Sunday, August 5, 2007

Tea and biscuits. Pretty much.

I lived in London for a few years and while a lot (okay, MOST) of the food was nothing to write home about (I am from Texas, after all), there were a few eating habits and preferences that stuck. The most notable is the craving for a nice, warm cup of tea on a rainy day and now that it's August in Alaska, it's clouding over more often than not. Today was one such lovely, rainy day.

A PROPER tea sit down for me, though, must include biscuits. Yeah. I said biscuits. (My British Shorthair cat is named Biscuit for this very reason.) My favorite biscuit (OKAY, cookie) with tea was a vanilla creme sandwich with strawberry jam in the center made by the grocery chain, Waitrose. I haven't found anything that's even close to it in the States. I knew I wouldn't be able to pull THAT off today so I settled for a butter biscuit then threw in a little strawberry jam on top just for that strawberry/cookie texture and taste with the tea. The cookies were not terribly sweet but I suspect that was my fault: it calls for 1 cup superfine sugar (processed in food processor) and I measured a cup THEN processed it and I believe (after tasting them), it meant a full cup of the processed sugar. It's a rookie mistake, I know. I'm working on it.

BUT, lucky me, I had the jam there for the straight sweetness so it went together fine. I adapted two different recipes - one for the plain rolled butter cookies from The Best Recipe and another for the thumbprint variation from The Dessert Bible.

They're so petite and cute, I can't stop eating them. GET IN MY BELLY.


1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup superfine sugar, or granulated sugar processed in food processor for 30 seconds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg plus 1 yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1. Either by hand or with electric mixer, cream butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes with mixer set at medium speed. Add yolk, beat well, then add whole egg and vanilla; continue beating until well incorporated. Add flour; beat at low speed until flour is just mixed in. Shape the dough into a round, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days.

2. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove disk of dough from refrigerator and shape rounded teaspoons of dough into balls using your palms and place onto parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Make an indention in the middle of the dough with your thumb and fill with 1/4 teaspoon jam. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, reversing cookie sheets (from top to bottom and back to front) halfway through baking time, until evenly light brown.

3. Immediately transfer cookies to cooling rack. Cool to room temperature and allow to set, 1 hour.

Serve with a piping hot cup of PG Tips and you're all set!

(My favorite fancy tea cup. Go ahead; do your Mrs. Doubtfire voice. "Oh HEL-LOOOO! A spot of tea in the garden, love!? YEEEAAASSS!!)

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