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Friday
Apr092010

Baklava Thumbprint Cookies

I haven't been knitting much lately. Consequently, I haven't had anything to blog. So, it's been crickets and cobwebs over here.

Part of the problem, is that I've got a bit of startitis. Not even startitis: it's like not-starting-itis. I have piles of beautiful yarn collected for several lovely projects. Patterns printed, needles selected. All sitting in a basket. And I just haven't cast-on.  There were even a couple of days last week where I didn't knit. Not one stitch. It's the first ever time in my knitting life that this has happened to me, and it's sort of freaking me out. I've knit EVERY SINGLE DAY since I learned to knit in 2001. Even when I had the flu and I couldn't stay awake for more than 10 minutes at a time. Even when I had food poisoning and I was hugging the toilet for 24 hours, there was knitting in my hand. I'm sure it will pass, that it's just a phase, and for now, I'm trying to just roll with it.

In the meantime, I've been cooking and baking a lot. So, instead of knitting, you get my second crafty-love.

Baklava Thumbprint Cookies Baklava Thumbprint Cookies

Here's one of my new favorite cookie recipes. Baklava Thumbprints. Soft, tasty spice cookies with a nutty filling modeled off of the sticky, gooey, delicious mess you find between crisp sheets of phyllo pastry. These are not even terribly bad for you. Whole wheat pastry flour and alternative sweeteners make them fiber-rich and not-too-sweet. They are terrific with a cup of my favorite tea: Good Earth Original, to which I'm utterly addicted.

This recipe is mostly my own, though it borrows heavily from a few recipes in my new favorite cookbook: Veganomicon. I should say,  I'm not vegan. I'm mostly vegetarian just because I really don't like meat very much (aside from In'n'Out cheeseburgers. I will ALWAYS eat one of those), and I love trying new ways of cooking and eating.  Vegan cooking forces you to think about food in a very different way from the traditional meat-veggie-starch model. It's fun. And this book has been really inspiring to me.

Actually, these cookies aren't TECHNICALLY vegan anyway. I used honey in them, because I felt strongly that honey was key to the baklava flavor I was going for, but it would be really easy to just replace the honey with more brown rice syrup, or some maple syrup, or even just turbinado sugar for some textural interest.



I hope you give these a try!

Baklava Thumbprints

Makes about 2 dozen little cookies.

1/2 cup honey (or 3/4 cup maple syrup or brown rice syrup, or just up the sugar to 1 cup)

1/2 cup sucanat or organic cane sugar  (i like to use one of these instead of the white, bleached, granulated kind, but use what you've got.)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (or omit this if you don't care about lowering the fat and up the oil to 1/2 cup)

3 tbsp soy, almond, or cow milk (whatever you prefer)

1/4 cup cornstarch

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all purpose flour)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

zest of one lemon

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp garam masala (optional)

for the baklava filling:

1/4 cup  shelled pistachios

1/4 cup  walnut halves

2 tbsp brown rice syrup

2 tbsp honey (or maple syrup, or more brown rice syrup)

Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly grease a couple of baking sheets.

For the thumbpring filling, chop the pistachios and walnuts in a food processor, or finely chop them by hand. Mix them with 1 tsp cinnamon, the brown rice syrup and 2 tbsp honey. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, oil, milk,  applesauce (if using), vanilla and lemon zest. Add the cornstarch and whisk everything until the cornstarch is dissolved.

Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 tsp cinnamon. Stir until everything is all combined.

Roll the dough into small balls, about 2tsps each and place about 1"-2" apart on a lightly greased or nonstick cookie sheet. They won't spread out much, but they'll puff up a little. Press each ball with your thumb to create an indentation for the filling.   Drop a teensy bit of the nut and honey filling, about 1/4-1/2 tsp depending on how deep your thumb indentations are, into each cookie.

Bake for 12-14 minutes. Don't let them get too brown or they'll be tough when they cool. They should be a bit soft still, and they'll crisp up as they cool. Cool on a rack and enjoy with a nice cup of your favorite hot beverage!