Étoiles

Moving into a new home is a transition, as is moving into a new kitchen.  For anyone who has relocated before you understand the process of reorganizing your cooking space, finding the perfect spot for your tools, spices, pots/pans and all your baking supplies.  Everything has its home and lends itself to assisting with your culinary creations.  Learning how a new oven cooks is not without its trials and which has resulted in me burning at least one or more recipes in past new homes.  Using a new measuring system however is a challenge.  Why is the US the only industrialized country using a different standard of measure?  I hope to become a metric wiz but time will tell.  For now, I am completely lost with this system so desperately always use the help of a scale or online conversions, especially when out shopping. 

After being here for couple of weeks, I am yearning to bake again but our kitchen is in storage back in California with the rest of our house.  I am shocked by the cost of kitchen equipment and supplies in Provence... expensive, with Kitchen Aids costing almost $700!  Luckily our new home is somewhat functional for baking but still not yet fully complete.  Part of the fun now will be to find new tools, props and supplies to fill in all the missing gaps. 

What a better way to christen our kitchen than with a new Provençal recipe, ideal for our new abode.  I opted for cookies, easily manageable for a first time baking expedition and to gauge the new oven.  This recipe from Eric’s mom is called Étoile, meaning Star, given by the shape cookie traditionally served at Christmas.  It is what is known in France as a biscuit style cookie.  To me this is a hybrid between a shortbread and a sugar cookie but with a little twist with the addition of rum.  These cookies are filled with the buttery richness of shortbread, the sweet crispiness of a sugar cookie with a rum lemon essence. Typically made at the holidays, this is a classic roll and cut recipe allowing you to design your cookies in any shape that you desire with endless ways to finish/decorate.  I chose stars, circles, hearts, half moons and even wiener dogs, finishing them with sugar, powdered sugar, and chocolate. 

Anyway that you decide to cut and decorate your cookies, I hope you enjoy! 

ÉTOILES

250 grams butter

120 grams sugar

400 grams flour

½ teaspoon salt

1-teaspoon vanilla

1 lemon, zested

1 egg yolk, save the white if you choose to use as a wash for the cookies

2-3 tablespoons rum

1.  Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2.  Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Add the egg yolk, vanilla and lemon zest and mix well.  Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until combined into dough.

3.  Remove from mixer and wrap in parchment or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours up to overnight.

4.  Let the dough sit at room temperature.  Flour your work surface and roll dough to about ¼ inch thick.  Cut using your favorite cookie cutters.  Place on cookie sheet and bake using either a silpat or parchment paper.  Brush lightly with the egg white only if you want your cookies to have a sheen and sprinkle with sugar for more of a crisp sugar finish.

5.  Bake at 175C for 6 ½ - 7 minutes using a convection oven.  For a non-convection oven, bake up to 13 minutes but check for your desired coloring.  Cookies should be lightly browned.

6.  Cool on cookie rack.

7.  Decorate!  Explore different variations using sugar, powdered sugar, melted chocolate, jam or frosting.  The options are endless!  Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for maximum freshness.