Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fall Maple Leaf Cookies

The autumn leaves are at full peak in my small New England coastal town. Tourists, or Leaf Peepers as we call them, come by the busload to see natures full regalia. When a few of us on my crew wanted to show our appreciation to the concierges and airport agents in Paris, we wanted to bring them a sampling of our America. Last year I made Eiffel Tower, Merci and Au Revoir cookies. This year we brought bagels and cream cheese, chocolate chip cookies, carrot cake, peanut butter chocolate kiss cookies and brownies. As I looked at the brilliant colors around town, I decided to also make maple leaf shaped sugar cookies. I had four colors of petal dust I had gotten at Christmas time, that just happened to be colors of fall leaves. You cannot go wrong by brushing on these colors in any combination. I started at the edges, with a food dedicated paint brush, and worked inward using the colors singularly and mixing them. The metallic gold and copper blended into the green and mango orange.Each one was as varied and different as the leaves on the trees. I layered the brownies and chocolate chip cookies first in the bottom of the gold box that was lined with decorative tissue paper. Next were the fall colored leaf cookies. The box came with a gold grosgrain ribbon that I tucked a leaf bouquet into, which helped bring a little bit more of New England to our friends in Paris. I think they really loved tasting a bit of our culture as much as we loved showing our appreciation. Merci!!

Maple Leaf Sugar Cookies

For the cookies:
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon almond extract

For the color:
3-4 fall colors of petal dust
a #6 round watercolor brush

In large bowl or food processor, cream sugar and butter together until fluffy. Add egg, and almond extract until well blended. Add the flour and salt and mix until it begins to form a ball, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed. If the dough is too dry, add a few drops of water. Scrape dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press together to form a thick flat disc. Wrap well and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a baking sheet.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thick, or
desired thickness. The dough needs to be just the right temperature to roll and cut properly. If it is too cold, it is hard to roll, and if it is too soft it becomes difficult to cut and pick up. Roll any scraps back into a ball and chill again. Use as little flour as possible to roll out, so they don't get tough. After cutting, place on a baking sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes or until just lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. I use an insulated baking sheet to prevent the edges from getting too brown.*

Makes 4 dozen, 3 inch (1/8 inch thick) cookies.

*My tips: Keep dough chilled just enough so it is easy to roll and cut, but not so cold that it is hard and cracks. I like to roll between 2 layers of plastic wrap. This keeps the dough from sticking without extra flour that makes the dough tough. I even roll it to desired thickness, between 2 layers of plastic wrap before chilling. Then when it comes out of the refrigerator, you won't have to roll and you'll be ready to cut. If the dough warms up too much while working with it, you can slide the whole layer onto a cookie sheet and chill, without disturbing what you've already done. Also, bake sugar cookies on insulated pans for even browning.

Coloring the cookies:
To color the cookies, use 3-4 fall color petal dust colors. I used Super Gold, Copper, Moss Green, and Mango, Color about 6 cookies at a time by placing them on parchment or a silicone baking mat. Lightly dip the paintbrush into the petal dust and tap off any excess. Starting on the edges, lightly dust the cookies using any combination of colors you choose or blending several colors together. Vary the colors on each cookie for a more interest.
For the petal dust:

Gold Box by Hallmark

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