This is still a post about Purim – I made a lot so I’m going to write all about it. On Purim there is a commandment to give gifts of food to others. It is really to help them have a feast, but it has become a whole thing where people do themes and buy containers that match their theme and even dress up to match their theme. I like to do themes, but because I am not the most creative person in the world, nor do I want to spend $15 on each package, I tend to keep it toned down. This year we had one plan and then my father-in-law bought my daughter a flower costume. So we ditched the first idea and went with a new one – “The Garden of Eatin’ ” (Garden of Eden – ring a bell?). I have a hundred cookie cutters, so I figured I might as well use them. We, or really I, wanted to do three cookie flowers and two candy flowers on sticks – cookie pops! (If you want to see really cool cake pops by the specialist see Bakerella’s blog – http://www.bakerella.com/).
I set about gathering the supplies. This meant yet another trip to the supermarket to get yet more flour and margarine – I swear I could keep the flour, sugar, eggs and margarine industries afloat single handedly. We also went to the candy store to look for a fruit roll-up like candy. Because this is Israel, we did not find fruit roll-ups or anything similar, but I did find marshmallow strawberries. I can stick a stick in that. Great.
I went to yet a different store for the wrapping goods, i.e. lollipop sticks, little cellophane bags, twistie ties and ribbon. And we got some decorating sugar to put on top of the cookies – I knew that I was not going to have time to ice them.
Then I put everything aside until Saturday night. I started to make the dough – so far, so good. Creaming margarine – check. Sugar – uh oh. I only had one cup of sugar – I needed two. It was 10:00 at night on a holiday – not a store was open and S. was asleep so I couldn’t leave the house (M. was at a party with anyone I would have borrowed sugar from). What to do? I tore apart my cabinets, hoping against all hope that there was a bag sugar hiding in the back of something somewhere. I was out of luck. I did find 2 1/2 lbs. of Splenda Baking Blend sugar. It is a 50/50 mix of sugar and Splenda and it’s meant to bake better than regular Splenda. I bought it as part of my neverending quest to lose weight, and when I used it the first time, the cake came out rather dense. Now, this also might have been because I used baking powder that had expired (always make sure your baking powder is fresh), but I have been wary of it ever since. So I’m stuck. The only other sugar I found was confectioner’s sugar – I had a lot of that, I probably planned on making frosting at some point and never did. So my brilliant plan (if I do say so myself) was to substitute one cup of confectioner’s sugar and just cut down on the flour a bit. Great, now that’s settled. Cream sugar with margarine, uh oh, it’s starting to look like frosting – this was not in the plan. Okay quick, add the eggs. Because I was using medium eggs instead of large eggs I decided to add extra egg to make up for it – five eggs instead of four. Okay, not bad yet. I mixed everything else in, went really easy on the flour, I figured better that I have to add more flour later when I roll it out than add too much now. All’s well and good. We have a nice soft sugar cookie dough ready to be refrigerated. I let them cool for about two hours while I finished cleaning up the house after the party we had Saturday morning.
When I took the dough out to roll, it was very sticky, so I floured my surface generously and kneaded in the flour until the dough was of the right consistency. I knew that to make these cookies stay on the sticks and not break off they would have to be very thick. As I mentioned earlier, I have trouble rolling things out thickly, they always end up thinner than planned. So this time I was really conscientious. I kept them really thick and very carefully pressed the sticks into the dough before I sprinkled decorating sugar on top. I was a bit worried because these cookies do not rise, they have no leavening agent in them. I forgot about the extra egg, and maybe the confectioner’s sugar. Either way, when I took these cookies out of the oven, they had risen just a tiny bit which actually helped stabilize the stick inside the cookie. It was working!! (As you can see I am still psyched about this.)
Anyway, by 12:30 am, I had about 35 cookies on sticks and most of them were even wrapped in their little bags. I saved the wrapping of the last batch for the morning as I was completely spent. In the morning I finished wrapping them and tied each “bouquet” together. They looked really cool. I sent M. to deliver them, I wanted him to take the baby as well so that she could get out, but the weather was really weird, one minute there is a hailstorm and the next minute it is sunny without a cloud in the sky. We had been having this weather for about three days, so I didn’t want the baby to get caught in anything. But I made hubby carry the bouquets in a basket, haha! One of the cookies broke a tiny bit when I put it on the cooling rack, so baby and I shared it. Let me tell you that everything tastes better when it is on a stick!
And here is my little flower (I can assure you, that hat did not last long on her head – I ended up just putting in little flower ponytail holders in her hair):
2 cups butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
5 medium eggs
2 tbsp. vanilla
2 tsp. salt
5 1/2 cups flour, plus more for rolling out
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat each egg and beat for one minute. Add vanilla. Add the flour and salt and mix only until just combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 170° C. Roll out the dough and cut shapes. I used a butterfly shape, a tulip shape, and regular flower shape and left the dough really thick. It needs to hold the stick firmly. Place the cookies on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Carefully, but firmly press the stick into the cookie (you can use lollipop sticks or chopsticks or anything else that is oven safe). Sprinkle tops with sugar and bake.
Bake for 11 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool on a rack.