"Food: Science, Art, Passion, Pleasure, Adventure & Exploration"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Baking Adventure 4: Big Batch of Sugar Cookie Fun

Today, I wanted to conjure up baker's joy. I know this is the name of a cooking spray but I also think it's a cool term for the momentary happiness that results from baking -well, at least the joy that develops for me whenever I make and bake something. Baker's joy is just what I needed today. Maybe I'll think of another term later on. For now, it sticks.

My schedule has been a little erratic but I decided to make a large batch of sugar cookies (with extra butter). I split the batter in half once I completed the basic recipe. I turned one batch into a spiced rum batter, using ginger, cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg, rum liquor and vanilla bean paste. The other half remained a plain sugar cookie mix. I used what I had in the kitchen and what would be simple for today. Some cookies, upon closer inspection, look a bit more "textured" than others. Those are the spiced rum cookies. If I used brown sugar for those, their appearance would have offered a better contrast.

However, I made these cookies thinner than usual and cut them out into 3 different shapes to vary the look of the baked cookies once I piled them up on a plate. I cut out some short rectangles, rectangular clouds and cute "perky" circles.

The cookies came out crispy with a slight chewy texture undertone. They are highly tasty, buttery and sugary with rich, pale, golden coloring. I've got a few images to show:

I thought about making cookie sandwiches which these. In fact, I did. For a few. I experimented with adding peanut butter to the caramel-making process. I caramelized some sugar on the stove, added a bit of butter and then dumped in a small glass of  peanut butter mixture I played around with. The mixture was peanut butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and a splash of heavy cream. I stirred it up and put it in the caramel as it was cooking. The house smelled heavenly - very warm and rich.

I tried the end result between a few cookies and it was delicious. The flavor was complex. However, I didn't want to halve the amount of cookies I'd come out with by making cookie sandwiches out of all of them. Next time, this is on the agenda list.

These are good with Nutella between them, too. You can easily makes sandwiches using a variety of "fillers". Try marshmallows. Take some marshmallows and heat them on a stove, add a little butter or anything else you'd like and spoon in the marshmallow between cookies to make creamy little sandwiches with a sugary kick. As the marshmallow cools, it will create a great texture between each cookie layer.

I really should have snapped some photos of the few cookies sandwiches I made with Nutella (can't you tell I just love this stuff!) and what I'll call, peanut butter caramel toffee. Once the peanut butter mixture cooled down, it turned out to be the consistency of slightly firm, but crumbly toffee- basically it was breakable.

I'd like to talk about my intrigue with what I'll call sugar tables in the next entry. I have to try this someday, going through the whole process of conceptualization, sketching, gathering resources, setting up and presenting (the designer side of me sparkles at this!). Amy Atlas is a big inspiration. I totally love what she does, and her designs and table work are so whimsically wonderful.

Chit-Chat: OK, I really need to take a trip to Michaels or Anna's Linens soon. I wouldn't mind dabbling a bit with food photography and brushing up with the sort of photos I present. I'm a designer and an illustrator, so I need to implement my skills and eye for things. The photos I've posted are OK and they show what I've done well enough, but they aren't "WOW! Would ya look at that!" material. LOL.

Maybe I'll need to take a trip to Best Buy, too...for camera equip (especially tripod stand). Would be nice to actually set up "stages" or small "scenes" for my baking/cooking photos - dress, plate and spice stuff up visually. The sugar table apsirations would totally be cool for this.

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