It’s been a busy baking week for me. From making my first layer cake to my first loaf of bread, I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen. Over the past weekend, I made one of the most challenging things to bake.
Being a book nerd, I picked up a literary cookbook from Barnes & Noble and learned how to make London Fog Mystery Cookies. The final product is a rather tall shortbread cookie filled with candies. The first step of course is to make the dough. This is a simple mix of wet and dry ingredients using an electric mixer to save you time and energy for this all-day baking project. Once the dough is fully mixed, it needs to be divided into two balls and flattened to 4-inch disks. Then it chills in the fridge for an hour, while you chill on your baking break. When you pull the dough out of the fridge, the objective is to get ten circles out of each disk of dough, and then ten rings out of each set of scraps. I found that the center removed from the rings cooks at the same time and temperature and makes a nice mid-baking snack. If you’re pressed for time, the cookies can be baked one day, and iced and assembled the next. Now that we have 20 circles and 20 rings cooked and cooled we’re ready to make icing.
Earl Grey Icing
Yes, Earl Grey Icing. It sounds strange and even a little gross, but it tastes amazing. The first step is steeping the tea with the milk in the fridge for two hours. I like to do this right after I put the dough in the fridge, so I can get right to icing the cookies when they’ve cooled. Then it’s a simple combination of butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar with the mixture of tea and milk, and you’ve got a very unique icing. Now that all our preparations are done, it’s time to build the cookies and watch as forty cookies turn into ten.
The first step in assembling these cookies is decorating the tops. This is the good news. Even though you made forty cookies, you only have to decorate ten. I found that for an icing base, a palette knife, which is just a flat, dull blade, works best to spread the icing. Then, if you’d like to design the cookies, we can have fun with food coloring and piping bags. A piping bag is a special tool, that I just learned how to use this weekend. It’s a plastic bag that can be fitted with varieties of tips to give you freedom and flexibility to draw designs on cakes and cookies. One important thing to remember when using piping bags is you never fill the bag more than halfway full. Unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way as my hands and the piping bag became smeared with icing. The first time I made these cookies, I followed their suggested decoration of a dark question mark for the mystery cookie. Then, I decided to make them again for a Bible study, and changed out grey coloring for gold coloring and attempted to draw symbols of the Trinity on the cookies. Once the decorations are done, it’s time to put the cookies together. This is done by piping icing on the four compass points of each circle cookie, and placing a ring cookie on it. The icing acts like glue and holds the cookies together. Then, we repeat the process by piping icing on the ring in the same manner, and placing another ring on it. What we have now is an open pocket. The recipe recommended M&M’s, but I found snow caps to be a better complement to the icing flavor. But hey, it’s your kitchen, fill those pockets with whatever makes you happy. You want to sneak some raisins in there, so your kids can be tricked into eating something healthy while they indulge in sweets, go for it. You want to put little notes in the cookies reminding someone how much you love them, you do you. You can even use these cookies to set up a scavenger hunt by placing clues in the pockets. After the cookies are filled, we pipe icing one last time on the four compass points and place the decorated lids on top. Now you have ten cookies filled with surprises that you’re ready to share. The only limit in a baker’s kitchen is your imagination, and, of course, ingredients, but that can be fixed with a quick trip to the grocery store.
Now, you might be asking yourself, what do I do with the scraps if I have extra dough left over. Well, here’s one idea.
Like, I said the only limit is your imagination, so keep baking, and don’t be afraid to stray a little from the recipe.