Did you know that Ontario produces five types of wheat? That’s right! Meandering through the Greenbelt’s fields, you’ll find a variety of wheats, including my all-time favourite, soft red winter wheat. The seed, which is planted in the fall, spends the winter nestled under the snow, then begins to spread its wings and grow in March. Soft red winter wheat and I go way back. In fact, you might know this wheat yourself. Soft red is the largest class of wheat grown in Ontario, and more importantly, is the type of wheat used in cakes and pastries. So what’s a girl to do with a bunch of wheat (i.e. flour), a pile of farm fresh eggs, and some irresistible Ontario butter? With a predicament like that, festive cookies are in order!
Stained Glass Cookies
* 2 cups flour (all-purpose)
* ¼ teaspoon salt
* ½ teaspoon baking powder
* ½ cup unsalted butter
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 large egg
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* A bag of assorted clear colored hard candies (e.g. Jolly Rancher, Life Savers)
Preheat your oven to 325 F degrees, and prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix your dry ingredients in a bowl, and set them aside.
In another bowl, beat butter and sugar for about 3 minutes, to a fluffy consistency. Add egg, and beat the mixture until smooth.
Mix wet and dry ingredients. I started this step with a mixer, but soon discovered it was much easier and more fun to use my hands to finish mixing up the dough. Stir in your vanilla, wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 45 minutes [TIP: if you’re in a rush, pop that baby into the freezer for 10-15 minutes].
Take your cool dough from the fridge, and roll it out on a well-floured work surface. Here’s the fun part: Use cookie cutters (or your imagination and a knife) to cut out cookie shapes. We used two different sized glasses to create a donut shape. Whatever shape you decide on, make sure you leave a hole in the center of your cookie to plop in your “glass”. [TIP: use a straw to punch tiny holes at the top of your cookies, so that you can later string ribbon through, and turn them into ornaments!]. Place your cookies on the baking sheets.
Crush your candy using a bag and your weapon of choice. Sprinkle your candy crumbs into the holes in the center of your cookie dough, and bake the two sheets for 10-12 minutes, or until the candy is melted and your cookies are (very) lightly browned. Let cool, then hold them up to light, remark at how beautiful they are, show them off to your friends, hang them on your tree, and marvel at the fact that most of the ingredients can be sourced right from your backyard!
Now, you might be asking yourself, why on earth have those photographed cookies slithered into the formation of a giant number 5. Well, 2010 marks the 5th anniversary of the Greenbelt, provider of the basic cookie ingredients and so many more tasty treats. So stay tuned and check back for exciting news and events as we usher in the new-year and celebrate the Greenbelt in 2010! Have a happy holiday season, and a wonderful new year!
NOTE: The Greenbelt Fresh Blog will be taking a break, and returning in January 2010.