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Raisin-filled sugar and spice cookies
Total time: 55 minutes, plus chilling time of 2 to 3 hours
Servings: 12 cookies
Note: From chef de cuisine Craig Strong of the Ritz-Carlton in Pasadena. You'll need a fluted round 3-inch cookie cutter. Sanding sugar can be found at Surfas.
1/2 cup butter
1 vanilla bean, scraped of seeds
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
1 tablespoon milk
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup golden raisins
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Coarse sugar, such as sanding sugar
1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter, vanilla bean seeds and 1 cup sugar, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Beat in the milk and eggs one at a time; mix well.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom into a large bowl. Add to the butter mixture, beating until just incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic film and chill 2 to 3 hours, until dough is firm.
3. For the filling, mix the raisins, one-third cup sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and ginger in a small saucepan. Stir together the cornstarch and one-half cup water until smooth and add this to the raisin mixture. Heat, stirring occasionally, to boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
4. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the dough in half and roll out two rectangles one-eighth-inch thick. In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolks and cream with a fork. Lightly brush one rectangle of dough with the egg yolk mixture.
5. Spoon 12 mounds, about a tablespoon each, of the raisin mixture spread 3 1/2 inches apart on the sheet of dough. Cover with the other sheet of dough and cut around the mound of filling with a fluted round 3-inch cookie cutter. Rework the excess dough, re-roll, fill and cut for the remainder of the cookies. Lift filled cookies onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the tops of the cookies with the egg yolk mixture and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
Each cookie: 300 calories; 4 grams protein; 49 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 10 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 108 mg. cholesterol; 188 mg. sodium.