Thursday, December 26, 2013

One does not just make Springerles Cookies....

   About a year ago I cut out an article from the Wall Street Journal about Springerle cookies. Molded holiday cookies that looked like little pieces or artwork and that were supposed to taste like a cousin to the biscotti. Also listed was a recipe for a Molded Gingerbread Cookie from the bakery "Tartine"
   The recipe contains black pepper, cayenne and copies amounts of dried ginger. I *hate* when store bought gingerbread cookies contain no ginger....aren't they just plain old cookies then?
Heart Mold
 These cookies are a bit daunting by are well worth the effort and can be stored for 2 weeks...not that they will last that long. You can just make cut out cookies with this recipe, but if you can find any wooden molds at an antique store, pick some out. I am always on the look out and plan on grabbing some more. I just have a leaf and a roller mold that leaves a pineapple pattern.
   The cookies do not need to bake long. You'll think, 8 minutes, thats not enough-but it is. You want a cookie that comes out more like a ginger bread with a nice cake texture that leaves a small bite of pepper in the after taste.

Here is the recipe if you are hang trouble with the link.

Molded Gingerbread Cookies
Hands-down the best gingerbread I've ever had, ( I most certainly agree) this recipe is adapted from one in the "Tartine" cookbook and amplified by cocoa, allspice and red chili.
ACTIVE TIME: 1-1¼ hours
MAKES: 2-4 dozen cookies
"Pineapple" cookie roller
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup dark molasses
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons agave syrup
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
Scant pinch red chili powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
1½ teaspoons allspice
3½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon baking powder
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
1. Using an electric mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and continue mixing until pale and creamy. Add egg and mix until incorporated. Stir in molasses, honey and agave syrup. Scrape down sides of bowl and mix until well combined.
2. In another large bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, chili powder, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, salt, pepper and baking powder. Working in batches, sprinkle flour mixture into butter mixture, stirring gently until a firm dough forms and starts to pull away from sides of bowl.
3. Flour your hands and pull the dough from the bowl, knead once or twice into a ball (if it's so sticky it glues to your fingers, sprinkle in a teaspoon or so of flour and knead again). Place round on a large piece of plastic wrap, flatten gently with palm of hand and wrap tightly. Refrigerate dough at least 3 hours.
4. Generously dust a large, clean work space with flour. Divide chilled dough into four sections and, working one section at a time, roll out to 1/2-inch thickness. (Lightly flour rolling pin if dough sticks.)
5. Using pastry brush, lightly dust cookie mold with confectioners' sugar. Place mold on top of dough and press firmly and evenly to imprint. (Don't wiggle or image will blur). Repeat, dusting mold with additional sugar as needed, until entire section of dough is imprinted.
6. Using a sharp knife or cookie cutter, trim around edges of printed designs and gently transfer cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat rolling, printing and trimming process with remaining dough. Then set baking sheets aside, uncovered, and allow cookies to dry (or "cure") at least 3 hours.
7. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place baking sheet in center of oven and bake until cookies are slightly springy at center and faintly browned at edges, 8-15 minutes depending on size and thickness of molds used. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Once cookies have cooled, brush with a confectioners' sugar glaze, if desired. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

I think I made about 3 dozen cookies, but I did have one rather large stamp cookie. The best way to make these is to make the dough one day and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Generously flour your work surface and for really good cookies, make sure your mold is cold too! I stuck mine in the freezer for a couple of minutes, powdered it and powdered my dough with powdered sugar before smashing my mold on it. Also, make sure your dough is thick enough to be able to get into the mold!
  By the time I had all my dough cut out and cleaned up the kitchen it was time to bake my cookies. Molded the cookies takes time and some smashing of the dough, but it was all worth it in the end. The cookies taste fine (even without icing them) and they are a showstopper!
Hear Molded Cookie before edges are cut

Pineapple Roller cut into sections

Snowman Handstamp Cookie

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas to All...

Christmas comes but once a year, I hope everyone can take the day to be with friends and family. 
Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Fold

    I finally made it to The Fold! For a minute I thought my GPS was trying to get me lost when it told me to turn down a small, winding country road. Fear not, it is small and winding but it leads you to a small blue house that holds all the wonders of yarn that you could want.
   Not only that, but it holds a very knowledgable staff and a large German Shepard. I brought my shopping list and bought more that enough things to fill out my Christmas list, plus a bit of fun stuff for myself as well.
   Every type of yarn and animal can be found from merino to mohair, wool to yak, and even a rather expensive ($98 a skein) small skein of vicuna. I waked around stroking all the various yarns and my imagination ran wild with what I could do.
   The Fold just doesn't carry yarn. Knitting needles and crochet hooks of every size and material lined a side wall. Buckets were filled to the brim with hand carved drop spindles. Spinning wheels of all sizes stood by the entrance and in the back corner reeds of all sizes for weaving could be found.
   Bags of rainbow roving lined a wall that was near a happily burning fire place (not too close to the fire though). There was an entire wall dedicated to sock weight yarn from Blue Moon. There was even yarn that had sterling silver spun into it!
A lusciously soft kid mohair by Rowan knits. This whole series is named after Zodiac
signs. Had I known that when I purchased this, I would have sought out Capricorn!

A Merino super wash that I will use to knit something inspired by "Literary Knits" Tale of Two Cities Cowl. This
cowl has Morse Code messages hidden it it! How fun!

100% Merino Roving. I am going to needle felt this into a hat. I bought one of those multi point
star needle holders to make the process go by faster. 

A yarn by Fiesta that is 50% alpaca and 50% tencel. Never worked with Tencel before...

All and all, a great trip. Isn't it funny how time has no meaning in a yarn store until you realize those 5 minutes of picking out yarn were actually 1.5 hours???

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving and the German Market

   Did anyone else watching the parade notice that as the Broadway performances went on the actor's wore less and less clothing? By the time the Pippin cast came on all I could think was the guy balancing on the metal disk must have been really *Really* cold in his devil horns and strong man underwear.  It was bad enough watching the cast of Kinky Boots shiver as they strutted around the stage.

   I made the traditional place holder "Turkey Apples". Just take an apple and stick 4 toothpicks in the bottom for legs.  Add a toothpick neck and stick an olive on it. You can pull the pimento out for the gobbler and stick 2 cloves in for eyes. Take toothpicks and spice drops to make the feathers and you have a tasty turkey decoration!

The day after Thanksgiving I ditch the malls and shop at antique stores. Normally I go downstate to Morris, but this year I decided to go to a German Market up in Oconomowoc. Not as big as Chicago, but not as crowded and you don't have to pay $40 to park and then not be able to see any of the booths. 
  As soon as I saw the stall with the hand blown ornaments I knew I was a goner. I should have bought more of these mushrooms. A tree covered in these would be the height of holiday whimsy. Maybe next year? 

I also went to a lovely antique store just down the street from the market. They had lots of vintage Christmas items: Shiny Brites, Gurley candles, tree reflectors, mercury glass baubles and the world's scariest Santa costume....

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving with friends and family and keep warm in the coming winter months!