Saturday, 28 June 2014

Vanilla Butter Cookies (made with cookie press)

My cookbook collection continues to grow and I will admit that it’s starting to reach an embarrassingly large size. You know you have a problem and that an obsession is reaching a point when it’s almost out of control when you feel that you have to hide it from others. I am now at the stage where I sneak newly acquired cookbooks into the house, hoping that no-one will notice that another book has been added to the shelves.
 
In my defence, I rarely buy new cookbooks; instead I scour the internet for cheap second-hand books and have been delighted with many of my purchases, which have been relatively inexpensive to buy. This is just as well really, because I think that I am going to have to seriously consider the possibilities of having an extension to my home built to house them all.
 
If this was my only cookery related obsession, it would probably be tolerable to my nearest and dearest, but unfortunately, I also find it hard to resist buying kitchen gadgets! Now the term ‘gadget’ encompasses a great many things… pasta makers, ice-cream makers, whisks cookie cutters, piping nozzles – the list goes on and on. I justify these purchases by convincing myself that the use of these pieces of equipment will improve my cooking immeasurably, save time and make the food I create look so much more professional. Whilst there is a certain truth in this, the reality is that most of these gadgets and pieces of equipment languish at the back of the kitchen cupboard for most of the time.

One piece of cooking equipment that I was recently seduced by was a cookie press, from which I imagined myself making hundreds of perfectly formed cookies and biscuits at break-neck speed. The reality is that there is a certain knack to producing the cookies, but once you get a feel for it, you will be churning out tasty little shortbread cookies by the dozen. I found that it is better not to use non-stick baking parchment as the cookies don’t stick to the paper when you oppress them out. Greaseproof paper works relatively successful, but I found using reusable silicon mats produced the best results.

These cookies are rather like the Danish butter cookies that are readily available at Christmas. I liked the vanilla flavour of these biscuits, but you could easily ring the changes by using lemon zest or spices instead.

Ingredients:

100g butter, softened
70g icing sugar
150g plain flour
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract/paste
To finish:
Caster sugar for sprinkling
 

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C/Gas Mark 4. Line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper or silicone baking sheets.
2. Place the butter and icing sugar in a mixing bowl and using a hand-held electric mixer, beat together until light and fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together until fully incorporated, to create a soft dough.
3. Spoon the dough into a cookie press (or into a disposable piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle). Following the manufacturer’s instruction, use the cookie press (fitted with the chosen cookie shape attachment) to create individual cookies or pipe out individual cookies using the piping bag.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies. The cookies are ready when they are still pale but tinged a light, golden colour.
5. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with caster sugar. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Makes 40 (approximately).