The Best Sugar Cookies

January 2, 2012 § 1 Comment

Sugar cookies are the most basic cookies that you can make. You probably have all the ingredients in your cupboard already, and there are no fancy techniques required. You can, however, step them up a notch with a bit of flavored extract and royal icing.

I used to hate sugar cookies. Unlike most little children i didn’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I missed out on the sugary delights of a lot of “kids” snacks back in the days before organic fruit gummies and dehydrated fruit rolls. Actually, I was a member of the “kid’s club” at Publix (a large supermarket chain in South Florida) when I was younger, which meant that I could get a free sugar cookie if I showed my members card to the employees at the bakery. Eventually, the lady at the bakery realized I wasn’t too excited about my free cookie and she let me choose a less cavity inducing option.

These cookies, though, taste great even with an extra dollop of sugary royal icing on top. I can’t take the praise for their deliciousness though since I took the recipe from i am baker and didn’t change a thing.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup Butter
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 4 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 2 teaspoons Almond Extract
  • 4 cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder

Oven Temperature: 350 degrees
Yield: A crazy amount of cookies.

Directions

  1. Cream sugar and butter until;l light and fluffy. Make sure to turn the mixture with a spatula and check for chunks of sugar or butter. This is a lot of butter, and it is easy to miss these things.
  2. Add eggs and egg yolks, one at a time. Mix until combined.
  3. Add vanilla and almond extract. Mix until combined.
  4. In a second bowl mix flour, salt, and baking powder.
  5. Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture and mix to combine. Try not to mix too much, so as not to toughen the cookies.
  6. Roll dough into a ball and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
  7. Cut dough ball into four sections. You will work with one section at a time so the butter in the dough won’t melt.
  8. Slowly and gently roll out your dough(I like my cookies thin and crisp ), turning it 90 degrees every few rolls to achieve an even layer. Add as little flour as possible to keep the dough from sticking or use wax paper between the rolling surface and rolling pin. These cookies are so simple that you probably wouldn’t notice the extra flour though.
  9. Cut out cookies. You can put the scraps back into the fridge to cool and roll them out after all four sections have been cut, giving them time to re-cool.
  10. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

Enjoy these cookies with a bit of beautiful royal icing on top and a tall glass of milk!


Umeshu (Plum Wine)

November 5, 2011 § 4 Comments

So yesterday I wrote  about yuzu, today I will be writing about another Japanese fruit that I love: ume.

Ume is often translated into English as plum, but while it is from the same genus of trees (prunus) it is very unlike the plums that we know in the West. They are small, hard, and green when unripe; they are  soft and yellow with a hint of red when ripe.

An important thing to know about ume is that they are poisonous. So don’t eat them unprocessed! When they are made into umeshu or ume jam correctly, they are no longer toxic, but keep the yummy looking fruits away from children!

Ume are abundant after the rainy season in Japan ( which is literally called plum rain) in late spring to early summer. During this time, all groceries begin to stock the supplies for making umeshu. Nearly everyone in Japan makes plum wine, and many older Japanese people have several very old jars sitting underneath their kitchen sinks getting older and more delicious with age. I made umeshu and the hardest part was waiting 10 months to taste it!

Umeshu has a thick consistency. While it is called plum wine, I would really think of it like a fruit liquor. It has a golden color and a very pungent taste. It can be drunk on the rocks or with tonic (a favorite of older Japanese men) and is thought to be good for digestion.

Umeshu (Plum wine)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 lb unripe ume plums
  • 2 lb rock sugar
  • 7 1/2 cups shochu for umeshu (clear distilled spirit which contains 35 % alcohol), or vodka 
  • Jar

Directions

  1. Wash ume and dry
  2. Remove stems using a bamboo stick or knife. This is important to remove toxins.
  3. Wash and sterilize large glass jar
  4. Layer ume and rock sugar in jar
  5. Pour shochu or vodka over sugar and plums
  6. Seal jar and store in dark, cool place
  7. For first month, rotate jar daily to aid aging process
  8. Enjoy after 10 months, but it is better to wait at least one year

 

 

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