Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Ultimate Procrastination

So, instead of starting the loads of reading I have to catch up on for school, I decided to make sandwich cookies. I made the dough last night and stuck it in the fridge as a flattened disk. This morning, I woke up, thought about all the work I had to do and, instead of telling myself the cookie dough could stay in the fridge for a couple of days, probably, I decided to start rolling and baking. I just took the last batch out of the oven about five minutes ago.

These are your average butter cookies, made with simple ingredients: organic butter, organic unbleached white flour, organic free range egg, vanilla, baking powder. However, instead of using traditional white sugar (which I ingest too much of anyway), I used agave nectar, which has the same amount of calories as sucrose but you need less to achieve the same level of sweetness.
Also, it is far less refined than white sugar.

The recipe for the cookies is as follows:
1 1/2 stick butter
2/3 c agave nectar (or less, even)
1 egg
2 c flour
1/2 t baking powder
pinch salt

Cream butter in bowl. Add agave and continue to cream with butter. When fluffiness is achieved, add your egg, and beat until fluffy again. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, BP, and salt. Add dry mixture to wet, and combine. Mixture will be sticky but that's okay.
Line a medium bowl with 2 pieces of plastic wrap-- place one piece across and hanging over bowl, place the other piece perpendicularly over first. You'll want these pieces of plastic wrap to each be quite long.
Put the dough into the plastic wrap-lined bowl. Wrap! This is an easy method for wrapping dough in plastic.
Flatten dough into a circular disk, and put it in the fridge for a few hours (I left it overnight).
Similarly, you can shape the dough into a log and wrap it in parchment paper, and stick it in the fridge or freezer for later use.

When you're ready to use the dough, preheat oven to 350 if it's a convection oven, 375 if not. Flour a work surface, take out disk, and roll it out.
If you're going to try to make sandwich cookies, I think a dainty thinness works wonderfully. That is, thin enough to very delicately scrape up from work surface and onto parchment paper of pan without ripping (quite thin, about an 1/8 of an inch or so). With a cookie cutter or a drinking glass, or even a jar lid, cut out as many cookies as you can.
If they are sandwich cookies, some of these new circles will be the bottoms, some will be the tops. You can have identical tops and bottoms or you can cut out a smaller circle in the tops, so that you can see the filling, as in the pictures of the ones I made.
Keep in mind you can probably roll this dough out and cut cookies from it about three times, so try to get it as right as possible the first time, but if you don't, you have a few more tries left.
Once you've gotten all the circles out of your dough as possible, bake for about 7-10 minutes a pan. These bake really quickly and so you've gotta keep an eye on them or they'll burn.

Now. As for fillings. Anything you want!
You can use store-bought jam if you'd like, or you can whip up a batch of lemon curd (YUM!). Another option is chocolate ganache, which you can also make by placing chocolate pieces in a double boiler along with a little bit of cream or milk, stirring till melted.
I opt for the lemon curd, recipe as follows, for a really great lookin little cookie:

zest of five lemons, juice of three of those lemons- don't worry about seeds
4 egg yolks, 1 whole egg (you can save the whites for later-- egg white omelets? meringues?)
1 c sugar
3 T butter, cut into about 8 little cubes

In a small saucepan, whisk together egg and sugar on low heat. After a couple of minutes, add lemon zest and juice. Stir. Add butter, cube at a time, stirring until melted. You should be stirring the whole time. Leave on low-medium heat and gently stir until mixture thickens a bit. You can tell if it's done by if it coats the back of a wooden spoon. If yes, you're golden.
At this point, pour mixture through a sieve, into a bowl. Either place bowl in ice bath (if you have low patience) or cover with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge until cooled.

Once cool, you may spread this delicious goo onto cookies, and cover with tops.
Leftover lemon curd makes an excellent breakfast topping for scones or toast.

And now you have great sandwich cookies!

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