Saturday, April 20, 2013

Marble - Nut Cookies


Delicious chocolate marble cookies with walnuts. These cookies are a bit time consuming to set up: the dough made and divided, chocolate is blended into a portion of the vanilla-orange flavored dough, it must be well chilled,  rolled out and then rolled up. Follow the instructions step by step,  the dough is formed  like a jelly roll. The good news: once set up, you can keep the cookie rolls in the freezer and slice and bake as needed.

Ingredients:
4 oz shortening (margarine is my choice for these, but butter would make them richer if you are OK with a dairy cookie)
5.5 oz granulated sugar
1 large egg (extra large will make the vanilla portion of the dough too soft)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange extract (you can choose another flavor, I love orange and chocolate - the flavor is subtle in this cookie)
8 oz all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
large pinch kosher salt
3 Tbsp good quality unsweetened cocoa
1.5 Tbsp shortening (I used unrefined coconut oil)

Equipment: 
Mixer (stand mixer or hand mixer) and bowl
kitchen scale
Nut chopper (unless you are purchasing chopped nuts)
measuring spoons
Surface to roll out the dough
Rolling pin
Heavy cookie or baking sheet (chocolate tends to burn in the oven if the pan is too flimsy)
Giant cookie spatula (if you have one)

I use an inexpensive, hand cranked nut chopper, hand wash and dry, it will last for years/ You will avoid the risk of over-processing the nuts and finding yourself with crunchy nut butter.

Choreography:
1. Measure the ingredients and have them organized and ready. If you need to chop the nuts, do so at this point.
2. Take an extra minute, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt to make sure the soda and salt is well distributed within the volume of flour.   I have found using a small metal strainer easier than using a flour sifter. 

3. Blend the cocoa and shortening in a small bowl (you can mix by hand)
4.Cream the shortening and sugar, you want to mix them until the two form a light and fluffy mixture.
5. Add egg and continue to beat for another minute or so, until the egg is entirely incorporated. Some people like to beat the egg first, then add to the creamed mixture, I have not found that this makes a difference.
6. Add the flavorings.
7. Slowly incorporate the flour blend. Mix until batter is well blended. Stop the mixer, divide the dough and set one half aside (this is the "white" dough).
8. Mix the chocolate mixture into the remaining dough in the mixing bowl. Mix well, so that the chocolate mixture is distributed throughout the portion of dough.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of several hours.

9. Preheat the oven to 360 degrees.
10. Remove the 2 portions of dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface.  Work quickly. The dough will soften and become sticky, with the white portion likely to be stickier than the chocolate.
11. Sprinkle the rolled out chocolate with 2/3 of the chopped nuts.
Press into the dough.  The chocolate dough is firmer and easier to handle.  Using a spatula to help you, lift the white dough and place on top of the nut sprinkled chocolate dough. Trim the white dough to be slightly smaller than the chocolate dough, it will shift a bit as you roll it up.

There is a giant spatula that comes in handy for moving large pieces of dough (or removing multiple cookies at once). You slide it under the dough and lift. There really is there is a tool for almost everything!



12. Roll the layered dough up tightly, if you roll loosely, there will be spaces and the cookie will become mis-formed as it bakes. Be careful as you roll, the "white" dough will slide toward the unrolled edge, you want to try to keep the 2 layers aligned as you roll.
13. Once the roll is formed, make slices, about 1/3 inch thick, carefully lift and place each slice on the cookie sheet, allow for 1/2 inch or so between cookies. They will not expand very much, but you don't want them to touch. Press the remaining chopped nuts onto the cookie slices.



 Roll the layered dough tightly


Slice cookies approximately 1/3 inch thick


Lift the slice, supporting it with a dough slicer or spatula

Place on a lined baking sheet and bake 18- 22 minutes at 350 degrees



14. Place the baking sheet in the top 1/3 of the oven. Lower the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 18- 22 minutes.  The cookie will be slightly soft, but the chocolate will look like it is dry and set.  They will be soft when you remove from the oven, move them onto a cooling rack gently. They will harden as they cool down.
15. Cooled cookies can be kept for several days at room temperature. For longer storage, double wrapped or place into a freezer proof plastic container and freeze for up to a month.