While diamonds may be a girl's best friend, these diamond cookies are sure to be everyone's favorite. Coated with granulated sugar to make them “sparkle,” the cookies will add visual diversity to your showcases.
Diamond cookies are tender butter cookies that act as a blank palette for flavors, such as vanilla, chocolate, praline, pistachio or lemon. The cookies originate from France, but their formulation is similar to what many American bakers know as “icebox cookies.” What makes the diamond cookie unique is its formulation, makeup and presentation — a perfectly round disc rolled in sugar.
Ingredient selection: tenderizers and tougheners
The basic diamond cookie is made from flour, butter, sugar and eggs. Because the ingredient list is so minimal, the quality of the ingredients must be high in order to have the desired texture — ethereal, light, crisp and tender.
Cookie dough needs a balance of ingredients that toughen and tenderize. The balance of these two properties is what allows bakers to create the many different types and styles of cookies. Included in the list of ingredients that toughen are flour, starch, cocoa powder, non-fat milk solids, salt, water, milk, whole eggs and egg whites. Ingredients that tenderize include liquid and solid fats, sugars (granulated, superfine and liquid), egg yolks, baking powder and baking soda.
Diamond cookies benefit from low protein bread flour's ability to create just enough strength in the dough. The high quantity of unsalted butter and confectioners' sugar balances the strong flour. Diamond cookies require two types of sugar. Confectioners' sugar is used to make a smoother and more compact dough. Granulated sugar is used on the outside of the cookie just before baking, creating the glittery, textured appearance of a diamond.
Formula and process
The process of the formula is as important as the ingredient selection. Several techniques are common in cookie production and each of them yields different results. Here are the most common techniques:
Soft butter creaming method
Creaming method — Based on the blending of butter and granulated sugar, the main function is to incorporate air to lighten texture and promote spread.
Sponge method — Based on various egg foams to create a light matrix of air bubbles as the base for batters used for products like langue du chat or Parisian macaron.
Sablér or sanding method — Based on blending cold butter into the dry ingredients, and then adding eggs and or liquids. This is the classic technique used for tart dough and cookie dough that exhibits little to no spread.
Shaping, storing and baking
Soft butter creaming method — When compact dough is needed with limited spread, the creaming method is used, but with a modification in ingredient characteristics: the butter must be very soft to limit air incorporation.
Formulas that are made using the soft butter creaming method also may be made using the sablér or sanding method. The end result is the same — a dough with butter spread throughout with almost no air incorporation. The compact texture of a dough limits spread and shrinkage while increasing the tender properties of the final product. For practical purposes, most people now use the soft butter creaming method in the production of tart dough and products like diamond cookies because there is more consistency in the final product.
Before beginning the mixing process, all ingredients should be ready: butter should be soft; eggs should be room temperature (65°F to 70°F); confectioners' sugar (and any other lumpy ingredients) should be sieved.
Once all is ready, mix the butter with a paddle attachment until smooth. Next, add the confectioners' sugar, and mix on low speed. Add the eggs, and blend until incorporated. It is important not to over mix once the sugar is added and to use eggs that are a similar temperature to the butter. Over mixing once the sugar is added runs the risk of adding too much air to the dough and cooler egg temperatures can cause the fat to become cold. If the fat becomes cold, it is less likely to spread evenly throughout the dough. Next, add the flour and other dry ingredients, such as cocoa powder, and mix to incorporation. After mixing, place the dough in the refrigerator to cool for easier handling.
Shaping, storing and baking
Diamond cookies are typically round discs. In order to achieve this shape, the dough is portioned by weight, rolled into logs and chilled or frozen until needed. (If well wrapped, unbaked dough has a frozen shelf life of several weeks and a refrigerated shelf life of several days.) Lightly brush the dough with egg wash, dredge in granulated sugar and cut into individual portions just before baking to ensure the sugar does not dissolve. Bake the cookies at a moderate temperature (300°F to 325°F) to ensure they bake through, yet don't take on much color. Once baked and cooled, the cookies have a shelf life of several days or longer if packaged in plastic.
Diamond cookies are easy and inexpensive to produce. Even though butter is used, the cookies have a low food and labor cost. Following a few simple guidelines for process, storage and baking, diamond cookies are an easy addition to any product line-up and add nice visual diversity. Make some diamonds to add another highly addictive product to your line.
|Butter, soft||1||2.5||528 g||88.5|
|Confectioners' sugar||7.6||215 g||36|
|Egg yolks||1.9||54 g||9|
|Vanilla bean, one |
|Total appr. wt.||3||1||1.394 kg||233.5|
|Confectioners' sugar||7.4||210 g||40|
|Whole eggs||2.3||66 g||12.5|
|Bread flour||1||2.5||525 g||100|
|Cocoa powder||2.3||66 g||12.5|
|Total appr. wt.||3||1.3||1.4 kg||266.5|
Method: In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter with the vanilla bean seeds (vanilla only) until smooth. Add the sifted confectioners' sugar, and incorporate. Next, add the egg yolks/whole eggs, and mix until incorporated. Add the flour (cocoa powder and salt for the chocolate), and mix until just combined. Divide into 12.3-oz. (350-g) portions and refrigerate until cool. Once cold, roll into logs the width of a sheet pan and place in the refrigerator or freezer. When ready to bake, brush each log lightly with egg wash and roll in granulated sugar. Cut into slices 1 cm thick, and place on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake at 300°F to 325°F for 10 to 12 minutes or until just baked through.
Brian Wood is the founder of Baking and Pastry Solutions, a company focused on assisting baking and pastry operations with product development, employee training and more. To learn more, visit tourrier.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Brian would like to thank the San Francisco Baking Institute (SFBI) for the use of its facility for the photo shoot for this article. All photos are by Frank Wing.
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For information on how to use honey in a variety of bakery formulas, visit the National Honey Board's website at www.honey.com.