Dear all, I hope you spent a beautiful summer, that you enjoyed every bright ray of sunshine, built sand castles on the beach, splashed in the sea until the sunset, drank summer cocktails after the sunset and had a great time in general. Also, I hope that, just like me, you ate an (un)healthy dose of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, pick-your-colour-berries, peaches, apricots and all the nicest and juiciest things summer provides us with. In fact, I hope you ate so much you are ready for a transition to apple pies, plum tarts and warm comfort treats in general.
This recipe is another one of my favourites to make in colder weather because for some reason, I associate poppy seeds with cold autumn days, fury slippers and fuzzy blankets (check some other poppy seed recipes, like this Poppy-seed plum pie or Poppy-seed Gerbaud cake. Perhaps it is because I often infuse it with vanilla, citrus zest, cinnamon or honey, so it gets a warm perfumed note I love so much. These cookies are very similar to my Jam filled crescent cookies – they have a thin and crispy pie dough shell filled with poppy seed filling that is not too sweet, so it makes the natural poppy flavour really shine through.
What gives them extra sweetness and should not be omitted is a coating of icing sugar dusted right after they come out of the oven. The sugar sticks to the warm surface of a baked cookie, makes them look pretty, but also adds an additional layer of sweetness and makes them melt in your mouth. Literally, they will melt in your mouth!
Although equally tasty (please don’t let me choose between jam and poppy seed filling for those cookies, it is just too hard!), I must admit that this filling makes for a better looking cookie because unlike jam, poppy seed filling will not ooze out or melt – it will keep its form perfectly, trapped inside the cookie dough. Make sure not to overfill them, though, because the dough might crack when you try to overlap it.
I have no further instructions, the recipe is very easy and straightforward, I hope you would give it a try. But I will mention a convenient tip – make a large batch of cookies, fill them and freeze them unbaked. When you feel like baking some, just let them thaw in the fridge for a couple of hours and bake them afterwards just as you would if they were fresh. But make sure you store them in one layer until they are frozen solid or else they might lose their shape during the time it takes for them to freeze (don’t ask me how I know). To be honest, shaping the cookies is the most time-consuming part of this recipe, so having shaped cookies on hand makes your life that much easier and sweeter.
preparation time: about 1 hour 15 minutes
baking time: 10-14 minutes, 180°C (350 F)
Ingredients for the cookie dough:
200 g cold unsalted butter
30 g icing sugar
300 g all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
4-5 Tbsp milk or cream
Ingredients for the poppy-seed filling:
100 ml milk
1 Tbsp honey
4 Tbsp granulated white sugar
1 tsp orange zest (a few gratings will be enough, but add to taste)
100 g poppy seeds
1 egg white
Icing sugar for dusting
1. Start by making the dough. Cut cold butter into small cubes and put it into a large bowl. Sift together icing sugar, a small pinch of salt and flour into the butter. Just like making a pie crust, rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips or a pastry blender. Basically you crush pieces of butter and coat them in flour. If you prefer, make the dough using a food processor.
2. When the mixture starts to resemble coarse crumbs, add an egg yolk and milk or cream. Start with 2 tablespoons of milk and see from there if you need to add some more. You might need less liquid if the egg yolk is large and you might need even some more than 5 tablespoons to make the dough come together. You should end up with soft and elastic dough that does not stick to the sides of your bowl or to your hands, but is not crumbly either. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts so it is easier to work with afterwards, wrap each part in plastic wrap and put them both in the fridge to cool until you make the filling.
3. To make the filling, mix milk, sugar, honey and freshly grated orange zest in a small skillet. Let it come to a simmer over medium low heat. Mix in the poppy seeds. In a separate bowl whisk an egg white until it forms soft peaks. With gentle strokes, using a spatula, fold the egg white into the poppy-seed mixture. Let the filling cool to room temperature.
4. Roll the first part of the dough thinly over a well floured surface. Keep the other half in the fridge until you are ready to use it. Using a round shaped cookie cutter or a glass with thin sides cut the circles out of the dough.
5. Depending on the size of the circles, use about a half of tablespoon to fill the cookies. Try with one, place the filling in the centre. Then, using a fingertip, brush the edges of the circle with some water and fold it in half. See if the amount of filling is enough. Seal the edges by gently pressing them around the filling. Take a dessert fork, dunk it into flour to prevent from sticking and press it all around the seal to create decorative edge, but also to really glue the dough together.
6. Shape first batch of cookies and then place them onto a flat surface and put into the fridge. Leave the there for about half an hour to firm up. In the meantime, continue rolling and shaping the rest of your cookies and preheat the oven to 180°C/350 F.
7. Put cooled cookies onto a baking pan. They will not rise during baking, but don’t place them too close to one another, because they need some air to crisp up nicely. Bake the cookies for about 10-14 minutes, depending on their size. They should start to get golden brown around the edges, but should still be pale at the top. Mine baked for about 12 minutes.
8. As soon as they come out of the oven, transfer them to a wire rack or a serving plate. Immediately sift a good amount of icing sugar over the top. Pour yourself a steaming cup of coffee or milk and enjoy!