Thursday, February 13, 2014

Nicole Bakes Valentine’s Day Cookies

I’ve been cleaning up after Frankie’s messy attempt at making Valentine’s Day CookiesHis tail’s been out of joint, but he’s okay now, waiting for me to decorate the finished cookies so he can test them. This recipe involves a moderate level of difficulty. These cookies take several hours to make, but most of that is chilling time. 

The result is a beautiful cookie - perfect for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day (with red food coloring), St. Patrick’s Day (with green food coloring), Autumn (with orange and brown food coloring), the holidays (with red and green food coloring), or Spring (with pastel food coloring). Ive modified this recipe from one I found for Pinwheel Cookies in Wiltons Gifts From the Kitchen (Woodridge, IL, 2007)

Valentine’s Day Cookies:

½ c. butter or margarine, softened
½ c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. peppermint extract
1-½ c. all-purpose flour
Dash salt
¼ tsp. red gel food color
2 tbsp. red sparkly crystalline sugar
2 tbsp. white sparkly crystalline sugar 
Three 1-oz. (28 g) squares white chocolate, chopped or equivalent amount of white chocolate melting wafers

In a large bowl and with an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together about 5 min., until no grainy feeling remains when mixture is rubbed between thumb and forefinger. Add egg and extracts, mixing well. Add flour and salt, also mixing well. 

So here we have the perfect cookie dough!

Divide dough into two equal portions. The most accurate way to do this is by weight. This dough weighs 16 oz. (1 lb. or 500 g); each halved portion should weigh 8 oz. or 250 g. Add gel food color to one portion, kneading well to distribute color evenly. 

Bowls of tinted and untinted dough. 

Place each portion on a separate sheet of waxed paper, rolling out to form a block measuring 4 x 5 in. (10 x 12 cm). Wrap in cello, refrigerating at least 1 hr. or overnight, as convenient.

Separately wrap red and white blocks of dough; chill.

Remove one block of dough from refrigerator. Place on long sheet of waxed paper (see Note) with a dampened cloth underneath, to prevent waxed paper from sliding on work space. Leaving ends free, cover top of dough with another sheet of waxed paper. Roll out to form a rectangle measuring 6 x 11 in. (15 x 28 cm), straightening and measuring the rectangle with a ruler. Repeat with second block of dough. On a flat surface such as a baking sheet, briefly chill both portions of rolled dough to firm. 

Roll out dough: Measure and straighten edges with a ruler.

Lift waxed paper sheet under white dough rectangle, quickly flipping over red dough rectangle. Use ruler to even sides once again. Gently press the two portions of dough together with your fingers. Using the bottom sheet of waxed paper, carefully roll long end of the joined cookie doughs, jelly-roll style. Wrap roll in cello, chilling 1-to-2 hr. until firm. 

Roll up cookies, jelly-roll style

Preheat oven to 375 deg. F. Remove roll from refrigerator and unwrap.  Cut crosswise into ¼-in. (.6 cm) rounds. 

Slice into rounds

Place on parchment-lined baking sheet, 1-in. (2.5 cm) apart. These cookies make look small, but they spread! Bake about 8 min., until edges are lightly golden. Remove from oven. Set baking sheet on wire rack until cookies are completely cool, about 10 min.

Baked and cooled! But we aren’t finished yet!

Place chopped white chocolate or white chocolate melting wafers into microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at half power 1-to-2 min., stirring every 30 sec. until chocolate is melted. Using the back of a teaspoon, spread small amount of slightly warm chocolate around half the edge of cooled cookie. 

Add red and white sparkly sugars to small bowl, combining well. Immediately roll edges of cookie in sparkly sugar. Place cookie on parchment paper until chocolate sets. Repeat with remaining cookies. Makes about 3 doz.

Note: Do not use parchment paper underneath block of dough or to roll cookies out jelly-roll style. Waxed paper is more pliable than parchment. It will not stick to your dough, as parchment does. 

Further Note: Frankies cookie disaster (see post below) was easy to to fix. Knead the two colors of dough until they’re well combined as pink dough, or knead them just a little to make a marbled red-and-white dough. Roll them out, use a Valentine cookie cutter, and bake as directed. Cool completely and decorate with piped white chocolate or with icing and a few sprinkles. No nibbling until the chocolate or icing have set! 

On their own, these cookies are not very sweet, Dollinks. They need the little oomph! of sweetness the chocolate and sugar provide, so dont skip that special step.

Sugar-dipped Valentine’s Day Cookies

Piped chocolate Valentine’s Day Cookies
One dough, two ways to prepare it!

Further Note Still: Rolled cookies often go flat on one side because they sit on a tray as they firm up in the fridge. After they’re cut from the roll, gently pinch them back into circles. 

Variation: It’s also fun to make Lemon Drops. Using lemon extract instead of the vanilla and mint in this recipe, follow the same method as with these rolled cookies. Color half the dough light yellow and half, darker yellow. Beading melted white chocolate around the edge, dip cookie edge n sparkly yellow crystalline sugar. These sugars are available in many colors, either online or in cooking and craft specialty stores, as you choose.

Tomorrow: Broccoli Coleslaw

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