In the introduction to these Gold Dust Cookies Nigella Lawson acknowledges that the holidays are a time when it's OK to be a little vulgar. Whether it's overdecorating, overspending, or overeating, this is the time of year when we all feel we have a free pass to overindulge, at least a little.
These cookies from Nigella Christmas try to rein in the vulgarity by countering it with a bit of elegance. Yes, these are festively decorated cookies but they certainly aren't dripping with saccharin-sweet icing. They are refined, delicately flavored, and tastefully finished.
The cookies start with a ginger flavored dough that Lawson describes as wonderfully pliable. Reading the recipe I was a bit concerned pliable meant sticky but the dough rolled out in a perfect sheet with minimal flouring. The stars are cut, baked, cooled, and then gilded with edible gold dust. Lawson recommends using a small paint brush or an eyeshadow brush, a very Nigella suggestion.
My little stars came out of the oven a bit fatter than they went in, lending a very sweet and almost cartoonish look, and the slightly browned edges matched the sparkly gold centers perfectly.
Win Nigella Christmas
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Nigella Christmas to give away this week.
- Yield:about 30 cookies, depending on size
- 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) soft butter
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger (or vanilla extract)
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Edible gold dust cluster or glitter flakes
Cream the butter and sugar together until whipped soft and pale, then beat in the egg, followed by the ginger (or vanilla), flour, baking powder and salt and continue mixing until it all comes together to make a soft dough.
Form into two discs, wrap each one in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet or two with parchment paper.
Cut into shapes, dipping the cutter into flour as you go, and place the first cookies a little apart on the lined cookie sheet/s. Keep the scraps of the first disc, to mix with the scraps of the second and roll and cut, reroll and cut, until you've used up the mixture. This is a wonderfully pliable dough, which makes it an unstressful joy to work with.
Bake in the oven 8 to 12 minutes: this depends on their shape, how many sheets are in the oven at the same time, and whether on the upper or lower shelf, though you can swap them around after about 5 minutes. When they're ready, expect them to be tinged a pronounced pale gold around the edges; they'll be softish still in the middle, but will harden on cooling.
Take the sheets out of the oven, remove the cookies, with a flat, preferably flexible spatula, to a wire rack and let cool.
Using a small (unused) paintbrush or eyeshadow brush, dip in the edible gold dust or glitter flakes, and give each cookie its gilded coating.