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!


Wagashi and Tea Ceremony

November 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

I love wagashi.

It was kind of a problem in Japan, because wagashi and matcha (powdered green tea) are so expensive that I could only have it on special occasions.

I love everything about them. Their seasonal shapes. The overwhelming sweetness. The combination of that sweetness with the bitter green taste of the matcha. The solemnity of the tea ceremony.

So what is wagashi anyway?

Wagashi means literally Japanese candy. While the term can refer to a range of candies, they are all generally made out of an bean paste and are often served at tea ceremonies. The sweetness of an is nothing like the sweetness of sugar, it is deeper and doesn’t give me the sugar jitters.  Since wagashi are most often made of plants, they have little to no fat. Also adzuki beans, especially when processed into an paste, have high concentrations  of catechins, anthocyanidin and polyphenols. So, if you want to have candy, you might as well eat some that might fight cancer and heart disease!

These little candies come in all shapes and sizes, but they are above all other things seasonal candies. The image above is of a wagashi that I bought in spring, it is appropriately a flower blossom. There are wagashi for  winter,summer, fall, and even moon and rabbit shaped wagashi for the moon viewing holiday.

If you ever go to Japan, it is likely you will encounter these at a tea ceremony, so here is a basic run down of how to comport yourself:

Tea Ceremony for the Common Person

This is what you do when you are given your chawan (tea cup)

  1. Bow
  2. Take chawan with right hand, place it in palm of left hand
  3. Rotate chawan 3 times clockwise with the right hand (this should make a 180 degree turn)
  4. Look at the cup and admire it (the “front” of the cup is facing you now)
  5. Try to drink the tea in 3 sips
  6. After drinking, wipe the rim of the chawan where it touched your lips with a napkin
  7. Rotate the chawan as in step three, but counterclockwise
  8. Return the chawan to your host
  9. Bow

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