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June 10, 2014

Tea Time Tuesday: Cookies Galor

My trusty stovetop with our tea steeping

    +Jenn and I got together for the first time in awhile last Thursday for some fun and baking.  We tried out a tea, baked cookies, and just generally had a great time.  We also tested out my new cookie press.  So today I would like to talk about my new OXO Good Grips Cookie Press, Twinings Ultra Spice Chai, my go to for spritz cookie recipes, and just plain being a geek.  Let's get started!

OXO Good Grips Cookie Press  

    Let's start off with my new toy- I mean cookie press.  I had been using a borrowed press for years and wanted to have my own as I usually make spritz cookies at least once every year.  I had shopped around for some time to find that if I wanted different disks from Wilton I would need to buy three separate presses.  I only need one press and that would land me with several duplicate disks.  Then on a trip to the Wimberley Market days a friend and I stopped in the the town after we were done at the market for food and some more shopping.  We stopped in Kiss the Cook, a wonderful shop I don't get to visit often enough.  It was there that I spotted the press I have now.  They were selling the press with 12 stainless steal disks and displayed next to the set were two smaller boxes with additional disks.  I was elated!  Finally I could just buy more disks to use with my press.  So I picked up the starter set as you could call it.  

    The 12 disks that come with the press are very sturdy feeling.   They have just a little weight to them too.  The press itself came apart so that you could clean it, but not so easily that I am worried it might come apart while I am working with it.  Some of the dough would remain on the sides behind the plunger as the cookies were pressed out.  However it is easy enough to open the it up after you have pressed out the cookies to reclaim this dough.  Most of the shapes came out well.  The butterfly did give us some trouble a few times but I believe this to be a combination of having worked the dough for that run a little too much and the smaller parts of the shape just not having enough weight to release when the press was lifted.  

    Now on to some of the really fun details.  What shapes does this press come with?   It comes with a daisy, a flower, a sunflower, a fleur-de-lis, a butterfly, a bear, a shell, a leaf, a heart, a snowflake, a tree, and a wreath.  I especially loved the different flower options and the teddy bear.  They are so cute.  The tree and the wreath will also come in handy when December rolls around and I make them for friends and co-workers.  What other disk sets are there?  Currently on the +OXO  website are the Springtime Cookie Disk Set, with a varietey of other flowers, a shamrock, and some valentine themed shapes, and the Autumn Cookie Disk Set, with shapes for Autumn, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.  I'd love to see if OXO has more disk sets as time goes by and very likely I will want to collect them all.  

    This is a great press and I had fun showing Jenn how to use it.  It was simple to use and easy to clean.  I was so glad to have her over to help with the baking.  Speaking of baking what was it we made?

Spritz cookies that look like sunflowers.

Spritz Cookies  

    I have been using +Wilton's  Classic Spritz cookie recipe for years.  It works.  It tastes good.  The resulting cookies are great for dipping in tea.  And look at all the shapely possibilities.  Look at the decorating dreams.  Spritz cookies are a wonderland of creativity.  The one down side of this recipe, if you could call it that, is that it yields approximately 7 to 8 dozen cookies.  One, you better have a lot of friends or neighbors who eat cookies.  Two, it takes a while to make them all.   This is the real issue for me.  It gets lonely in the kitchen after a while and sometimes I just like to have someone there to talk with me while I am working.  

    This is one of the reasons I asked Jenn to join me in this baking adventure.  Not to mention life has kept us both very busy lately and we were over due to have some hang out time.  It was also great to have her there with me to come up with ideas for decorating the cookies.  We portioned out some of the dough and dyed it different colors using food coloring.  Not only did we press out pink hearts, mint colored fleur-de-lis, and yellow sunflowers.  We even used the different colored dough to add little details to our creations.  We were making them so I could take some to the picnic the local lolita community was having for international Lolita Day.  As such I opted for a lot of flowers and most definitely several teddy bears.  The bears were one of the shapes we went to town on as far as decorating is concerned.  We used little sugar pearls and dough to add details like pearl necklaces and bows.  For the sake of geekiness and because we could we even made a Doctor Who bear.  We used the pearls to make his bow tie and the pink and yellow dough to make the fez.  He was so cute.  In addition to yellow sunflowers we also made brown eyed susans.    We added the brown centers of these flowers by using chocolate sprinkles.  

   The following day I tried a chocolate version of the recipe.  The flavor of just the unbaked dough was so deep and deliciously chocolate.  In the future I would like to try it with some coffee liquor to see how they come out.  The chocolate dough came out looser than the classic spritz.  But it still made some amazing cookies.  I din't have any of the colored dough left over to experiment with and it was my first time with the recipe so the chocolate ones were not elaborately decorated.  I'd love to use this recipe in the future and experiment with it.  You can find other spritz cookie recipes on Wilton's  site.

Teddy bear spritz cookie with fez and bow tie

Tea Review

    Now here is a question, what were Jenn and I drinking that evening.  I managed to find a box of Twinings Ultra Spice Chai in the clearance at my local grocer.  I snagged it to see if I would like it and then shared it with Jenn.  The first time I brewed it I didn't get very far and ended up tossing the cup.  It had a very strong clove flavor that I did not care for.  However on my second attempt I used a shorter brew time than I usually do with other chai teas.  Four minutes did very well for this tea on the first steep and if you like to get two steeps out of one bag I would suggest 6 to 7 minutes on the second steep.  I also dressed the tea with plenty of sugar and milk.  This cut some of the strong flavor without covering it up completely.  I would definitely buy this tea again in the future.

    Altogether, the cookies were a big hit and I had so much fun finally getting to hang out with Jenn.  There was much goofing around and silliness as there should be.  Have you taken time out to do something new or creative with your friends?

Spritz cookies

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