Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cookie Surprise

A few of my friends and I have a little cooking fun going on. We are randomly drawing countries and then picking foods to make for each other and our families.  Mine was 'Special'. So unhelpful to me as I spent ages trying to figure out what to make. Luckily, my turn arrived a week after Cinco de Mayo so I made a vegetarian fiesta.  I'll post a few of the recipes, but the one I had the most fun with - and you can do for any occasion - were the Sugar Cookies for the kids.

I found this recipe while looking for ideas of what to make.  If you want to go really simple, just use a regular sugar cookie mix and go from there.  Likewise, if you have a sugar cookie recipe you love, use it.  I had been planning on using a mix, but unfortunately couldn't find it. grr. However, this recipe made good cookies, and it was the first time mine were neither burnt nor fat when I took them out of the oven. Yay!

Here is the original recipe. They look simply amazing! I halved the recipe as I didn't want to spend forever on it and got about 10 whole cookies and some mini ones out of it. Of course, it will depend on the size of your cookie cutter how many you end up with.

What you need: (for the entire recipe)
1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp baking soda
5 cups flour
1 Tbls vanilla
mini candy - I used mini Smarties

For the 'glue'
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp milk

I will try out a more Swiss friendly recipe as soon as I find one and post pictures from there.

Blend the sugars with the butters until your mixture is creamy.  Mix in the eggs and then the oil.
Add the dry ingredients and then the extracts.  Simple, right?

Now for the fun part.

Decide how many colors you would like in your cookies. You will need food coloring.  The gel kind is great. I will try the liquid ones next time to decide which works the best.

Separate your dough into as many balls as you want colored.  One at a time (starting with your lightest color), mix a few drops into the dough until well blended. Set aside and continue until you have colored all the dough. ing

Next, decide what cookie cutter you wish to use. Find a bowl or dish that is deep enough for the dough, and also at least as wide (or bigger) than your cookie cutter.

Put plastic wrap (cling film) in and have enough sticking over the ends to be able to fold over your dough. Divide your dough balls into halves. With your first color, press it down into the dish so that it fills the bottom.  I found that pressing the dough out as much as possible on a cutting board and then place on top of the dough in your dish. Continue layering the colors and then start back at the beginning with the second halves of your dough. Make sure your dough spreads out evenly on top of the previous layer.

Cover the dough up with the plastic wrap and  place in the freezer for at least 4 hours so that you can slice it.

After the dough is frozen, remove it from the dish and slice into 1/4 inch pieces. 3 pieces of dough will make 1 cookie - or in my case, 3 pieces will make 2 cookies since I used a smaller cutter. Keep this in mind, because you will bake them in their sliced shapes, but immediately after removing from the oven, you will use your cutter for the shape you want. They harden fast. I suggest only doing 2-4 cookies at a time.

You also need a smaller cutter that will fit into your larger cutter for the middle cookie. This will create the pocket for your hidden candy.  If you do not have a smaller cutter, you can use a knife, but remember to be quick!

Cook at 180 C for 12 minutes.  The cookies will be soft. Make sure you cut at least 3 shapes out at a time - I cut 6 of the large circles, and then 2 of the small circles. They harden faster than you think, so be quick.  
If you are using a basic shape that direction doesn't matter (like a circle), you don't need to worry about anything else.  If using an animal shape, you'll want to flip over the cutter so you can make a reverse so that both the top and bottom final cookie look nice. (see linked website for more details). 

After your cookies are all cut out, mix together your powdered sugar and milk (if you don't have any milk, you can always use water or another liquid). If you're careful, you can use a small spoon to drizzle the mixture around the cookie. Otherwise, you can put it in a bag and snip the end off.  It will take up to 30 minutes to completely harden.  Be careful placing the 'glue' as it's best if the candy doesn't all stick to it.  

After you glue 2 cookies together, put in your candy. Don't go above the edge as the top cookie must still go on.  Put some more 'glue' around the top and add the final cookie.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes, or store in an airtight container until ready to use. I made mine 2 days in advance. 

In various stages of being devoured...lots of fun for the kids!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Scrumptious Scones

I don't have a lot of American friends here - I mainly have UK or Australian ones, so I'm also picking up new recipes from them in addition to my Swiss ones. Sometimes the terms throw me more than the German ones, and some of the recipes are too bland for hubby (but perfect for me!), but I love, love, love these scones.  So did hubby - especially when I offered to put the toppings on for him.

I've only had the pre-mixed, blueberry scones in the US before, and I liked those, but these were so much better. And almost as simple to make.  I would like to try putting some blueberries in them though...or maybe it's just bb muffins I'd like...still haven't found the perfect recipe for them. One day.   Oh, and I used all Swiss/German ingredients too. Doubly proud.  Thank you so much for introducing me to these!

The original recipe that I was given can be found here
What you need:
350g flour
1/4 tsp salt
85g butter, cubed
3 Tbsp fine sugar (easily available at Coop/Migros)
175 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (yes, that's the Vodka bottle - I've made my own)
A dash of lemon juice
an egg, beaten, to glaze the top
Jam of your choice - I used Strawberry
150-200ml of Vollrahm (instead of clotted cream)
1 packet of Backpulver* (about 14g, the ones used for 500g of mehl).

Preheat your oven to 220.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and backpulver. Add the butter and mix with your fingers until the dough becomes crumbly.  Add the sugar.
Make a hole in the mixture
In a microwave safe container, measure out 175ml of milk, and heat for one minute.  You want it warm, not hot. Add a dash of lemon juice (or just use a sharp buttermilk, and the vanilla.  Place your baking sheet inside the oven so that it heats up as well.

Pour the milk mixture into the hole and using a knife, mix it in. Don't worry, all the liquid will soak in. 
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead it for about a minute until it is smooth.  Keep it in a round shape, about 1 1/2 inches tall.  You should be able to cut out 4 scones at a time using a 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 inch cutter. 

Carefully put the cutter in the dough (if it's a bit sticky, dip the cutter in some flour first), and pull out your scone.  The dough will be much higher than your cutter. 

As you go, you may find your scones getting a little shorter.  I ended up with 10, if you keep it to 8 they should all be about the same size. 

Brush the tops of the dough with the egg and then place them on the hot pan

While the scones are cooking, you can make your cream. Simply pour your vollrahm into a deep bowl, and using a whisk (I highly suggest an electric one), continue to beat until fluffy - about 10 minutes...which is good, because that's the amount of time needed to cook your scones. They should have risen and be golden on the top.  
 Just out of the oven

Ready to enjoy!  I was informed that the proper way to eat these is jam first, as otherwise the jam slides right off the cream and creates a mess.  Still good though!

* For those of you lucky enough to have a wide range of products to choose from, you can use 350g of self raising flour plus 1 tsp baking powder.