What is the most anxiety producing task for a pastry chef who owns a bakery? Designing a menu for her own party!! Five years ago when I was still working in the corporate arena I would just run down to the local bakery, pick out a bunch of nice looking desserts, plop 'em on some patters, and, voila!, we have dessert. Well, that part of my life has changed. since I quit my job. I'm quite confident I can create a fabulous a menu for 400 people I don't know, but when it comes to providing dessert for 20 of my friends or family, my hands start to sweat. After all, these are the most important people in my life!
My husband and I throw a small party for some of our closest friends each year and I'm in the process of planning the menu. My less confident side keeps saying everyone expects the ultimate from 'the pastry chef' - the perfect little entremets made using a collaboration of unique and unheard of flavors, exquisite breads, blah, blah... Luckily, my more practical side says they would all be perfectly happy if I just popped down to the local bakery and picked up some goodies.
So I've decided this year to design the menu in-between the two extremes. I'll put my heart into some new recipes and pick and chose from some of my tried and true. One of the new recipes I'll be going with is rugelach with a smear of my favorite walnut frangipane. This is probably the best rugelach I've ever had as the moistness of the frangipane makes for some wonderful texture combinations and the flavors meld perfectly.
This dough is a dream to work with as it rolls out thin enough for the cookies, is never too sticky, and the taste of the dough is amazing - how could it be bad with cream cheese, butter and sourcream!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 8-oz package cream cheese
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup walnut frangipane (see recipe here - note: this recipe makes much more than 1/4 cup so be prepared to use it for other goodies; it works wonderfully in apple and banana tarts)
- Cut cold butter and cream cheese into bits. In food processor pulse flour, salt, butter, cream cheese and sour cream until combined.
- Shape mixture into four equal disks. Wrap each disk and chill for at least 2 hours.
- Combine sugar, cinnamon, chopped walnuts and raisins.
- Roll each disk into a 9" round, keeping other disks chilled until ready to roll.
- Optional: using an offset spatula spread a very thin layer of the walnut frangipane on each disk.
- Sprinkle disk with sugar/nut mixture. Press lightly into dough.
- Cut disks into 12 equal wedges using a pizza cutter or chef's knife.
- Roll wedges from wide to narrow (you will end up with the point on the outside of the cookie.
- Place on parchment lined baking sheet (the point should be placed slightly under the cookie).
- Chill for 20 minutes.
- Bake in a 350 degree oven for 22 minutes or until lightly golden.