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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Cookies: Wooden Hearts

I'm so bad.  I couldn't help it -- the temptation was irresistible.  I'm just not in to all the hearts and flowers and high pressure that comes with this day.  (Says the person who owns 6 different heart-shaped cookie cutters.)

The recipe recommends using a wood-grained texture mat by Chinese Clay Art.  I have one of their mats in a different pattern; they're very nice, but also rather expensive.  So I opted for a much cheaper version that didn't have as deep of an impression.  The design nearly disappeared on the thicker cookies, even with very little rise in the dough.

I'm still undecided whether to spring for the better mat.  This could be a short-lived novelty.

Here's what I used:

5 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
1 cup dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cardamom, allspice, pepper, and cloves in a large bowl. Place butter in a mixer bowl. Bring sugars, corn syrup, and water to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour hot sugar mixture over butter, then beat on low speed until combined.  Beat cream, egg, and vanilla in a bowl, then add to butter mixture. Beat on medium speed until well combined.
Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture, beating just until incorporated. Divide dough into thirds, and flatten each into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic, and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out 1 disk between lightly floured parchment to 1/8-inch thickness. Alternatively, the dough can be rolled out to 1/16-inch thickness for a crisper cookie. Place a lightly floured plastic faux-bois mat on dough, pattern side down. With rolling pin, lightly roll over mat to imprint dough; carefully remove mat. If dough has become very soft, transfer dough on parchment to a baking sheet, and refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining disks. Otherwise, cut out shapes with holiday cookie cutters  and transfer to lightly-greased baking sheets, grouping similar sizes together and spacing them 1 inch apart. Roll out and cut scraps once.  Refrigerate for about 10 minutes to firm. (This will help preserve the imprint.)  Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. (If making small cookies, start checking after 8 minutes.) Transfer to wire racks, and let cool.

Conclusion:  The cookies were good. They're quite sweet, and taste primarily of cardamom, which is my favorite spice.  They're a little tough, which I find happens with all cookies where the dough is pressed.  The dough was extremely soft at first, but became very easy to work with after chilling, even when it came back up to room temperature.

Recipe:  Spiced Cardamom Cookies via Martha Stewart

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