10 hours ago
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Conventional wisdom says that we enjoy doing things that we are good at. Yet the fact that I show up and bake every week is a testament to the fact that it is also possible to enjoy doing things that we are not good at. It helps to be a hard-wired optimist with a short-term memory. So despite the fact that I am not exactly riding a TWD hot streak (see, e.g, liquid rice pudding and twofer pie with toofer many problems to list) I dove right into this week's project, linzer sables, by doubling, yes doubling! -- the recipe. All memories of scraping my baking failure du jour into the trash vanished, and I visualized myself placing perfectly spiced, festively shaped, deliciously crumbly cookies on a tray (isn't using positive visualization as a means to achieving success the subject of an Oprah-approved book)? Because of all of my weekly commitments, TWD is the only one that is going to work with me, instead of against me, in the mad rush to get ready for Christmas, so I wanted to take full advantage of this cookie-making session to fill my freezer. And I would not fail! I would not.
I've never made a cookie before that called for ground nuts as a significant part of the batter. I chose almonds, because I had them and I love them. Next time, I might try hazelnuts. After mixing everything up, I found the dough to be rather dry. Usually I need to barricade myself out of the kitchen to avoid eating cookie dough by the shovelful, but this one rated no more than a 1 or a 2 on my Spatula Lick-o-meter:
1 -- I'd Lick the Spatula In Private (has to be a sad, sorry dough not to meet this low, low standard)
2 -- I'd Lick the Spatula In Front of the People Who Are Bound to Me by Blood or Law
3 -- I'd Lick the Spatula In Front of the People Who Once Talked Me Out of Doing Something Stupid at 1 a.m., like my great college pal and current TWD cohort, Lisa
4 -- I'd Lick the Spatula In Front of Complete Strangers In a Completely Inappropriate Place, Like on the Subway or at an Inauguration (chocolate malted whopper drop dough)
5 -- I'd Lick the Spatula In Front of Her Majesty the Queen Herself (chocolate chunker dough)
No worries about the dry dough, though -- that just meant that there was more of it left for actual cookies! And it rolled like a dream:
Which was a good thing, because I felt like I pretty much spent the whole night rolling dough, so if it hadn't rolled easily, it would have been a pretty crappy night.
I saw these cutters at Target and immediately thought that they would work for the linzer sables:
They came with, among other things, a big and little Christmas tree, and a big and little gingerbread man. I thought that I could use the little ones to make the peep holes. I knew that they'd be bigger peep holes than the ones that Dorie envisioned, but I was feeling crazy. And I figured that even if they didn't work for the peep holes, I'd still be able to use the little gingerbread man to make gingerbread man shaped pepperoni for my Christmas Eve appetizers, like they show on the package. I sure am glad that even in these tough economic times, innovation lives.
My first cookies were a little bit too crisp and a little bit too browned.
But the great thing about a recipe like this is that there is time to make adjustments in the middle of the process. I've mentioned before that I am missing the gene that would allow me to eyeball sizes. So after seeing my too crisp, too browned first batch, I broke out my trusty carpenter's level and realized that I was rolling the dough much too thin -- more like 1/8th of an inch than the 1/4 inch that the recipe calls for. So I just rolled a little bit thicker (although probably not a full quarter inch, but who can say?) for the rest of the cookies, and they turned out perfectly.
The Christmas trees were my favorites. The larger peep hole worked fine -- the jam set up nicely, and I liked the stained glass effect.
The trees were also easiest to work with because you didn't have all of those delicate petals threatening to break off at any moment. But I also made snowflakes:
And I used the peep hole cutouts to make mini Christmas tree and gingerbread man sandwiches:
We loved these cookies. This is one where the baked cookie far surpassed the dough, in my opinion. Just as I had visualized before baking them, the cookies turned out perfectly spiced, festively shaped, and deliciously crumbly -- sweet mercy, The Secret really works!!!!! David said that he could eat ten of them in one sitting, and I don't doubt that for a minute. And since he is 6'6" and blessed with the metabolism of the gods, he could do that all month long and still fit into the same tuxedo he wore in high school. I, on the other hand, took one look at these cookies and immediately went up a size. December might be a long, long month, scale-wise.
Thank you so much, noskos of Living the Life, for choosing a perfect holiday cookie! This one will definitely show up on our Christmas cookie tray (and that gives me one more chance to remember to sprinkle them with powdered sugar!) And be sure to check out the TWD blogroll to see how other bakers fared!!