Friday, December 11, 2009

Princess of Persia

Well, my freedom is finally here! Officially, my last class let out this afternoon, but this whole week was one I like to call "busy work" - the profs can't technically give us any assignments to do because exams are next week, but we still have to be in class! Oh well, it all balanced out in the long run, since Wednesday's weather meant there was no way any of us were schlepping onto campus for a single class.

Of course, that could only mean one thing for me - and I'm sure you can all guess what that was! Yes, this Wednesday was officially my "cookie day". Wait. scratch that. Wednesday was my baking day! We had done 4 batches of my mom's shortbreads on Sunday, but (if you can believe it) between my sister, stepbrother, and a couple gift boxes we had one single cookie left by the time Wednesday morning rolled around. One. Uno. So something had to be done, but (of course) we had no soft butter hanging around after sucking up two pounds of Julia Child's lifeblood that past weekend. However, I took one of the blocks out and sliced a small(ish) cube off to soften for some Thin Mints at the same time as grabbing the cream cheese for a couple other goodies you'll get to see soon enough (now that I have time to write about them!). While I dug through the fridge, I also found a lonely stick of Earth Balance that remained from my babka-baking days and figured "what the heck... I'm sure I've got a recipe to use this up!".  And did I!!

These cookies are incredibly unique in that they are spiked not with the usual "holiday" accoutrements of ginger, cinnamon or citrus, but with saffron. As a result, they are the most vibrant yellow, and the dought is peppered throughout with pearls of currants and dried cranberries! Initially, the recipe almost - and I almost cringe to write it - looks like a modified shortbread-style of cookie, the difference being that the fat is melted into the dough rather than creamed. In retrospect, if I was to make it again, I would stick to creaming this batter - melting the butter (or Earth Balance in my case) made these too oily for my liking (you can even see the sheen in the photos). The original recipe came courtesy of Iraj Shirazi via the Toronto Star's Food column, and it apparently was supposed to make 96 teaspoon-sized cookies. No offense to the recipe author, but I don't know what teaspoon you're using, because my cookies were only the size of silver dollars when done and I only got 48!

That said, though - those 48 cookies are rich, chewy and soft without being as over the top sweet as most of the Christmas cookies on the plates these days. My only complaint is they get very sticky in storage, so don't stack them on top of each other unless you want double-thick cookies (not a bad thing, mind you!). The dough also freezes wonderfully which was great for me, because these days there is no time to do gazillions of cookies all from scratch all in one day. Even Wednesday's spree was cut short, I had to pretty much focus on dough preparation alone because with 11 kinds in the works, plus 2 mincemeat pies and a loaf of sourdough bread, I couldn't afford to slow down! Thank God for chest freezers!

So without further ado I will submit these cookies to FoodBlogga's Eat Christmas Cookies event, with many more (hopefully!) to come - and at the very least some good times will be had in the kitchen this weekend as I host a foodie-esque cookie meet with Joel from Get the Foodie 411 and a couple non-bloggers but food lovers I Tweet with!

Jeweled Persian Saffron Cookies
Makes about 48
1/2 cup Earth Balance or butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup Kamut flour
5 oz silken low-fat tofu, pureed
1 cup currants
1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 tsp saffron threads, crumbled
1 tbsp warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. In large mixing bowl, combine butter, granulated sugar and icing sugar with wooden spoon.
  2. Slowly stir in flour.
  3. Stir in eggs, then raisins.
  4. In small bowl, whisk saffron and water.
  5. Stir in yellow food colouring, if using, and vanilla. Stir well into batter.
  6. For each cookie, scoop a teaspoon of dough and roll into ball.
  7. Place 2 inches apart on greased or parchment-lined cookie sheets.
  8. Bake in batches in preheated 350F oven until golden, about 10 minutes.
  9. Cool completely on wire racks. Transfer to airtight container.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 83.4
Total Fat: 2.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 24.9 mg
Total Carbs: 16.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.7 g
Protein: 0.9


  1. Oh my gosh that is a lot of things to be making in one day!

  2. looks and sounds delicious! i like the combination of currants and cranberries.

  3. Oh, Sarah, these are so lovely! I just recently posted saffron-cardamom macaroons from Monica Bhide's latest cookbook. Like you say, the flavor is unique. PS-OK. this is too funny-- my captcha word is "impasha" which sounds awfully Persian.

  4. What a gorgeous color these are! You had me at saffron, but when I also so that these have tofu in them my intrigue radar went crazy so now I will REALLY have to try these. Will take your suggestion to cream the butter, though. Happy Baking and hope you're enjoying your time off school! : D


Thanks for the feedback!