Sakura Branch Cookies: Happy Spring!

In honor of the first day of spring this past week, I made these cookies that mimic the spring branches that are swarming the sidewalks and shops in New York’s flower district right now.  I was delighted to stumble upon that part of town earlier this month… to my winter-weary eyes, it was proof that New York really has it all.

My first weekend of spring is shaping up to be pretty darn sweet.  I’m excited to attend the Dessert Goals festival.  Yes, the same festival that I went crazy for last autumn.  As the professionals say, dessert is always a good idea.  In addition to attending one of their food styling workshops on Saturday, I’ll be volunteering there on Sunday… anything to make the sugar-fueled dream last a little longer!  One day just isn’t enough, as I learned the hard way last year, racing to eat my way through sugary booth after oh-so-sugary booth.

There’s a fresh crop of vendors at the festival this spring, and I’m especially excited to sample the churros s’mores from Boqueria and the mini eclairs from Rare Bird Sweets.  Dessert Goals is without a doubt the best place to hunt down interesting new dessert mash-ups.

Just earlier this week, I was chatting with a friend about trying the Whole 30 diet… where you cut out dairy, sugar (gasp!), grains, and alcohol for 30 days.  What better time than the beginning of spring to infuse a little extra energy into my life?  I resolved to try it, but then, being honest with myself, decided that 30 days was not realistic and started considering a Hadley-customized “Whole 7” diet.

Nope, I still haven’t started that yet.  With Dessert Goals looming and with the Cherry Bombe Jubilee event on the horizon, it is truly my duty to abstain from healthy living, for the time being!

There will be plenty of time to go all-in later.  Balance truly is key, so for now, I’ll keep trying to inject my creations with fresh fruits and alternative ingredients.  I’ll save the Whole 7 low-down for another blog post.

Hope your spring is off to a gorgeous start, stay sweet!

 

Pineapple Linzer Cookies

I made these pineapple linzer cookies after visiting Té Company, a snug little hideaway in the West Village.  This cafe worked better than yoga to calm my mind.  Their assortment of oolong teas was vast and a little intimidating, but also playful; I found one tea variety that was described as “the Jason Bourne of Taiwan’s tea R&D center.”  Other contenders were earthy, and descriptions like “vintage barn” were included in their flavor profiles, along with more conventional tea-tastes like hibiscus, cedar, and hawthorn.  I could have spent all afternoon letting my eyes wander through their menu.  Upstaging the tea, however, was this cafe’s amazing pineapple linzer cookies.  Té Company’s recipe was posted in Saveur Magazine last year; my mind is still blown that they were willing to share such a special recipe with the public.  I had to test it out immediately!

The cookies are an elegant blend of sweet pineapple and spicy yuzu kosho (a paste made from chili peppers, yuzu peel, and salt).  If you make this recipe, go light on the yuzu kosho… I recklessly painted it on to a few cookies, and believe me, it burns.  When the yuzu kosho proportions are correct, tasting these cookies at home serves as an instant ticket back to calming memories of Té Company.

Blogging is ultimately a social pursuit, and it has served its purpose as a way to catch and share what life has been kind enough to throw at me.  My journal, on the other hand, is a place of cacophonous confusion and spiraling uncertainty.  Read my journal, and you’ll know that the quiet moments that I tracked down at Té Company were rare and priceless.  Because I’m trying to build my own business, I don’t really turn my mind off after the work day is done.  My thoughts are always swirling with ideas about how to move forward with my projects, regardless if it’s a Tuesday morning or a Saturday night.  It’s increasingly harder to track down moments of inner silence.

While sipping tea together at Té Company, fellow blogger Lisa of Tiny Pinecone suggested that I try journaling first thing in the morning, before even checking my cell phone, as a creative exercise before the busy noise of the rest of the day hits full-force.  This has proved to be so much harder to do than it sounds.  As it turns out, my cell phone has taken the place of a security blanket.  It sits, perched right at the side of my bed for easy access in the morning.  For the past few days, I’ve failed at this new routine.  It’s amazing how difficult it is to alter small movements in your daily shamble.  I’m now determined to make this small change happen.  I truly believe that small steps can alter everything.

Try your hand at these pineapple cookies and savor their spicy sweet harmony.  Think about your own routine.  What calms you down and revives your spirit?  Notice those things, and make them happen.

 

Cookie Dough (This recipe is borrowed from Saveur Magazine)

Ingredients:

4 34 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 12 cups plus 6 tablespoons hazelnut flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 34 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and reserved

For the Pineapple Jam

Ingredients:

5 cups cleaned pineapple, cubed
2 cups granulated sugar
2 sprigs rosemary
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
Zest and juice of 1 lime
14 cup yuzu kosho

Directions:

  1. Whisk together flours, salt, and baking powder in a bowl; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium speed of a hand mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until smooth; beat in vanilla. Add dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Divide dough into 2 balls and wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate 2 hours.
  3. Heat oven to 300°. On a lightly floured surface and working with one dough ball at a time, roll out into a 16-inch by 19-inch oval about 18-inch thick. Using a 3-inch round cutter, cut out cookies and transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Using a 34-inch round cutter, cut out another circle off-center from about half of the cookies. Re-roll scraps once.
  4. Bake cookies, rotating pans in the oven, until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, make the pineapple jam. In a medium saucepan, bring the pineapple and 1 13 cup water to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the liquid has nearly evaporated, about 10 minutes. Transfer pineapple to a blender and purée. Return pineapple to saucepan and add the sugar. Cook until the pineapple starts to caramelize, about 18 minutes. Add the rosemary and stir to coat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the salt and lime juice.
  6. To assemble the cookies, spread about 1 teaspoon of yuzu kosho over the cookies that do not have the holes. Top with about 1 tablespoon of jam and cover it with a cookie with a hole in it. Let cookies rest overnight to fully set. To serve the next day, top with fresh lime zest and Maldon sea salt.