I really stepped in it. Literally. A puddle of water in the middle of my kitchen. It’s only origin seemed to be the dishwasher which had run the night before, but was no longer running… save for this strange emission of water. I wiped it up and rationalized it as something that I forgot to do, or moisture from the top rack that leaked through the dishwasher when I jostled the dishes earlier. As they say, “denial ain’t just a river in Egypt”. (It could be argued that it is also a small pond in my kitchen as well..)

Convinced that this was not a big deal, I was in the mood to bake. Furthermore, I have many upcoming occasions which require baking, so this mood swing was very timely. I needed something that transports easily, without fear of melting, that can hold several days at room temp OR freeze well. Clearly, I was left with only one option: a shortbread cookie of sorts.

I’ve never been a fan of shortbread: it’s dense, not very sweet, and generally “bland” tasting to me. Flipping through my various cookbooks, I found a recipe for “Italian Cookies” from How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson that enticed me (being myself, an Italian) and I decided I had to try it.

A butter cookie in it’s best form, this cookie is piped in a rosette and adorned with a glace cherry at it’s center. I had no cherries, and even though I know I’ve seen these cookies in bakeries and enjoyed them… they still seemed like a boob. Seeing as how these cookies are meant to be packaged as gifts, I didn’t want to give away “boob cookies”. The recipients of the cookies both being female, I thought, “Why not just make a citrus glaze to coat them, colored pink?” And thus, my Rosebud cookies came to be.

A side note here: this is the second time I’ve used one of Nigella’s recipes and found the flour to be too much. Either AP flour in England is a lot lighter than in the states, or Nigella prefers cookies that taste like rocks. I knew what the consistency needed to be here, so I adjusted as necessary. I’ll include the recipe with my adjustments:

Mise En Place

humble beginnings...

2 & 1/4C AP flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

zest of a whole lemon

1/2 C granulated sugar

2 sticks (1 pound) butter

1 egg

scant 1/4 tsp rose water

juice of 1/2 lemon

about 1/4C lemon raspberry soda water (no sugar) added by the TBSP until desired consistency is reached.

Note: I chose the soda water hoping it would lighten the batter. I happened to have lemon raspberry on hand. You could use any flavored (but not sweetened) soda water. You could probably also use more citrus juice, but I can’t guarantee the consistency will be the same.

First, combine all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder & salt) in a bowl and set aside. You can put the extract in a bowl with your cracked egg, but I’d keep your lemon juice and your soda water in separate containers each, as you’ll only add what you need for consistency. And as Nigella has taught us, depending on what brand of flour is used, the humidity, barometric pressure, or whether the moon is in the 7th house apparently, the amount of moisture needed can vary.

Now, you’ve got butter, sugar, and lemon zest. These are not considered “dry or wet” in most recipes. Rather, they are the foundation for most everything you’ll make. First, place your sugar and zest in a bowl and mash with a fork until the aroma of lemon is strong. (This makes the most of your zest by releasing it’s oils.) Now, mash in your butter and get a hand held electric mixer to beat until smooth or “mousse like” as Nigella so accurately describes. (You can use a stand mixer if you prefer.) Now, add in your egg, extract, and lemon juice. Beat just to incorporate.

Here’s the thing: I was lazy and did not want to wash up a whole bunch of things, so figuring this was meant to be a “soft dough”, I mixed in the flour in two additions by hand. If you’ve made pastry crust or pie dough, it will similarly start to “bead” when you incorporate the flour. Don’t despair! Keep cutting (I just used the end of my spatula) and folding and you’ll get there! I grabbed my hand mixer just to give it one final whiz, and thought “Hmmm… this still seems really thick to me.”

It pipes the roses on the sheet...

Indeed it was. Having worked with icing so many times, I knew something of this consistency would break my piping bag. SO I added the lemon raspberry soda water TBSP at a time until I had a dough that was pliable but not runny. You can feel it “lighten” as you add the moisture. You want to add just enough to get it through the piping tip (I used my 18mm star).

Hold your pastry bag in on hand, folding the excess of the wide end over your hand to form a “cup”. Place the dough inside, and pull up the excess. Pinch the bag right on the top most point where the dough ends and twist to “seal”. (It should look like a carrot.) Place the top of the “carrot” in the crevice between your thumb and pointer finger, wrapping your hand around the body of your “carrot”.

And guess what? Rosettes are kindergarten easy. Just remember the key to piping is pressure consistency. Just start with the “bud” in the center, and then move your hand in a circular motion like a spiral—only making sure not to leave space between the layers. Trust me, you can totally do this. If you mess on up, just scrape it off of the parchment and place the dough back in the bag.

These go into your oven at 350 on the top rack for about 12 minutes. The cookies will be SUPER pale, but will be slightly gold around the edges… this is a good thing. Transfer the sheet to a rack, and cool on the sheet one minute before removing the cookies to cool on the wire rack. But the fun doesn’t stop there…

By this time, I have stepped in it again. There’s no denying the existence of a leak. But I’m halfway through cookies… and they still need a glaze! I can’t just let them sit here all pale, never realizing their full potential!

Mise En Place

2 C powdered sugar

2TBSP meringue powder (found at baking or craft stores)

1/8 tsp food color

juice of half lemon

more soda water, added TBSP at a time

Painting the roses...pink?

Literally, put the above ingredients (EXCEPT YOUR SODA WATER) in a bowl and mix. It’s that easy. Use your soda water to thin out the glaze (which started as a royal icing, BTW) until you’ve got a “soup” like consistency that moderately coats the back of a spoon.

You could drizzle your glaze over the cookies if you wanted to. I tried dipping the tops initially, but it didn’t highlight the details of the rose as I wanted. So I washed my hands and finger painted. (And for crying out loud… do NOT touch your face/pants/apron/ ANYTHING other than cookies & icing if you’re going to finger paint. Cause that’s just narsty.)

This would also be REALLY fun for kids. Just dip a clean finger in the icing, and trace the circles of the “rosette” spreading out your glaze.

These are prettier than anything I could ever try to grow myself...

Return to racks to allow glaze to set (it won’t take any time at all) and enjoy. These are light, buttery and bursting with lemon, highlighted by faint raspberry and floral (rose water) tones. They are perfect for a ladies luncheon, tea party, shower… or any type of feminine event.

I say this… but Dude got to eat the quitters, and I think they may be his favorite cookie yet. I know they are definitely in my top three favorite cookies.

They also can keep wrapped air tight at room temp for probably 3-4 days, or in the freezer for months. Though I really doubt they’ll last that long in your house before your resident “cookie monster” attacks!

As for the chef, I am still wading, or “waiting” I should say on an end to the geyser erupting in my kitchen.

 

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