As our Twelve Days of Cookies comes to a close this year, we feel compelled to offer our thanks. Not only to the pastry chefs and baking book authors who shared their recipes, but to Sherry Yard's chocolate lab, the catalyst for her holiday dog biscuit recipe, which in turn spurned Yard to share her favorite holiday cookies from colleagues. As Yard is the type to use multiple exclamation points when talking up Elizabeth Belkind's chocolate cookies and Dahlia Narvaez's rosemary pine nut shortbread (Yard signs off her emails with the phrase "Sweet Thoughts!"), we wound up with more than half of our cookie recipes from her pastry pals. Not that we're complaining, as pastry chefs are among the best friends to have this time of year.
Our final recipe is a coconut curry bar cookie, a.k.a. Mumbai Mambo bars, from Rachel Klemek of Blackmarket Bakery. Yard actually gushed about a brownie that Klemek makes with wine "flour" (Cabernet grape skins leftover from crush that are dried and milled). Problem is, that flour is difficult to find (you can order it from the bakery), and we just couldn't bear to run a recipe with a special drive-by or mail-order required ingredient with the clock ticking on those remaining holiday baking hours. Klemek gave us the recipe for her coconut curry bars with chunks of fresh mango, which more than makes up for that wine flour. The full recap of our 2010 Twelve Days of Cookies recipes is also a page-turn away.
The 2010 Twelve Days of Cookies, Otherwise Known As a Baker's Half Dozen:
6. The American Academy in Rome's biscotti regina (sesame seed cookies)
7. Rachel Klemek's coconut-curry bars (recipe below)
We saved Klemek's bars for last as they seem to epitomize 2010 rather sweetly (insert the word "year" for "cookie" and you'll see our point):
"This has been an on again/off again cookie for us," says Klemek. "Until we just decided that we had to have it all the time. Most people love this cookie, a few people think the curry in [the cookie] is 'weird' but, personally, I'm not interested in making the blandest baked goods that every milquetoast will like. The finished [cookie] has some spice, but really balances out nicely with the sweetness of the coconut & tangy-ness of the passion fruit."
There you have it, 2010 summed up in one bite, with a reference to a 1924 comic strip character tossed in, we can only presume, for an extra dash of good luck in 2011.
Mumbai Mambo Bars
Note: From Rachel Klemek, owner of Blackmarket Bakery. Klemek says this recipe should yield two crusts. If you're so lucky, freeze half, or make a double batch of the filling. She likes to cut off the crust around the edges before serving, but we leave that crust/no crust battle up to your friends and family's discretion.
Makes: 30 to 35 bars, depending on size you cut them.
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (4 ounces) sugar
2 sticks ( 8 ounces) butter, at room temp
2 egg yolks
2 2/3 cups (12 ounces) flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon curry powder
1. Place the sugar and butter into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream the mixture on low speed until just blended. With the mixer running, add the yolks one at a time. Scrape the batter from the sides of the bowl and mix until combined.
2. Sift together the flour and salt. Add half the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until just combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients and curry powder, mixing until just combined. Divide the dough in half and shape each into a flat circle. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of an 13x9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Roll out one half of the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle slightly larger than 13 x 9 inches (about 1/8-inch thick) and gently transfer it to the pan. Lightly press the dough into the pan, being careful not to stretch it. You should have a 1-inch edge along the sides of the pan.
4. Freeze for at least 20 minutes. Bake straight from the freezer until the dough feels slightly firm but is still very pale, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.
1 cup (9 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) passion fruit puree
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons plus 1 teaspoon curry powder, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups (12 ounces) sweetened shredded coconut
2/3 cup freshly diced mango
1/4 cup sugar
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1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, passion fruit puree, lime juice and vanilla extract and curry powder.
2. In a large bowl, toss together the coconut and mango. Pour the liquid ingredients over the coconut-mango mixture and gently stir to combine evenly.
3. Scrape the filling into the baked crust and evenly spread it throughout the pan. Combine the sugar with the remaining 1 teaspoon of curry powder and sprinkle it evenly over the filling.
4. Bake until the filling is slightly golden and set, about 12 to 16 minutes. Let the mixture cool in the pan completely on a baking rack. Lift up the edges of the foil or parchment liner and transfer the bars to a cutting board. Cut into squares (see note on crust above).