Oh, Freedom! School's out for my daughter and I could not be happier. I stayed in bed until almost 9:00 this morning. Don't judge me. You know you'd do the same if you could. I didn't realize how limited my days were with all the driving around I typically do in a day until I woke up this morning and realized we had no where to go and all day to get there. So what did I do with my first day off? Well, let me tell you. Since the Daring Bakers' challenge left me with an over-abundance of mascarpone cream and fresh berries in my fridge, (yes, I know, poor me, right?) I decided to make something new with it. I couldn't let that delicious sauce go to waste. The obvious choice would be to simply pour the cream over the berries and dive in, but that's too easy. I wanted something different.
I'm a real sucker for different textures and I wanted to add something crispy to the mix. I'd stumbled upon a recipe for Lace Cookies over the weekend and I knew I had to try them. This was the perfect time.
Paper thin, buttery and very crisp, they are more like candy than a cookie. These cookies are ridiculously easy to make - but there is a trick. You really must let them brown to a dark golden color. I tried pulling mine out earlier, when they were just a nice hue of gold but they were under down and impossible to peel off the foil. So be patient...let them darken slightly beyond your comfort zone and do not attempt to peel them off the foil until they are cooled. They spread a lot during baking so you spoon a scant teaspoon per cookie on the baking sheet, and you only bake six at a time. The batter takes a mere 5 minutes to make, it's baking them off that gets a little tedious. But they're worth it. Trust me. Make these. You won't regret it.
Oatmeal Lace Cookies Recipe(Source: A Year of the Best Cook Book)
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk egg. Add rolled oats, melted butter and vanilla. Blend together. Add sugar mixture and stir.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with foil, shiny side up. Drop only 6 tsp. of batter (1 tsp. per cookie) onto sheet. (They spread a lot during baking giving them the 'lacy' appearance.) Bake 8 to 10 minutes (I did closer to 12) until they are a golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes. Peel off foil.
Yes, I did get a grape out of my fridge to show you an approximation of size. No need to thank me.
Fresh from the oven, cooling down before peeling.
Now the fun began. I scattered strawberries on a cookie...
drizzled some mascarpone cream...
added another cookie and raspberries this time. I know, it's hard to keep up.
Are you still with me? More cream on the raspberries and yes, you guessed it, another cookie. Then I sprinkled some confectioner's sugar on top, garnished with a strawberry and a sprig of mint and Voila!
Summer heaven on a plate. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration. But it was good, real good. It is a little tricky to eat, I'll admit, but if you are one of those people who's afraid of using your fingers to pick up a piece of broken cookie well then, we can't be friends. There were a few casualties in the batch, the ones I didn't bake long enough and the ones I tried to peel before they were completely cooled. So...I broke them up and sprinkled them on top of a parfait version.
Nothing wrong with that. Enjoy!
Recipe for Mascarpone Cream:
(Source: Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard)
The first step is to make the base, a creme anglaise. Here's how:
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean split
6 large egg yolks
6 Tbsp. sugar
Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes to make an ice water bath. Combine the milk and cream in a saucepan over medium high heat. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the pot, and add the pod as well. Bring to boil.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is a pale yellow. Pour about 1/2 cup of the hot milk/cream mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly to keep the yolks from curdling. Return the yolk mixture to the pan with the remaining milk/cream over medium heat, and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes. (If you drag your finger through the mixture when it coats the spoon, the trace should remain.)
Remove mixture from heat and immediately strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Place the bowl in the ice bath to cool rapidly.
---You could stop here and just use the creme anglaise. But if you want to make it even more special, proceed with the following instructions to transform your creme anglaise to mascarpone cream.
1 recipe of creme anglaise (above)
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
2 T. Bailey's (optional - recipe actually calls for Sambuca, but that's just gross)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Prepare the creme anglaise as directed above. Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and booze (if you're using it), and let mixture cool. Beat the cream until it holds soft peaks. Gently fold into mascarpone mixture. Chill.