The cherry blossoms are out in my neighborhood and they are so beautiful. There are a lot of trees in my neighborhood with blossoms. It always catches my eye when I see a tree in full bloom; the soft pink haze of a million blossoms is quite a sight. They are the promise that Spring is close and the weather is turning. I heard you can buy (sakura) cherry blossom extract (in Japan) but alas I tried to find some in Japan town and could not locate any. I decided to infuse my sugar cookie recipe with cherry powder to impart a hint of cherry flavor. I know it’s not the same as sakura extract but thought it would taste good to add it to my basic recipe. The cookie dough ends up turning a light pink which is pretty. Cherry blossoms smell so amazing if you get a chance to smell them up close and personal, make sure to stop and take a whiff. If you are not feeling up to decorating the cookies with icing, another great alternative is to take some powdered sugar and mix it with a bit of the cherry powder and toss the cookies in the sugar.
Naturally Flavored Cherry Sugar Cookies
3 Cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. organic cherry powder*
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 Cup + 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 Lg. egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
*I buy my cherry powder at “Spice Ace” in San Francisco. They have an online store: click here for the link.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, cherry powder and salt; set aside. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the extracts; mix. Add in the egg and mix. Add the flour mixture a little at a time and mix until just combined; scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is combined well. Try not to overmix the dough. There will be crumbs; take out the dough and knead softly with your hands. Roll out on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thick (or slightly thicker if you like a thicker cookie). Cut into desired shapes. Place on a Silpat sheet or parchment paper lined cookie sheet and Bake at 350 ° F for 12-15 minutes until the edges just barely start to turn light brown. Let cookies cool on sheets placed on a wire rack for 10 mins. Move the cookies to wire rack to cool completely before icing. Decorate as desired with royal icing.
4 Tbsp. meringue powder
1/2 C cold water
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. clear vanilla
pink (gel) food coloring of choice
Combine the meringue powder and H2O until foamy. Add the sugar a cup at a time [if the sugar is lumpy; make sure to sift it first] and beat on low until combined. Once all the sugar is combined, turn up the mixer to high and beat for about 5 mins. until the meringue forms stiff peaks. Add cold water one tsp. at a time until the mixture is thinned to consistency of heavy cream. Ice the cookies and let the icing dry until the icing is totally dry. This may take overnight. Decorate as desired.