Unicorn Kisses, Or Adventures In Cookie Baking

To celebrate that the final piece of the Unicorn Kitchen was put into place on Friday morning — only 14 months after the actual work on the project started — we decided to make something special. Something special that could also serve to kick-off a new series that we’re very excited about here at stately IPB Living manor: Cookie of the Month! We’re going to not take the beautiful kitchen for granted and not get stuck in a peanut butter cookie rut by trying out a new cookie recipe every month. Kicking off this project is August’s cookie, Baci di Dama, or Chocolate-Filled Hazelnut Cookies.

These little sandwich cookies had everything a special baking event requires. Fancy ingredients? Check!

New techniques? Check!

Potentially disastrously annoying fussy steps? Check!

FAN-tastic! We couldn’t wait to try them!

Schnookie kicked things of by toasting the hazelnuts. We had directions that said to toast them for 12-14 minutes or until lightly toasted. What exactly constituted “lightly toasted” was a little unclear. Were the nuts going to be slurring their speech? Perhaps they’d knock over a priceless Ming vase when stumbling through the living room. Or maybe they’d make an awkward pass at a co-worker they’d regret in the morning. It was tough to tell, since when we looked in on the oven, they were all just sitting around. Finally when they got fairly aromatic we decided they were done. Schnookie tucked them in between some paper towels and closed them in a sealable plastic baggie to steam. Meanwhile, I decided to get a head start on the rest of the recipe.

While the nuts were cooling I mixed 1 cup of flour, 1/8 of a tsp of salt, and 1/4 tsp of lemon zest in a bowl. Then I read the recipe. Heh. Starting over, I mixed the softened butter, the salt, and the zest, and then filled a cup measure with cake flour. I then saw my hand lifting the measuring cup and moving it towards the bowl. I apparently could not handle the fact that the flour didn’t get mixed in with the salt. Cookie of the Month is a necessary thing for me — I’m obviously brainwashed by Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies! I’m a disaster! Fortunately, I stopped myself and things could proceed.

The nuts were cool at this point, so we each took half of them and placed them in a kitchen towel. I had been assuming that this step would take forever and would involve lots of hazelnuts being thrown violently across the room out of frustration. Turns out, once they’ve been toasted and steamed, hazelnuts are remarkably eager to molt. There were a staggered few that were a tad ornery, but skinning the hazelnuts was considerably easier than it sounds. So into the food processor they went! Once again, the directions were a tad vague. Very nervous about over-working the ingredients, Schnookie veered on the side of caution with the food processor. We were both convinced the mixture would turn to the dreaded paste in the blink of a an eye. So as soon as it looked powdery, we added the mixture to the butter, salt, and zest. (That’s butter, salt, and zest. Pookie.)

The directions said to mix with a wooden spoon or spatula. I went for the old school wooden spoon and waved it around a bit ineffectually. Schnookie, Miss CIA Baking Boot Camp Graduate, stepped in with the spatula and two seconds later the dough was perfectly combined. I tried to console myself with the knowledge that Schnookie hates the process of actually baking cookies, and thus couldn’t banish me completely from the kitchen. We added the flour and it was time to load up the trays. The directions said to make dough balls that were 1/2 tsp big, aka “the size of a marble”. A few moments later it was established someone (it rhymes with “Blnookie”) seems to think marbles are huge. My tray was lined with delicate marble-sized balls, while hers was groaning under the weight of, well, slightly larger-marble-sized balls. There was much bickering over whose would be better.

This bickering was most likely born out of the anticipation that filling the trays with miniature cookies would take forever. Once again, though, we discovered the teaspoons clattering against the empty mixing bowl considerably earlier than we expected. It was time for Miss Never Been To The CIA Except For That Failed Fruit And Vegetable Carving Class to step in to do the baking. The directions said 12-14 minutes or until lightly golden. How eerily familiar. It turned out it was almost as hard to judge when the cookies were done as it was the nuts. Still, after about 10 or 11 minutes, the cookies looked to be lightly brown on the bottoms. They weren’t, however, the adorably puffy cookies in the picture that accompanied the recipe on Epicurious. Rats.

We decided it was either that the nuts weren’t mixed enough or the humidity of New Jersey in August was too much for the dough. Yeah, we’ll go with the latter. After the cookies had thoroughly cooled, it was time for the last step we were both secretly fearing. Filling them with melted chocolate. Schnookie had a recipe ages ago for chocolate-espresso sandwich cookies, filled with ganache. Possibly one of Earth’s tastiest cookies, they were also the single most annoying kitchen experience ever. Filling sandwich cookies sucks, no ifs, ands or buts about it. But this was a celebratory event, so filled cookies it was! I took control of the piping bag, and Schnookie signed up for sandwiching duty. Between the two of us, it took… you guessed it, considerably less time than we were expecting!

It’s a new kitchen miracle! Everything about making these cookies was a blast! But how do they taste, you ask. Delicious! Crisp, crunchy, nutty and sweet, these little cookies pack a huge punch. They taste a little like the most delicious Pepperidge Farm Brussels cookie you’ll ever have.

The recipe suggested serving them with coffee, so out came the coffee grinder, the French press, and the Small World House Blend beans. As delicious as the cookies are on their own, with coffee? They’re phenomenal. Even in their lumpy, misshapen, non-puffy state, these cookies had a perfect ratio of fancy-looking to easy-prep. In short, they were a delightfully different and refreshing way to celebrate the completed kitchen.

Recipe:

3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, any loose skins rubbed off in a kitchen towel, and cooled
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, well softened
1/4 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
3 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened; preferably 70% cacao), chopped

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Grind nuts with confectioners sugar in a food processor until powdery (be careful not to process to a paste).

Beat together butter, zest, salt, and nut mixture in a large bowl with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until creamy, then add flour, stirring until just incorporated (do not overwork).

Roll level 1/2 teaspoons of dough into tiny balls (the size of marbles) and arrange 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until very pale golden, 12 to 14 minutes, then slide parchment with cookies onto a rack to cool completely.

Melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Spoon melted chocolate into a small plastic bag and seal bag, forcing out excess air. Snip off 1 bottom corner of bag with scissors to form a small hole.

Pipe a small mound (about 1/8 teaspoon) of melted chocolate onto flat sides of cookies, then top with matching cookies, pressing flat sides together to help adhere.

Advertisements

26 Comments

Filed under Baked Goods, Celebratory!, Cookie Of The Month, Cookie, Cookie, Cookie Starts With C, Pictures Worth A Thousand Words, Unicorn Kitchen

26 responses to “Unicorn Kisses, Or Adventures In Cookie Baking

  1. Sue

    Oh Great! Thanks. For making me haul out the baking equipment, making a list and heading to the store on this fabulous Sunday because I can not live without these cookies. :-)

  2. hg

    Wow! What an experience! I love Unicorn Kisses! Hada does too. One day, when we get a real house, we will bake. I will make kitty treats for her. ahahahaha

  3. Sue, I’m so glad we could help; it’s one of our express goals in life, to make people haul out the baking equipment, make lists, and head to the store on fabulous Sundays! :D (I hope you enjoy the cookies as much as we did!)

    HG, I love the name Hada! She is just too funny, being a little vacuum cleaner. Our Matsui is like that. I would be all inspired and make kitty treats for her in our fancy kitchen, but she’s happy just to eat whatever falls on the floor. :D

  4. Sue, I hope you enjoy the cookies and have fun making them!

    HG, Hada is a great name! Last night I dreamt you were in a zany Canadian television commercial for a product called “meat ‘n’ ketchup”. I think it’s a sign that Hada is a great name.

  5. hg

    It is amazing. Mr.A brought over some Indian food (I can’t remember what any of it is called except for saag paneer which is like food from spinach heaven) and I had to stand at the counter and eat it while listening the protesting squeaks of young Hada at my feet. Lucky for her I dropped 6 grains of sweet rice on the floor. Well, I don’t even know if they made it to the floor.

    And “meat ‘n’ ketchup” is what I eat every day. It’s about time they are paying me for it. I have a special MnK pot, something like your bean pawt, but this one is, of course, macaroni’d and BeDazzled. I can even start it up with a press of the #3 button my Jitterbug.

  6. hg

    ON my Jitterbug, I mean.

  7. HG, :^:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

  8. I should have guessed that your Jitterbug fires up the MnK pawt. I’m also really glad that you’re finally seeing some payout for being the guru of MnK. I mean, your name is practically synonymous with the stuff!

    That’s SO ADORABLE that Hada is such a little beggar! (Well, it’s adorable since I don’t have her begging from me…) We adopted Matsui as an adult kitty, and the first time I opened a can after she moved in, she came running at the sound of the can opener. I was like, “Aww, you poor little kitty, you used to get canned food at your old house and don’t get any anymore!” And she was chirping and going crazy at my feet, so I was like, “Fine. It’s just beans, but you can have some. See? You don’t like this. This is what we’re eating.” And she was all, “Don’t like it??? Are you crazy???” and snarfed the beans up. Turns out she ADORES beans. All kinds of beans. She loves when we get carry-out from the Chinese/Japanese place in town because edamame is her very favorite food of all. Cats are so weird.

  9. hg

    This year MnK is planning on putting out a line of HGMnK wear that I’m totally stoked about. The jackets especially! They come with a free BeDazzler and have pocket warmers to keep your MnK warm on the go.

    Does Matsui get the toots? Matstootie?

  10. The MnK fashion line really thought of everything! I hate it when my MnK on the go gets cold. I can’t wait for the jacket to come out!

    Matsui is very ladylike and good at digesting beans, thank you very much. :P

  11. You know what I’d love? An MnK muff. For those days when I don’t need a full jacket, but I still want to keep my MnK and my hands warm.

  12. hg

    I’ll pass the muff idea along. Have you thought about the MnK stole that keeps your meal warm when it’s around your shoulders? It has a straw on the inside collar, something akin to those CamelBak drink back packs.

  13. Oh, a stole! Of course! My MnK keeps falling down the back of my shirt and that is so inconvenient!

  14. The stole would solve that problem we all have where our MnK gets cold between muff and mouth. Excellent thinking!

  15. hg

    We originally tried that idea of the hard hat with the beer cans on the side but it didn’t work so well for some reason.

    I hadn’t realized that MnK was so popular south of the border! We’ll have to start up some more international brand recognition and product placement.

  16. Well who DOESN’T love Meat ‘n’ Ketchup? I mean, really? I think it’s about time you went global.

  17. Well, what do American’s like more than meat and ketchup? Marketing Meat ‘n’ Ketchup here only makes sense.

  18. hg

    If someone out there really does invent Meat ‘n’ Ketchup, the three of us will sue. Or at least Pookie will sue and I’ll mourn the loss of my HGMnK fashion line.

    And now for your latest installment of the starvation that Hada must endure – She woke from a dead sleep the second I moved her food dish this evening. I don’t know how she survives with this lack of nourishment.

  19. I’m so glad we have this conversation all time-stamped and everything, so we have proof that we had MnK first.

    That is hilarious about Hada! Of course, she’s all like, “I’m a growing kitty! I need lots of calories!”

  20. AAAH, these are awesome looking! And so tasty and amazing looking!

    I should just start keeping tissues by my computer so that when I read IPB Living, I can easily wipe the drool off my face.

  21. Thanks, Caitlin! These really are some of our more scenic cookies, if I do say so myself. They aren’t my super-duper favorite (I’m very finicky about cookies), but these pictures are making me drool! :D

  22. They aren’t my super-duper favorite (I’m very finicky about cookies),

    As Boomer said, “More for the rest of us!”

  23. They aren’t my super-duper favorite (I’m very finicky about cookies), but these pictures are making me drool! :D

    I’m finicky about cookies (and sweets in general) that way, myself. The pictures are gorgeous though and that chocolate filling looks deeeelicious.

    As Boomer said, “More for the rest of us!”

    So, since your sudden corn-conversion, what Boomer has been missing in corn, she’s making up in cookies, now, eh? ;)

  24. So, since your sudden corn-conversion, what Boomer has been missing in corn, she’s making up in cookies, now, eh? ;)

    Hee! We try to make things balance out. (Last night we had more corn, and Pookie took an actual bowlful. A modest one, but more than a few bites. And Boomer and I were totally grumbling about it, of course, and then she takes one bite and goes, “This is so good! Can I have more?” I don’t understand why I encouraged her to try more veggies this summer.)

  25. I don’t understand why I encouraged her to try more veggies this summer.

    Heh heh heh…

  26. I’m so stupid, falling for your corn-stealing schemes, Pookie!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s