I whipped up a batch of Valentine’s cookies last night, and it was a beautiful metaphor for love, for the delicacy of our hearts, and for the tender touch required to join two hearts together without breaking either one.
Recipe and directions for love included. Assembly required.
As you might guess, I broke, warped, mangled, and just plain had to start over with a bunch of them. But as you can see, a whole bunch made it! Ok, they’re in varying degrees of success, but you can learn from my mistakes.
I was using this delectable recipe which I had seen on 207, a Maine “magazine” variety show. They always have really excellent cooking segments, and this was one which I knew I just had to make. Swedish Cream Cookies, by Flour Design’s Mara Moorhead. You can watch the video and get the recipe at 207, but I made a few modifications you’ll probably appreciate. And, as you might guess, they’re kinda like real life romance.
First of all, don’t stretch it too thin. Mara’s recipe says to roll the dough out to 1/8 of an inch. Toooooo thin. Hard to scrape off the rolling surface, and they get even thinner when you press them (no matter how gently) into the sugar. And then they stretch and warp on their way to the cookie sheet. And they’re fragile after cooking, breaking even when simply picked up. And for love to work out, you have to be able to handle being picked up. You know, you have to start somewhere. So, go with 1/4 of an inch thick.
Start out cold, shape things the way you want them, then add heat. I know, I know: who wants to be cold, right? Mara’s recipe says to give the dough 30 minutes to firm up in the fridge. I followed the directions, pulled out the dough, went about rolling it out on a lightly-floured surface, but…
Make sure you use enough flour when rolling that you don’t get stuck somewhere you don’t want to be. Like under someone, or wrapped all around them. Don’t get in too deep or sticky until you know for sure you are happy being all gooky with someone. My un-cold-enough dough got all gooped all over the rolling pin, lost all shape, and I had to start over. Of course, that meant putting things on ice for a while again, I mean, in the fridge.
Once you’ve got the right consistency and rolling environment, roll the suckers out to about 1/4 of an inch. They need some substance to stand up to the next steps. Now, one of the tricks is, that since there is no sugar in the dough, you have to press the cut-out cookie dough into some granulated sugar that’s hanging out in a bowl. Yes, you must add a touch of sweetness. To both sides. This requires that you didn’t get too much flour on them while rolling the dough out, lest the sugar not get through the flour coating. It needs to stick to the dough. Kind of press the cookie into the sugar. The patting will flatten the cookie out even more, so it has to go into all this, as said before, with enough depth to handle the pressure. If it can handle the pressure, it will pick up the sugar and be deliciously sweet. Otherwise, it will be just shy of a cracker.
This whole process may take some practice in order to get it just right. Nothing inherently wrong with the “duds;” they’re just not the full, delectable, sweet experience the Creatress offers us. And believe me, I do want it all, so I stayed up well past midnight working on these. I haven’t quite gotten it perfect yet, but I know now what to do so that the next batch will be.
Place the cookies on the cookie sheet, and….. prick them. I’m not kidding. They need little holes so that the steam pressure doesn’t build up underneath them and warp them. Think of it as stress relief vents. It may seem like you’re damaging the cookie, but those little imperfections help to make the over all end result work out well.
Next, heat things up. As with all sugar cookies, bake only until the very bottom edge starts to show golden-ness. About 8 minutes, but it could be more with thicker cookies. Remove from the cookie sheet and cool on cookie rack. Do not stack until they are totally cool, or they’ll get soggy and fall apart.
Make the frosting, the oooey gooey filling. Mmm mmm. These cookies are really just frosting delivery vehicles. The good stuff in a pretty package, in a way that’s socially acceptable to eat. Dipping your fingers into the frosting bowl isn’t necessarily tea party protocol. And truthfully, that is pretty messy. And sometimes, it’s nice to have that balance of sweet and not quite as sweet. I didn’t like Mara’s recipe, way too buttery, not enough sugar, so I just kept adding more confectioner’s sugar a bit at a time and more cream, until I did like it. I made half a batch vanilla pink, and to the rest of the batch added quite a bit –perhaps double Mara’s recipe– of cocoa. Delish, as Rachel Ray says.
Stuff the frosting into a sturdy plastic bag, such as a Ziplock, and cut the corner off. Special trick: heat the frosting with your hands. The longer you hold the bag and squeeze it, the softer the frosting will be, thus making it much easier to squish onto the delicate cookies without breaking the cookies. When it’s good to go, make cookie sandwiches, bringing the two hearts together. Don’t press too hard, just gently, almost like an introduction and a willing them to meet and join, kept together by the sweet concoction of love.
Here’s my version of Mara’s recipe for Swedish Cream Cookies:
- 1 cup butter softened
- 2 cups flour, possibly add 2T
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
Combine ingredients in stand mixer or with hand mixer until well mixed. Form into circle, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes. Work with part of the dough at a time keeping the rest chilled.
On lightly floured surface roll dough to a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into shapes (1.5″ rounds, hearts, clovers, ovals, any shape you like ). Place granulated sugar on a shallow plate or bowl and coat both sides of cookies with sugar. Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheet. Embellish with colored sugar if you want. Pierce each cookie with a fork about four times then bake in a 375 degree oven for 7-9 minutes. Remove to cooling rack. Repeat with remainder of dough.
- ½ cup softened butter
- 1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Heavy cream
- Food coloring
Combine butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. If mixture is too thick add some heavy cream to thin the icing (this also cuts the sweetness a little). Add a few drops of your favorite color. * Transfer icing to a large ziplock bag. Cut the tip off the bag and pipe icing on the back side of one cookie then top with another cookie.
Store in an airtight container.
*For chocolate icing add about ¾ – 1 1/2 cups of cocoa powder (depending on how dark and strong you like your chocolate) and a little more cream to get to desired consistency.