Friday, July 11, 2014
When I'm absolutely bored out of my wits, feel like baking but have reached the capacity of my sugar intake for the week (I do have a limit, surprisingly), I turn to cookies, and the more complicated the better.
Cookie dough can be made in advance and stored in the freezer, defrosted and baked as and when your craving hits. Even if you bake the cookies straight away you don't have to finish them as soon as possible. Plus, cookie dough allows you to relieve your playdough years. (I was a huge fan of the giant tub of brightly-hued cylinders of dough that can be found at Ikea.)
Years ago I received a Japanese cookie recipe book from my cousin that has amazing cookie designs. Before I read that book my idea of a very fussy cookie was the cut-out kind - I could groan at the very thought of having to roll out dough of any variety in this tropical weather. Moments after you retrieve chilled dough from the fridge it's already melting all over your board. The dough is sticky, your hands are sticky and you really just want to wash all this sticky business off your hands. Then, buckets of flour later, there's the slightly difficult task of rolling out the dough to an even thickness all around. Needless to say, I seldom make cut-out cookies.
It's thus very strange that I'm beginning to like making cookies from that book. The instructions stated in it extends beyond simple rolling. You have to separate a batch of plain dough into several other smaller portions of different colours depending on the design you wish to execute and then shape them into thin cylinders fat cylinders triangular logs squares etc. You refrigerate the dough (there's a lot of waiting time involved overall), you combine all the components together. And it's not easy to keep true to the original design. But it's equally rewarding. As strange the final design turned out, I couldn't help feeling a small sense of satisfaction. The pink circles embedded in the purple wings are almost undistinguishable and their positions awkward, I forgot to add the top part of the feelers so something was clearly missing, and there are large gaps in in between the disproportionately-sized body and the brown rectangles that extend from it, but the colours work together beautifully and these definitely aren't your average chocolate chip cookies.
Today I'm not going to type out the instructions on how to make the butterfly shape because looking at these pictures I'm sure you wouldn't feel very compelled to try it out *insert laughs of embarrassment* but I shall share with you the recipe for the cookie dough because I think it's a great one to have on hand. Cookies made with this dough don't expand much so it's great for cookies with patterns and they taste great too!
Plain Cookie Dough
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
170g cake flour
30g ground almonds
Beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar in two additions, beating until combined before adding the next. After adding in the second batch of sugar beat the mixture until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Fold in the cake flour and ground almonds just until combined. Refrigerate dough if too soft before shaping.
To retain the pale colour of the cookie dough I suggest that you bake it at 135C. How long the cookies need to bake depends on their shape and thickness.