Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Butter cookies


Last week, I bought some piping bags to make butter cookies. I have been looking forward to making these piped butter cookies for a long time. I have always adored cookies. As children, we loved cookies so much so that we refused to eat proper breakfasts and would instead feast on cookies first thing in the morning. Though we have outgrown that habit, I still have a soft corner for cookies. So while baking these I wanted to recreate a childhood favourite, assorted cookies. I love the idea of assorted cookies and therefore went ahead making cookies with different flavours using the same cookie dough.

This is Betty Saw's uncomplicated piped butter cookie recipe from her book Cookies Galore. I have twisted the recipe from thereon by adding various flavours. The flavours that I used were ginger, coconut, nuts & nougat and vanilla. I wanted to get really well-defined flavours - so if it is coconut, I want it to taste coconut. Even though it was time-consuming, it was a lot of fun making them and most importantly, they were completely worth it. This is my first time piping out cookies, and I made sure to experiment as much as possible. It was like being a child again. I can guarantee that these butter cookies will fetch you accolades from all corners. :)


Ingredients:
270 g all-purpose flour
240 g unsalted butter
100 g icing sugar/confectionar's sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla sugar/vanillin sugar
1 inch fresh ginger
1/3 cup desiccated coconut flakes
3 tbs chopped almonds (or hazelnuts)
25-30 g melted nougat (or chocolate)

Method:
Cut the butter into smaller cubes and place in a cold bowl. Sift the icing sugar into the bowl with the butter and whisk until well-blended. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt and baking powder. Sift the flour into the butter mixture. Whisk until well blended. Pat together the dough with your hands. Divide the cookie dough into 4 equal parts. If you live in a country with a humid climate, I'd advise you to wrap up the dough in a plastic sheet and place the parts, except the one you are working with, back in the fridge. If the butter melts too much, the cookies wont hold up their shapes much when baking.

Vaa-Nila
To make the vanilla-flavoured cookies, you need a vanilla bean or vanilla bean paste or vanillin sugar. Take one part of the divided cookie dough. Add the vanilla bean paste and knead it until well-blended in the dough. Place parchment paper on an oven sheet. Fix the pipe to the piping bag. Add the cookie dough in the bag and squeeze out in any shape, you desire. You can either pipe out the cookies (which is the best option) or use a cookie cutter to shape the cookies. This was the only cookie I did not pipe out because when I was wondering what shape to give the vanilla-flavoured cookies, I came to think of this famous rhyme in Tamil "Nila, Nila odi vaa", because of the name vanilla (Va-Nila). Vaa means come and Nila means moon in Tamil. Typically, mothers sing this rhyme to entertain their babies when they feed their children rice at night when the moon is visible.

So I wanted to give the vanilla-flavoured cookies, the shape of Nila. I tried my best to carve it out, though I have no cookie cutters in that shape. Since the butter proportion is high in butter cookies, they tend to deflate and get flat, and at the same time they expand because of the baking powder, so the shape didn't turn out good appearance-wise. Oh, well. At least I tried. :)

Before baking them, you could put them in the fridge for 10 minutes or so (before baking them), if they are too soft (which means the butter has softened too much), because there is a risk that the cookies wont hold their shapes while baking. Bake the cookies in the middle rack of a pre-heated oven at 180 C (360 F) degrees until nice golden colour around the edges. Take the cookies out and let them cool on a wire rack with the parchment paper. When you take them out from the oven, they will still be soft and they will get crispy after cooling down.

Cigar
To make this nut-filled cookie, roughly chop 3 tablespoons of almonds or hazelnuts. Knead in the chopped nuts until well-blended with one of the remaining 3 cookie doughs. Place parchment paper on an oven sheet. Fix the pipe to the piping bag. Add the cookie dough in the bag and squeeze out in any shape you desire.

Bake the cookies in the middle rack of a pre-heated oven at 180 C (360 F) degrees until nice golden colour around the edges. Take the cookies out and let them cool on a wire rack with the parchment paper. When you take them out from the oven, they will still be soft and they will get crisp after cooling down. After cooling down. Melt the nougat in a small heat-proof bowl in the microwave. Take the cookies and dip them, one by one, on only one side and place them back on the parchment paper and allow to stiffen.

The inspiration for this cookie is my most favourite character, the detective Hercule Poirot. If you are familiar with this character, you know that Poirot is an epicurean who is attracted to all the finer things in life. The cigar is made of finely chopped nuts, I used almonds, and then dipped in nougat, to symbolize his exquisite tastes.

Plain Jane
Chop off an inch of fresh ginger root. Peel it and cut the ginger finely and then grind into a fine paste with a mortar and pestle. Squeeze out some of the water from the ginger, otherwise the short-bread like cookie dough will become messy and sticky because of the additional water. Now, take one of the remaining 2 cookie doughs and place it in a bowl and knead the ginger into the cookie dough. Place parchment paper on an oven sheet. Fix the pipe to the piping bag. Add the cookie dough in the bag and squeeze out in any shape you desire. Bake the cookies in the middle rack of a pre-heated oven at 180 C (360 F) degrees until nice golden colour around the edges. Take the cookies out and let them cool on a wire rack with the parchment paper.

I chose to call these ginger-flavoured cookies Plain Jane. It is a tribute to the character Jane from my favourite book Jane Eyre, whose life is full of sadness and misery. The ginger was added to symbolize the "sting".

Coconut Delight
To make the coconut-flavoured cookies, measure up 1/3 cup desiccated coconut flakes. In a dry grinder (food processor), grind the flakes until fairly powdered. In a bowl, take the last and remaining part of the divided cookie dough. Add the coconut flakes and knead it until the flakes are well-blended in the dough. Place parchment paper on an oven sheet. Fix the pipe to the piping bag. Add the cookie dough in the bag and squeeze out the cookies in any shape you desire.

Bake the cookies in the middle rack of a pre-heated oven at 180 C (360 F) degrees until nice golden colour around the edges. Take the cookies out and let them cool on a wire rack with the parchment paper. When you take them out from the oven, they will still be soft and they will get reasonably crunchy after cooling down.

I love coconut so the fourth cookie had to be coconut-flavoured and I named it Coconut Delight. It's a delight to anyone who loves coconuts.

27 comments:

Kanan said...

hey different shapes are looking so nice. I like chocolate dipped cookie.

Anzz said...

The cookies look so lovely, especially the chocolate kissed ones.! Wish you were in the neighborhood. Would have raided your cookie tin today .. :)

My event- Valentines Day Special

Mahi said...

Nice cookies..all of them looks cute! The story behind the Vaa-Nila cookie is sweet! ;)

hmm..I wish I could munch at least one in all the cookies! :P :P :O

sangee vijay said...

wonderfully baked butter cookies,looks perfect..seems you have used pastry bags n pipes to make these butter cookies,lovely shaped...looks too tempting!!
Spicy Treats
OnGoing Event:Show Me Your HITS~Healthy Delights

anne said...

These looks really pretty ! Love the beautifully piped shape so as the different flavor that you've added ;)Lovely presentation and awesome photos , too !

Lizzy said...

Oh, these are gorgeous!!! You did a fabulous job with the piping...and your flavors sound wonderful!

kitchen flavours said...

Your cookies looks buttery and delicious! I love butter cookies with a cup of black coffee!
Have a lovely day!

Rathai said...

Thank you all for the wonderful comments. Anytime for you guys... :)

Ramya said...

awesome and very cute shaped cookies..

easyfoodsmith said...

The cookies look like a pro's work!! They look great and so irresistible. I love the additions that you have made. Awesome post dear! Well done!

Kalyan said...

Just mouth-watering...butter cookies are one of my favs anytime....looks delicious!

Lavanya Selvaraj said...

Looks very yummy. First time here and you have a wonderful space.

-Lavanya.
My Recent Post: Mutta / Egg Paniyaram

Only fish recipes said...

Wow...perfectly made butter cookies....looks awesome dear...loved ur clicks :-)

maha said...

hey.....very different shapes and looking so nice. I like chocolate dipped cookie.nice cliks..........

SweetKaramKapi said...

wow very nice recipe! love if you could send the cookies to home! :)
Thanks for linking to my event!

Rathai said...

Thank you all for visiting and leaving your sweet notes. Your comments make my day. :)

Maha and Lavanya, thank you and welcome guys. :)

Tina said...

I was just looking at some of these in a cookbook! It has been ages since I have made any piped cookies, so this does inspire. Your cookies here not only look delicious, but they have a very professional appearance! You do have some talent for making them. Enjoy the weekend.

Reva said...

Butter cookies looks awesome... I love the last pic, something about the whole tin being filled with cookies makes me feel like a kid and want to gobble up everything..:))
Very nicely made Rathai..:))
Loved it..
Reva

Asian-spice mix said...

I love butter cookies,,,,Looks and sound Yummy with my hot tea right now :)
Ridwan

Vardhini said...

Gorgeous clicks and tempting cookies. Thx for linking to the event.

Vardhini
Event: Sweet Luv
Event: Strawberries

Deeps @ Naughty Curry said...

wow! love the shapes, looks absolutely fabulous!

Balvinder Ubi said...

I love these crispy cookies.

Amy said...

wow!!Perfect!!Looks so delicious...
Thanks for sharing with Midweek Fiesta...

Aimee - ItsOverflowing.com said...

Delicious!!! Oh my goodness...looks so GREAT! Thanks for sharing at Overflowing with Creativity! I can't wait to see what you link up at my party tomorrow! I LOVE following you...you're so inspiring!

XO, Aimee

Srivalli said...

Those are some awesome collection of cookies..:)..I am sure my kids will love these..thanks for sharing..

Rathai said...

Srivalli,

Thank you and trust me, your kids will love these. ;)

Thank you, one and all, for your encouraging comments.

Kurryleaves said...

perfect looking cookies...lovely...
absolutely love the clicks..