Las Pinches Galletas... How Baking Cookies Helped Me Reconnect to My Inner Creative!
Updated: Jul 11, 2019
Here we go with the pinches galletas but, here’s the thing; if they didn’t bring me so much joy and you wouldn’t ask soooooo many questions about them they’d be long forgotten. So here we are. Cookies are just that; cookies. But man, it’s brought me so much joy to make them and share them. I talked about this a little bit in our last meditation in Chula Vista. For the newbies, my sister and I had this crazy-not-so-crazy idea that we wanted to create a space for us MUJERES to gather and just give each ourselves time to disconnect and reconnect. With ourselves. In my last book signing I got this sense that there was this opportunity to create something for us. So much love and joy and kindness and pride in this community of women and I wanted to grab all of that energy and magic and bottle it up and keep it forever. Next-best thing? Create an event where we could hang out again. Click HERE to RSVP for our July 17th event! I’d never been involved in leading THAT kind of event, so my participation was small. I just talked about cookies and a little bit about how the process of making them and perfecting them has helped me gain some of my creative confidence after having checked out because I was with my kids. I made a conscious decision to step back a little from work when I had the littles. Like I kept passing on events and opportunities that I would have KILLED to be a part of just a couple years prior but nothing had the same appeal as simply staying home to nurse Anna and take a walk with David or fly Fau to summer camp. I knew the risks that this came with and I was totally fine with it. Still am. I truly feel that we pretend to be supportive of moms but, honestly, I only felt protected and cared-for at home and thank Mexican baby Jesus that I had that option --to work less and be with them—because most women don’t. Any who, the hours I spend making them; from picking flowers in my garden and then dehydrating them to making the dough to shaping and baking them… the whole process just has me fully present every single second. I know some attempts have been made unsuccessfully to make them and all I can say is that they do take patience and time and, like everything else, the more you do it the better you get at it.
Here’s the notes/secrets/tips before I get into the actual recipe
Most of them are from my garden. The rest are from Specialty Produce here in San Diego. There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your flowers, the most important is they are not only edible but organically grown. Also, make sure they taste good by actually tasting them. I LOVE the look of these cool fern-looking things (forgot the name, sorry) but they tasted like seaweed and anise mixed together and it was TOTALLY weird for cookies. Some folks use fresh flowers, but I like to dehydrate and completely flatten them first. Pansies and Johnny Jump ups are perfect for that. Lighter colored flowers tend to brown more easily in the dehydration process. Borage is another fave. It flattens into a beautiful purple star. And It loses some of that oyster-like flavor once you dehydrate it. Pineapple sage flowers look EXACTLY like a hummingbird in-flight once flattened. Dianthus is also easy to dehydrate but the white ones do tend to brown. Zinias and chamomile are gorgeous, but they can’t be fully flattened because of their thick center. Same with Marigolds. So with Marigolds and Zinias I take them apart and dry the petals. I have made fun of the use of tweezers in the past and now I’m going to eat my words because I thoroughly enjoy using them to meticulously pick up and arrange petals on my cookies.
I got this one on Amazon. Not expensive but you can easily burn the insert (I did! Had to order a replacement). Follow the instructions and it shouldn’t be a problem I usually go for just 1 minute and, when I have the patience (almost never) I wait for the flowers to cool down a bit before very carefully peeling them off. Once dehydrated I place them in an airtight container and they just hang on top of my microwave until I need them. If I have flowers left over from an even or I see them starting to wild in the garden, I’ll just dehydrate for later use.
I ask for 4 ½ cups of flour but sometimes I use less. I have no less-annoying way to describe it other than I let the dough tell me how much flour it needs. I know. Not helpful. I use a paddle attachment to make the cookies and add the 4 cups into the mixer. I’ll then turn the dough out onto a marble surface and work in whatever I think needs to go in. Just when the dough rolls into a perfect little ball, without sticking, between the palms of your hand is when it’s good.
Follow the refrigeration and freezing instructions if you want a perfectly shaped cookie! Dough needs to rest before being rolled. And once rolled it’s soft enough where you can stamp it with the letters without cracking it to much. You will get some expansion of the cookie when you press the letter on it and if you’re a little psycho like me and want them perfect you can carefully use a knife or an off-set spatula to push back in. The cookies do expand and then contract in the baking process. And you can pull them out of the oven a minute or two sooner if you don’t want them to brown on the edges (I like color!).
For the molds I use these nylon hexagons from Amazon
and I use these letters to press...Amazon
You are welcome. Those molds are awesome. They don’t bend like the metal ones and they have a nice, sharp edge. Easy to clean and store. I use them a lot!
To arrange the flowers on the cookies you can just gently press them on the dough. I like to moisten the cookie in almost the exact area with a little water (applied with a small brush) to make them flatten perfectly. Again, psycho. It’d be all so much easier if you could brush the whole cookie with water and just arrange the flowers but DO NOT DO THAT. They’ll crack funny.
I use a Silpat Silicone Baking Mat to bake them and I use a large, metal baking sheet. I’m usually old-school when it comes to kitchen equipment, but those non-stick mats were a serious game changer for bakers.
You can flavor the cookies with any dehydrated flower or herb. I’ve used dehydrated chamomile, mint and lemon verbena leaves. You just process a little of the sugar with the leaves in the processor and add along with the remainder of the sugar.
Makes 3 dozen cookies using a Hexagon mold with 1 ¾-inch sides
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups (2 ½ sticks, 10oz) unsalted butter, room temperature (this is important!)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks (save whites for another use. Make yourself some meringue J)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ¼ to 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, mix sugar, butter and salt until creamy and smooth. Add eggs and yolks one at a time, blending just until incorporated after each addition. Add vanilla. Add 4 ¼ cups of flour in 3 additions, blending just until incorporated after each addition. Turn dough out onto floured surface. Work in remaining flour as needed and kneed just until dough comes together. Flatten dough into rectangle and divide into two equal pieces. Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Unwrap one dough piece and place on lightly floured surface. I like to bang it a little with my rolling pin to soften it up a little bit. Then roll evenly to ¼-inch thickness. Make sure the dough is evenly rolled out to ensure even baking. Cut shapes using desired cookie cutter and place on baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat. Letter-press cookies with desired language (the dirtier the better) and then tune into your inner artist and arrange those flowers.
Place cookies in freezer 15 minutes while you heat oven to 350F.
Place cookies from freezer directly into oven and bake to desired doneness, 15 to 17 minutes.
Eat all of them by yourself. Ok maybe share two.
Love you. Gracias. M