Raspberry Cheese Braid
8 1/2 cups flour
3 heaping tablespoons instant yeast
3 sticks butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup hot water
16 ounces unwhipped cream cheese, softened
7 ounces farmer cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heat-proof raspberry jam (available at our store)
1 egg yolk
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon oil
Make the dough:
Place all ingredients in your mixer bowl. Knead for 10 minutes and remove from bowl. Allow dough to rise 30 minutes. Divide dough in half and work with one half at a time.
Make the filling:
In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the cream cheese, farmer cheese, sugar and vanilla until thoroughly combined.
Roll one half into a 15 x 10-inch rectangle, and place on a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread half of the jam in a 2 1/2-inch-wide strip, lengthwise, down the center of each dough rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border at the top and bottom. Top the jam with half of the filling.
Make 2-inch-long slits every 3/4 inch down both long sides of the dough, toward the outer edge of the dough. Fold the top and bottom ends over the filling, folding up one inch. Starting at the top, pull one cut strip at a time up and over the filling, alternating sides so the strips overlap, making it appear as though the dough is braided.
Repeat with the remaining piece of dough. Cover the braids and let them rise for 30 additional minutes, until they’re slightly puffy looking. Preheat oven to 350° F. Beat egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water and brush gently over the braids. Bake the braids for 30 to 35 minutes, until they’re golden brown.
Remove from the oven, and allow them to cool for 15 minutes.
Mix confectioners’ sugar, milk and oil until combined. Drizzle generously over braids and allow to dry.
Yield: 2 braids, about 16 servings.
Dulce de Leche Squares
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 sticks cold butter, diced into small cubes
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dulce de leche
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chunks (available in our store)
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
Baking spray with flour
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9-inch-square baking dish with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides; coat the foil with baking spray.
Pulse 2 cups flour, the butter, confectioners’ sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and the salt in a food processor or mixer until the mixture starts clumping together, about 1 minute. Press firmly and evenly in the bottom and 1/4 inch up the sides of the lined pan.
Bake until firm and lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the dulce de leche, heavy cream, egg yolks and the remaining 1 tablespoon flour and 2 teaspoons vanilla in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour the mixture into the crust and sprinkle evenly with the chocolate chunks and pecans.
Return to the oven and bake until set around the edge but the center is slightly jiggly — 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely. Lift out of the pan using the overhanging foil. Cut into 1 1/2 inch squares and serve.
Yield: 25 cookie bars.