My Mom and I made Twisted Cookies for the first time in 1959 from a recipe printed on the inside of a cake yeast wrapper. My Mom made bread from scratch, without a recipe, and this tricky and unique recipe using yeast was right up her alley. When I left home and married, this recipe went right along with me. You might say I have been leaving a trail of Twisted Cookies behind me for the last 48 years. This is our family cookie and I only make them at Christmas time. If I ask my older son (age 42) what he wants for Christmas, he always says, “You know what I want, Mom.” And my older daughter and grand daughter have taken up the baton and are making their own Twisted Cookies now, carrying on the tradition.
In fact, originally I was going to call my blog Twisted Cookie. I even have a photo file on my computer called Twisted Cookie pics that I took in anticipation of my blog launch. I looked online to see if the domain name was free and it was! The next day I went to purchase it and someone had bought it and was offering it for sale for $16,000. I was furious and I cried. I had never thought of calling my blog anything else, so I had no Plan B. My blog was ready to launch and had no name. It took me 6 months to come up with a new blog name I felt I could live with. But that is a story for another post.
In 1992 I took my third hands-on cooking class in culinary school at UCLA. At the end of the quarter, we prepared a banquet for about 100 friends and relatives. It was held at historic Castle Green in Pasadena. If you go to their website and look at photos 10-12 in the gallery, you will see the gorgeous dining room we were so lucky to use. During the quarter, all the students brought different dishes we thought might go on the menu, and one of mine was my Twisted Cookies. They liked them so much, they decided to call our event The Twisted Cookie Affair. The other recipes that were mine were the Potato Blocks and the Chocolate Praline Terrine, both of which may appear on this blog at some point. In retrospect, I cannot fathom why the potatoes were given such a pedestrian title. Couldn’t we have called them Potatoes Lynnaise or something. Lol. Oh well, I was younger then.
I have already told the story of my second culinary school banquet in 1995 in my post titled Mini Lemon Tartlets and a Culinary School Banquet, which you can read here. That was the class where I had to seduce the other students into using my recipes, one of which was my Twisted Cookies. You can see one on the plate above at that banquet sitting proudly with the Mini Lemon Tart, Sabayon and Berries.
The Twisted Cookies photographed for this post were made at Christmas 2011, and the whole batch went to my older son for one of his gifts. It made him very happy. Here is how you make them:
Twisted Cookies ~ with Rolled-In Sugar
Yield: 64 cookies
2 ¼ teaspoons Active Dry Yeast (1 pkg) (NOT Rapid Rise, Pizza Crust or Bread Machine)
¼ cup warm water (100 – 110 degrees F)
½ teaspoon sugar
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup salted butter (2 sticks), chilled, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
2 large eggs
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 1 cookie sheet with foil. Double pan to bake.
1. In a warm medium bowl, combine water, yeast and sugar. Proof until frothy, about 10 minutes.
2. In a separate large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Cut butter into flour until rice-size with two knives or pastry cutter.
3. In the medium bowl, mix eggs, sour cream and vanilla into the yeast mixture. Pour the egg mixture into the large bowl with the flour. Stir thoroughly with a fork to make a dough.
4. Divide the dough into 2 patties, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours or overnight. Place patties side by side, not stacked to assure even cooling. My patties were 18.5 oz each.
5. In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix together the sugar and vanilla until evenly distributed. Cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap so the sugar doesn’t dry out.
6. On a dry surface, place ½ of the vanilla sugar. Place one patty of dough on the vanilla sugar (leaving the other patty in the refrigerator) and roll into a 16 x 8-inch rectangle. Scoop up all the sugar from around the edges and spread evenly over top of dough.
7. With the long edge toward you, fold both edges toward the center, making 3 equal layers. Turn one quarter around and roll into a 16 x 8-inch rectangle. Scoop up any extra sugar and smooth onto the dough. Do not discard any of the vanilla sugar. Use it all.
8. Fold and roll into a 16 x 8-inch rectangle 2 more times. The dough should be about 1/4-inch thick.
9. Trim the edges slightly with a sharp knife to as perfect a rectangle as possible.
10. With the knife, cut the dough the long way into eight 1-inch wide strips. Cut each 16 x 1-inch strip into 4 equal pieces, each 4 inches long.
11. Twist half (16) of the 4 x 1-inch strips 2 times, over-twisting to stretch the dough in the middle. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Make sure the dough twist lies flat on the sheet. You may need to fan out the layers on the ends somewhat to make sure each is touching the sheet. Press down a little to help it adhere.
12. Double pan. Bake at 375 degrees F, 15 – 20 minutes or until a rich golden brown. With a spatula, remove from sheet immediately before the caramelized sugar hardens and sticks to the foil. Cool on a rack.
13. Discard foil on cookie sheet and replace with new foil. Repeat with remaining 16 dough strips.
14. Start over with the second dough ball and remaining half of sugar.
Note: Store in airtight container at room temperature for 3 days. Freeze in ziplock freezer bag for 2 weeks. Defrost at room temperature with top of bag unzipped, so that moisture can evaporate and not melt sugar or make cookies soggy. When room temperature is achieved, re-zip bag.