Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Peppermint Love

Hi there, faithful readers, it's Sarah! Though I am from New York, NY, today I am blogging from Carlisle, PA, about some cookies that I made for a trip to Providence, RI. It was an intense day of baking, encompassing the aforementioned cookies, homemade Thin Mints, some AMAZING toffee bars from Dorie, a miserable attempt at lemon pound cake, and a more successful attempt at Snickerdoodles. However, these were the only ones I got to photograph, so these are the ones I am going to write about.

I was going to Providence to visit my wonderful friends from school, and to express my affection I decided to bake. These particular cookies were for my friend and suitemate Devon and the girls she's living with over the summer. They were so kind to take me into their lovely house and let me sleep on their comfy couch, so they definitely deserved cookies. And these were good ones!

The recipe is from Dozen Flours, and I will post it below. They are very girly-looking, especially in their original incarnation (heart-shaped, though I made them circular due to lack of appropriate cookie-cutting material), so you should probably make them for girls. However, that is not to say that boys can't enjoy them; it takes a real man to eat pink. A couple of notes:

1) The dough is AMAZING. Seriously, this is the best dough I have ever tasted. I'm really looking forward to experimenting with it- anyone have ideas or suggestions?
2) Despite the amazing taste of the dough, it was frustrating to work with. Obviously, you wanted it to be as cold as possible to prevent the shapes from spreading in the oven, and I froze it accordingly, but every time I rolled it out to cut out the circles, it would get soft and warm again. If at all possible, cut out the shapes first and then chill the dough; that should prevent the problem from happening.
3) I found the buttercream to be weirdly grainy, which is odd because apparently it's adapted from a Magnolia recipe and normally I love Magnolia buttercream. Maybe I used too much sugar or something, but it was not worthy of the dough. However, the peppermint flavor was a nice contrast with the sweetness of the cookie.

Here is the recipe, as it appears on Dozen Flours:

Peppermint Heart Shaped Cookies

1 cup of sugar
1 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 eggs, at room temperature
3 cups of all purpose, unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt

Cream the butter and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients together. With the mixer on low/medium speed, slowly add dry ingredients to the wet, being sure to scrape down the bowl frequently. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Separate the dough ball into 2 balls and place between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll the ball out to about 1/4 inch thick being sure to keep all the dough between the sheets of paper. Transfer to a cookie sheet and store in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or until firm (you can also cheat by putting them in the freezer).

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut out desired shapes (I used a big heart shaped cookie cutter plus a slightly smaller one to create a heart shaped frame) and place onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. Bake for 8-12 min. Keep a careful watch on your first batch so you can establish the correct cooking time. After 6 minutes, keep checking them every minute until they are firm to the touch and just the slightest bit brown. Cookies will continue to bake as your remove them from the oven. Let them sit for a minute, remove the cookies from the baking sheet with a spatula big enough to support the entire surface of the cookie (or they may break) and cool on a wire rack.

Repeat steps with left over cookie dough.

When they are completely cool, store them in an airtight container or a big zip-lock bag. You can even freeze them and save them until later.

Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
adapted from More From Magnolias Bakery

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cold milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract (if you don't like peppermint, use vanilla)
pink food coloring gel (optional)
4-5 red peppermint candies or one candy cane, crushed but not pulverized (optional)

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar or you may find you need to add more milk. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly until you get your desired color. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Carefully spread each heart-shaped cookie with a generous dollop of pink frosting. Top with a heart shaped cookie frame (if desired) and sprinkle a little crushed peppermint candy in the center.

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