I would say that this would be a cross between a pie crust, and Kolaczki dough. It has a wonderful layered "puff" to it, (thanks to the layers of butter and cottage cheese!), and instead of just layering the dough with plain sugar, I've put my own spin on these classics by adding the lemon and lime zest for a subtle, and fresh citrus flavor! Now, cottage cheese might seem like an odd ingredient for a cookie, but it's a great substitute for what the European's or Russians would call "Farmer's Cheese". There are some places in the U.S. that may actually carry this cheese, and if you can easily find it, by all means use it! This is an old style recipe which involves actually grating the butter for the dough. (Yes- I said "grating"!) The purpose is to get the fat into finer pieces to be dispersed throughout the dough more evenly- vs. having larger "chunks" by cutting it.
If you want to simply use a pastry cutter, then make this as you would a pie crust by first cutting the butter into the flour, and then adding the cheese, egg yolks, and the other ingredients, and mix by hand. I personally did grate the butter, (really doesn't take too long!), and actually mixed this in my Kitchen Aid mixer. Super easy! The sugar will caramelize a bit during the baking process, which adds to the sweet crunch of the cookie, and when you take a bite, you'll see the layers of flaky deliciousness inside! So simple, but yet so good, and perfect with a hot cup of coffee or tea! Also, this isn't a "fussy" cookie! No decorating needed, and they don't have to be perfect!
Now, as a note, normally you want to bake anything that "puffs" on a higher temp. to really activate the rising of the dough, but these are more delicate and can brown more easily, so I recommend baking at 350F, and keeping an eye on your cookies! ***Golden brown on the edges is perfectly fine, but you ideally want to keep these as light in color as possible.
***Also, as another note: alcohol is used a lot in European baking- whether in small amounts, or even combined in simple syrups for "soaking" cakes, etc. Water can be substituted, or even left out of this recipe all together!
Yield: 4-5 dozen cookies
Prep Time: About 45- 60min. total
2 sticks of unsalted butter (chilled)
8 oz. of Cottage Cheese (small curd) or Farmer's Cheese
2 cups of flour
2 egg yolks
1 T. sugar
pinch of salt
**Optional: zest of 1 lemon or orange
**2 T. of cold water or rum
Additional flour for rolling out dough
****1 1/2- 2 cups of sugar mixed with zest of 1/2 lemon, and 1/2 lime for finishing cookies
To make the dough:
1) In a medium mixing bowl, or bowl for your Kitchen Aid mixer, grate the butter. Add the flour and cheese, and on a lower speed, mix until just combined. (It should be a bit crumbly- like a pie crust dough.) Add the yolks, sugar, salt, zest, and water or rum (if using). When the dough is formed, remove it from the bowl, form it into a disc, and cover the dough in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for a good 2-4 hours, (or overnight), to chill properly.
Preheat oven to 350F
2) In a shallow dish, start with 1 1/2 cups of sugar, and add the zest. Mix to combine, and set aside.
3) Prep 2-3 cookie sheet trays with parchment paper or a silpat. On a clean and floured surface, place about half of the chilled cookie dough, (leave the other half in the refrigerator), and begin to roll out to about the thickness of a pie crust. (You don't want these to be as thick as a sugar cookie!)
4) Using an 8 inch glass or standard biscuit cutter, begin cutting out the cookies. Take 1 round of dough at a time, press one side firmly into the citrus sugar. On sugared side, fold in half. Press one side into sugar again, and fold in half one more time. Press the quarter folded cookie in sugar one more time, and transfer to your baking sheet- sugar side up.
Repeat this process until all of your dough is rolled out, and all cookies have been folded/ pressed into citrus sugar.
*****Scraps can be rolled out! Just make sure to keep the dough chilled!
5) Bake cookies at 350F for about 10-14 min. Every oven is different, so please keep a close eye on these cookies so that they don't get too brown!
Allow cookies to cool, and enjoy!
***These will keep longer stored in an airtight container, in a cool dry place.