Monday, February 14, 2011

Focus

People make jokes about 'senior moments' when we forget something that we are sure we know or should remember, or we walk into a room but forget why we were going there. I'm not sure that you even need to be a 'senior'. With life seeming to be busier and busier all the time I bet that too much to do and to remember is all that is needed.

It happens to me more often lately and I'm not really alarmed because I figure the 'hard drive' is just filling up. The occasional lack of focus is more worrisome to me...forgetting that I have something in the oven for example can have very unfortunate consequences. This is not a new problem. I was well known as a child as the one who always burned the last sheet of cookies. I guess as the last sheet went in I turned my attention to other, more immediate, things and so those last cookies lost importance.

A recent result of lack of focus had nothing to do with baking cookies. After work on Friday I came home and my focus was clearly on something in the living room because I turned out of the hall into the living room....all except my right food which stay solidly on the floor and pointing the way I HAD been walking. This led to my knee being asked to do the impossible so it rebelled...now I have a knee injury that will probably take a while to heal and it messed up my birthday and Valentine's plans...a tea party for women friends. I'd gotten my tea pots out and made cute goodie bags with flower seeds and candy hearts and valentines on the front, plus baked a few cookies.

Which brings us back to cookies...wasn't that where we wanted to be anyway? For the tea party I had already made some Spritz cookies with a cookie press. Yes, I still have one of those. If I followed the organizers' dictum that anything not used in the last 3...or 5...or 7 years...then the press would be long gone. Being a bit of a pack rat, especially where baking things are concerned, I still had the cookie press and all of the discs for it carefully stored in a gallon Ziploc in the bottom back corner of my baking drawer.

I used to make Spritz cookies as a child...and burned the last sheet of them most likely...and one of the things I remembered is still true. Sometimes the dough needs more flour than the recipe calls for. I usually put about a cup of the dough into the press to try it out. This time I scooped out the squished dough three times before I achieved the right consistency and consistency is crucial when you are pressing dough through shaping discs.

First I made white flowers with yellow centers. Starting with white dough makes it lots easier to add more flour...no color streakiness. The yellow centers were achieved by putting about 2 tablespoons of dough into a sandwich size Ziploc bag, adding 3 drops of yellow food color, then kneading the color into the dough in the bag. A small snip off the end of the bag lets one use it as a pastry bag and pipe the yellow dough into the center of the white flower shapes.

After the flowers I made dark pink hearts...after all Valentine's Day is a day for hearts and flowers! Here the key is to find the right amount of twist to give the cookie press handle to turn out a heart shape that is a full shape but not too full. Once I figured that out the rest was easy.

If you don't have a cookie press and want to make these cookies...the texture and flavor are a really nice light butter cookie delight...you could shape balls in your hands (quickly because the dough melts easily) and then roll the balls in colored sugar or other decorations, then bake.

Happy Valentine's Day! Hope you get lots of hearts and flowers and love!


Spritz Cookies
For making with a cookie press
recipe from the Christmas Cookie Deck by Chronicle Books

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
Mix in egg and vanilla and almond extracts. Add flour and salt mixing until smooth.
Pack dough into a cookies press fitted with a star or ridged tip or any desired design. Press out dough onto greased baking sheet.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edge are lightly browned. If a 1-inch wide ridged cutter is used, immediately cut strips crosswise on the diagonal to make 1 1/2 -inch-long cookies. Transfer to racks to cool. Makes about 6 dozen.

6 comments :

tanita davis said...

Ouch! Sorry about your knee, and your plans for today. I'm impressed with your cookie press! I'm really clumsy with those things for some reason. Your cookies are beautiful.

Katie said...

Your cookies look beautiful and you've reminded me I have a cookie press stashed away somewhere too. I must hunt it out.
Hope you had a great Valentines

Susan said...

Happy Birthday! And healing thoughts for a quick recovery. Your cookies are very lovely!

Next Sister Down said...

Ow, sorry about your knee! You've had some bad luck with feet and knees for sure!

Speaking of memory lapses, I had completely forgotten about those cookies and the cookie press.mI probably haven't had a Spritz cookie since I moved away from home. But as soon as I saw the picture of the red-pink heart cookies, with the ridges and grooves, even before I read your post, it all came back. The flower ones are pretty too. Sounds like you had fun making them--and you didn't burn the last sheet this time, right?

I hope you had a happy birthday in spite of your knee.

Mrs. L said...

I still have my cookie press somewhere, but it's been a long long time since I've used it (if ever, it may still be in it's original packaging!)

Hope your knee is better.

Elle said...

Tanita,thanks for the good wishes and glad you liked the cookies. The press isn't great for all cookies but for this one, if you add flour until you see the grooves on the pressed dough, it should work for you...if you have a cookie press. Bet right now you are shedding cookware as your household gets lighter and lighter :)

Katie, Happy V Day to you. Hope you find your press and try these.

Susan, Thanks! Still staying quiet and hoping.

NSD, Yes, that right side always gets the injury. Birthday was fun anyway and no, didn't burn the last sheet but I almost over cooked one sheet while making the lalalalaminated dough.

Mrs. L, If you can find the press you might enjoy making these...or not :)