Every holiday needs a tasty cookie! Enjoyed warm or room temperature, they are perfect to start your Groundhog Day festivities or as little nosh as you wind down from the big day celebrations.
My English friend, Judith, shared her Rockcake recipe with me many many (many) years ago and they are a natural for Groundhog Day cookies.
As you can see, I have assembled the needed ingredients:
1 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice blend
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 oz of room temperature butter cut in cubes
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 oz of candied fruit
grated rind from 1/2 of a lemon
Let me begin by saying that no actual groundhogs were injured in the making of these cookies. I know it’s kind of misleading. The original recipe is called Rockcakes and are just like the cakes that Hagrid made Harry Potter and his friends… only these are more delicious.
Preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s 190 degrees celsius or gas mark 5 for the rest of the world outside the United States). Then I position one of my favorite shiny metal bowls on the clean counter top and pour in a cup of self rising flour. For a moment, I admire the flour reflected in the surface of the bowl, like a glacial morning.
Spice goes in next and I use my beloved wooden spoon stir and fluff method of mixing until the spices are distributed evenly in flour.
Gingerly, I deposit the butter into the waiting nest of flour.
You can use a fork or one of those fancy pastry blenders. I like to use my hands to rub all the butter into the flour. (This is where fingers would really come in handy for me.) The process is meditative. I continue til the mixture looks like fine bread crumbs,
See how the sugar sparkles like snowflakes in the morning sun as it gently drifts down on the butter mixture.
Let’s talk candied fruit. It gets a bad rap & rightly so. Most candied fruit you find at the grocery store are glucose laden flavorless blobs of what used to be fruit. This is why I either make my own candied peel or use delicious dried fruit such as currents, cherries, apricots (cut in little bits) and sultanas. I might even toss in a wee bit of candied ginger if I’m feeling bold. Occasionally, I find a quality blend of candied fruit at a specialty food store and snap up as much as I can.
I admire the jewel toned fruits and peel as they tumble into the bowl. My mind turns to emeralds, rubies, peridot, citrine and other beautiful gems I have admired at Grainger Hall of Gems in the Field Museum in Chicago.
Judith didn’t specify how the egg and milk are to be added, so I crack the egg into a cup, I add the milk and stir the two together with a fork until they are blended. I don’t know if this makes a difference, but in my mind it does. I think it makes it easier to distribute the liquid when I pour it into the bowl. I stir just enough to mix in the liquid and the dough still looks a bit dry and lumpy. Too much stirring makes the dough smushy and unappealing. Not a appealing aesthetic in the cookie dough world.
The dough gets divvied up into 6 (more or less) equal mounds on the greased cookie sheet. If you have a snazzy Silpat you will want to use that. (If you don’t have one, you should consider it. They are quite handy around the kitchen.) If some of the batter accidentally splatters into your mouth during this process, you have no choice but to taste it. Be sure to get a tiny piece of the peel or fruit in the splatter.
The future cookies go into the oven on the center rack for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Setting a timer is always a good idea. As the kitchen fills with the intoxicating aroma of baked goods, I quickly clean up so I can prepare the decorations.
I have printed out some charming photos of groundhogs on a stiff card stock. I take care as I cut around the little groundhog shapes with my trusty scissors.
Now, I cello-tape a toothpick to the back of each groundhog. Luckily, my adhesive tape privileges were recently reinstated or I’d have to glue the toothpicks to the paper. Gluing tends to be a little messy and could possibly contaminate my cookies with sticky glue molecules.
You won’t find a more attractive rodent-on-a-stick anywhere! They will look festive on top of the cookies or on a nice cupcake or possibly adorning the top of a hamburger bun at lunch time. The possibilities are endless, aren’t they?
The buzzing of the timer alerts me that the cookies are ready to come out of the oven. They might have baked them a minute or two too long, but, they will be tasty despite crispy edges. (I am fond of crispy edges!)
Reveling in the sight and scent of the hot cookies, I transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
BEWARE: candied fruit really can hold the heat. A nibble of a hot cookie could lead to a burned tongue. A frantic dash to the fridge for ice water is not easy with tears welling in your eyes… or so I’ve heard.
I enjoy serving these delectable cakes while they are still a bit warm, so, after they have cooled a bit, I transfer them to an attractive serving plate.
As I perform a gentle interpretive dance, I place a groundhog toothpick in each cookie! When all of the sharp object are out of my hands, I burst into some stunning choreography that appears to defy gravity.
It appears that only 3 cookies will fit on the serving plate. I better taste this extra cookie.
Crispy on the outside. Moist with the correct peel to fruit ratio on the inside. Perfection! These tiny cakes are good anytime of year, not just groundhogs day. Pair them with a cup of tea, a glass of milk or a good book for the ultimate snacking experience.
What do you think? I think it’s an inviting presentation. The cookies look like burrows with the proud and majestic groundhog emerging into the sun to display his meteorological prowess. Happy Groundhog Day!
You might enjoy some do it yourself weather prognostication!