The Gentleman’s Sour Cream Sugar Cookie – Pillowy Perfection for Decorating

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Does it seem I make a disproportionate amount of sweets? I think it’s my genetic legacy; my Granny never skips dessert. And when we have family gatherings there’s always a “sampler” – multiple choices. It’s a wonder we’re not all obese.

But holidays and occasions, like Wednesdays or laundry day, warrant special treats, and that’s what I am going to deliver.

I am sure you’re familiar with those plastic containers of sweet, sweet pillowy cookies in the bakery at the market. Well, why not take that idea and improve upon it? I am also going to offer you two icing options: one that will set up and harden, and one that will be smoother and creamier. The choice is yours.

The secret here is the sour cream. It established the light textural component that give this cookie its signature bite.

I had a little kitchen helper during my test run. This is my 2 year old nephew, Tyce. Making cookies with family always makes it more fun.

So let’s get going!

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup butter flavor Crisco
  • 2 cups white sugar (vanilla sugar would be especially nice*)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 5 1/2 cups flour

Turn your oven on to 375 and allow to preheat. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream butter, Crisco, and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. A teaspoon of almond extract would also be nice here if you like that flavor.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add a cup at a time to the bowl with the mixer on low. Mix ONLY until combined.

Working in batches, roll onto a floured surface, 1/4 to 1/3 inch thickness. Yes, that is on the thick side for a sugar cookie. Just trust me here.

Use your favorite cookie cutter and stamp out shapes. Now, given the consistency of this dough, intricate forms are going to really frustrate you. Stick with basics.

Put the cut dough on the parchment lined sheets, and slide them into the preheated oven.

Watch them like a hawk! You will want to pull them when they are still very pale and NOT browned. I pulled mine at only 6 minutes (using a convection oven) and they were perfect. Really, timing is crucial.

Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

And now the fun begins!

Royal icing dries hard, which is best for intricate decorating. Here’s how you make that:

What you need:

  • 3 cups 10x powdered sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • vanilla or almond extract
  • possibly a few drops of water

In a very clean electric mixer bowl, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they get white-ish. Sift the powdered sugar and add it to the eggs. Add your favorite flavoring component.

Beat until everything is combined. Depending on your needs, determine whether you need a drop or two of water. Remember, you are one frosting these things, so get it to the consistency that you need. Add colors, etc, and use your creativity!

Option #2 is a stiff buttercream that actually tastes better than royal icing, but doesn’t set up super hard.

What you need:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine softened butter and sifted powdered sugar. Allow to combine, add flavorings. Eyeball the milk quantity; start with 2 tablespoons. If you want it a little looser add a third.

Frost to your heart’s content!

I hope this brings your taste buds and tummies holiday happiness.

xo,

The Gentleman Caller

Full downloadable PDF here: Sour Cream Sugar Cookie

*vanilla sugar: fill a jar with regular white sugar. Insert a vanilla bean and allow to sit for a few weeks. The sugar will take on the aroma.

SPICY! The Gentleman Caller’s Texas Style Giardeniera

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

For years I have wondered about giardeniera. Seen it in grocery stores in jars, purveyed in specialty stores in big buckets and such. And here’s the thing: when I finally decided to taste it after years of passing curiosity I LOVED IT.

Its bright, briny bouquet and the textures of the cauliflower and carrot was a treat for my tongue. Mind you, I am a lover of pickled things. I even like pickled eggs.

Froberg’s Farm in Alvin, TX

But back on topic, I was down in Alvin, sauntering through Froberg’s assessing the vegetable selection and it hit me… use Texas-y vegetables like okra and jalapeños, and concoct a giardeniera befitting The Gentleman Caller.

This is a great accompaniment on a relish tray, and works great in a bloody mary.

Get out your jars and let’s get pickled!

What you need:

  • 3 carrots
  • 3 large jalapeños
  • 15 okra
  • 15 green beans
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup white vinegar, 5% acidity
  • about 3 cups of water
  • 3 tbsp peppercorns
  • 3 tsp celery seed
  • lemon peel, optional
  • jars, rings and lids to make 3 pints total

Wash your vegetables. Peel carrots, take tops off okra and jalapeños, remove the stem end of the green beans. Slice jalapeños in 1/8 inch slices, cut the carrots on an angle (see video for suggestions with flare).

Sterilize your jars by boiling them for 10 minutes in a stock pot full of water. When you remove them, add the lids and rings so that the rubber on the ring can soften.

In the microwave or a sauce pan, combine liquids, sugar and salt. bring liquid to a boil and allow everything to dissolve. Remove from heat.

Stuff the vegetables equitably into the jars. You need to really pack them full and evenly. There should be 2 cloves of garlic per pint.

Top the vegetables with peppercorns, 1 tbsp per pint, and celery seed, one tsp per pint. Pour liquid allowing 1/2 inch at the top.

Top with hot rings and lids, carefully avoiding touching the interior sides with your dirty little mitts!

Bring water in the stock pot back to a boil and process the jars upright for 20 minutes. The jars should be covered with at least an inch of water.

Remove from boiling water. Allow to sit for 2, 3, 4 weeks before you crack one open. The longer they sit, the tastier they’ll be!

This is The Gentleman Caller signing out!

Downloadable PDF here: The Gentleman Caller’s Texas Style Giardeniera

 

Beating the Bushes! The Gentleman Caller extracts old shrubs with the help of an engine hoist and tow strap

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Extracting shrubs. A chore that conjures notions of swinging an ax and breaking your back with a sharp shooter shovel.

Not anymore.

An engine hoist (machine hoist) is easily rent-able.

Rent yourself one, and get a tow strap, really sturdy rope or thick chain. This sounds difficult. It’s not. Once you have the formula down, it’s repeat, repeat, repeat until you’ve accomplished your goal.

So go on, take the challenge. Replace those dated shrubs. I know you can do it.

Come back for part 2, the fun part. Re-planting.

XO,

The Gentleman Caller

 

 

 

The Gentleman Caller’s Texas Gin and Cucumber Martini

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Ahhh, it’s coming. Summertime. Cut offs and cowboy boots. Oh, wait, I outgrew that when I was 6. It was an interesting look though. Maybe I’ll try to bring it back this year.

I digress. Texas has had a lot of distilleries pop up in the last decade or so, and some of them are doing tremendous business. When I was down there a few weeks ago, I went to the local hooch house and eyeballed what they had that was fun and new. I ended up bringing back to New York a gin called Old Highborn. It’s nice, smooth, and very affordable.

Now if you come here much, you know I like a cucumber. I wanted to fuse the summery cucumber and the dry gin in a glass with a lovely froth on top. I did a little testing and now present you The Gentleman Caller’s Texas Gin and Cucumber Martini. This makes two 4 to 5 ounce martinis or one fish bowl, ya lush.

What you need:

  • 3 ounces dry gin (I used Old Highborn)
  • 1 ounce elderflower liqueur
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 of a large cucumber, rough peeled and chopped
  • 1 egg white

Put 2 martini glasses in the freezer or fill with crushed ice.

Muddle the cucumber pieces thoroughly and then press the juice through a wire mesh, careful to keep seeds out of the liquid.

Fill a shaker halfway with ice. Add gin, elderflower liqueur, simple syrup, lemon juice, strained cucumber juice, and egg white. Shake like crazy.

Strain into chilled glasses. Garnish with cucumber skin if you like, but really the egg white froth is quite enough fanfare.

Enjoy!

Downloadable PDF here: The Gentleman Caller’s Texas Gin and Cucumber Martini

Cheers to you,

The Gentleman Caller

The Gentleman Caller’s Texas Gin and Cucumber Martini

 

Pineapple! Buttershots! Individual! Upside down! The Gentleman’s Individual Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Few things tickle my tastebuds more than a sweet, sweet pineapple. It is easily one of my most favorite fruits.

I was contemplating test recipes one afternoon recently, and I was reminded of one of the staples my Granny used to make: the lemon Jell-o cake. Lemon Jell-o cake is really tart and tasty, but it’s old school, not exactly revolutionary, and employs a boxed cake mix. That’s not really in keeping with what I am peddling here.

But the texture of the cake is something to want to emulate. So I got on the internet to see if they made pineapple Jell-o, and sure enough, they do!

Would this be delicious as an individual cake in a little ramekin like a soufflé? What if I amended the caramel sauce in the bottom by amping it up with DeKuyper Buttershots liqueur?

I set to the kitchen, did some tests and found out. And my taste buds have not been the same since.

So here it is, The Gentleman’s Individual Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

What you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted (I use Swans Down)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, room temperature, +3 tablespoons butter (9 total)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 – 3 oz box Island Pineapple Jell-o
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 6 pineapple rounds, 1/2 inch thick
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 to 2 oz DeKuyper Buttershots liqueur
  • additional room temp butter for lubricating ramekins

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

If you haven’t already, remove the skin and top and bottom from your pineapple. Remove woody core and cut into 1/2 inch slices exactly the circumference of your ramekins. Set aside.

Combine first 3 ingredients.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together 6 tablespoons butter and white sugar. Add the Jell-o, egg yolks and vanilla; mix thoroughly.

Add the dry ingredients and buttermilk, alternating dry, wet, dry, wet, dry. DO NOT OVERMIX.

Beat the eggs whites until they are stiff. Not meringue stiff, but very fluffy. Gently, with a spatula, fold the egg whites into the batter. The batter will be quite stiff.

Thoroughly butter the insides of 6 ramekins.

In a saucepan, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the dark brown sugar and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves completely and is bubbly. Turn off the flame and add Buttershots, continuing to whisk. The mixture will hiss when the liqueur is added. Don’t be alarmed.

Evenly distribute the caramel into the bottom of the ramekins. Place a pineapple ring on top of the caramel. Use a 1/2 cup measuring cup to spoon batter on top of the pineapple and caramel.

Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and put into the pre-heated oven for 17 minutes. Cook them until just done – which means start eye-balling them at 14 minutes to insure they don’t over cook.

Remove and allow to cool. Using a paring knife, score around the perimeter so the cake will easily separate from the vessel.

Eat. Enjoy. Have a party in your mouth.

This would also work well with 2 mini 6″ cast iron skillets, or 1 12″ cast iron. Use your brain, adjust accordingly. If you have questions, shoot me a message. The Gentleman Caller is always here for help.

That’s all for now.

The Gentleman Caller

Click here for PDF: The Gentleman Caller’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake

The Gentleman Caller’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake