Submitted by Gertdog
Source: Fine Cooking, Winter 2006
Yields 24-26 cookies
This is a much quicker and easier version of a very classic elegant pastry.
One-third of a batch (about 14 ounces) chilled Cream Cheese Dough (see below)
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of table salt
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and square off the dough by pressing the round edge on the counter four times. If necessary, let the dough sit at room temperature until pliable enough to roll. Mix the sugar with the cardamom. Transfer 1 tablespoon of the sugar mixture to a small cup and mix in the salt. Set aside.
Sprinkle the work surface liberally with some of the remaining cardamom sugar. Set the dough on the sugared surface and sprinkle it with more of the sugar. Turn the dough frequently and resugar it and the work surface liberally as you roll the dough into a 24x8-inch rectangle that’s less than 1/8 inch thick. Use the sugar generously to prevent sticking and to ensure that the cookies will caramelize properly in the oven. Trim the edges of the rectangle evenly.
Mark the center of the dough with a small indentation. Starting at one short edge, fold about 2 ½ inches of the dough almost one-third of the distance to the center mark. Without stretching or pulling, loosely fold the dough toward the center three times, leaving a scant ¼” space at the center mark. Likewise, fold the other end of the dough toward the center three times, leaving a tiny space at the center. The dough should now resemble a long, narrow open book. Fold one side of the dough over the other side, as if closing the book. You should have an eight-layer strip of dough about 2 ½ inches wide and 8 inches long.
Sprinkle the remaining cardamom sugar under and on top of the dough. Roll gently from one end of the dough to the other to compress the layers and lengthen the strip to about 9 inches. Wrap the dough loosely in waxed paper or plastic wrap (not plastic wrap, which might cause moisture to form on the outside of the dough and dissolve the sugar). Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 375. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and use a sharp knife to trim the ends evenly. Cut into 1/3-inch slices and arrange them 1 ½ inches apart on two ungreased or foil-lined cookie sheets. Bake until the undersides are golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through baking.
Remove the pans from the oven and turn the cookies over. Sprinkle each one with a pinch or two of the reserved salted sugar mixture. Return the sheets to the oven until the cookies are deep golden brown, another 3 to 5 minutes. Rotate the pans and watch the cookies carefully at this stage to prevent burning. If the cookies brown at different rates, remove the dark ones and let the lighter ones continue to bake. Transfer the cookies to rack and let cool completely. Store airtight.
Cream Cheese Dough
Yields about 2 pounds, enough for 3 batches of cookies.
Don’t chill the dough for more than a couple of hours, as it becomes too hard to roll. If you must chill it longer, leave it at room temperature until it’s pliable before proceeding.
17 ounces (3 ¾ cups) bleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/8 teaspoon table salt
12 ounces (1 ½ cups) cold unsalted butter
12 ounces cold cream cheese (in bricks)
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix briefly to distribute the ingredients. Cut each stick of butter into eight pieces and add them to the bowl. Mix on low speed until most of the mixture resembles very coarse bread crumbs with a few larger pieces of butter about the size of hazelnuts, about 3 minutes. Cut the cream cheese into 1-inch cubes and add them to the bowl. Mix on medium-low speed until a shaggy-looking dough begins to clump around the paddle, 30-60 seconds. Dump the dough onto the work surface, scraping the bowl. Knead a few times to incorporate any loose pieces. There should be large streaks of cream cheese. Shape it into a fat cylinder, 6 inches long and about 3 ½ inches in diameter. Wrap the dough in parchment or waxed paper and refrigerate until cold and slightly firm but not rock hard, about 2 hours. Portion the dough by measuring the cylinder and cutting it into equal thirds. If you have a scale, weigh each third; each should weigh about 14 ounces.