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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Playing With My food ( a recipe )

It is of course another rainy Sunday afternoon, and when that happens, I get so very board and I like to bake, and when I do that, I am tempted to tweak recipes and play with my food. Today was no different. What started out to be a recipe for Candy Cane Cookies, became Pink Lemonade Cookies. What started out only having lovely hot pink sugar rolled around the outer edge, after trying the first batch , and they being a tad bitter...though still very good... became all over hot pink sugar...I determined I had put a bit too much dehydrated lemon peel in the mix and did not balance it out with enough sweetness in the dough and it intensified while firming in the freezer and then baking..lesson learned...but crisis adverted.

Most likely would not have happened had I had fresh lemons to work with, adding real lemon juice and fresh peel. My suggestion is that you make sure to have the fresh lemon on hand, as the dehydrated peel, though lovely to use in a sauce or bread, and the imitation lemon, though very handy and will not spoil, just is not the same when making these cookies in my humble opinion. Another option I do believe I shall try with the plain ones is making a bit of a powder sugar glaze and dip the plain cookies in them for added sweetness on the pallet. The other thing I played with was using Best Life Margarine instead of butter and using "white" whole wheat for the flour. Subbing both these things for what was called for only altered the flavor and texture a smidge, so if you are trying to stay a bit more healthy go ahead and use them. If you are a purest , then of course stick with the original. So here we go.....

Pink Lemonade Cookies 
Prep and cook time about 1.5 hrs, plus 5 hours to chill
Notes~ Freeze two toned dough at end of step 5 for up to one week
or store airtight for up to 2 days.
Makes 80 cookies ( *****I halved the recipe. Who needs 80 about? I also sliced thicker and got about 26 cookies when I should have had 40...I did not want a wafer thin crisp...but that is just me. cut accordingly to suit amount and type you want
1 cup (1/2 lb) butter at room temp.
1 cup of sugar 
2 large egg yolks 
3 cups all purpose flour ( I used white whole wheat)
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1/4 tsp salt
5 tablespoons of milk
1 tsp of vanilla 
1/4 tsp of Peppermint extract 
(Ok this is where I added in the lemon instead of peppermint. No need for extra liquid with fresh lemon peel added , but if you use dehydrated as I did, would add bit more vanilla and perhaps add a tad bit more sugar to balance ...depends how daring you are to play with your food. First time making these, I would just add the extract or fresh lemon juice. ) 

red food coloring 

The mad scientist baker gathers her ingredients!!Now remember I cut recipe in half, that is why you only see 1 egg.Wishing you also saw a fresh lemon.
Step 1 
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and sugar until smooth; beat in the egg yolks.

Step 2 
In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. ( this is where I also blended in peel)
In a small bowl combine milk, vanilla, and extract. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture alternately with milk mixture, blending thoroughly after each addition.

Divide dough in half. Leave one half in mixing bowl and stir in a few drops of red food coloring mix well till pink dough is achieved.

Divide dough in half and then in half again ( if making full batch) four portions total ( mine were only 2) ; wrap portions in waxed paper, or parchment paper ( I used plastic wrap and it was fine)
Chill until firm, about one hour in freezer worked for me.

Step 5
Unwrap dough and roll each of the four pieces into a smooth rope about 15" long. Twist the white with the red into a 13" long combined rope ( for a total of two ropes if making full recipe. 
Wrap twisted ropes in waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill until firm ( at least 4 hours or up until one week)
( ****I rolled the two ropes, once intertwined into a log to mesh the ropes.It did not say to do this, but seemed logical to me and is what I have always done for similar cookies
I even measured. Was hard to get smooth ropes, but they were good enough. Was not being graded.

After braiding, I then made a solid log. The white wheat flour almost makes it look like a yellowish color with the pink...perfect for new name of cookies.
Step 6
Unwrap dough. Using sharp knife, cut rolls into 1/8th inch thick slices ( As you know I did mine thicker ) Place slices about 1" apart on buttered ( I used a silicone baking pad ) 12x15 baking sheets. 

( *** A step I used was rolling in the bright pink sugar crystals before step 7)
Find bread knife works best.


First batch
Second batch where I added sugar on top too!
Step 7
Bake cookies at 350 degrees until light golden, about 10 minutes, transfer to racks to cool completely ( yeah right
Tea Time .....

I use the big cup, but love the small one to have an electric tea light in for ambiance LOL
 Well, playing with this recipe proved to be something I shall have to do again and maybe again to get just right. I could see making it with cherry flavors, perhaps strawberry or even raspberry...but shall definitely have to try with REAL lemon next time...the dehydrated lemon peel being the downfall , taking a ranking from what would be a 7 for a cookie, to a 5...but they shall be eaten all the same. 

After finishing original post, I made a powdered sugar w/ milk glaze and added it to the cookies ..So much better, took away bitterness, so yeah I kept playing to make the batch better. When I bake them the next time it will not be needed as I will use fresh lemon and up vanilla and sugar a bit know me, I can not stop playing with my food!!!

****Recipe adapted from Best-Ever Cookies by Sunset...fav so far from this book is the Nutmeg cookies. See baking link at top of blog for that recipe.

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