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mini sugared cookie sandwiches

April 19, 2011

These little cookies just make me smile!  And though the flavors seem so basic, they combine to make a flavor punch that’s actually pretty surprising.  Imagine a bunch of these on tiered cake stands for a party, or wrapped in bundles and tied with bows as favors.  They’re adorable!

The recipe makes a simple butter cookie dough that is refrigerated, rolled, and then frozen before baking.  The dough is just butter, sugar, and flour – so you should have everything you need on hand on any given day.  You may want to make the dough a day in advance, as a night in the freezer really does wonders for maintaining the ball shape.  Turn to your pantry for fillings — I used ganache and Nutella, but considered maple cream, pastel-colored buttercreams, and raspberry jam.  This recipe makes about 40-50 sandwich cookies, so turn on the radio and grab a friend to help you roll out 80-100 little balls of cookie dough. 

Recipe, adapted from Gale Gand

1 cup softened unsalted butter

½ cup granulated sugar

1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup filling(s)

2 cups sugar for rolling

In a mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter and the sugar until creamy, about 3 minutes.  Add the flour and mix just until a dough is formed.  Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for about 3 hours.  This allows the dough to hold up to the heat of your hands while you’re rolling…

Roll the dough into small balls, about the size of a quarter or smaller.  I thought it  might be easier to measure out the weight of one ball and duplicate – and if you’re that crazy, my  measurement was 6 grams each and I got about 100 balls from the recipe.  Freeze the dough balls overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and once it is to temperature, place the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart from each other.  Bake for about 10 minutes, until the cookies begin to firm up but before they have any color.  I found it best to bake the cookies on the top two oven racks; they did not hold their shape as well on my bottom rack.

Let cool completely.  Add filling of your choice (see recipe for ganache below) and sandwich two cookies together.  Roll cookies in granulated sugar (mine was scented with leftover vanilla beans, which made them pretty darn yummy).  Enjoy!

Ganache:

3 oz semi-sweet chocolate (chocolate chips work just fine)

1/3 cup heavy cream

Microwave chocolate chips in 30-second intervals until mostly melted, or melt in a heat-proof bowl over a double boiler.  Whisk chocolate together until all is melted.  Add heavy cream and continue to whisk until a creamy chocolate is formed.



lemon vanilla bean angel food cake

April 8, 2011

Anytime is a good time for angel food cake.  Especially anytime a recipe leaves you with superfluous egg whites in your refrigerator.  It’s a deliciously guilt-free dessert …go ahead and add a couple scoops of your favorite ice cream.  For springtime, lemon zest adds a cheerful zing; during fall or winter, try adding some cinnamon and ground ginger for a treat.

Lemon Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake

2 cups sugar, divided

1 1/3 cups sifted cake flour

1 1/2 cups egg whites, at room temperature (about 10 eggs)

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Grated zest of 2 lemons

Vanilla bean

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine ½ cup of sugar with the flour and sift together into a bowl.

In a mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, whip egg whites with salt and cream of tartar until soft, creamy peaks form when you pull the whisk away.  (If you keep the mixer at medium speed, you can leave the kitchen for a little bit and the egg whites will not overwhip, I promise.)  Add the remaining sugar and continue to whip at medium speed for a few more minutes, until the mixture is shiny.  Add lemon zest, vanilla extract, and the paste from inside one vanilla bean and whip once more just to combine.

Fold one-fourth of the flour-sugar mixture to the egg whites with a rubber spatula.  Continue three more times.

Bake angel food cake in a 10” ungreased tube pan for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake grows tall and is golden brown in color.  Place upside-down on a cooling rack and allow to come to room temperature.  Use a serrated knife to release the cake from the sides and the inside tube, and tap gently on the bottom until the cake falls from the pan.

If desired, glaze the cake with a mixture of 1 cup powdered sugar + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract + 3 tablespoons milk.  Enjoy!

strawberry ice cream

April 8, 2011

Last September we couldn’t wait for colder weather and long, dark nights.  Now that it’s April, we’re wondering what on earth we were thinking.

It’s that lovely time of year when strawberries go on super sale at your grocer, so here’s a great way to take advantage of the abundance of berries.  This recipe uses egg yolks only, so while you’re at it, you may want to go ahead and use the egg whites for some angel food cake.

Strawberry Puree

1 cup strawberries, stems and hulls removed
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Ice Cream Base

1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream or whipping cream*, separated
½ cup granulated sugar

4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add-in

1 cup diced strawberries

*Heavy cream has a slightly higher fat content than whipping cream.  Either cream will work just fine for making ice cream, but the heavy cream will give it an extra boost of creaminess and that lovely ice cream mouthfeel we all know and love.

Make sure your ice cream maker bowl is frozen before starting this project…

First, puree together the 1 cup of hulled strawberries and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a food processor or blender.

You may even consider making double the amount of this puree as a sweet strawberry sauce for serving.

Using a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, whisk together 1 cup of whole milk, ½ cup cream, and ½ cup granulated sugar.  Allow this to warm almost to the point of simmering, just to allow the sugar to dissolve.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 large egg yolks and remaining ½ cup of cream. Slowly ladle about ½ to ¾ cup of the warm milk and cream mixture into the cold egg yolks and cream mixture, whisking quickly.  This will temper your egg yolks and prevent this recipe becoming scrambled eggs ice cream.  Then, add the tempered yolks into the warm milk and cream mixture, whisking quickly.  Over medium heat still, allow this to cook into a slightly thickened custard.  When you can run your finger through the custard on your wooden spoon and a clear line forms without any running liquid, you’re good to go.

Add the strawberry puree and vanilla extract to the custard.  Pour mixture through a sieve to catch strawberry seeds, and place in a bowl over ice in your refrigerator.  Allow this mixture to cool at least 1 hour in the fridge.

Follow your ice cream maker instructions.  You should add the remaining cup of diced strawberries about 2 minutes before the ice cream is done.  The ice cream should resemble frozen yogurt straight out of the ice cream maker; allow to freeze completely in your freezer.

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