Purim, the holiday that commemorates Esther’s Old Testament bad-assery was completely off my radar as a kid, as were unfortunately, the cookies below. I grew up in Catholic school, where Old Testament tribe-related stories like this one just didn’t come up a lot. But I’m making up for lost time. This is not a holiday that I grew up with, but it carries a story that I appreciate deeply, I think now even more than before. Also the cookies are brilliant with a capital “B”.
yields 15 big cookies
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temp
4 oz cream cheese, room temp
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of one orange
3/4 c. sugar
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until well combined. Add the vanlla extract, orange zest, and sugar and continue to mix until well combined.
Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Add the egg and mix on medium, then scrape down the bowl again once incorporated.
Add the flour, baking powder, and salt all at once. Mix on low speed until just incorporated and a soft dough forms.
Wrap in plastic wrap, flatten, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Rhubarb-Blood Orange Filling
1 1/2 c. rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces (about 2 medium stalks)
1/2 c. sugar
2/3 c. fresh blood orange juice (approx. 3 medium oranges)
1 strip of orange zest
1 tsp. cornstarch
In a small pot over medium-low heat, combine the rhubarb, sugar, zest, salt and 1/2 cup of the juice. Stir occassionally to prevent sticking.
Combine the remaining juice and the cornstarch in a separate bowl and stir to break up any lumps. Set aside.
Allow the rhubarb to gently bubble until the pieces begin to soften, about 5 min.
Pour in the cornstarch mixture and bring back to a simmer. Allow to simmer an additional minute or so, until the juices thicken.
Remove from heat and cool completely.
Cream Cheese Filling
4 oz cream cheese, room temp
2 tbsp orange juice
1/4 c. sugar
1 egg yolk
Paddle the cream cheese until smooth. Add the juice, sugar, and salt and mix to combine.Scrape down the bowl, add the egg yolk and paddle until just combined.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
On a floured surface, gently roll the dough out to approx. 1/4″ thick. Using a 4″ round cutter, cut out as many circles as you can.
Dab or brush on a small amount of water around the edge of each circle (this allows the dough to stick to itself). Spoon a teaspoon of the cooled rhubarb filling into the center of each circle. Spoon a 1/2 teaspoon of cream cheese filling on top of that.
Gently fold the edge of each circle, making three pressed corners on each.
Chill the cookies on a paper-lined sheet pan for 10 minutes.
Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake until the folded edges are light golden, about 15-17 minutes. The cookies should still be a bit pale and soft.
Allow to cool completely before eating with reckless abandon.