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Monday, April 25, 2016

California Gourmet: Three Cookies Featuring Native Mint Flavors

 
Cookies featuring California native mint.
 
 
We hope our previous post (April 2016) inspired you to make some alcohol extracts of mints from your garden.  These extracts can be used in a wide range of dishes.  In fact, they can be substituted in any recipe calling for mint extract.  Just remember that ‘kitchen extracts’ – particularly those using native mints – are usually milder than the mint or spearmint extract you buy at the store.   You’ll likely need to increase the amount needed; and you’ll just have to experiment to get the right flavor.

We like to use our alcohol extracts in cookies and other baked goods usually flavored with vanilla. These recipes – which commonly use white sugar (or other light-flavored sweetener like Stevia) and no strong spices – are perfect for showcasing the delicate native mint flavors.  Here are three cookie recipes Mother Nature’s Backyard visitors have enjoyed.  Try them and leave your friends and family guessing ‘what flavor are these cookies?’

 
Hint of Hummingbird Sage Cookies: a California mint.
 
We first made this recipe with Hummingbird sage extract – hence the name.  But we’ve found other mints to be equally delicious.  We use small (1 inch) cookie cutters for garden events, tea parties and tastings.  And we like to use flavored sugars as a topper (see below).  You’ll need to flavor and color the sugars ahead of time; but they are an easy way to add a unique, festive touch to these cookies.

The recipe is an adaptation of a great sugar cookie recipe from Maida Heator’s Book of Great Cookies.
 

Hint of Hummingbird Sage Cookies

3 ¼ cups + 2 Tbsp sifted all-purpose flour
2 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ sticks butter (best) or 6 oz. (3/4 cup) margarine; you can use a mixture of butter/margarine
¼ tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ Tbsp Hummingbird Sage extract*
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
Additional granulated, flavored or decorative sugar for topping**

 
Sift together flour & baking powder; set aside.  Cream softened butter or margarine.   Add vanilla, Hummingbird Sage extract and sugar.  Beat well.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each egg is added.    Add dry ingredients slowly, scraping bowl to be sure that everything is well mixed. 

Place dough in a wax-paper lined bowl, or divide dough in thirds and wrap each third in waxed paper, plastic wrap or aluminum foil.  Chill dough in refrigerator for at least 3 hours. 

After dough is chilled, preheat oven to 400° F.   Take one third piece of dough, and roll it to the desired thickness on a well-floured pastry cloth.   We like to slightly flatten the dough with our hands and turn the dough once before rolling.  We use a wooden rolling pin with a cloth rolling pin ‘sock’ that has been rolled in flour to keep the dough from sticking.  We roll the dough to 1/8 to ¼ inch thick.  

Cut the dough with cookie cutters.  Carefully transfer the cut-outs to ungreased cookie sheets, placing them about 1 ½ inches apart.    Sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar or colored decorative sugars.  Bake until edges are just lightly tanned – about 8-10 minutes.  Keep a close eye on then – they brown quickly.   Remove from oven.  Transfer cookies to a cooling rack with a large metal spatula (pancake turner).   Let cool.   Enjoy!!

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* Use an alcohol extract of Hummingbird sage or any other garden mint whose flavor you like.  For instructions see: http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2016/04/california-gourmet-making-flavored.html

** We like to make flavored sugars for a finishing touch.  Place 1 cup of granulated sugar in a jar or plastic container.  Add ¼ cups mint leaves (of the same flavor as the extract), washed, patted dry and coarsely chopped.  Cover and let sit 24 hours, shaking occasionally.  Remove the leaf pieces using a sieve.  Dry the sugar (air dry or in a warm oven) until it no longer clumps.  Store in an airtight jar; use within a month for best flavor.    The sugar can be colored with a few drops of food coloring.  Just add coloring to the jar, then shake until all the sugar is colored.  
 

California Gourmet Icebox Cookies
Flavored with California native mint flavors
 
Icebox cookies are usually called ‘refrigerator cookies’ in modern cookbooks.  But we like the old time name, harkening back to the days when these cookies were cooled in old-fashioned iceboxes.

Icebox cookies are the baker’s dream, particularly when making lots of cookies in a short amount of time.  You make the dough, shape it into rolls, then cool the rolls in the refrigerator for several hours.  Then you slice the dough into thin rounds and bake.  Icebox cookies were the original ‘slice-and-bake’ cookies.

We’ve taken a simple vanilla icebox cookie recipe (found in many cookbooks) and modified it to feature our native mint extracts.  The taste is like a minty shortbread cookie – very nice with tea or coffee, or as dessert.   As always, you may need to modify the amount of extract to suit your taste.
 

California Gourmet Icebox Cookies

1 cup butter or margarine, softened*
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp milk
¼ tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp native mint extract**
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
4-5 drops food color (if desired)
Colored, flavored sugar (if desired)
 

Place butter/margarine and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Cream until light, then add egg, milk and extracts.  Beat until light, fluffy and well-mixed.   

Sift together flour and soda.  Add a little at a time to the butter mixture, mixing until well mixed.  Add food coloring (if desired) and mix well. 

Divide dough into four equal parts.  Place each fourth onto a piece of waxed paper.  Form the dough into a long roll (like a log), about 1 inch in diameter.  If desired, you can roll the dough ‘log’ over colored sugar to give a decorative edge.    Roll up each log in the waxed paper, then place on a cookie sheet in the refrigerator.  Chill at least 3-4 hours.
 

California Gourmet Icebox Cookies - ready to bake
 
Take a roll from the refrigerator, remove the waxed paper, then slice into pieces about 1/8 inch thick, placing each slice 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.   If desired, sprinkle tops with decorative and/or flavored sugar.  Bake at 375° F (190° C) for 5-8 minutes (or when edges are a light golden brown).  Remove cookie sheet from oven.  Let cool about 1 minute, then remove cookies to a cooling rack. 

Store in an airtight tin or glass cookie jar for up to 2 weeks.  

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* We use ½ cup butter & ½ cup margarine or vegetable shortening

** Use an alcohol extract of any garden mint whose flavor you like.  For instructions see: http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2016/04/california-gourmet-making-flavored.html

 

California Meltaway Mint Icebox Cookies.
These cookies are flavored with native mint extracts
 
Here is another icebox cookie recipe that works well with our native mint extracts.  The texture is somewhere between a cookie and a candy – utterly delish!
We modified this recipe from a peppermint cookie recipe posted by The Kitchen McCabe: http://thekitchenmccabe.com/
 

California Meltaway Mint Icebox Cookies

1 ¼ cups butter or margarine (we used ½ butter/1/2 shortening)
½ cup powdered sugar
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cornstarch
¼ tsp vanilla extract
5 tsp. native mint extract*
Food coloring (if desired)
Colored sugar crystals, decorative sugar or flavored sugar**
 

Place the softened butter/margarine and powdered sugar in mixer bowl.  Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Add extracts and mix in. 

Sift together flour and cornstarch.   Add to butter mixture in several batches and mix until just combined.   Add food coloring if desired and mix in. 

Place dough on a sheet of waxed paper (18-20 inches long).  Form dough into long roll (log) about 1 to 1 ½ inches in diameter.   

Spread colored/flavored sugar on waxed paper.  Roll log in the sugar to coat the outside edges.  Pour off excess sugar (if any). 

Wrap log in waxed paper.  Chill on a cookie sheet in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. 
 

Slicing California Meltaway Mint Cookies
 
Remove dough from refrigerator.  Unwrap and cut into 1/8-1/4 inch slices.  Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.   Bake at 300° F (150° C) oven for 12-15 minutes.  Bake shorter time for softer cookie; longer for crisper cookie.  Cookies remain white - don’t really brown. 

Remove cookie sheet from oven.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.   When completely cool, store in an airtight container. 

Makes about 45 cookies.

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* Use an alcohol extract of any garden mint whose flavor you like.  For instructions see: http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2016/04/california-gourmet-making-flavored.html

** We like to make flavored sugars for a finishing touch.  Place 1 cup of granulated sugar in a jar or plastic container.  Add ¼ cups mint leaves (of the same flavor as the extract), washed, patted dry and coarsely chopped.  Cover and let sit 24 hours, shaking occasionally.  Remove the leaf pieces using a sieve.  Dry the sugar (air dry or in a warm oven) until it no longer clumps.  Store in an airtight jar; use within a month for best flavor.    The sugar can be colored with a few drops of food coloring.  Just add coloring to the jar, then shake until all the sugar is colored.   

Cookies flavored with extracts made from
 California native mints.
 
We hope you’re inspired to use your new mint extracts in new and creative ways.  These recipes are just a starting place – enjoy! 

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We encourage you to send us your questions, comments and recipes (either comment below or e-mail to us at : mothernaturesbackyard10@gmail.com

1 comment:

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