Thursday, 13 December 2012

Icebox biscuits: lemon and chocolate

Advent season = biscuit season! 
Chocolate icebox biscuits.
The great thing about icebox biscuits is that you can prepare the dough well in advance and have it in the freezer for up to one month. Prepare the dough at the beginning of December and should you find yourself in a buscuits-needing emergency - tadaa! Just whip out the dough, cut the frozen dough in slices (that is if you're really short on time - if you have another hour you could also defrost the dough and cut out shapes with cookie cutters) and put them into the oven for 10ish minutes. There you go. Freshly baked biscuits in less than 20 minutes. Having said that, I took some more time with mine to make 'em pretty.

I had my flat warming coming up for which I planned a baking extravaganza - but I was short on time. So I needed to bake things I could prepare in advance and just keep in the freezer until needed. Cue ice box biscuits. I prepared the dough for lemon biscuits and chocolate biscuits two weeks before the party and actually baked them one or two days before the party.

The recipes are from Martha Stewart: lemon icebox cookies and chocolate cookie dough.

For the lemon biscuits you'll need:

Ingredients for the lemon icebox cookies/biscuits.
  • 2 cup/240 g flour
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt (coarse if you have - if not, make it half a teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest (you could also use dried lemon zest, that might even be more flavoursome - I wasn't happy with the intensity of lemon flavour, or rather the lack thereof)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup/2 sticks/226 g butter - unsalted and cut into pieces
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • some extra flour for dusting the work space
  • some granulated sugar for rolling the dough in before baking

1. Sift flour, confectioners' sugar and salt into a mixing bowl (Martha Stewart recommends blending these ingredients with the lemon zest in a food processor. Seems like a good idea cos then you won't have the little strands of lemon zest stand out in the dough. However, I don't own a food processor. Yet.)

2. Use an electric mixer to blend with lemon zest and butter pieces. Add the butter one cube at a time. The dough will look kinda sandy.

3. Add egg yolks and lemon juice. Blend all until the dough comes together.

4. Take the dough out and knead it for a bit. Divide the dough in half and form each portion into a log.

5. Wrap logs in clingfilm.

6. Freeze for at least an hour or up to one month.

Now for the chocolate dough:

Ingredients for the chocolate icebox cookies
  • 2 2/3 cups/300 g flour
  • 1/3 cup/40 g cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup/2 sticks/226 g butter, unsalted and room temperature
  • 1 cup/225 g sugar
  • 1 packet/10 g vanilla sugar
  • 1 large egg

1. In a separate bowl, sift (or whisk) together flour, cocoa powder and salt.
2. In your mixing bowl, mix butter, sugar and vanilla sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Add the egg. Beat until combined.
4. Reduce the speed of your electric mixer to low and slowly add the flour mix. Beat until all comes together.

The flour-cocoa mixture, the dough before adding the flour mix and the dough once it's done.

The same as for the lemon biscuits applies: knead the dough a bit, form logs, wrap in clingfilm and freeze for one hour or up to a month.

After the freezing.

Once you're ready to use the dough, you can either take your time, let the dough defrost and cut out shapes...

...or you can opt for the quick version, where your take the frozen dough, roll it in sugar and cut slices that are about half a centimetre thick:

Preheat the oven to about 180 °C/350 F and bake for 10-15 minutes if you used the frozen dough or 8-10 if you used the defrosted dough. In any case, have an eye on them so they don't get too dark (I blindly trusted the indicated baking time but had neglected to consider that even the frozen dough had come to room temperature in the meantime. I had lots of dark brown lemon cookies...).

Now you could stop there. Or you could melt chocolate in a double-boiler and dip the biscuits halfway into it. I chose dark chocolate for the lemon biscuits and milk chocolate for the chocolate cookies (also a great way to conceal parts that have browned too much...).

Let dry overnight. Arrange nicely on a plate. Done.

Assorted biscuits. I tried playing around with gold luster dust (see shimmering heart biscuit in the middle at the top) - but I didn't much like how it turned out. I think they look best without further embellishment.

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