the BIG cookies project: vanilkové rohlíčky
... or vanilla crescent rolls :) These are yet another masterpiece of the Czech Christmas pastry arsenal - they are a real bliss in taste, with just a pinch of challenge, because they require special conditions, temperature and have to be handled with care since they are very brittle.
Vanilla crescent rolls
(for a batch of 50-70 cookies)
270g sifted all-purpose flour
2 egg yolks
180g soft butter (into cubes)
100g shredded walnuts
80g powder sugar + extra for topping
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
20g vanilla sugar
pinch of lemon zest
all of the above
+ the grated peel of one medium-sized orange
dark chocolate for dipping
The challenge of dealing with these beauties is that the dough is buttery and needs to be properly refrigerated before rolling... but let's not get ahead of ourselves... In a dry bowl the flour, sugar walnuts and lemon peel are mixed well. Then the vanilla extract and beaten egg yolks are added. Finally, the softened butter into cubes. The dough is formed by hand - first it resembles big crumbs, but by the end everything is homogeneous and the dough is stable enough to be formed into ball. I suggest dividing the ball in two pieces for easy handling afterwards. Then the balls are set aside, wrapped in kitchen foil and put in a refrigerator for a minimum of two hours.
how to cut the rolls ?
I am sure Czech housewives know how to make it the traditional way, I opted for the easier and modern version of actually buying a form for cutting vanilkove rohlicky. A very useful tool indeed. I never managed to master my dough in the size of the form, but by the end I was able to cut 18-20 pieces per rolling, which is is still a lot quicker than what I could have done by hand.
After one dough ball is taken out of the fridge it is being rolled (not too thick, not too thin - about 0.5 cm) on a floured surface, then onto the form and the cut pieces are placed on baking trays lined with baking paper. The leftovers (which are actually still a bigger part than what was used) are formed into a ball again and put back in the fridge, while we deal with the second dough ball. The balls are rotated, because if the dough gets too soft, you will not be able to lift the rolled dough no matter how floury the surface is (tricky part is if too much flour is absorbed by the dough, it becomes brittle and after a while unusable since it cannot be held together)...
After the challenge of rolling has been successfully completed, the rolls are baked for 8-10 mins on 180C or until pinky-brown (I still bake on gas oven so I have no idea about degrees, I just observe). While still warm the have to be sprinkled richly and on both sides with powder sugar+vanilla sugar mixture. Can be stored in an air-tight container and in a cold place up to 3-4 weeks (the more you let them ripe, the better they are)! :)
Since the sugar powder version seemed too sweet for me, I decided to make a variation of these - the favourite chocolate & orange combination. When mixing the dry ingredients in the bowl just add extra the peel of one orange and do the rest as the normal rolls. After baking instead of sprinkling sugar just dip the ends in melted dark chocolate. Then transfer on extra baking paper sheets until chocolate is settled. A good idea would be while the chocolate is still soft to dip them in grind nuts.