I made these cookies to send in care packages to some of our friends, including my friend who always requests birthday cake challenges. (This year, it was meant to be this cheesecake adventure.)
Robin and I went to do a two-person social-distancing “hanami” (well, a walk-through of the blossoms, not a picnic) in Kobe Terrace Park, which is just gorgeous when the cherry blossoms are blooming. I collected some fallen blossoms and a fallen sprig of blossoms (the flowers in the upper left). (Just so we’re clear, if you are doing a cherry-blossom viewing: don’t climb the trees; don’t shake them; do not touch!)
- UW Cherry Blossom Cam – the quad is closed for cherry-blossom viewing due to COVID-19, but you can watch the blossoms online.
- Most of the Seattle Farmer’s Markets are closed due to COVID-19, but you can support the farmers through individual CSAs or through Pacific Coast Harvest, a CSA with delivery/pick up in Greater Seattle (Shoreline to White Center) and the Eastside (Bothell, Redmond, Kirkland, and Bellevue)
- You can also support the market by donating to the Good Farmers Fund or ordering from market vendors.
- A nice story from The South Seattle Emerald about community support and ordering flowers from Blong’s Garden.
Support for Trans Folks
- Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network – if you are a trans woman or trans femme of color or a Two-Spirit person, you can request funds for COVID-19 support from Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network during April 2020. If you are an ally, you can support TWOCSN’s Patreon or TWOCSN’s ongoing GoFundMe to give unrestricted funds to TWOC in need.
- If you are transgender and located anywhere, you can request emergency funding from the Trans Survival Fund from the Gender Reveal podcast. If you’re able to contribute, Molly Woodstock (they/them) can set you up with a direct donation (as PayPal and other cash apps have limits and they’ve donated over $50,000.)
Stay safe out there, folks. I’ll be sharing some (mostly humorous) media suggestions that are providing mental health breaks for me over on Patreon this week.
To make these actually cherry-blossom flavored, you can buy cherry-blossom extract (sakura essensu, さくらエッセンス). I used rose water and hibiscus sugar (my hibiscus sugar is Kitchen Imp brand, but you can also make hibiscus sugar at home), because that’s what I had on hand.
If you’re using cherry-blossom essence, I’d recommend using either sakura sugar (sakura powder in sugar or preserved cherry blossoms rubbed into sugar) or unflavored pink sanding sugar instead of hibiscus sugar. I don’t recommend using sakura salt, like you would for tempura. You need a lot of the salt to get the sakura flavor to come through, more than would complement the sweetness of the cookie.
Yields: ~100 cookies
Time: Total: ~2 hours
Making the dough: 20 minutes
Prep work (pressing cookies and decorating): 35 minutes
Cooking: 50-60 minutes (for 5 cookie sheets)
- 1.5 cups (345 g / 3 sticks / 12 oz ) butter, at room temperature (should be soft but not melted)
- 1 cup (200 g / 7 oz) granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp rose water extract
- 3.5 cups (440 g / 15.5 oz) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 TBSP (30 mL) milk
- Pink or red food coloring (I used gel, but liquid will work too)
- Pink sanding sugar, hibiscus sugar, or sakura sugar
- Cookie press with the five-petal flower ring (I use the Wilton Cookie Max)
- Stand mixer (recommended) or hand mixer
- 3-4 aluminum cookie sheets (not non-stick)
- 1 large bowl, if using a hand mixer
- Silicon spatula
- 2-3 cookie racks
- Place cookie sheets in the refrigerator to cool.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF/175ºC.
- In bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In the stand-mixer bowl (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer), cream butter and sugar together on medium for 7 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a silicon spatula. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts, then beat on medium for 5-7 minutes.
- Remove bowl from stand mixer (or set aside the hand mixer). Stir in the milk and flour gradually with a spoon so as not to overdevelop the gluten, until the dough is combined and no dry flour remains.
- Fill the cookie press canister (I use a spoon for this), and attach the five-petaled flower disk. On an un-greased chilled cookie sheet (no non-stick sprays, no parchment paper!), press out the cookies, about 1-inch apart. One click of the plunger is enough, but it sometimes takes a couple tries to get the first one out after filling the canister.
- Sprinkle with hibiscus sugar/pink sugar.
- Bake 10-12 minutes or just till the edges start to turn light golden brown. Cool for ~2-5 minutes by setting the cookie sheet on a cooling rack. Gently remove from sheet; cool completely. When the sheet is cool enough, clean it and return it to the fridge before pressing more cookies on it.
- If you break some of the cookies, save the “petals” for arranging on a platter.
- Store cookies in an air-tight container (good for about 10 days).