Sunday, June 6, 2010

Strawberry Cookies and things to come...

This weekend, we had dinner with some friends of ours which seemed to be the perfect opportunity to bake up something summery. I wanted to do something with fruit, so I thought I would either make a tart or a strawberry-something-or-other (being the very end of their season in these parts). Whenever I make something with fresh fruit I try to go into it without too many specific expectations of what to make or even what fruit to buy. Instead, I head out with an open mind ready to come home with whatever looks and, more importantly, smells the very best as your nose will almost always tell you what fruit is freshest and ripest. When I saw the strawberries at the market and breathed in their heavenly aroma, I knew it was time to give this recipe a try.

I found these cookies in Martha Stewart Living some time ago (June 2009, to be exact). I came back to them several times but put them aside because 1.) good strawberries weren't available at the time 2.) the recipe states they only keep for one day and 3.) I generally bake for other people or events and the time just hadn't come yet. But Saturday the time finally came. They seemed light enough to go with the lasagna, I had strawberries in hand and the recipe makes a relatively small number of cookies which made me less concerned about their short shelf life.

When they came out of the oven, these babies were heavenly. Really, they are just like if you sweetened a shortcake biscuit and swirled the strawberries in. However, I have a few notes. Aside from the berries, nearly everything needed to bake up these cookies is probably in your fridge or pantry and on a personal note they finally gave me an excuse to use my grandmother's pastry blender so that's all very fantastic. However, Martha is not kidding about these cookies only keeping for one day. Although they were absolutely perfect 10-20 minutes from the oven, several hours later when I brought them to dinner they were already getting soggy. There go all of my visions of packing them in a picnic. They really should be consumed immediately, but if you have a cookie-loving maniac in your household like I do that really shouldn't be a problem.

Also, the original recipe said to "sprinkle" the sanding sugar, but that really wasn't adequate. To get that fantastic crunchy, sugary bite I found it was necessary to really pour it on, beyond what one would think is necessary as the cookies do expand and some of the sugar will be absorbed into puddles of liquefied strawberries.

Strawberry-Shortcake Cookies

Originally Published in Martha Stewart Living, June 2009

12 ounces strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup heavy cream
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 7 tablespoons granulated sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or rub in with your fingers, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cream until dough starts to come together, then stir in strawberry mixture.
2. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment, spacing evenly apart. Sprinkle with sanding sugar, and bake until golden brown, 24 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool. Cookies are best served immediately, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day.

Over the next few weeks I'll be preparing to move into a new place which will bring with it new cooking, crafting and gardening adventures! In the meantime, I'll placate my need to create by planning picnics and summer dinners.

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