Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Great Day for Blue States!

If you'll pardon my non-culinary rant--a blue herring if you will--YYYYIIIPPPPEEEEE! It's a great day in America! Not only did the Dems take back the House, we may also still get the Senate by Christmas. ;-) Plus, we will have the very first female Speaker of the House, the first Muslim was just elected to Congress, we now have the majority of governorships, and Rumsfeld is quitting to boot? It's like my lungs are filled with fresh air for the first time in 12 years! WHOO-HOO! I was at my friends' house watching returns until after 1:00am last night. At first, there was some tension and much cursing from the brilliant political scientist in our midst, but soon, we were busting out the bubbly--literally! This was quite a change from the same party two years ago when a pall settled over the crowd early on, crickets began to chirp, and then quietly, people began to head home and take to their beds to curl up into a fetal position and cry, moaning, "Not again! Not again!" Personally, I think it was my cookies that pushed the tipping point this time. (Let Colbert have his Red State cake--harumph!) Ok, thank you for indulging me. Now back to our regularly-scheduled baking program...

There has been much to-do of late about whole grains. A big part of it is the repercussions from all the low-carb diets, I'm sure. (What the the h#ll IS whole-grain WHITE bread, anyway? Does anyone know? It makes me uncomfortable like irradiated beef and other genetically-modified foods do.) Another factor may be the publication of King Arthur Flour's new whole-grain baking book that all the blogging bakers are on about. Not that I have it, yet, mind you. I usually wait to find books on half.com--I'm just that cheap! But in the spirit of incorporating some whole grains into my repertoire, I decided to convert my favorite sugar cookie recipe to include some whole-wheat graham flour. In my mind, I pictured the cookies coming out like a fancy graham cracker or those wonderful British "digestive biscuits." Well, they weren't quite that graham-y, but it did give the resulting cookies a great toothsomeness and a lovely, nutty flavor. Furthermore, I think the graham flour made the dough sturdier, and it was a little easier to roll out and cut, and the cookies also held their shape better. Then for the icing, I thought an infusion of maple syrup would be a perfect complement. Sure enough, they turned out GREAT! And most of them disappeared at last night's election returns event. So here ya go, and feel free to color your icing any way you like. After all, this is America!

Graham Cut-Outs with Maple Icing
(Source: adapted from Gale Gand's basic sugar cookie recipe)

3/4 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (I like butter-flavored Crisco)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat graham flour (next time, I might go with 2 cups AP and 1 1/2 cups graham flour--but I wanted to err on the side of caution for my first attempt)

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the sugar, butter and shortening until fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, baking powder and salt and mix. Add the flours and mix just until combined. Shape the dough into a large flat disk, kneading briefly if necessary to bring the dough together. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill 1 to 2 hours.

On a lightly-floured surface, roll out the dough 1/4-inch thick. Cut with your favorite shape of cookie cutter. Place on a Silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until the edges of the cookies start to turn golden brown, about 10-12 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before glazing with the icing below.

Maple Icing:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons whole milk or half-n-half

Whisk the ingredients together. If you need to, add more milk until it reaches the desired consistency. (You really want this a bit runny. It will set as it dries.) You may also add food coloring to this icing. I find it easiest to put the icing in a plastic squeeze bottle, then outline the shape of the cookies first, and fill in with additional icing. Use a small offset spatula to evenly spread the glaze over the cookie, add sprinkles if you like, and then set aside to dry completely before stacking or packing.

1 comment:

winnie said...

These cookies are so cute and how appropriate (yay for the Dems!). Plus they sound good. I'm going to have to remember these for future political gatherings.