awesomeGrrl bakes Pie Cookies with Aunt Marcella
Contrary to what the corporate media would have you think, not all kids grow up without a clue about cooking, some even get lots of hands-on time early on. I was one of those lucky ones, as is the monstrrr in these pictures. Let's call her awesomeGrrl, because she is awesome (the kid speaks three languages already...oh, and American Sign Language...geez!) and she's learning all about being an awesome cook and baker from a very young age. She makes a mean salad, is learning how to bake and has even had "Baker Ben" visit from England to teach her about bread baking. And she's not even three yet!
(Did I mention that one of those languages is Mandarin Chinese? I suppose that's not so intimidating to some of you, but I am amazed by her language skills. One day recently, when she was not quite 2.5 years old, I asked her to count to ten in Mandarin. She hopped from foot to foot while saying words in Chinese in a sing-song voice. I sat in rapt attention, hoping to catch a single word well enough to repeat it back — and not liking my chances — as she pranced around the room counting. After a minute, her mom burst into laughter and said, "Those aren't numbers, she's just messing with you!" Oh my, such sarcasm at two and a half, awesomeGrrl's going to be fun as she grows up. )
awesomeGrrl's Aunt Marcella came to visit recently and they baked Marcella's Pie Cookies. These cookies are the cupcake of pies: tender sour cream pastry and a rich date filling shaped into tiny little puffed flowers. In the family since the turn of the last century, the recipe for these cookies was passed to Marcella when she was about nine years old, which would have been quite a few years ago, since Marcella celebrated her 80th birthday a while back by throwing herself out of a perfectly good airplane, but that's another story. As you might guess, Marcella is a bit of an awesomeGrrl herself; more than a few of women in the family point to her as who they want to be like when they are 80.
Marcella's Pie Cookies
(I'm not sure exactly how many this makes, I've got two notes on quantity and they are totally at odds...I'd guess about two dozen and I'll put an actual number here the next time I bake them.)
The filling has to cool before the cookies are assembled so it should be made before the dough. Otherwise, the dough should be refrigerated while the fillling cooks and cools.
dates, chopped 8 ounces
sugar 2 tablespoons
Put dates in saucepan, add enough water to just cover them and sugar. Simmer over medium heat until mixture is thickened enough to hold its shape on a spoon (about 20 minutes). Set aside to cool.
butter 8 ounces
sugar 2 cups
vanilla extract 2 teaspoons
nutmeg, ground 1/4 teaspoon
salt 1/4 teaspoon
sour cream 1 cup
all-purpose flour 5 cups, divided
sugar 2 tablespoons, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350°(f).
Cream butter, 2 cups of sugar, eggs, vanilla and sour cream. Add 3 cups of flour, nutmeg, and salt and mix until just combined.
Put remaining 2 cups of flour on counter and turn out mixture on top of it. Knead gently to form a smooth soft dough. The dough is very soft and you may want to refrigerate it before rolling it out.
Working with half of the dough at a time, roll dough 1/4 inch thick and cut into 2 inch rounds...or other shape, they just need to be the same. You should get about 15-17 rounds per half batch of dough.
Place half of the rounds on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Divide the cooled filling between the cookie bottoms, using a scant teaspoon per cookie. Top with another round, pressing the edges well to seal them, and sprinkle the top with sugar (use vanilla sugar if you have it).
Bake 20 minutes until they are lightly browned and the crust firms up a bit. Allow to cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes, the center is very hot!