Monday, March 10, 2014

Sugared Pretzel Cookies

It's March Madness Bakeoff at Mrs. BA's employer again.  The first round was cookies and this was the selection.  And it was a winner!  From the Smitten Kitchen.

Sugared Pretzel Cookies 
Adapted, barely, from Cook’s Illustrated
I love the rye flour in here; it gives the cookies an earthier flavor and depth, while the hard-boiled egg yolk gives the cookies a perfect sandiness that holds up even days later. You can use an equal amount of all-purpose flour (1/2 cup) if you don’t wish to make these with rye flour. 
Yield: 80, eh, in hindsight, I think this estimate from CI is too high, I’d say 48 tops and 36 safely. Apologies for any trouble.

  • 1 large egg, hard-boiled and cooled 
  • 10 tablespoons (140 grams or 1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 grams) granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (this is halved from the original) 
  • 1 cup (125 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 cup (45 grams) rye flour (medium or white will work) 
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water 
  • 4 teaspoons turbinado or clear sanding sugar 

Place butter, sugar and salt in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Crack egg and peel shell. Separate yolk from white; add white to your next sandwich or egg salad. Press yolk through fine-mesh strainer and into mixer bowl with other ingredients. Beat mixture on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl and beater with spatula as needed. Add vanilla, mix until combined. Add flours and mix at low speed until just combined. Using rubber spatula or your hands, reach into bowl and knead dough a few times into a cohesive mass.

Divide dough in half; place each half on a square of parchment paper. Form each into a log about 6 inches long (it will be about 1 3/4 inches in diameter) and wrap tightly with parchment, twisting ends to seal. Chill logs for 30 minutes, until semi-firm. (If you chill them longer, you’ll want to warm them up a bit or it’s difficult to work them into pretzel shapes.)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Slice 1/4-inch off first chilled log and roll slice into a ball in the palm of your hands; this softens the dough. On a counter, roll ball into a 6-inch rope. Pick up each end of rope and fold turn it into the center, pressing it into a pretzel shape. Transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, placing cookies one inch apart on prepared sheets.

Brush each pretzel cookie with egg white wash, then sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake cookies until they have golden brown edges, about 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven but let firm up on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring cookies to cooling racks.

Do ahead: Cookies stored in an airtight container between sheets of waxed or parchment paper will keep for at least one week.

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