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Archive for December 1st, 2013

Finnish Christmas Stars

This is without a doubt the craziest dough I have ever worked with! When I first read the directions I was a little confused. It was unclear to me if they were asking for 1 1/2 cups of whipping cream or 1 1/2 cups of whipped cream. It turns out you start with 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream which is then beaten into whipped cream with soft peaks. As I went on making this dough I had some serious doubts about it. When the dry ingredients are mixed with the whipped cream it becomes crumbly and then when the soft butter is worked in it becomes sticky. It does however set up nicely in the refrigerator. Finally when the dough is rolled out, make sure your work surface is floured very well. At this point the dough becomes very easy to work with and rolls out beautifully. If you are unfamiliar with the rolling and folding three times procedure it is basically the same as if your making Wienerbrød or Birkes although this is not a puff pastry dough and you can read and see more pictures of the folding process on those two pages.

The final outcome was a beautiful star shaped cookie, tender and buttery with a delicious sweet, yet tangy, prune center. The cutting and folding of the cookies is a fun process which would be a great activity with older children. The Joulutortut cookies were definitely worth the effort!

Joulutortut – Finnish Christmas Stars (makes 30 cookies)

Ingredients:

For Prune Filling:

5 oz. pitted prunes

water to cover prunes

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup sugar (2 oz.)

For the dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour (24 oz.)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (12 0z.)

1 cup butter, at room temperature (8 oz.)

For finishing:

1 egg, beaten, for egg wash

Pearl sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

Place prunes and water in a small saucepan and simmer until prunes become very soft, 15-20 minutes. Pour prunes, lemon juice and sugar into a blender and puree. Set prunes aside to cool.

Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

Sift together flour and baking powder, set aside. Measure 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, beat whipping cream until it starts to thicken (soft peaks). Using a spatula, add flour to whipped cream, mixture will be crumbly. Now using your hands, work the soft butter into the mixture until well combined, the dough will be sticky. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees F)

Making sure your work surface is well floured, roll the dough out to a rectangle. Fold dough into thirds, rotate dough a quarter of turn and fold into thirds again, making a small square. Turn over dough. Repeat rolling and folding another two times. Finished rolled out dough should be 15×18 inches, trim off edges to get straight lines. Measure and cut dough into 3 inch squares. Then make small cuts in towards the middle of each square. First move each cut square onto baking sheets, then place a small teaspoonful of prune filling in the center of each square. Fold every second corner into the middle of each square, creating a star shape. Brush with egg wash making sure the center gets a good amount of egg wash to prevent the star from opening up during baking. Sprinkle with Pearl sugar (or regular caster sugar). Bake for 10 minutes or just until golden. Cool on baking sheet for 1-2 minutes before transferring stars to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Source: The Great Scandinavian Baking Book

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