Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cookies-Butter, Gingersnaps, and Chocolate Wafer

I was having difficulty thinking of good "snack" foods to have around the house while our guests are here. Sure, I'll make a batch of the caramels, and there's always cheese and fruit, but I thought some "not so sweet" cookies might be welcome.

The butter cookies are actually not sweet at all, save for the frosting which has a pretty tart lemon taste. I didn't have a turkey cookie cutter so I went to Google images and found a turkey drawing in about the size I needed, printed it and cut it out. Then, I glued it to durable cardstock-now I have a turkey template. I took some liberties with the decorating figuring I'd try to reflect the beautiful range of colours on a turkey rather than aiming for realism. Who knew there was so much to consider with decorating cookies?

The ginger cookies are just delightful. I made some in small rounds like a traditional ginger snap, and some larger flower-shaped ones. I even cut a few aeroplane shaped ones for Danny. I considered a plain white frosting for them, but decided to leave them plain, as they would make an excellent base for cheese. They aren't sweet, but they do contain 1-½ cups of dark molasses! We like molasses-have you noticed? (Shoofly pie recipe to come later in the week).

Finally, the chocolate wafers. I wish I could remember where I found this recipe because I make them all the time and would love to give proper credit. I have the cut out recipe taped into my recipe notebook and marked a favourite. These are similar to the chocolate wafer cookies people use to make refrigerator cakes with whipped cream. Instead of rolling them out, I roll them into a tube that isn't quite round, and then slice them as thin as possible. The dough can be rolled out, but it is very soft and this just works better for me. I've never made the whipped cream cake with them, but I bet it would work. I use the store brand powdered cocoa for these because I do not think that they improve that much with expensive cocoa. I know people will disagree and that's fine-use what you like, but either way, try making these cookies because they are delicious.

For the Butter Cookies:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

½ cup sugar

1 egg

3 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

Cream together the butter and sugar until light. Beat in the egg. Stir in vanilla. Sift the baking powder with flour and add to butter mixture. Mix well and roll into a log. Wrap in waxed paper or cling wrap and chill several hours.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Roll cookies about ¼ inch thick and cut as desired. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 5-7 minutes or until edges turn brown. Carefully remove to rack to cool.

For icing:

2 egg whites

2 teaspoons lemon juice

3 cups (aprox) sifted powdered sugar

Food colouring

Beat the egg whites with lemon juice until blended. Slowly add powdered sugar until you have a spreading consistency. Colour as desired. Work fast, as the icing will harden when exposed to air.

For the Gingersnaps:

(From The Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, 1950 with minor spice changes)

1/3 cup shortening (I used Crisco)

1-cup brown sugar

1 ½ cups full flavour molasses (not blackstrap though) or dark treacle

½ cup cold water

6 cups all purpose flour

1-teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1-teaspoon ginger

1-teaspoon cloves

1-teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda (bicarb) dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold water

Mix together the shortening, brown sugar and molasses. Stir in the cold water. Sift the spices with the flour and add to the mixture. Add the dissolved soda in water. Mix well. Divide dough in two and wrap each section tightly in wax paper or cling wrap and chill several hours before rolling out.

Four a work surface generously. Roll out cookies ½ inch thick and place far apart on a lightly greased cookies sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 15-18 minutes until they spring back with no imprint when touched. Cool on racks and store in an airtight container.

For The Chocolate Wafer Cookies:

1 ½ cup all purpose flour

¾ cup Dutch process cocoa powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

¾ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 large egg

1-tablespoon water

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder. Set aside. In another bowl, beat the butter until light. Add the sugar and beat until incorporated. Add the egg, water and vanilla and beat until very light-about three minutes. Mix in dry ingredients and combine well. Roll into a log and wrap tightly in cling wrap or waxed paper. Chill several hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Slice very thin (about 1/8th or thinner if you can manage it) and place on a parchment lined pan (This time I really advise the parchment as these cookies have a tendency to scorch). Bake 15-17 minutes, but keep checking, as you don't want to burn them. Cool on racks.

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