December 21st, 2006

Cheezy Pepper Cookies

Cheezy Pepper Cookies

I've tried a number of different substitions for the butter and sharp cheddar cheese that my family used in their traditional recipe for these, but none have worked so well as this version. The only thing you'll regret in making these is that it never seems like you can make enough. I am speaking from experience, however, when I warn you to not pig out on them. They may look like chips or crackers but they are infinitely more rich.


1/2 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread (1 stick)
1 full package of Vegan Gourmet Cheddar-Style
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp (or more) cayenne pepper or chili powder

Freeze your Vegan Gourmet until solid, then grate. Add to a bowl with the Earth Balance and beat on low until well combined. Add the flour, salt and pepper and stir until completely mixed. Divide the dough half and form each half into a log about the diameter of a silver dollar. Wrap in waxed paper or parchment paper and freeze solid (6 hours or overnight). Preheat your oven to 325 F. Unwrap one log at a time and slice off coins of the dough about the thickness of a silver dollar. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake for 15 minutes. Immediately place on cooling racks. When cool, store in an airtight container for up to a week (if they last that long).

These go particularly well with a glass o' bubbly on New Year's Eve.

Cherry Rugelach

Cherry Rugelach success!

I adapted Ina Garten's recipe from the Food TV website to use up dried cherries and come cherry preserves. Her recipe calls for apricot jam, raisins and walnuts (which I believe is the more traditional version). I need some practice with the rolling to make prettier cookies, but they tasted great!

8 ounces Better Than Cream Cheese, at room temperature
1/2-pound Earth Balance, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 9 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup dried cherries
1 cup almonds, finely chopped
1/2 cup sour cherry preserves
Bit of melted Earth Balance for egg wash

Cream the cheese and margarine in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the filling, combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the cherries, and almonds.

On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons preserves and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges -- cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush each cookie with the "egg wash". Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.