Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is upon us, the season of joy, love, hope and much more. Christmas is also a season food lovers hold close to their hearts and it's not difficult to know why.

As a gift for all my readers, I made a batch of decorated cookies featuring themes and motifs that are inspired by this occasion. 

I hope this pictures inspire you, as the magnificient Amber Spiegel from sweetambs inspired me, to make an extra effort and decorate some cookies to give as gifts to your family and friends.

Have a very Merry Christmas and an extra great start of the new year 2014.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Maple and spicy fall cookies!

I´m the type of person who can enjoy every season with all that it has to offer, but autumn has always been closer to my heart. The colors of trees as they change from bright green to fiery red, the smell of earth after the first rain, the cool weather announcing the bitter cold to come, and the memories, the wonderful childhood memories: the harvest in my village, the fragrant smell of pine trees that fills the air after the first rain (trees that have been clear-cut unfortunately) and so much more.

I like to wander off in the lovely parks of Madrid during this time of year and recharge my soul with all the lovely colors, sights and smells. It also gives me time to reflect and ponder as well as start thinking about my next recipe. For some reason, some ingredients evoke more autumn than others, especially aromatic spices, although I use them all year long but somehow they smell and taste better in autumn.
The beautiful autumn color in The Retiro Park of Madrid
Cloves are one of my favorite spices. I still remember the wonderful smell that would come out from window kitchens in my village  by the end of September after they harvest figs and make the best fig jam you could ever taste, using cloves to elevate their flavor from excellent to heavenly.

So to honor all the things I love about autumn, which is about to give away to winter, I thought of this cookie recipe, it´s the regular sugar cookie recipe but with some slight changes. I worked on the design to complement the theme autumn theme as I got inspired by the work of Amber Speigel.

For the cookies you need (I made half of the recipe yielding around 14 cookies ):
  • 400 g flour
  • 200 g soft butter
  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • 90 g powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grounded cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground cloves
  • 1/4 freshly ground star anise
  • 20 g maple syrup
  • dash of salt

First, cream sugar and butter using and electric mixer. Mix the egg and the maple syrup and incorporate into the butter and sugar mix. Combine the two mixes well. Now you will add all the dry ingredients and mix till they come together making sure you not to over-mix otherwise you will have hard cookies.

Bring the dough together on your working surface, wrap it in plastic and leave it in the fridge for at least one hour. Now roll the dough into 1/2 cm thickness and put it again in the fridge again for an additional  hour.
Take the dough out of the fridge and cut it using your favorite cookie dough cutter. In order for the cookies not to lose their beautiful cut shape as they bake, you have to chill them again for an hour in the fridge or 1/2 hour in the freezer.

Remove the cookies from the cold and put them in a preheated oven at 180C. The baking time will  will depend on the cookie size and how cold they are! Take a peek at the cookies, and when cooked they should look dry and have a slight coloration. The cookies I made took about 10´.

If you decided to decorate the cookies as I did, click here, Amber has one of the best cookie tutorials, I´m learning a lot from her! 

When I decorated the cookies I also scented my royal icing with the same spices I used in the cookie dough and trust me the result won't disappoint you.