keep the parchment paper from shifting spray a small amount under the paper as well.
-Spread the rest of the batter in an even layer onto the parchment lined pan. Bake for 20 minutes, until light golden brown.
-Remove the pan from the oven, spread on an even layer of the seasoned jam or preserves. Then top with crisscrossing lines of piped batter approximately one inch apart to create a grid.
-Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes until the piped lines on top are golden brown.
-Allow the cookies to cool. Using the parchment paper, lift the uncut cookie out of the pan and then slice into bars or squares.
*Variation: These could also be baked in a removable bottom tart pan and then cut into wedges like a mini pie. I would suggest a 8 or 9 inch diameter pan.
Our homegrown Bloody Butcher corn
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