"Geese Feet" Farmer's Cheese Cookies #CreativeCookieExchange

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Baking a cookie that's loaded with butter when its 87° IN MY KITCHEN (seriously—and that's BEFOE I started preheating the oven) may not have been the best idea, but the frenzied Lucy-and-Ethel-on-the-assembly-line-ish race against a buttery meltdown was well worth it. Light and flaky, with a sugary crunch and a hint of lemon, Geese Feet cookies are the bomb. The. Bomb.

These cookies are Russian in origin, named something in Russian (which I can't get to display properly in Cyrillic so I'm not gonna try) that's pronounced "gusinie lapki" (and I'm not gonna try that either, lest I screw it up royally and offend Russians worldwide). Let's stick with "Geese Feet," so name because if you look at 'em reeeeeeally hard and maybe squint a bit they sort of look like…well, geese feet. Minus the webbing. And the attached geese.

They're made with a soft dough—almost like a rough-puff pastry—of flour, egg yolks, some decidedly non-traditional lemon zest (because I think everything needs a little lemon), a boatload of butter and…CHEESE! Tvorog in Russian, to be exact, a somewhat crumbly but creamy, fresh cheese. It's similar to quark, or more commonly in the U.S., farmer's cheese, which is readily available and what I used. After chilling, (VERY important for flakiness), the dough is rolled thin, cut into rounds, dipped in sugar, folded, dipped in sugar, folded, and—can you guess—dipped in sugar, then baked. The result is an incredibly puffy, crispy, light, slightly sweet cookie that you CAN store for a bit, although I can pretty much guarantee that you won't need to. They disappear fast. Faster than…well, stuff through a goose, if you get my drift.

These little feets are my contribution to this month's #CreativeCookieExchange theme, which is—no surprise here—cheese. Be sure to check out the links below to see what the other talented Exchangers baked up. They never fail to amaze.

"Geese Feet" Farmer's Cheese Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks butter, well chilled
  • 7.5 oz farmer's cheese
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp. water, chilled
  • 1 tbsp. grated lemon rind, or more to taste (optional) 
  • 1/2–1 cup granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Grate the butter into a large bowl.
  2. Break up the farmer's cheese and add it to the bowl, along with the flour and the zest (if using). Work everything together with your hands until you have pea-sized lumps. 
  3. Add in the egg yolks and water and mix until it starts to come together. It will look very dry and crumbly but this is okay.
  4. Turn the mixture onto a work surface and knead it until all the bits come together. Form the dough into a ball, flatten it into a disk, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of an hour. The longer the better.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F, line two sheet pans with parchment. Place the sugar in a plate or shallow bowl and set aside.
  6. Divide the chilled dough in half. Return one half to the fridge while you work on the other.
  7. Roll out the dough on a well-floured work surface, flouring as needed to keep the dough from sticking, until the dough is very thing (between 1/16 and 1/8").
  8. Using a 3" round cookie cutter, cut as many rounds as possible. Gather the scraps into a ball, wrap and refrigerate until firm, and re-roll.
  9. Take each round and press one side into the sugar. Fold the round in half, sugar side in. Press one side of the folded round into the sugar and fold in half again, sugar side in (you'll have a quarter round). Press one side into the sugar again and place SUGAR SIDE UP on the sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining rounds, placing them about 1" apart.
  10. Bake for 20–25 minutes, until golden.
  11. Cool on a wire rack.

 

Recipe source (with slight adaptations): Olga's Flavor Factory

Notes

Unless you have central AC (I don't), these may not be the best summer cookies. Keeping the buttery dough chilled is essential. My first batch was a race against time since it really WAS close to 90° in my kitchen. I rolled and sugared and threw them into the oven as fast as I could but the butter was still too soft, and mostly baked out instead of puffed up. The cookies tasted awesome but they didn't exactly have a multitude of layers. For my second batch, I started baking at 6 am when it was still sort of cool-ish, then I stuck the prepared cookie sheets in the fridge to firm up. And ta da! Flaky cookies. Chill out definitely applies here. You don't have to get up at the butt-crack of dawn to bake but keeping the dough chilled is definitely important.

Freezing the butter before grating works like a charm. I always keep a few sticks in the freezer should I get the sudden urge for flaky baked goods.

If you can't find farmer's cheese, or quark or tvorog, this is the kind of cheese that you can easily make at home (Google!) In fact, I normally do—there's nothing like a fresh ricotta or paneer and the like—but again. Summer. My kitchen. 87°. 

#CreativeCookieExchange July: Cheese

Cheese makes everything better—even cookies! Sweet or savory, you can find them here!

You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made: