This month at Tasting Jerusalem, we're sampling Ottolenghi's baked goods. Having recently made (and adored) Ottolenghi's Plum & Oat Bars, I had no hesitation dipping into more of his sweet treats. Jerusalem: A Cookbook has some positively sensational sweets and desserts, but I figured these Spice Cookies would make a great wee treat to take into the shop for my work friends to enjoy.
We're also dipping into Something Sweet from Ottolenghi at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week, so this post is doing double duty.
In the introduction to this recipe, Ottolenghi says, "These are very loosely inspired by duvshanyot (round iced cookies, made with honey and spices, typically for Rosh Hashana), or pfeffernusse. They are actually more closely related to an Italian spice cookie and are hugely popular on the sweet counter at Ottolenghi over Easter and Christmas." In fact, when I shared these at work, the first reaction I got was, "these taste like Christmas".
The cookies are crisp on the outside, and slightly softer on the inside, delicately spiced, with lovely hits of chocolate, raisins, and citrus.
I made a few minor changes to the recipe, mostly just to suit what I had on hand. I used raisins soaked in an orange liqueur, rather than the currants and brandy called for in the original recipe - I think cranberries would be a nice alternative too. I added in some cardamom, just because I love it, and left out ground allspice which I didn't have. Also, because I failed to observe baking rule 1.01, I failed to read the recipe through before I started, and then discovered in the midst of everything that I had little more than a tablespoon of butter on hand, instead of the 1/2 cup required by the recipe. I wasn't going to run out to the supermarket at that stage, so a few tablespoons of yoghurt to the rescue, and things worked out fine. I can't say what difference the butter would have made to these cookies, but I certainly didn't feel as though the absence was discernible. Also, the original recipe only asked for 1/2 an egg - as there is no world in which I would measure out 1/2 an egg (and then be left wondering what to do with the other 1/2), I put in the whole egg. I also thought this might compensate for the lack of butter. Lastly, I topped them off with some of my homemade Seville Orange Spoon Sweets, instead of the chopped candied peel called for in the original recipe.
I hope you give these a try. I have to say that I'm not normally a huge cookie lover - given the choice I would usually opt for a piece of slice, or even cake. These were, however, delicious cookies. They were easy to make and the house smelled amazing while they were baking. I would definitely make these again.
Spice Cookies Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
125g (4 oz) raisins
2 tablespoons orange liqueur (I used "44")
240g (8 oz) plain flour
1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
150g (5 oz) dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used Whittaker's Dark Ghana)
35g (1 oz) room-temperature butter
3 heaped tablespoons natural yoghurt
125g (4 oz) caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (I used Heilala)
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
grated zest of 1/2 orange
1x medium free-range egg
1 tablespoon diced candied citrus peel
(I used these Greek seville orange spoon sweets)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
160g (6 oz) icing sugar
Preheat oven to 190 degrees C (375 degrees F).
Soak the raisins in the liqueur for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Add the chopped chocolate, and mix well.
Cream together the butter and sugar, using an electric beater, just until well combined. Then add the yoghurt, vanilla paste, and citrus zest. Continue beating for about a minute, then add the egg and beat for a further minute.
Now add the dry ingredients and the raisins, along with their soaking liqueur. Mix until everything comes together - you might need to use your hands.
Roll spoonfuls of the dough into round balls and place them on baking sheets lined with baking paper, about 2cm (3/4 in) apart. (* See note below)
Bake the cookies in the preheated oven, until the outsides have firmed but the centre is still a little soft - about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool on the baking trays for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack set over a sheet of parchment paper.
While the cookies are still warm, whisk the glaze ingredients into a thin, smooth icing, and then drizzle a tablespoon of icing over each cookie - it will drip away, leaving a very thin glaze on the cookies. Finish with a little of the candied peel on top of each one.
Store in an airtight container.
*Note: The recipe did say at this stage to rest the cookies in the fridge for an hour before baking. I didn't notice this until after I'd put the cookies in the oven, and I don't think they suffered adversely for this omission.
I am sharing this post at Tasting Jerusalem, a virtual cooking community exploring the vibrant flavors and cuisine of the Middle East through the lens of “Jerusalem: A Cookbook” by Ottolenghi and Tamimi published by Ten Speed Press. You can follow along and cook with us by subscribing to omgyummy.com, following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, and liking our Facebook page.
If you would like to get to know Yotam Ottolenghi a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...
... or check out Jerusalem and Ottolenghi's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.
I will also be submitting this post to Sweet New Zealand. Inspired by Alessandra Zecchini, Sweet New Zealand is an event for all Kiwi bloggers (whether living at home or abroad), or all foreign bloggers living in New Zealand, to link up their sweet treats. During the month of June, I will be hosting Sweet New Zealand right here at Couscous & Consciousness.
And, just because I really like to spread the love around, I'm also sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely, and very amusing, Michelle at Ms. enPlace.