Wow! Can you believe we only have less than 24 hours before we bid farewell to 2009!? HELLO, 2010! I'm all up and ready for you! I know there'll be ups and downs along the road. Oh, well! Aren't those part of learning?
To date, 2009 has been the most capricious year for me. For the first four months of the year, I was barely a college student. For the next five months, I descended to become a jobless graduate who wandered aimlessly in the middle of nowhere. (Ouch, I know that sucked!) Now, I'm in the workforce full-time--and back home in Malaysia with my loved ones! Time just flees--just like how fast the four seasons would go by before I could even seize a moment out of them. (Yup ... I had my first taste of the four seasons in the States.)
Summer in July by Lake Bemidji, Minnesota (U.S.A.)
Having to go through these 32 months mostly by myself, away from home--and without the luxury of flying home to visit my loved ones even once--put me into deep emotional distress and severe homesickness. Nonetheless, it was a time of self-discovery and self-improvement. It'd led me to the realization of my passion for baking, cooking, food styling and photography, as well as blogging. I'm thankful for the blessings received along the way. And, a big thank-you to all you out there who'd actually read my rambling! ^_^
Fall colors on display before my old apartment in Bemidji, Minnesota (U.S.A.)
I thought I'd have spare time to write more on this journal of mine during my current short break. Boy, I was SO wrong! Two days ago, I finally met up with Ms. LF, a high school friend of mine whom I hadn't seen for five years ... since graduation! Together with another close classmate of ours Ms. YY, we three chatted for close to three hours like nobody's business in the midst of a shopping mall crowd. I'm glad that this happened though it was a really impromptu thing we did.
Winter wonderland at my university, by Lake Bemidji in northern Minnesota (U.S.A.)
The three of us have decided to organize a potluck-style New Year's countdown gathering at Ms. YY's. There'll be a gang of seven people, including Ms. YY's parents who have been so kind and generous to lend us a place to "party on" and stay at. That said, I'm going to be damn busy with all the shopping, prep work and a driving lesson before the party. I hope your transition to the New Year will be a wonderful, memorable one as well!
To wrap things up for 2009, I'd like to share this fun cookie recipe with you. These fancy-looking cookies give you a real crunch that resembles the one of store-bought crunchy cookies. The sweetness is just perfect. Not overly greasy to taste. They are basically crunchy sugar cookies with a hint of matcha goodness--mind you, just a VERY faint of matcha taste. I suppose the powdered matcha serves mostly as a coloring in this instance. The cookies are so fancy that they make great festive cookies. Fun to make, too! Do try them out if going for a potluck is one of your New Year's Eve agenda. With a little effort, the crowd is going to be so impressed by these adorable cookies of yours.
Two-Toned Cookie Rings 雙色圈餅
Adapted from Home-made Cookie, by Meng Zhaoqing 《孟老師的100道手工餅干》。孟兆慶 著
100g cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
60g powdered sugar
25g egg white, at room temperature
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp powdered matcha
- Combine (A) together and sift once, then set aside for use later
- Briefly blend (B) together with a rubber spatula, then cream them together with hand mixer till combined fully
- Gradually stir in the egg white as you keep beating the creamed mixture, till just incorporated.
- Sift the flour-baking powder mixture onto the creamed mixture; mix them altogether till fully incorporated by hand and with help from rubber spatula--in a random, "irregular" motion. Of course, don't overdo! You should've gotten a fairly soft dough by now.
- Divide the dough into two equal portions. (I weighed mine to be fair ...) Then, blend the cornstarch into one portion of the dough while the powdered matcha into another. Make sure they're thoroughly incorporated, respectively. You should now have a light green-colored dough and a whitish-looking dough.
- Wrap both portions of the dough up in sheet(s) of plastic film to prevent them from drying out, then place them in the refrigerator to chill and let rest for 30 minutes
- Divide both portions of the dough by 5g to get mini portions, then roll each 5g mini portion into 5cm-long cylinder-like shape--make you have the rest covered in plastic film to prevent the dough from drying out. Mind you, it'll be real tough to work with crumbly drier dough
- Take one portion from both the green- and white-colored dough, place them side by side together--of course, slightly and gently "squeeze" them up together, lengthwise, so that they "stick to" each other
- Next, holding on to both ends of the combination, gently twist them up together in opposite directions; however, don't panick if it starts to crack--simply place them onto an unfloured working surface and gently roll them in a direction against you (i.e. as in a forwarding motion) to twist them up. This method should help. =)
- Place the bicolored dough onto an unfloured working surface and gently roll it in a direction against you to get a 12cm-long "rope." Then, join both ends together and pinch them up tightly to seal; "tidy" it up to get a ring shape if necessary. Place shaped dough onto parchment paper-lined baking tray(s)
- Repeat steps 8~10 to the remaining dough, till all used up--if you've divided the dough up evenly via weighing and scaling, there should be just enough for you to make "pairs" out of them. That is, there shouldn't be any odd number.
- Bake at 150C for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes of baking, turn off the oven and continue to bake the cookies with the remainder heat for another five minutes by leaving them in the oven with the oven door closed
This method of baking cookies with the remainder heat dries cookies up nicely without overbrowning them; hence, perfectly colored, dried, crunchy/crispy (un-American) cookies. Instead of chewiness and softness, this type of cookie texture is generally more welcomed and acceptable in Asia and Europe as per my experience and knowledge. (But, don't quote me on that.)
- Transfer the cookies onto wire rack(s) to let cool completely before serving and/or storing in an airtigtht container