Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Empire Cookies

Who doesn’t love a celebration? The cookbook I want to tell you about today is focused on pure fun. Butter Celebrates!: Delicious Recipes for Special Occasions by Rosie Daykin, of which I received a review copy, has recipes that are perfect for several major holidays and other reasons to celebrate throughout the year. Butter Baked Goods is the author’s bakery in Vancouver, and it has become an important part of lots of customers’ celebrations. She mentions that it’s very important to her to always remember that their baked goods aren’t just cakes or cookies, they are elements of shared memories of important days. It’s a great reminder that all the moments we choose to celebrate become those things we remember most. And, it’s lovely inspiration to whip up something sweet and delicious for the next occasion that comes along. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so I got to work on the heart-shaped, sandwich Empire Cookies as soon as I saw them. The Heart-Shaped Raspberry Pop Tarts were a close contender. For Easter, there are orange-flavored Bunny Buns that are shaped with little ears sticking up on each bun and Coconut Marshmallow Bunnies. I want to bake the Lemony Lemon Loaf for my mom for Mother’s Day, and if no friends’ baby showers pop up on my calendar, I’ll find another reason to make Lamingtons. Of course, there are chapters for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s as well. But, let’s get back to those Valentine’s cookies. 

The dough is like sugar cookie dough and is made with butter, confectioners’ sugar, eggs, vanilla, pastry flour, and salt. I used a mix of whole wheat pastry flour and all-purpose flour. Once mixed, the dough needs to be chilled before being rolled out. After chilling, my dough was a little crumbly and seemed like it might not roll out easily. I remembered a tip from Maida Heatter about kneading cookie dough to be sure it’s well-mixed. A quick turn or two of kneading by hand was all that was necessary, and then the dough rolled out nicely. It needs to be rolled somewhat thin so that the cookies won’t be too thick once sandwiched in the end. Heart shapes were cut, and I cut enough for one baking sheet of mini hearts as well. The cookies were baked and cooled before being frosted and filled. No need for piping bags or fancy techniques here. A simple frosting of confectioners’ sugar, water, and almond extract was spread on the top of half the cookies. Next, jam was spread on the bottoms of the remaining cookies. I used locally-made Confituras Cranberry Cinnamon jam for the filling. The hearts were sandwiched together and ready to be served. 

These cookies are especially festive due to the shape and the red jam filling, and they happen to be irresistible once you taste them. They’re a nice mix of tender and crunchy, and aromatic almond extract makes the frosting delightful. Like the rest of the not-too-fussy-or-complicated recipes in this book, this was a treat to make a special day even more memorable. 

Empire Cookies 
Excerpted from Butter Celebrates!: Delicious Recipes for Special Occasions by Rosie Daykin. Copyright © 2016 by Random House. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. 

These cookies came about at the bakery after constant daily requests from customers. I am not sure why I resisted for so long given my love for all things raspberry and almond, but when I did eventually answer the cry, I made a lot of people very happy. For Valentine’s Day we cut them into pretty scalloped hearts but you can make them year-round using a simple circular cutter. 

3/4 cup butter, room temperature 
1 cup icing sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla 
2 3/4 cups pastry flour 
1/2 teaspoon salt 

Finishing Touches: 
1 cup icing sugar 
2 tablespoons hot water 
1 teaspoon almond extract 
3/4 cup raspberry jam 

Makes: 1 1/2 dozen (2.5- x 2.75-inch) heart-shaped sandwich cookies 
You will need: heart-shaped or 2.5-inch circular cookie cutter, 2 (11- x 17-inch) rimmed cookie sheets lined with parchment paper 
Storage: These cookies will keep in an airtight container for 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

1. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. 

2. Add the egg and the egg yolk and beat on medium speed until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the vanilla. Beat again. 

3. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the flour and salt until fully combined. 

4. Shape the dough into a large disk and wrap it in plastic wrap. Allow the dough to chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. 

5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

6. On a well-floured work surface, roll the dough out with a rolling pin until it is approximately 1⁄8 inch thick. You don’t want the cookies too thick as you will be sandwiching two of them together. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Very carefully, using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to the prepared cookie sheets. 

7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are a light golden brown around the edges. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool slightly on the trays before trans- ferring them to wire racks to cool completely. 

8. Meanwhile, prepare the icing. In a small bowl, combine the icing sugar, hot water and almond extract. Using a whisk or spoon, stir the icing until it is smooth and glossy. 

9. Using a small teaspoon, place approximately 2 teaspoons of raspberry jam on the bottoms of half the cookies. Using the back of the spoon, gently spread the jam almost to the edges of the cookie. 

10. Use a small offset spatula to top the other half of the cookies with the almond icing. Don’t press too hard when doing this as they are delicate cookies and you don’t want your tops breaking! 

11. Place the iced cookies atop the raspberry-filled bottom and press gently to sandwich them together. 

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  1. They are very much like jam filled sandwiched cookies, only finer and prettier!

  2. These look so delightful Lisa! I'd say I want to make these for my son's preschool class, but I just want them all for myself...

  3. I love the simplicity of your beautiful looking cookie done in white with just the red edge showing. Lovely!

  4. Great looking cookie! Sounds like a fun cookbook. Hadn't heard of it -- thanks for the intro!

  5. Now these cookies are beautiful and perfect for Valentines Day. Love the almond and raspberry combo.

  6. these are delicate and beautiful and full of great flavors! what a fantastic (and timely) recipe!

  7. Oh Lisa, these cookies are so cute, I love the combination of raspberry jam in between...perfect for the coming holiday!
    I hope you are having a great week :)

  8. These cookies are cute :) I would like somebody to bake me such cookies :))

  9. Love these cookies ! Look wonderful !!


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