Monday, April 7, 2014

Biscuits (Cookies) w/ Sugar Flowers from The Little White Horse

(Maria's Bedroom by C. Walter Hodges)

          In my previous post for Elizabeth Goudge's The Little White Horse I mentioned that I'd be back with something sweet. Here it is! Some of the most memorable sweets in this story are the mysterious little biscuits (that's cookies to us Americans) that appear daily on the mantel in Maria Merryweather's fairy-like bedroom. Their day-by-day appearance (along with a warm fire and a filled wash basin) alerts Maria to the fact that someone of the household enters her room while she is unaware (sleeping or out). This doesn't disturb her, in fact she is both intrigued and comforted by it. Intrigued because the person must be small; the room and its door–and window for that matter–allow only those of diminutive stature. And comforted because the biscuits denote a care and attention that warm Maria's heart and reaffirm her welcome to Moonacre. We, along with Maria, later learn who the originator and deliverer of the biscuits is (if you've read my previous post I'm sure you can guess, if you don't know already!) adding another beautiful gloss to the already shimmering story (I use these words because The Little White Horse embodies terms like these, in a quaint, magical, simply nice way. I love it!).

"...When Maria started to explore her room she found that it was not without luxuries. Over the fireplace was a shelf, and on it stood a blue wooden box filled with dainty biscuits with sugar flowers on them, in case she should feel hungry between meals."
–Chapter 3, The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge



Dainty Biscuits w/ Sugar Flowers

Ingredients:
Sugar Flowers (or Candied Flowers)
Edible Flowers like Pansies or Violets
(not treated w/ pesticides or chemicals!)
1 Egg White
~1/2 Cup Ultrafine/Caster Sugar
(I use the C&H brand "Baker's Sugar". You can also put granulated sugar in a blender until fine.)
Dainty Biscuits/Cookies
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Egg, room temperature
1 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/3 Cup Butter
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
Simple Glaze
1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar, sifted
2 tsp. Milk
1/2 tsp. Lemon Juice

Important Items:
Small, Clean Paint Brush
Parchment/Waxed Paper
Medium-sized cookie cutters (moons & stars are pretty for this recipe)

Directions:
1. For the flowers: Cut flowers so that a little bit of stem remains for you to hold while you sugar them. Rinse the flowers in cold water, drain, & then lay on paper towels & gently pat dry. Have the sugar ready in a nearby bowl. Whisk the egg white by hand for about a minute or so to break it up & add in a tiny amount of water if necessary to thin it out for easy application to the flower petals. Hold up a flower by its stem & then paint the egg white on the front & back of the petals using a small, clean paintbrush. Hold the flower over the sugar bowl & sprinkle sugar all over the painted parts. Gently tap the excess sugar back into the bowl. Place the sugared flower on wax or parchment paper to dry. Repeat these steps until you've coated all of your flowers. Let them dry over night. Carefully pick up the flowers (they will be brittle!) & snip off the stems close to the base of the flower.
2. For the biscuits/cookies: Cream together the butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Add in the egg & vanilla & mix well until no longer slimy. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, & salt. With the mixer on low speed pour in the flour mixture & then raise the speed & mix until everything is thoroughly combined. Put plastic wrap over the bowl & chill for 1 hour.
3. Heat your oven to 400ºF. On a lightly floured work surface roll the dough to about 1/8" thickness. Cut into medium-sized shapes like stars or crescent moons or simply go for circles. Bake on a parchment paper-lined tray for about 5-6 minutes, or until very lightly browned (watch closely!). Let cool completely in a wire rack.
4. For the glaze: Once the cookies/biscuits are cool, whisk together the milk, powdered sugar, & lemon juice until the sugar is completely dissolved. Spoon little drops onto each cookie & then gently spread the glaze around. Place the cookies back onto the wire cooling rack with paper towels or the used parchment underneath to catch any glaze drips.
5. Before the glaze sets, carefully place one dried sugar flower on top of each little biscuit. Let sit until the glaze hardens. Serve with tea or milk or gently place several cookies in a little blue box (or a box w/ blue tissue paper) & give to someone special (or sneak it into their room while they're sleeping & leave it on their mantel so they can find in the morning).

2 comments:

  1. Absolutely beautiful. I wish I would have seen these for my daughter's van Gogh inspired Starry Night birthday table.

    ReplyDelete
  2. These were fun to make. I also got a kick out of the cashier's reaction when I told her I would be eating the cute little pansies I was buying.

    ReplyDelete

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