Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Lemon Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies - aka "Strictly Ladies Luncheon"

Long about 7.375 lifetimes ago, I used to cater with two lovely ladies.  We called ourselves "La Faire Complet" and we made things like Cream Puff Swans and Chocolate Covered Cherry Christmas Trees.  It was a lot of work and a lot of fun but it didn't exactly make any of us a lot of money.  But that's ok.

One of these fine ladies was married to a fine gentleman who blessed her with six children - 5 girls and 1 boy.  He coined the phrase that some foods were "strictly ladies luncheon".  La Faire Complet often served things that were "strictly ladies luncheon" in this man's mind.  She would talk with him about the quiche we would be serving or the chicken salad on croissants, and he would look at her and say in that lovingly intended, Southern Baptist husband way, "That is strictly ladies luncheon."

You know what I mean.  Men will eat it, but you can tell that they are looking across the table wondering...."Where's the beef?"

In the case of these cookies, the question becomes, "Where's the chocolate chip cookies?"  Or "Where's the brownies?"  Or "Where's the apple pie?"  Know what I mean?

Which is NOT to say that these aren't good cookies!  They are!  They are just more of a spring "chick" cookie.  They're not a "guy" cookie.  They are rather light and lemony and tangy from the lemon and raspberry - not too sweet, perfect with a cuppa tea or a mint julep on a sunny spring afternoon.

I found the recipe on King Arthur's website.  It is a very easy butter cookie - almost a shortbread and with no leavening.  I embellished them at the end, because when I tasted a sample where the recipe left off, I was slightly disappointed.  They just weren't quite THERE yet.  But once I added a couple of drizzles and a garnish, then they were THERE!

Here is the recipe:

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 T. grated lemon peel or 1/4 teaspoon lemon oil (I used both)
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
1 egg
2-3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
1 - 2 oz white chocolate (my addition)
1/2 cup lemon icing or glaze (my addition)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl beat the butter, sugar, lemon flavorings, vanilla and salt until very light.  Beat in the egg and then add the flour until well blended.

Using a cookie scoop, drop onto cookie sheets leaving about 2" between each.  Then using your thumb, put an impression into the center of each one.   (Like the ones on the left.  The ones on the right are patiently waiting for me to imprint them!)

Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes and remove from the oven.  Let the cookies cool about 5 minutes to firm up and then remove to a rack to finish cooling.

Once the cookies are cool, fill the indentation with a dab of raspberry jam.

And this is where the KAF recipe ended.

I don't have any examples of that end, because I just wasn't pleased with those.  So I did a couple of different things.

First, before baking the rest of the dough, I tried adding a small dab of blackberry filling (I could have used blackberry jam) and a blueberry like this.

I liked how these turned out, but they still needed an additional garnishment, too.

On the raspberry ones, I added a half a raspberry to brighten the raspberry flavor and then drizzled all of the cookies with a bit of melted white chocolate and lemon icing, each in a separate pastry bag.  
The pic above shows the cookies in a variety of stages of completion - one that I had almost finished taste testing (my favorite one above!), one with the raspberry jam and the half raspberry on top, one with the blackberry/blueberry idea, one with only lemon icing, and one with both the lemon and the white chocolate.

I let the drizzles harden and then stacked them on a platter.  And let me tell you!  For chicks out there, these are pretty and pretty tasty!  Ready to serve with your next ladies luncheon!

Happy Ladies Luncheon!!!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Strawberry Fields Forever

Wouldn't that really be wonderful?!   Strawberry season is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than with a strawberry pie?

One way to make it better.  Make it to share with a grandson!  This pie had K-man's name all over it!

It's the America's Test Kitchen recipe with a couple of minor tweaks that I like to add.  I thought I'd share the recipe with you - cause it's easy and tasty and springy and strawberry-ey!

Strawberry Pie
(America’s Test Kitchen)

3lbs strawberries, hulled (9 cups) – See my note re: frozen
¾ cup sugar
2 T. cornstarch
1-1/2 t. Sure-Jell for low-sugar recipes (Pink box)
Pinch salt
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. butter (my addition)
Splash of vanilla (my addition)
Splash of maple syrup (my addition)
2 drops orange oil (my addition - optional, but adds a lovely citrus note!)

Baked pie crust (may coat with melted white chocolate if pie needs to sit for a while after done)
Sweetened whipped cream

Select 6oz of the unattractive berries – about 1-1/2 cups.  Note:  I used the same amount of frozen berries but added about 2 – 4 T of moisture (water, juice, honey, sugar, etc) since the frozen ones may not release their juice immediately.  Process the berries in a food processor to a smooth puree, 20 to 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed (you should have about ¾ cup puree).  (Tasting the puree made with frozen berries will make you think of sorbet!) 

Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, Sure-Jell and salt together in a medium saucepan.  Stir in the berry puree, making sure to scrape the corners of the pan. 
Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil.  Boil, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan to prevent scorching, for 2 minutes to ensure that the cornstarch is fully cooked (the mixture will appear frothy when it first comes to a boil, then will darken and thicken with further cooking). 
Transfer the glaze to a large bowl and stir in the lemon juice, butter and other flavorings; let cool to room temperature.  (May refrigerate overnight, but return to room temperature for next step.)

Pick over the remaining berries and measure out 2 pounds for the most attractive ones; halve only any extra-large berries.  Pour the glaze over the berries and toss to coat evenly.  Scoop the berries into the baked pie crust, piling into a mound and arranging so that holes are filled and mound is attractive. 
 Except wait.  See that one berry with the cut side out?  That isn't attractive.  We need to fix that.  

There.  That's better.  See the difference?  It makes all the difference in the world, don't ya know?  And it makes the whole pie taste sooooooo much better, too!

Refrigerate at least 2 hours. 

Garnish and serve with sweetened whipped cream.  And share with someone you love!

Happy Strawberry Fields Forever!