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Luba’s Sweets: Sweet gifts and sweet desserts (cookies, lemon loaf and chocolate dip)

I want to share a couple of the recipes we used for our dessert display at Luba’s Bridal Shower. But before I do that, I quickly want to touch on some of the really sweet and thoughtful gifts Luba received.

Here are just three.

1. Her future in-laws gifted some beautiful antique spoons. Some of which have been in their family for nearly 80 years. Many of them have the year printed on them. Pretty cool!

2.In addition to the spoons, they also gifted her a heavily guarded and highly coveted “FAMILY” recipe. Not to be shared with outsiders, and thus welcoming her into the fold.

3. And, her mother gave her a beautiful Russian cookbook so that she can share the recipes and heritage of her culture with her new family.

AHHHHHHH!!!!!! That’s the sort of priceless stuff you can’t register for.

Ok, back to sugary sweets now.

Sugar cookies
The recipe I use regularly to make iced sugar cookies is one that I acquired at a friends’ wedding. For that reason, I refer to it by their names: Sarah and Adam’s sugar cookie recipe. My favorite part about this recipe is that it uses both vanilla and almond extract and I love the addition of the almond extract. The cookies get nice and crispy when they cool, making them easy to decorate. Depending on what kind and how much icing you use, the cookies may softens up once iced. I think they taste yummy with icing, glaze, frosting, dusted with powdered sugar, or drizzled with chocolate. Everything I’ve tried on them…I’ve liked. They’re a fun cookie to get creative with.

Sarah and Adams sugar cookies (adapted from a mysterious wedding favor recipe)

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 cup of butter at room temperature (I use salted)
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cream of tartar

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Set flour mixture aside.
  2. With the paddle attachment of your mixer, and starting on a low setting, mix the sifted sugar, butter, egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Increase the speed once the sugar has been incorporated. Mix until smooth.
  3. With a spatula, stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Stir until the ingredients are well incorporated and you have a slightly sticky dough. Divide the dough in half or thirds and wrap each piece in plastic wrap.
  4. Refrigerate the dough over night, or at least 3 hours.
  5. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
  6. Take out one piece of dough. On a lightly floured surface, with a chilled (or floured) rolling pin, roll the dough out to your desired thickness. I like mine at about 1/8 of an inch (maybe just a little bit thicker).
  7. Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes and place the cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. – If you don’t intend to add icing or frosting to the cookies, you can sprinkle them with granulated or colored sugar before baking.
  8. Bake until the edges are light brown about 8 minutes
  9. Remove cookies from oven. Let cool on sheet just until they are cool and crisp enough to transfer to a cooling rack.
  10. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Once the cookies have cooled completely, you can add icing, frosting, or chocolate to them. Let dry before serving (this may take a while. I always decorate the day before).

Lemon Loaf

Sarah, who co-hosted the shower with me, provided the lemon loaf. She adapted a grapefruit cake recipe she found on Linzers in London. It’s a recipe accredited to Thomas Keller of Ad Hoc.
Knowing that Luba is a fan of lemon, Sarah substituted all the grapefruit ingredients for lemon ingredients in the same quantity. I haven’t had the opportunity to make it myself, but I look forward to trying it out in the future.

Fruit and Warm Chocolate dip

Ingredients: Fruit, milk, brown sugar and chocolate chips

Cut your favorite sturdy and easy to dip fruits into wedges or slices. Don’t cut them too small. We used strawberries, apricots, apples, and bananas.

In a small sauce pan, warm about 1/2 cup of milk over low heat. Add about two heaping teaspoons of brown sugar. Stir milk as it warms (I like to use a whisk). Once it has warmed slightly, add chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli semi-sweet). Continue stirring while chocolate melts, and until it is one uniformed color. Add enough chocolate chips to get a thick enough consistency for dipping. The amount of chocolate chips will vary depending on what kind of milk you use. You will probably use at least 4oz.

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