Saturday, December 31, 2005

Orange-Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Date and Cranberry Fillings and Honey-Caramel Apples

I'm working with two of my sisters on a Kosher-themed food business concept. Right now we're still in an early, early planning stage and as part of that, we're each experimenting with some recipes. These are my first trials.

First up, a totally invented recipe for a honey-flavored caramel apple, inspired by the Rosh Hashanah custom of eating apples with honey. I found some neat miniature apples at Whole Foods and caramelized two parts sugar and one part honey. I know a real caramel would have butter or cream or some sort of dairy, but I was hoping to avoid using any to extend the shelf life. Maybe that's not necessary, though. An apple's only going to be good for so long by itself, anyway. So, I definitely cooked the sugar mixture too long. I was keeping an eye on the thermometer, but I think that honey caramelizes at a lower temperature than regular sugar, so I may have to adjust for that on the next trial. The resulting caramel coating was way way too tough to bite into. Tooth-pulling tough. Tasted like honey, though, so a minor success there. Also, next time I will let them cool completely before wrapping in wax paper. Little tough to remove on these.

Next, I put together an orange-lemon shortbread cookie with date filling, inspired by the lulav and etrog of the holiday Sukkot. The lulav is made of leaves from a date palm and the etrog is a citron, a citrus fruit only somewhat resembling an orange or lemon. Eventually, I would like to try using actual candied citron in the recipe, but I had the orange and lemon on hand. The cookie was based on the Poppy Seed-Orange Cookies from Room for Dessert. The date filling I made up after looking through a few recipes for date jams and spreads. It's basically dates, sugar, lemon juice, and almonds. It was alright, but definitely needed a little more zing. Maybe next time I'll include some of the lemon zest. I ran out of the date filling before the cookies, so I took some leftover Thanksgiving-style cranberry sauce and cooked it with some more sugar and a cornstarch slurry to thicken it and used it to fill the remaining cookies.

Caramel Apples - 1st attempt - caramelizing sugar and honey Honey Caramel Apples - 1st attempt - tiny apples Honey Caramel Apples - 1st attempt

Cranberry Filling - cornstarch Cranberry Filling - simmering

Orange-Lemon Shortbread Cookies - ingredients Orange-Lemon Shortbread Cookies - adding ingredients Orange-Lemon Shortbread Cookies - mixing Orange-Lemon Shortbread Cookies - dough Orange-Lemon Shortbread Cookies - going into oven Orange-Lemon Shortbread Cookies - cookies from oven Orange-Lemon Shortbread Cookies