I thought it would be nice to make a holiday cookie that captures the distinct flavor of rose. Rose, usually in the form of rose water, is often found in Indian and Middle Eastern desserts, but it's not commonly used in Western treats. For this dessert I used rose paste, because it adds a pleasing pink color to the cookies. I also added some rose to the cream filling as well.
I love making desserts like this for the holiday season because you can prepare several logs ahead of time and store them in the freezer for later use. That allows me to spend more time with visiting friends and family instead of being stuck in the kitchen.
In case anyone was wondering, I photographed the cookies with the reindeer because his expression reminded me of my little munchkin. The reindeer in the picture exactly mimics her expression when Lulu asks her his favorite question:
"How much do you love Lulu?" Lulu always asks.
"Thiiiiiiiiis much", our munchkin says and opens her arms, just as the reindeers does.
Servings: about 50 sandwich cookies
1 egg yolk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
16 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons shortening
1-3/4 cups heavy cream
1-1/2 cups white baking chocolate (8 ounces), finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon imitation brandy extract
1 teaspoon rose paste
For the cookie dough:
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a mixing bowl, beat the egg and egg yolk with 1/2 cup of sugar for about 5-6 minutes. You'll get a pale, yellow foam and the texture of the eggs will be thicker. Add vanilla and almond extracts.
In a bowl, combine the flours, salt and baking soda. Sift all the dry ingredients.
Cream the butter with 1/2 cup of sugar (whisk using a stand-mixer to get as much air as possible in the butter). Add the egg mixture, the dry ingredients and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream. Finish with shortening. Mix well. Divide the dough and roll into 3 (1-¼-inch diameter) logs. For each log, cut 1/4 of quantity of it, add 1/4 teaspoon of rose paste and form a cylinder . With the rest of the dough from the log, create a rectangle of cookie dough. The rectangle and cylinder should be the same length. Wrap the cylinder in the rectangle. Repeat with the 2 other logs. Chill them in the freezer until firm. It will take at least 30 minutes to harden (see storing tips).
For the rose and brandy ganache:
Heat the rest of the heavy cream in a saucepan. Bring it to a near boil. Turn off the heat immediately and quickly add the finely chopped white chocolate. Stir until everything is melted. Add 1/4 teaspoon of rose paste and brandy extract. Let the mixture cool completely. Once cooled, whip the cream (at a low speed) until creamy and smooth for 2-3 minutes. Transfer the ganache to a pastry bag fitted with a round tip and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Slice the logs into ¼-inch thick disks. Place the cookies on a baking sheet previously lined with parchment paper. Make sure they are spaced out so they don't touch each other when they expand while baking.
Bake for about 5 minutes at 375°F, then lower the heat to 350°F for another 6-8 minutes. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks. Allow to cool completely.
Pipe about 2 teaspoons of rose ganache onto the flat side of half the cookies. Place another cookie on top and gently press to make the filling visible. Repeat until all the cookies are used.
FYI: 1 cup of butter = 16 tablespoons = 2 sticks of butter.
I buy Koepoe-Koepoe pastes. There are rose, mocha and pandan flavors. You can find them in Asian stores or at VeryAsia.com.
I used Valrhona ivoire white baking chocolate. I got it directly from my local market but you can order through Amazon if you can't find it.
While pressing the ganache to create the sandwich cookie, it's important to be very gentle. Squeeze enough to push the ganache to the edges of the cookie but not so much that it spills out.
You can store the cookies in the refrigerator to keep them fresh. Just stack the sandwich cookies, placing little squares of parchment paper between them to prevent the cream from spreading everywhere.
You can also store the cookie logs up to 4 weeks in your freezer for last-minute surprise guests or for Christmas Eve. Just spread the cream at the last minute.
Sifting dry ingredients helps get rid of lumps of flour and aerates the mixture when liquid is added. It's very important for all your baking so you get a moist result.