Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sourdough Surprises: Chocolate Pizzelles

Ah, the sourdough cookie. When I started sourdough baking, I had all kinds of breads and quick breads. Cookies were notoriously missing until recently. Now I've made a few kinds of and here and here. But when SourdoughSurprises announced that they were doing cookies for December, there was a recipe I had to try again.

I told the story of how we came about the pizzelle iron the first time I attempted to make Sourdough Pizzelles. Pizzelles are a traditional Italian cookie, frequently making an appearance around the holidays. How my 100% Polish great aunt got to making them, I may never know. All I know is that I accepted them as a treat from up north, like Platter's Orange Chocolate. When my niece fell in love with them, my mother bought the iron. And my first thought was: How do I make sourdough pizzelles?

My first attempt, using a waffle recipe, didn't turn out very sweet at all. I ended up using them in place of bread. Then I came across this desert waffle recipe and thought I was on to something.

The problem is that malt powder was going to be another one of those one-recipe-and-done ingredients. So, a little research and I came up with a substitute using flour and powdered milk. Everything else was according to the recipe.

A word of warning about pizzelles: They take forever. It was easily over 2 hours that I spent carefully pouring batter onto the heated iron. They are certainly a labor of love, which is why I knew they were a special treat.

The recipe, as follows:
Chocolate Sourdough Pizzelles
Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour
Makes about 4 dozen

1 cup fresh Sourdough starter
1/2 cup Cocoa powder
1/3 cup powdered milk
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk the dry ingredients in a small bowl; you may need to sift the mixture if your cocoa is lumpy.

Add the dry ingredients, plus the eggs, melted butter, and vanilla to the sourdough batter, stirring to combine.
Drop batter by scant tablespoonfuls onto preheated waffle iron. Bake according to manufacturer directions.

Pizzelles may be shaped into cones, bowls or cannoli shells while still warm. They will crisp up as they cool.

They are a little chewier than most pizzelles (although they still hold their shape quite well). However, they disappeared quickly. They were rich and chocolatey, not too sweet, with just the hint of cinnamon.

I'm very pleased. I finally have made a sourdough pizzelle. I'm not done though. One of these days, when I have the energy to burn at the pizzelle iron, I have an idea for a more traditionally flavored sourdough pizzelle. Until then...I'll have to find other ways to keep my starter active.

Check out our other awesomely delicious cookies!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Shine Supper Club: Sourdough Sugar Cookies

A lot of years ago (in fact, I think I was still in junior high), I finished a batch of Christmas sugar cookies. Being home alone at the time, I decided to be nice and bake a new batch. I went to town with a cookie cutter and sanding sugar. My mother wasn't at all upset that she got hardly any out of the batch I finished – she was more impressed by the cookies. It's been a tradition of mine to ever since to bake her sugar cookies before Christmas ever since. And with the Shine Supper Club doing holiday dishes, I decided to share my tradition.

For a few years, I deviated from that tradition a little, baking sourdough soft pretzels and rolling them out like cookies (still topped with sanding sugar though!), thanks to my new-found love of sourdough baking and my lack of sourdough sugar cookies. Now I happened to find a sourdough sugar cookie recipe. Perfect.

I used the almond variation of this recipe, and omitted the frosting. I'm not against frosting, but who needs the extra calories this time of year? Fortunately, these cookies are sweet and soft enough to go without it.

The recipe:
Sourdough Sugar Cookies

Adapted very slightly from King Arthur Flour
Makes 4-5 dozen cookies, depending on how big your cookie cutter is
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract or almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sourdough starter, active
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Sanding sugar or other desired decorations

In a large bowl, cream vegetable shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs, lemon or almond extract and vanilla extract until mixture is fluffy. Stir in sourdough starter; set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into sourdough mixture. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour or overnight ( helps firm dough etc.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On a lightly floured board, roll dough to 1/4-inch thick; cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with sanding sugar if desired.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until very lightly browned (for me, it was about 15 minutes, but my cookies were on the large side). Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.
When cool, frost and decorate as desired.

Other than taking a little longer than specified to bake (and 90 minutes was not quite enough time to chill!), I can't tell you how pleased I am with these cookies. Coupled with my Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies (and another recipe I've made for Sourdough Surprises, coming up on December 20th!), these are perfect for an all-sourdough cookie tin.

And on that did one lonely red grain of sanding sugar get on this green Christmas Tree?