I am a girl who likes a good cocktail. I appreciate the ability to mix flavours and the creativity that comes with being a good bartender. It is, I think, an underrated skill.
As Vancouver has become more and more interested in food, it’s also become more and more interested in locally-produced craft beer, wine and spirts, and this makes me really happy. I’d much prefer to support a local producer if possible.
Vancouver Island also has seen a crop of distilleries over the last few years, specializing in gin. Sheringham is killing it right now, winning tons of awards. I have long loved Stump Gin, which tastes like Christmas trees. And then a few years back, Empress 1908 Gin burst onto the scene, and got tons of attention for its delicate qualities and gorgeous blue-purple colour.
I got to visit the distillery in Sydney and see how they make it. The colour comes from Butterfly Pea Tea, which brews up blue, but turns purple when you add acid to it.
This is a classic “sour” recipe. That means you have a base spirit (in this case the Empress 1908 Gin), an acid (often lemon or lime juice), a simple syrup to sweeten (in this case I’m using a plain simple syrup, but it gives you an opportunity to be creative and add another layer by flavouring the simple syrup), and often it’s finished with egg whites. The egg whites foam as you shake the cocktail, making a creamy white foamy layer on the top of the cocktail.
Now, some people have anxieties about consuming raw egg whites, and some people are vegan, so I used aquafaba instead.
And in case you’re worried your cocktail will taste like beans, let me put your mind to rest. I’ve done side-by-side blind taste tests using egg whites and aquafaba, and there’s no way to tell the difference.
So, here is my version of the Empress 1908 Gin Cocktail, but done vegan.
Here’s the weird thing about being a freelancer: my life is often way to busy or not busy enough. It’s really hard to strike the right balance of work when you’re self-employed.
I took the summer off, because I wanted to and, honestly, after teaching 3 courses for 6 months straight, I needed a brain break.
I’ve been back at it since September, but things ramp up slowly. The ramping is now at full capacity, and I have a full plate once again, with teaching, clients, and, I’m very excited to announce, a new business venture I’m launching with a friend in the new year.
But more about that later.
Let’s talk about cookies. Let’s talk about matcha.
This is my friend Karen. If you’re around the Vancouver food scene, you might know her better as TinyBites. I’ve known Karen for ages, our paths have intersected at various work-related things, both in the food and social media worlds.
Well, Karen just had a milestone birthday, and I couldn’t let that go uncelebrated. It needed something some special.
Karen loves matcha, so I knew that had to be the basis of whatever I made.
The concept was a whoopie pie, or a sandwich cookie, inspired by one I’d recently had at Purebread.
So I did some research, experimented with a bunch of different recipes, and these beauties were the final result.
The basis of this recipe is basically a sugar cookie. In terms of technique, it’s most like a snickerdoodle, as you make the dough, then roll it in sugar before baking.
I then made a vanilla buttercream, and sandwiched them together, before drizzling with white chocolate and then bejeweling them with crushed pistachios.
I was really happy with the final result!
Pistachio Bejeweled Matcha Sandwich Cookies
Ingredients for the cookies:
1/2 cup butter, room temp
3/4 cup granulated sugar (with extra for rolling)
2 tsp matcha tea powder
2 tsp vanilla
*green food colouring (optional)*
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups flour
Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of your mixer until fluffy and well combined. Add the egg and the matcha beat again. Add the vanilla, and mix just to incorporate. Add a few drops of green food colouring if desired.
Mix all the dry ingredients together, and then add slowly to the wet ingredients while the mixer is running at the lowest speed.
Stop the motor and scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix again, until everything is incorporated.
The cookie batter will be quite soft, and is probably best if it is refrigerated for about an hour before baking.
Scoop the dough, using a cookie scoop, into your hands and roll into balls. Roll the balls in sugar to coat, then place on the cookie sheet.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes. You want them to be set, but you shouldn’t see any browning on the edges.
Once the cookies are baked, remove from the oven and put them on a baking rack to cool completely while you make the icing.
Ingredients for the icing:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp Bird’s Custard Powder
1 1/2 cups powdered (icing) sugar)
In the bowl of the stand mixer, place the butter. Whip it until it’s smooth. Add the custard powder and the vanilla, and mix again to incorporate.
Add the icing sugar with the mixer off, and then turn it on to its lowest setting to incorporate. Once most of the icing sugar has been beaten in, begin to add milk, a little drizzle at a time, until your icing gets to the right consistency.
Remove from the mixer and spoon into a piping bag.
Ingredients for the garnish:
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
boiling hot water
1/4 cup pistachios, shelled
Create a double boiler by placing a small pan with water in it on the stove. Top the pan with a large metal bowl, and place the chocolate chips inside. Turn on the heat to about medium, and allow the double boiler to gently melt your chocolate chips. Drizzle in a little of the boiling water at a time to get the white chocolate to the consistency where you can easily drizzle it.
Chop the pistachios, and for extra flavour, gently toast them in a dry frying pan on the stove.
Place one cookie face down, and pipe a circle of icing on it. Top with another cookie to make a sandwich. Place all the sandwiches on a parchment-lined baking sheet or on an baking rack over a rimmed baking sheet. With a spoon, drizzle the tops of the cookies with the white chocolate, then sprinkle them all with pistachios. Place in the fridge to set.