Monday, December 21, 2009

Shortbread Cookies


Sugar cookies always look so pretty, but most of the time they taste bland and leave me feeling like I just wasted a lot of calories on what could have been a delicious chocolate chip cookie. Instead of reading through all the sugar cookie recipes I could find in hopes of lucking out on one that actually tastes great, I made Dorie's espresso shortbread minus the espresso. These are pure and buttery with excellent texture. It almost feels like waste to slather it up with cloyingly sweet icing, which also only took me hours to decorate. For decorating cookies, I would definitely recommend royal icing over the glaze kind simply because it has a nicer finish. I prefer the texture of it better too even though the meringue powder has a slightly sour aftertaste. To colour the icing, it is important to use the icing gels instead of food colouring because that might dilute the royal icing too much. When using royal, you also have to make sure to keep it covered because it dries quickly. For one batch of cookies, you'll probably only need to make half a batch of royal icing..

cookieshortbreadsnowflake (2)

Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan
Baking: From My Home to Yours

Makes 32 cookies

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (I omitted)
1 tablespoon boiling water (I omitted)
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped, or 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips (I omitted)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)


Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated.

Form 2 discs and refrigerate the dough for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick or your desired thickness. Use cutters to cut out shapes.

Bake one tray at a time for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes and then transfer the cookies to a rack.

Royal Icing
Whimsical Cakehouse

In a large bowl of a clean electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment, whip to stiff peaks:
1/4 cup meringue powder
1/2 cup cold water

Add and mix at low speed with a paddle attachment, until combined:
1 lb confectioner's sugar

Continue mixing at high speed for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the icing is stiff.

Add and mix on low speed until combined:
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Cover the bowl with a damp cloth while you are working with or coloring the icing, or immediately place it in an airtight container or pastry cone; otherwise, a hard crust will quickly form as it dries.

Yield: 4 cups

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Vanilla Cupcakes with Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting


A woman who I used to work with asked me to bake cupcakes for a birthday party. This was my first paid cupcake order so it was a little nerve wracking. She gave me a lot of freedom with the flavours, which was was actually worse for me because I can never make up my mind. In the end, I went with raspberry cream cheese because you can never really go wrong with cream cheese frosting... that's why we eat red velvet cupcakes right? I wish I could have done something super cool with the decorating, but it was really difficult to pipe cream cheese frosting without it looking sloppy and melty so I swirled it using my largest round tip. I was beyond excited when she told me how much she loved them!

Amy Sedaris' Cupcakes

24 cupcakes

1 1/2 stick (12 tbsp) unsalted butter
1 3/4 cup sugar (I used 1 1/2 cup sugar)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cup milk

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees (Amy uses 375, but I think that's too high).
2. In a bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt together
3. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Beat in eggs, one at a time making sure it's well incorporated
5. Beat in vanilla
6. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with milk. Do not overbeat.
7. Divide batter evenly. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes and toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
9. Cool on wire rack for 5-10 minutes then transfer cupcakes to cool completely

Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick butter, room temperature
1 block (8oz) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup raspberry jam

Beat butter on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy
Add cream cheese and beat on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy (30 seconds-1 minute)
Sift powdered sugar over creamed mixture and beat on medium low until the sugar is all incorporated
Add jam and continue beating.
Make sure you don't overbeat or else the frosting will become soupy.


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