Suzi's Blog

Coffee Shots from European Cookies

wc-2014_04_26_2147

If you love cookies, if you love to bake, then Krisztina Maksai’s new book, European Cookies For Every Occasion, is a must have addition to your bookshelves. It’s brilliant, eye opening, and sure to transform the meaning of “cookie” for the rest of your life.

I’m serious.

The recipes are Eastern European and the cookies are elegant pastries, not the simple, dry wafers we call cookies. Your only regret will be not having sampled these wondrous treats. They are small and they are great.

In this book, no is no such thing as a simple cookie. There are layers and fillings and frostings. There are textures embedded within textures. When you eat one, you do it slowly and really rather marvel at how a “mere” cookie could be so powerful.

These Coffee Shots are an excellent example of what treats lie inside European Cookie. A Coffee Shot is a sandwich cookie, the layers made of ground almonds and flour. The cookies halves are married with a sugar-coffee paste. The cookie is adorned with a coffee frosting and then topped with a chocolate coffee or espresso bean.

Coffee Shots are not hard to make. They are not hard to eat. Addiction is, well, not my concern. And, you’ll want a cup or two of espresso to enjoy along the way. This is a pathway to escape the inconvenience of sleep. If you have a big test tomorrow, start baking.

The instructions here call for switching from the usual mixer paddle to the dough hook during the mixing process. Our Kitchen Aid mixer has a bowl that is very big, and the dough hook simply would not have been able to “grab” on the bottom and mix suitably. So, Suzen said we would stick with the regular paddle but keep mixing for the times called for in the recipe: 3-5 minutes.

You will need to mix for that full amount of time. There is little “soft” or “liquid” content in this recipe. Along the way, the mixture is dry and it does take time to come together as a dough that you can roll out and cut. Have faith and patience. This is a magnificent recipe.

Coffee Shots

Yield: ~25 to 35 cookies depending on the size of your cookie cutter 

Ingredients:

Cookie Dough:

  • 1 ¼ sticks (145 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (70 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 medium egg yolk
  • ½ cup (70 grams) ground almonds
  • 1 ⅔ cups (200 grams) all-purpose flour

Filling:

  • 1 cup (100 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • ¾ stick (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons instant coffee

Decoration:

  • 1 cup (100 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 2 tablespoons cold brewed coffee
  • Coffee chocolate drops or chocolate-covered espresso beans

Preparation:

For the cookie, combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until the mixture resembles a smooth paste, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the egg yolk, ground almonds, and flour, switch the electric mixer to the dough hook attachment, and mix until the dough is smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Form the dough into a small loaf. Wrap the loaf in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Lightly flour a working surface and roll the dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter cut the dough into 72 cookies.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and then transfer the cookies carefully to the sheet with a pastry spatula. Bake the cookies for 7 to 10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Carefully remove them from the baking sheet with the pastry spatula and place them on a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the filling, stir the confectioners’ sugar, butter, and instant coffee together in a medium bowl with a fork until it resembles a smooth paste. Using a spoon, spread a teaspoon of filling on half of each of the cookies, and then top them with the remaining cookies.

For the decoration, mix the confectioners’ sugar and the instant coffee into the brewed coffee in a medium bowl until they are dissolved. Spread the mixture on top of the filled cookies with a teaspoon and decorate each cookie with a chocolate drop or espresso bean.

These cookies are good for about one week stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

 

Source: Savor Baking by Mary Cech

Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/2.8 for 1/100th second at ISO‑800

 

 

Creme Fraiche Scones from Sweet by Valerie Gordon

webbed-and-cropped-IMG_5008

 

 

I recently blogged Sweet by Valerie Gordon, describing the book as a “goldilocks” gift. That ideal baking book that is not too simple, not too complex, but is just right. Just right for you to succeed and create wonderful baked goods [and candy, too!].

Before we blog a book, Suzen and I do more than just read. We test. And we don’t test the most complicated recipe. We pick something interesting and basic, something like a scone. Because of a book can’t give you a good scone, that great cake on page 75 just might not work out. We want to know that the recipes are true, tested, and geared for the home cook.

So, on a Sunday morning, I prepared coffee and in just about the same time Suzen threw together this lovely, lively scone recipe. It bakes beautifully as the picture shows. It tastes of delightful tartness: crème fraiche and lemon juice and lemon zest all are present to give your Sunday morning a bolting start. These rich scones do not need butter and they surely do not need jam or honey. They are completely self-sufficient.

If you love scones, then here is one with grand taste.

And, with this success, you can proceed with confidence. The recipes in Sweet are well written, well tested, and certainly well enjoyed.

Crème Fraiche Scone

Yield: 12 scones

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup (2.33 ounces) sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons (2.5 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) crème fraiche
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

 

Preparation:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Line a 13-by-l8-by-1-inch baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until the butter is in pea-sized pieces, about 4 minutes.

Whisk together the crème fraiche, 1 egg, the lemon zest, and juice in a small bowl, then fold into the flour mixture until just combined; do no over mix—you want to see bits of butter in the dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured cool work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough very gently until it is ¾ inch thick; be careful not to overwork the dough. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut out scones and place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Gather the dough scraps together, reroll, and cut out more scones.

Whisk the remaining egg in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the scones with the egg. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the scones are lightly golden. Transfer the scones to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Source: Sweet by Valerie Gordon

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60MM Macro Lens, F/5.6, 1/20th second, ISO-2500