(Above: featured image taken by @rickyli99)
It’s been almost two weeks, and somehow, it’s still so surreal. I’m moved by how quickly the community has come together, planned events in his honor and even started a scholarship in @rsuenaga’s name!
In the midst of all this, of everyone’s kind words, of photos being posted, I kept seeing this one pair of shorts. I know he had a bunch of incredibly bright, vivid Jams, but for whatever reason, these were stuck in my head.
This week has been ridiculous for me. I’ve been working crazy hours, studying for finals, writing a paper, and trying to keep up with my work out schedule. Of course, being the procrastinator that I am, I decided that this week would also be a great time to get some baking in. Hahaha.
First, an explanation: cooking is like therapy for me. Some people run, some people play video games all night (*cough* RK *cough*) and some people watch TV to de-stress. But for me, it’s cooking.
There’s something about taking all these random ingredients, that individually aren’t very exciting, and messing with them until some kind of magic happens, that makes me totally happy. Well, that and taste testing. This is probably why I should workout more.
I conceptualized the idea sometime last week. While looking at photos of “playdoh cookies” online. I don’t even remember how I got there, random link-surfing from one of the blogs I follow, and suddenly the screen was so bright I had to alt-tab away. All I could think was, holy cow that’d be AMAZING as Jams!
One cookie cutter, five dyes (more on that fifth one later) and a long night later…
The birth of cookie jams!
Nope, that’s not a sharpie. I picked up some food pens too.
Two cookie cutter sizes. Baby jams, meet your pops. Hehe.
The dough on some was crazy looking because I rolled all the excess from the first cut-outs and re-pressed for more cookies.
Anyway. Now that I’ve burned your screen out, let’s get to the recipe! First things first: GEL food coloring. Paste would’ve been better, but I couldn’t find any. Do NOT use that watery easter egg stuff. Well, you can use it, but you’ll probably end up using the whole bottle before you get enough pigment, so unless you’re rocking costco sized, gel’s the way to go!
I went for the “electric” version of every color. Sounded exciting. I actually did get one non-electric color. Mint green (front left). The color on the label of the electric green made me nervous, so I decided to get a backup, just in case.
Of course, turned out the electric green was bright enough and the mint green will be saved for other recipes. Like mint chocolate chip ice cream or something.
Now, the dough. Cream butter, sugar and cream cheese until fluffy:
Add the egg and vanilla and beat until nice and smooth. (You can use an electric beater. I was just lazy to get it out)
Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl then add to wet mixture. You’ll end up with a VERY soft dough.
Now, the fun part. Divide into four and add the color.
Ok, this is where practice makes better. For the first color, I thought I’d be brilliant and mix it up in a plastic bag, to prevent discolored fingers.
Bad idea. Sticky blue dough stuck all over the bag. Getting it out was way more trouble than blue hands would’ve been!
End result: Bright blue dough! Ball it up, wrap in saran wrap and toss in the fridge.
Did it right with the second color, in a bowl with chopsticks.
This pink was PERFECT. So bright. So vibrant. So jammy!
Continue with the rest of the dough, and let chill in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. I was impatient as usual, and threw it in the freezer for 30 minutes.
I let it sit for a few minutes and rolled the dough into logs and place on waxed paper.
I was originally going to stack them into a square, squishel them together a bit, and then freeze again. Then once the big brick was solid, slice into 1/2″ pieces and then use the cookie cutter on that. However, I didn’t think the pattern through and it didn’t match! Also, the logs weren’t quite tall enough to make the heigh of the cookie cutter! Double lose changed to win when I smooshed em down with another piece of waxed paper instead:
Not perfect, but pretty close:
So…the bad news: they are totally LACKING in taste. Not sweet enough, kind of chalky or dough-ey tasting and the first batch was totally under baked! Going to try them out with a normal sugar cookie recipe to see how that rolls out. Hehe.
Can’t post it sans though, so here’s the recipe, adapted from All Recipes:
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 3 ounces cream cheese
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- assorted colors of paste food coloring
- Shorts-shaped cookie cutter
- In a bowl cream butter, cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat until smooth.
- In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Stir till soft dough forms. Divide dough into fourths. Tint each with a different food color. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Roll the dough into logs the length of whatever surface you are using.
- Place another piece of waxed paper on top and flatten with a rolling pin or baking sheet. Dough should be about 1/4″ thick, depending on how big you want your cookies.
- You can put the dough back in the fridge if it’s getting soft, or stamp the cookie cutter through and place the cookies on a lightly greased baking sheet.
- Roll excess dough into a ball and press flat to cut additional cookies.
- Bake cookies for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and store in an airtight container.
*The original recipe says to bake for 8 minutes, but they turned out under baked. The bright colors totally threw me off and I had a really difficult time telling when they were done. The second pan I baked for about 15 minutes, and they browned a bit, but the texture was a lot better.
So I redid them with a different recipe and came out with wayyyyyyyy better results in terms of taste, but not so great results in terms of appearance. The new recipe had a LOT more butter (which is usually a good thing) but it caused the cookies to puff up and spread out more. So they look more like a skirt. Or bloomers. Or something.
Maybe i’ll try them again and add more flour! I actually still have tons of dough leftover since I ran out of time to bake all the cookies!
Here’s the new recipe, still from All recipes:
- 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
- 2 cups white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
- Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
- Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.
I doubled the recipe and split it into four. The first color I did, I added it in AFTER the flour. Arm breaking mistake! This dough is MUCH MUCH stiffer than the first one, and mixing in the color post flour was a workout. So for colors three and four, I added it in after I beat the eggs and vanilla in. Worked like a charm!
The dough gets soft very quickly, so I also put it in the freezer after I laid out the patterns, so cutting out the shapes was a breeze.
A few of us on twitter were planning on putting together a bake sale in the coming months, and having the proceeds go to @rsuenaga’s scholarship fund! We’re trying to come up with ideas for a venue, so if anyone has suggestions, let me know!