Thursday, October 27, 2011

owl cookies

 I can assure you these are just as cute in person. They came into existence when my husband marched out holding a magazine and pointed to an owl cookie cutter saying- "You've got to make these!" A quick amazon search later and the cookie cutter was on it's way.

Rather than make a sugar cookie, I used Ina Garten's indefatigable shortbread cookie recipe. I have used it to make all manner of cookies and when the dough is chilled it keeps a clean edge (the better to showcase cookie design- nothing sadder than painstakingly cutting out cookies only to have them bake and spread into unidentifiable blobs.) To echo the almond feathers, I added almond extract in place of the traditional vanilla.

The icing is my old standby of powdered sugar, a smidgen of milk and assorted food colorings. I repeated the almond flavoring with a drop (and I literally mean a drop) of almond extract. The eyes are small dots of melted chocolate, the nose a trimmed up piece of candy corn.

I don't know what else to say except that in addition to be ridiculously adorable, these cookies are quite tasty. I consider this a triumph as so often overly decorated things look lovely, but end up tasting awful. (Even as a child I felt this way about decorating Christmas cookies- I knew that rows of red hots gave a gingerbread candy cane it's trademark stripes, but I also knew I would never want to eat a row after row of red hots.)

shortbread cookies

3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (here is where I substituted almond)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

1) Preheat the oven to 350. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla.

2) In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

3) Roll the dough 1/2 inch thick and cut with a 3 inch cutter. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (I think the owls took a little less time, keep an eye on them) until the edges begin to brown.

4) Allow to cool to room temperature.

5) Lay a light glaze of icing on the owl cookie base.
6) On the lower portion of the owl, "feather" with sliced almonds.
7) Add the candy corn nose and chocolate eyes.
8) Before moving cookies, allow the icing to dry completely. Admire adoringly.

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