Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cookie cutters (part 6): Ravioli cookies

So think about it. Why couldn't you use a ravioli mold to make a filled cookie? Just change the pasta dough to a sweet pastry dough and change out the savory filling for something sweet. Bada-boom, miniature turnover cookies.

Here are two different ravioli trays from Sur la Table; each is $26 and includes the rolling pin. Both work on the same principle: You roll out 2 sheets of dough a little bigger than the ravioli tray. Place one sheet of dough over the tray and gently press the dough into the indentations. Fill the indents with the filling and top with a second sheet of dough. Use the rolling pin to seal the two layers of dough together and at the same time cut out individual ravioli cookies.

Another way to make ravioli is to use individual ravioli stamps, which Sur la Table sells for $6 - 7 apiece, depending on the size. Not a particularly practical choice for making a big batch of cookies, but perfectly reasonable for making ravioli if you're taking a shortcut and using won ton skins instead of sheets of pasta dough.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cookie cutters (part 5): Fattigmann

Fattigmann are fried-dough cookies whose name in Norwegian means "poor man." Some find it hard to understand the word "poor" in the cookie's title because of the rich-man ingredients (eggs and cream) in the dough. But it should not be forgotten that eggs and cream were readily available to poor farm families who, though they didn't have much else, usually had laying hens and a cow for milking. It's just city folk who considered these ingredients costly.

No doubt the original fattigmann were just squares of dough dropped into hot fat, but somewhere along the line they got a little fancy. This fattigmann cutter from Pastry Chef ($16) rolls out a diamond-shaped piece of dough with a slit in the middle. One end of the dough is pulled through the slit and then the cookie is fried.

This roller would also work for other fried-dough cookies such as Lithuanian ausuke, Polish chrusciki, Rusian kosh tili, or Italian wandis.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cookie cutters (part 4): Kolacky

If you live in Prague, Oklahoma, or Montgomery, Minnesota, chances are you are very familiar with pastries called kolacky or kolache. These two towns are among numerous in this country that lay claim to fame for their versions of this Central European pastry--a sweet yeast dough that holds or encloses a fruit, poppyseed, or other sweet filling. (There are also savory versions filled with cheese or meat.) The shapes of kolacky seem to vary considerably, possibly depending on the country of origin (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia).

When I stumbled across a kitchen tool called a kolacky cutter ($7 from Amazon), I was curious to see how it worked. Not so easy.

None of the U.S. kolache festivals seem to produce anything that look like they could have used this cutter. I finally resorted to searching Czech websites, which provided photographs but no help for how to make koláče (my Czech and Slovak are both very rusty these days). The picture at left gives a little hint to how the cutter must be used.

In any case, if you use this cutter to cut out regular sugar cookie dough and put a spot of jam in the center, you could probably find some creative way to fold in those windmill-ish arms to make something cool looking.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cookie cutters (part 3): Shortbread stamp

Here's a cutie-pie cookie stamp. It's a petroglyph-style goat incised in stoneware by a ceramic artist named Kim Frazier. The stamp, which is 2 1/2 inches in diameter, is available for $8.50 from a goat farm in Luray, Virginia, called Khimaira. If you buy the cookie stamp, they'll send you their recipe for shortbread cookies made with goat cheese.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cookie cutters (part 2): Lego cookies

This cute little roller makes Lego bricks out of cookie dough. Too bad it can't produce cookies with indentations on the back, too, so you could build a Lego gingerbread house.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cookie cutters (part 1): Hello Kitty

Every December in the food magazine world, the inevitable happens: the Christmas cookie story. And every year it's a challenge to the editors to come up with new and different cookies. Given that all cookies are at heart the same 3 ingredients (flour, butter, sugar), it all gets a little predictable. (Seriously, a sugar cookie is a sugar cookie.) So I decided to see what I could find that would help cookies at least look different, even if they taste similar. Thus begins a series on "Not Your Usual Cookie Cutter."

First up is a cookie cutter that lets you assemble a 3-D Hello Kitty (be still my heart). It's a 3-part cutter: two legs and one body. The body piece is also a stamp that produces the wonderful vacuous look of dear Hello Kitty. The put-together Hello Kitty is about 4 inches high.

The cookie cutter/stamp sells for $10 from a website called TwinkleDoll, which specializes in anime-related products. Although the website is located in Florida, it's for sure that a nativeborn Japanese person wrote the copy for this cookie cutter, to wit: "Make your own Hello Kitty cookies to increase your appetite now!" (Increase my appetite??)