Thursday, September 12, 2013

Cookbook Thursday: Luane Kohnke bakes up the unusual in 'Sassy Cookies'

            Luane Kohnke loves to bake — and her creations push the envelope, incorporating ingredients in unusual ways. She’s assembled a collection of these odd culinary collaborations in “Sassy Cookies: Sweet, Spicy, and Savory Treats with Swagger,” published by Pelican Publishing of New Orleans.
            There’s white chocolate and pink peppercorn cookies, for instance, Parmesan cheese coins with mascarpone filling, Swiss cheese and mustard puffs and lavender-ginger clouds. These are not your grandmother’s cookies, and how fun is that? I can’t wait to try out the gingerbread and pumpkin brownies for Halloween.
            Here’s a pretty safe recipe from the book, but one that highlights fresh fruit so you won’t feel guilty making them.

Apricot-Cherry Shortbread
From “Sassy Cookies: Sweet, Spicy, and Savory Treats with Swagger”
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 tablespoons finely chopped dried apricots
2 tablespoons finely chopped dried dried cherries
3 tablespoons coarse sanding sugar or raw sugar, such as demerara, for sprinking (optional)           
            Directions: In a medium bowl, sift together flour and sea salt. Whisk in sugar.
            With a pastry cutter, cut in butter until it resembles flakes. With a fork, stir in extracts and disperse throughout dough. Stir in dried fruit. Knead dough with hands, until gathered together and pliable.
            Roll into a 1 1/2-inch by 9-inch log. Wrap log in wax paper or plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
            Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookies sheets with parchment paper.
            Slice log into 1/4-inch-thick slices, places on prepared sheets 2 inches apart, and sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until pale golden brown. Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies, still on parchment, to wire racks to cool completely.
            Store in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 5 days.

Cheré Coen is a Lafayette freelance travel and food writer. She is coauthor of “Cooking in Cajun Country” with Karl Breaux and author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana” and “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana,” both from The History Press.