I hope everyone has a happy Easter! For this holiday I made a bunch of song bird egg cookies using SweetAmb’s orange vanilla spice cookie recipe, which tastes SO good; I don’t think I’ll ever go back to making regular sugar cookies. For the icing, I followed this recipe with the help of these instructions for the right consistency. As for the icing coloring, I used Americolor gels and a mixture of the gels with almond extract for the speckling.
Ever since Josh’s grandma gave us some speculaas to go with our tea one afternoon, I’ve been hooked on them. These are the ones I first tried and that’s what I’m used to in terms of flavor. So when I tried making my own batch of speculaas with an old Dutch recipe, both Josh and I weren’t keen on how it tasted. The blend of spices made it taste almost like eggnog, but not in a way that we enjoyed.
I stumbled on this recipe from House on a Hill that I adjusted a bit and ended up loving. It tastes similar to the store-bought speculaas, but we like it even more since the cookies turned out nice and crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Below is the recipe I used:
- 3/4 cup softened butter, unsalted
- 2 cups brown sugar (spooned, not packed)
- 1 egg
- 1 cup ground almonds (I grounded blanched skinless almonds)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, cloves, and ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon each of cardamom and allspice
- 2 teaspoons cocoa
- grated rind of one lemon
- 3 cups flour (Plus a 1/2 cup extra for dusting your mold)
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
Mix your spices together in a small bowl and set to the side. (The cinnamon, salt, cloves, ginger, cardamom, allspice, and cocoa)
In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer using the flat beater attachment. Add the egg followed by the grated lemon rind, ground almonds, and spice mixture. When everything is nicely combined, slowly add in the flour. Lastly, pour in 1-3 tablespoons of milk little by little. When your dough is able to be packed into a ball without crumbling, that’s enough milk (I used about 2 tablespoons).
*In the original recipe it tells you to refrigerate the dough for 30-60 minutes to prevent any sticking to the mold. I put my dough in the fridge for 1 hour, but found that it still stuck to the inside of the flour-dusted mold. I ended up working flour into the dough by hand until it was dry enough (but not crumbly) to use the molds without sticking. Next time I’ll just skip the pre-refrigeration step.
Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Make sure you dust the mold with flour and tap out any excess before placing your dough inside it. Form your dough into little clumps, make sure there are no cracks or seams on the side that will go into the mold or these might show after baking (You can see this happened to some of my fish below). Push the dough firmly into the mold, I used a rolling pin to help pack it in. Trim away the excess dough with a knife flat against the mold using a saw-like motion. If you’ve got a dry enough dough, it should come out of the mold with some hard taps against your table. Place your formed dough into the freezer for around 10 minutes (or fridge for 15-20 minutes) before putting them into the oven, this will help the cookies keep their detail. After they’ve been chilled, place your dough in the oven for 12 minutes.
*For dough using the leaf mold, I placed it in at 400ºF for 15 minutes since it was a much larger/thicker cookie. Bake similar-sized cookies at the same time.
I’m really happy with how these speculaas cookies turned out; they did a great job retaining their detail and tasted great. Now I’m a little obsessed with finding beautiful wooden molds! The above are vintage ones purchased on etsy. The leaf is actually a kashigata mold for Japanese sugar cakes, but it still worked really well with these cookies. You can also find a lot of wonderful cookie molds at this store.
I’d been wanting to use my new cat cutter, so I made some green sugar cookies with them for St. Patrick’s Day and for Josh to bring to work. I realize the green eyes and cookies are the only reason they’re remotely related to this holiday, but I just wanted an excuse to make a bunch of cat faces!
I followed this sugar cookie recipe, except I used whole wheat flour and added some green food coloring. For the icing, I used this recipe with the help of these instructions to get the right consistency. All the food coloring I used are AmeriColor gels.
Here’s one with a gooey eye that didn’t make the final cut to Josh’s workplace…
And here’s a cutie Josh decorated!
Josh’s friend made a special request for some edible cookie cups like these ones by Dominique Ansel Bakery. Naively, I thought it’d be fun, so I decided to give it a try. I used a speculaas cookie recipe since they tend to hold their shape quite well throughout baking. Then I tried making the cups by putting dough on the inside of a large muffin pan and also by putting dough on the exterior of a smaller muffin pan. Sadly, both methods didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped.
I ended up with gross looking cookie butt holes and sad little hats. The hats could have been salvaged, I could have trimmed away the rims, but at this point I tasted the cookies and I didn’t even like their flavor. Being stubborn, I tried again the next day with regular chocolate chip cookie dough, but I refrigerated the dough in the muffin pan before placing it in the oven. That still didn’t turn out, and it was a sloppy mess.
If you want to see a much more successful try at making cookie cups, Wesley from Wicked Glitch cleverly used a silicone mold meant for ice (but is also safe for the oven) that allowed him to make really nice cookie shot glasses.
Even though I wasted a chunk of my Saturday and Sunday, there was one good thing that came of all this failed baking: getting these photos of our cat, Wheatley, wearing a sad little cookie hat.