If margarine screams 1980s credit crunch to you too much, use butter (In Soviet Ukraine there was a perpetual credit crunch, so we got used to using margarine.) Besides, the cheese here adds richness, so butter may be a slight overkill. Be careful though—whatever type of fat you use, you may not be able to stop eating these.
(7 ounces) Syr (recipe below), Polish twarôg, or quark
vanilla bean, seeds only
orange, zest only
(7 ounces) all-purpose flour
(2 ounces) sugar
egg white, lightly beaten (optional)
For the Syr (curd cheese):
(2 3/4 pints) raw (unpasteurized) milk
In This Recipe
For the cookies:
Mix margarine, Syr, vanilla bean seeds, and orange zest in a bowl until well combined.
In a small bowl, sift the flour and baking powder together, then mix into the cheese mixture.
Knead the dough briefly, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Line a large baking sheet with a Silicone mat.
Flour your work surface well and then roll the dough out into a sheet a bit less than 1/8-inch (2-millimeters) thick.
Stamp out 4-inch (10-centimeter) circles with a glass or a cookie cutter, then re-roll the scraps to make more.
To make folded cookies: Pour the sugar into a shallow plate. Now dip one side of a dough circle into the sugar, then fold the circle in half, sugar-side in. Dip one side of the semicircle in sugar and again fold in half, sugar-side in. Finally, dip one side of the folded semicircle in sugar and place on the lined baking sheet, sugar-side up. Repeat with the rest of the dough circles. To make round cookies: Brush the top of the circles with beaten egg white and sprinkle sugar over top.
If your kitchen is warm and the dough feels soft, chill the baking sheet in the fridge for 20 minutes. Then bake them for 30 to 40 minutes (closer to 30 for the flat circles; closer to 40 for the folded cookies), or until they are deep-golden all over. Let them cool a little before devouring.
For the Syr (curd cheese):
Leave the raw milk in a 2-liter (3 1/2-pint) jar to go sour in a warm place in your kitchen. Check it after 24 hours. The milk should become thick like Greek yogurt but it should still be homogenous—the whey shouldn't separate from the cream. It may take up to 2 days.
When the milk has soured and thickened, place half an empty egg box at the bottom of a large, deep saucepan (or a steamer basket so that the milk jar can't reach the bottom but is still mostly covered with water) and place the jar of soured milk, uncovered, on top of it. Then fill the pan with water to go as far up the outer sides of the jar as possible.
Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for an hour or until the whey separates from the cream and you can see thick cracks forming along the sides.
Take the jar out carefully and leave to cool down a little.
While still warm, drain the curds through a muslin cloth set in a sieve over a large bowl, then leave overnight in the refrigerator. You can tie the corners of the muslin cloth together into a bag and weigh it down a bit—this will help get rid of the moisture more quickly. Don't throw away the whey: Simply pour it into a clean jar and keep it in the refrigerator for another recipe.