Monday, January 10, 2011

cookie o' the month...

We all know how I feel about baked goods.

The love for them is great and pure.

Thusly, I introduce you to a new (and the first) contributor to the angelo:HOME blog, Beth. Check out her blog and partake of the simple yet awesome awesomeness of her baked goods recipes, writing and overall wit.

I have witnessed her baking genius and aside from the fact that it's just good stuff, she has accepted my challenge..."Write about baking in an original and unique way." She will be sharing her baking perspective here from time to time and I encourage you to partake, comment, enjoy and share your own ideas and recipes.

I'll let Beth speak for herself from here on out. BTW, her too kind words about me are probably a result of too much sugar. The only side effect to all this baking stuff. Enjoy.


Angelo is my muse. I joke with him that being my muse is part of his job, what with him being Greek 'n' all. But I reckon he's your muse, too. You stop by this blog for inspiration, I'm guessing. And there's always inspiration to be found.

Some months ago, Angelo and I found ourselves in a spontaneous collaboration of sorts. I had tweeted about going for a morning walk before having had any coffee — oh, the humanity! — and he replied to my tweet with: "Bring a coffee sippy cup and shortbread necklace for treats along the way... ."

Shortbread necklace.


Pure genius.

But that's what we love about Angelo, isn't it? His knack for seeing the world in a slightly different way.

Perhaps he never expected that I would actually make a shortbread necklace. But it was too fun of a notion to let go.

So I made one.

Those who know my baking know that cookies are my thing. They're accessible to bakers of all skill levels. So in future posts, cookies you shall see. Variations? Yep. Reinterpretations? You bet. We already know how to make the classics. Let's find the twists.

I love to bake. And I love to write about baking. So when Angelo asked me to contribute some baking posts to the angelo:HOME blog, I leapt at the chance and I couldn't be more honored to be a small part of a site I truly love. I'll post when inspiration strikes. But in the meantime, I hope this inaugural effort brings a smile.

Shortbread Ottomans ...

For this first post, I couldn't help but hearken back to the whimsical spirit of the shortbread necklace, but I wanted to make something that was uniquely angelo:HOME.

And since Angelo really loves his nesting ottomans, and since I really love them, too, a little homage seemed to be in order.

I certainly don't expect anyone to make cookies in the form of ottomans. These were just for fun. If you're wondering, the "nailhead" detail on the chocolate cookie is the ball chain from the ceiling fan in my TV room, and the green effect is achieved with luster dust that I bought for another cookie project a couple of years ago that I never did get around to baking. I love that the color happens to be pretty close to the fabric from Angelo's line. As for the pattern, well, let's just say that I won't be stenciling cookies again anytime soon. My intention was to emboss a herringbone pattern on to the smallest cookie with a plate from an embosser meant for scrapbooking and card-making. Turns out, the web sites that sell that item aren't kidding about it only being available online. I went to five stores in vain. So the little guy is plain. Though I do appreciate that the fabric Angelo chose for that ottoman is shortbreadish in hue.

You may not make ottoman cookies, but you should most definitely make shortbread. No cookie is easier: Basic shortbread comprises three ingredients that you probably always have on hand that combine into a dough that can't be overworked and then bakes into a lovely, crisp-tender treat. The chocolate shortbread is just slightly more involved, but worth the effort, especially if you like the flavor of espresso.

Go forth and bake. And enjoy.

(From Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, Published by Meredith Corporation, 1989)

1 1/4 C. all-purpose flour
3 T. sugar
1/2 C. butter

In a mixing bowl, combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter till mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling. Form mixture into a ball and knead till smooth. To make wedges, on an ungreased cookie sheet pat or roll dough into an 8-inch circle. Using your fingers, press to make a scalloped edge. With a knife, cut circle into 16 pie-shape wedges. Leave wedges in the circle shape. Bake in a 325 oven for 25 to 30 minutes or till bottom just starts to brown and center is set. Cut circle into wedges again while warm. Cool on the cookie sheet for five minutes. Remove from cookie sheet; cool on a wire rack.

Mocha Shortbread
(From Martha Stewart's Cookies, Published by Clarkson Potter, 2008)
1/2 C. plus 3 T. all-purpose flour
1/4 C. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
2 t. good-quality instant espresso powder
1/2 C. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 C. confectioners' sugar, plus more for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8-inch round cake or springform pan with parchment paper. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Stir in espresso. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until pale and creamy. Add confectioners' sugar, and beat well. Add flour mixture, and beat on low speed until well-combined. Pat dough evenly into pan. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until puffed at the edges and dark all over the top. Remove from oven, and let sit 5 minutes; then cut into 8 wedges. Let cool completely on a rack. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar just before serving. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

Note: The recipes are presented as written in their respective cookbooks for those who would like to try them. For my purposes, I formed the doughs into my desired shapes and adjusted baking times accordingly. For the mocha shortbread, I didn't bake the dough in a pan. I patted it out on parchment paper (for easy release; likewise for the plain shortbread) and cut out my rounds. Also, I used a mixture of regular baking cocoa and dark-chocolate baking cocoa instead of the Dutch-process type. I was more interested in achieving the color I sought than I was with flavor.


TL said...

In your words, "this is well." Congrats to Beth for the new gig and to you, Angelo, for the new baking content. These cookies and the necklace look delicious and like little works of art. I never thought of having a muse before, but maybe now I will. Are you up for another person being inspired by you Angelo?

Doreen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doreen said...

(could not leave previous comment posted w/typo!) Angelo - you will mark the invitation of Beth, her personailty, talent, and je ne sais quoi as one of the best business decisions you have ever made!!! Beth always leaves places better than she found them.

Mazel Tov to both of you!!

Beth said...

Thanks, TL. I'm chuckling over the notion that I'm an artist whose medium is cookie dough. Why bother with oils or charcoal, right? You can't eat those!

And Doreen, you're far too kind. (P.S. Editor Beth appreciates the correction of the typo!)

mrsben said...

A sincere applause and kudos to Beth! -Brenda-

P.S: Thanks to your inspiration Angelo; dtr. was delighted with her cookie cutters that Santa had left in her stocking. :)

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