Saturday, January 19, 2008

Gadgets - Zester

One of my useful gadgets is a zester. My mother told me she loved the cookies that I made for her, the ones having a lingering aroma of citrus. I call my recipe:

Andrew David's Orchestra Cookies: a Zesty Dough

Zest from two tangerines/oranges/lemon (optional)
Cream 2 sticks of butter (I soften it slightly in the microwave if necessary)
Add 1 1/2 cups of sugar and continue creaming the butter and sugar (important step)
Add 3 whole eggs to the mixture
Add 1 tsp vanilla
Add 1/8 cup milk (an alternative is about 2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice + Zest)
Add 3 1/2 - scant 4 cups of flour to make a stiff dough remembering to
Include 2 teaspoons of baking powder in the flour (I use unbleached flour)
Mix and place the dough in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight, be sure the dough is covered so that it does not dry out in the refrigerator.

After refrigeration for at least three hours, I take out some of the dough and hand roll it into one inch balls. I slightly dampen my hands as the dough becomes sticky. I place the one inch cookie dough balls on a cookie sheet (I use the silicone covers on my cookie sheets and nothing sticks to the pans).

As the dough is not overly sweet, one can add jams, nuts or a chocolate kiss to each cookie by pressing the kiss into the round ball or making a thumb print in the cookie ball and filling it with a jam. We like rasberry and apricot preserves in our cookies as the flavors and colors are appealing. One can also press a favorite nut, such as a pecan into the round cookie balls.

The cookie balls will spread out so leave two inches between the cookies and bake for about 15-18 minutes in a preheated 350 F oven until the bottom of the cookie becomes slightly brown. Do not over bake, the cookie will remain very light.

The recipe makes from 80-96 cookies depending upon the size of the small ball one hand rolls. The dough may also be rolled in larger long rolls and cut. The nice thing about this dough is one need not use a rolling pin or cookie cutters.

I usually make one tray with chocolate kisses, one with nuts, one with apricot jam and a tray with rasberry jam. This cookie dough does not crack when a chocolate candy kiss or nut is pressed into the raw cookie dough before baking or if the cookie is indented with a thumb print, something that might appeal to children helping to place their thumb prints in the cookie before adding jam or preserves.
At our house, when we eat a piece of citrus fruit, I wash the peel vigorously and collect the zest before peeling the fruit. I have the zest on hand for baking and find that it replaces the need for salt in many recipes. I am trying to get my 90 year young Mom to gain weight and decrease her need for salting everything by substituting a citrus flavor. She often says "I will eat it if you do, as it is more fun to eat with someone than eating alone". Thus, I gain weight and Mom does not gain a single pound.

The cookies with a chocolate candy kiss in the middle of each cookie, sold at a recent bake sale benefiting my nephew's school orchestra. Next year I will make a tray including all four types of cookies by cutting a long roll of cookie dough into 1/3 inch rounds and including all four cookies on one tray of cookies. One dough recipe makes four unique tasting cookies that also look appealing.

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