Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Rosewater Buttercream Cookies

Rosewater Buttercream by Ayala Moriel
Rosewater Buttercream, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
With Valentine's Day around the corner, and the winter greyness in full swing - there is no better timing for something bright and pink and optimistic. Rosewater buttercream, anyone?

This recipe is an improvement on another one that I've tried from Canadian Living Magazine's special baking edition that came out in the fall, especially for the holiday season 2012. I love getting those special edition magazines: some of the recipes there I swear by and they have surprisingly original combinations, and are usually quite well-tested. This was an exception - whilte the buttercream frosting and the technique was fantastic; I was not at all happy with the dough. Contrasted with the soft, yielding texture of the buttercream filling - the dough must have a more flaky, absorbent consistency. Otherwise every bite will squish out the frosting before you can even get through the (rather thin, I must add) double cookie layers.

So I went off and decided to give you a tried and true cookie recipe instead, which I am sure will produce finer results: it's a classic pâte sucrée recipe, taken from Dorie Greenspan's wonderful Paris Sweets. The reason I'm telling you all this is not just because I want to give due credit to the origins of my new recipe; but also to let you in my recipe baking process. I often get complemented about my "creativity" in baking; where in fact - all I do is amalgamate components that I like from different recipes in my repertoire. It's true that I stop at nothing when it comes to flavour combinations, and these can be rather daring. But as far as consistencies go, the science of baking is something I consider myself to be a complete novice at. I keep making mistakes, learning from them, and keep trying adventurous new recipes to understand who all of this works. So don't be afraid of experimenting in the oven - baking, just like cooking - can be creative and rewarding. And once you come up with your own flavour, it's already your recipe, really. You own it - and best of all: you can share the treats with friends, family and colleagues. And that's more than half of the fun.  

Hot Hearts
For the rose-almond cookie dough:
1-1/4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup (50gr) ground blanched almonds
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 drops rose absolute (optional)
1-3/4 cups unbleached white wheat flour
2 Tbs rosewater, for brushing the cut cookies1/2 cup Coarse sugar, for decorating

- In a food processor or standup mixer, beat the butter, salt and sugar together until smooth and creamy.
- Beat in the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, and rose absolute (if using).
- Add the blanched almonds. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary.
- Add the flour and continue beating/blending just until the dough forms moist-looking chunks and can form a ball. Avoid overworking this dough as it will affect the crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth texture!
- Divide the dough into 2 balls, and roll each into a flat disk.
- Cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 2 days.
- When ready cut and bake the cookies, roll each disk into 5mm/1/4", between 2 layers of wax paper.
- Chill the dough for 10-20 minutes if it has become too soft and difficult to work with.
- Use heart shaped cookie cutters if you got them, a fluted round (as used for Linzer cookies), or any shape you like. Dip the cutter into flour to avoid the cut cookies from sticking to it.
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Refrigerate the cut cookies for 20 minutes.
- Brush (or spray) half of the cookies with rosewater, sprinkle with coarse sugar.  The other remaining half should be left alone as they are - they will be the base or bottom of the sandwiched cookies once you assemble them.
- Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, just until the edges are slightly golden.
- Place on a wired rack to dry.

Rosewater Buttercream
For the Rosewater Butter Cream Filling:
1/3cup unsalted butter, softened

2 cups icing sugar
Pinch of salt (use Hawaiian Red or Pink Himalayan salt if you want to be really fussy!)
2 Tbs whipping cream
2 Tbs rosewater
2-4 drops of red food colouring (optional)

- Beat the butter, salt and icing sugar until completely combined.
- Stir in the whipping cream and rosewater, one tablespoon at a time, beating thoroughly between additions.
- Add the red colour and blend till it is evenly distributed and the frosting is tinted a light cheerful pink!

To assemble:
Pipe the butter cream frosting on the cookies that do not have the sugar decoration. You may use a spoon or a butter knife if you don't have a piping bag/syringe: you will need about 1 teaspoon per cookie - place filling in the centre of the cookie, and press the sugared cookie on top so that the filling reaches the sides of the sandwich.

Store in an airtight container until serving. You may store them in the fridge for up to 5 days. Just remember to bring them to room temperature before serving, for the best texture and flavour.

And - voila!
Your rosewater buttercream cookies are ready to enjoy!

Rosewater Buttercream Cookies

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