The story of how Moroccan lentil soup turned into cinnamon, sultana and apricot swirl cookies:
Once upon a time there were far too many lentils. In a quest to satiate a craving for Moroccan lentil soup, my mother innocently poured an entire box of Puy lentils into a pot of boiling water. It bubbled and spluttered on the stove, and the once tiny, pebble-like Puy lentils began to grow. They greedily sucked up the water and swelled, and quite possibly multiplied, until the once half-full pot brimmed with Biblical brown pottage.
Some was used to create a hearty, spiced Moroccan soup (recipe to follow at some point), but we were left with mountains of the stuff: it seemed as though France’s entire annual harvest had ended up in a multiplicity of bowls in our fridge.
I tried my hardest to make a dent. I even had them for breakfast. When we were down to the final bowlful, and in one final attempt to take control of the surplus, I decided to turn them into my sticky glazed carrot, pomegranate, orange, lentil & feta salad.
The plan turned out excellently, but as a result of my failure to consult my own recipe, the bottom fridge drawer was aglow with a fresh glut, viz. carrots.
My mother did the only thing one can when faced with such a circumstance, and made several giant-sized carrot cakes. Sticky and light, and dotted with pineapple and strands of caramelised carrot, it would have been philistine to leave them bare of the traditional cream cheese icing. This is the point at which my mother’s overzealousness with the plus button of online ordering came into play.
So what do you do when you open your fridge, and find it bricked up with cuboids and cuboids and cuboids of cream cheese?
You make cinnamon, sultana & apricot swirl cookies, obviously. The cream cheese is incorporated into the pastry to make it moreishly light and flaky. The nuts and dried fruits meld together with the cinnamon and a hint of orange to make a filling which is chewy and caramelised and warming.
They are best eaten on the day, preferably when they are crisp and slightly warm from the oven. In our house I was not afforded the opportunity to test how long they would last in an airtight container.
So, that is the story of how Moroccan lentil soup turned into cinnamon, sultana and apricot swirl cookies. Needless to say, we now have far too many sultanas…
The recipe can be halved. Indeed, you may wish to keep the second log in the freezer for several weeks. If so, let the pastry thaw until the dough is soft enough to be sliced but not so soft that it is difficult to handle, then continue from there.
Ingredients (Makes about 50 cookies)
Cream cheese pastry
360g unsalted butter, chopped roughly into 1cm cubes
440g plain white flour
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt
360g full fat cream cheese
200g finely chopped dried apricots
120g chopped walnuts
100g caster sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp orange zest, finely grated
1/4 tsp salt
150g apricot jam (smooth)
1 egg, beaten
2 large trays, lined with non-stick baking parchment
1) In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Add in the butter, and with your fingertips rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles damp sand. Stir in the cream cheese until it combines into a dough. Divide the dough into two and wrap in baking parchment. Place in fridge to allow to chill for an hour (or place in the freezer for half an hour, if time-strapped or impatient).
Filling and assembly
1) In a bowl, mix the walnuts, sultanas, apricots, sugar, cinnamon and salt together.
2) Remove the dough (divided into two) from the fridge/freezer and on a well floured surface, roll one of the halves into a rectangle measuring 50cm by 25cm.
3) Paint the pastry with half the apricot jam, and scatter with half the dried fruit and nut mixture. Gently press the mixture into the pastry. With the long side closest to you, roll the dough tightly into a log. Wrap tightly with baking parchment and/or cling film, and place in the fridge to chill for half an hour, or indeed leave it overnight until you’re ready. Repeat with the other half.
4) Preheat the oven to 180°C. Remove the logs from the fridge/freezer, and slice into 1cm discs. Place them swirl side up on a baking tray and paint with the beaten egg.
5) Place in the oven to bake for 10-15 minutes until golden and flaky. Best devoured on the day of baking.