High Altitude Baking: Chocolate-walnut turnovers (recipe)
High Altitude Baking
Editor’s note: High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
A warm, boozy hit of chocolate and walnuts cradled in a flaky, buttery crust is rich, lush and very satisfying. Everyone who’s tried these turnovers gives them high marks.
They can be made in stages: Create the walnut filling up to a month ahead and the dough a day before baking. Then, roll the dough and assemble them on the day they go into the oven.
It’s important to keep the ingredients for the crust cold. If the butter warms as you cut it up, stick the pieces in the freezer until they’re very firm. If the dough gets soft as you work with it, return it to the refrigerator or freezer until it firms up. Once the turnovers are formed, freeze or refrigerate them until the dough is firm before baking.
You won’t use all of the walnut filling. Serve the rest, warmed, over ice cream.
1/4 cup granulated sugar, preferably superfine, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1-2 splashes bourbon, optional
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted chopped walnuts (1/4-inch pieces)
1 cup bleached all-purpose flour
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1/4 cup sour cream, cold
6-7 teaspoons mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon milk or cream
Step 1: Make the walnut filling: Bring the sugar and water to a low boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the sugar is completely dissolved (about 2 minutes). Whisk in the vanilla and corn syrup. Stir in the bourbon (if using) and, finally, the chopped nuts.
Step 2: Reduce the heat to low-medium and simmer, gently stirring, for four to five minutes. Remove from the heat, taste, add more bourbon or vanilla extract if desired. Scrape into a storage container. When completely cool, cover and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Step 3: Make the crust: Place the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine well. Cut the butter into 16 pieces, add them and pulse until the pieces are the size of peas. Add the sour cream and use long pulses to blend it until the dough is in large, moist clumps. Dump it on a sheet of waxed paper and gently knead it into a disc. Wrap and refrigerate until cold and firm or up to a day before using.
Step 4: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If the walnut filling is cold, bring it to room temperature.
Step 5: Remove the dough from the refrigerator. If it’s too firm to roll, let it rest until it’s roll-able. Roll to a 1⁄8-of-an-inch thickness (do this between two sheets of waxed paper, lifting the dough off each of the sheets occasionally as you roll). Cut into circles that are 51/2 inches in diameter; if necessary gather and re-roll the dough to get four of them. Return them to the refrigerator to firm up before filling.
Step 6: Beat the egg and brush it on the outside edge of one side of each dough circle. Spoon a scant 2 tablespoons of the walnut filling just to the right of the center of each circle and sprinkle some of the mini chocolate chips over it. Fold the left side of the dough circle over the right side (don’t stretch the dough; if necessary, remove some of the filling) and use the tines of a fork to press the two edges together so they’re sealed. Cut several vents in the top of each turnover.
Step 7: Place the turnovers at least 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet, with the turnovers on it, in the freezer or refrigerator until the dough is quite firm.
Step 8: Remove the sheet from the refrigerator. Add milk to the beaten egg, brush a thin coating on each turnover and sprinkle the tops with sugar. Put the pan in the oven, immediately reduce the temperature to 375 degrees, and bake until the turnovers are light golden brown, about 15-20 minutes, depending on how cold they are when placed in the oven.
Step 9: Remove to a rack. Serve warm or cool completely, store covered at room temperature for one to two days. Reheat in a 325 degree oven until warm to the touch.
Vera Dawson, author of the high-altitude cookbook “Cookies in the Clouds,” (available at The Next Page Books & Nosh in Frisco), is a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at email@example.com.
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