Monday, February 28, 2011
Black and white (swan!) cookies
Happy Monday after the Oscars! Did you watch? I certainly did, planted on one very comfortable couch at a friend's apartment for her third annual Academy Awards party... and we had a blast! I went 14/21 with my award predictions, tying for first place in our poll. I thought hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco did a pretty good job for their first time. Both were clearly nervous but charming enough to entertain. I think this is the most I've laughed during an Oscars broadcast, at least in recent memory. But I think that Kirk Douglas stole the show when he presented. And I'm so happy that Inception won a few awards, albeit minor ones (sound, effects, etc.). Do you agree with who/what took home the Academy Awards?
So, the real question the morning after the big red carpet is this: who was your best and worst dressed actor/actress? My favorite was Mila Kunis. She looked absolutely breathtaking in pale purple lace!
And the worst-dressed? That distinction goes to not one, but two unfortunate recipients: Jennifer Hudson and Scar-Jo. Just...so...bad. The colors. The hair. I honestly can't find one thing about either ensemble that I liked. Sorry, ladies! Better luck next year.
While we watched, talked, and judged Hollywood's finest from head to toe, we did the exact opposite of what they've done for the past two months -- feasted!
We helped ourselves to platefuls of sweet and savory morsels from a film-themed buffet. (So I don't make this post even longer, I'll show you the rest of the spread, including a few quick appetizer recipes, tomorrow.) The first themed treat that I thought of when the list of nominees was announced -- black and white cookies for Black Swan. This was definitely the most obvious choice, but these tender cookies are bakery favorites especially in New York for a reason. What makes them really unique is the addition of lemon juice to the icings, giving the super sweet dual toppings a slightly tangy flavor. They were really fun and hands-on to make, and put me in a particularly artsy mood.
Exhibit A: Jaunty-angled photo of my beloved mixer.
Exhibit B. These cookies are feeling reflective.
The cookies were both eye-catching and lip-smacking good! The extra work that went into icing the cookies and making sure the borders were juuuuuuuuuuust right (good job for a perfectionist, no?) was totally worth it when I saw how they stood out on the buffet... and how much everyone enjoyed them. More on the food tomorrow. Until then, pass the time by whipping up a batch of these :)
A few notes: Resist the temptation to make the icing too thin. It should be relatively thick, or else you'll get serious drippage after coating the cookies. Sure, they'll taste just as good, but if you're going for aesthetics, they won't look quite as nice.
Black and White Cookies
(Adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)
-makes 17-18 cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks ( 10 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup + 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream
Black and white icings, recipe follows
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, shortening, and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add whole eggs and egg yolk, one at a time; beat until combined after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the cream. Beat until just combined (do not overmix).
Use a 1/4 cup measure (I coated the cup with nonstick spray for easy release) to scoop dough 3 inches apart onto prepared sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until the edges just begin to turn golden and the centers are cakey and tender, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer parchment and cookies to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove cookies from parchment and let cool completely.
On the flat side (bottom) of each cookie, use a small offset spatula to spread chocolate icing over one half of the cookie, creating a line straight down the center. Spread white frosting on the other half. Set cookies aside until icing is set, about 1 hour. Store in covered container at room temperature, between sheets of parchment paper, for up to a week.
Black and White Icings
-makes enough for 18 cookies
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
Whisk sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1 Tablespoon water in a bowl until smooth. Add more water, if needed, until mixture is slightly thicker than honey. Set aside half of the sugar mixture for the white icing. Stir cocoa into remaining sugar mixture to combine for the black icing; thin with water if needed. Use immediately.