Imperial: befitting an emperor or empress; regal;majestic; very fine or grand; magnificent
(dictionary.com). My little baby girl is turning one tomorrow and we are having a pink polka dot birthday party. I thought these magestic cookies would be appropriate with their little pink polka dot of jam bursting out the center of them. Also on the menu: cranberry lemon loaf, strawberry jello, watermelon (both cut into polka dots of course!) as well as various other pink fruits, pink lemonade with pink polka dot ice cubes, and the piece de resistance: a beautiful pink polka dot birthday cake hand crafted by the oh so talented Desiree Nickel.
I had some leftover sweet paste in my freezer which I used for the dough. The recipe was from Gordon Ramsey’s Just Desserts cookbook, Fragrant Orange Pastry on page 203. I really enjoy the addition of orange flower water to this recipe, but if you don’t happen to have any don’t sweat it. Try using 1/2 tsp of orange juice mixed with 1/2 tsp of water. It won’t be quite the same, but no one will notice anyway. I used this batch of dough for one large tart shell and still had enough for about 3 dozen imperials. The dough freezes well if you choose to save some for another application.
Fragrant Orange Pastry
150g unsalted butter
75g icing sugar
1 orange zested
2 egg yolks
1 tsp orange flower water
250g AP flour
Beat together the butter, sugar, zest, yolks and orange flower water. Add the flour and knead gently until the dough just comes together. It is important not to overwork this type of pastry as it will become tough and harder to roll and re-roll. Form the dough into a log shape and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Let it chill in the fridge for a few hours. If you are in a hurry, you can form it into several flat disks and wrap it. Throw the disks in the freezer for a while, don’t forget about them though. You want the butter in the dough to chill down again and the temperature to be uniform throughout the dough before you start working it.
To make the cookies:
Unless you have a lot of counter, start with only half the dough. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 3 mm on a heavily floured surface. Cut circles of any size you like, and then cut a smaller circle out of half of the cookies for the tops. Re roll the dough and continue to cut circles until it is all used up. Place fairly close together on a parchment lined baking sheet, they won’t spread while they bake. Bake the cookies at 350*F for about 8 minutes (depending on the size) until they just start to look golden around the bottom edges. Let them cool completely before decorating (I baked them one day and decorated them the next).
The filling on these lovelies is any kind of smooth red jam, I used my mom’s homemade strawberry jam. Put about one cup of jam in a small saucepan and heat on medium high until melted and smooth. Keep stirring the jam while it is on the heat as it burns fairly easily. It should not be totally melted as you have to be able to spoon it on to the cookie. Put that jam into a little bowl and make the glaze.
Take 1 cup of icing sugar in a small bowl. Add 1/2 tsp of vanilla, 1 tsp of lemon juice and about 1 tsp of water. Mix thoroughly until there are no lumps. Add water a 1/2 tsp at a time to thin the icing out if you need to.
Dip all the tops of the cookies into the icing and set them aside to harden slightly. Meanwhile put about 1 tsp of jam into the center of each of the bottoms (flat side or bottom side faces up here) and smooth it out a little. Try to avoid putting the jam right to the edge of the cookies, leave about 1 mm of smush space.
When all the bottoms are jammed, and all the tops are dipped a little bit dry, SMUSH them together. Press the tops on to the jam lightly. If you don’t feel like the centers are quite jammy enough, you can either spoon or pipe a little more jam into them after the tops go on.
Et voila! Imperials!