Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cookie #39 - Maine Blueberry Biscuits

I have this very fond memory from my childhood of picking blueberries.  One summer, I was invited to my friend's grandparent's house in Monticello, NY a few times to spend the weekend.  On Saturday mornings, we went out in their backyard and picked wild blueberries for pancakes.  I can almost taste those pancakes.  The blueberries were so tiny and sweet, I had never tasted anything like it before.   
I often think about that summer.  Of riding in the bed of her grandpa's old rusty pick up holding onto a canoe and getting pelted with pebbles from the gravel road we traveled to the lake.  We made up a game that it was hillbillies in the woods shooting at us as we drove by.  We swam in that murky lake until we were water logged and the skin of our finger tips was wrinkled like a prune.  We'd fall asleep in sleeping bags on the covered porch to the sound of the crickets, cicadas and owls. 
Sadly, this friend and I grew apart as some childhood friends do. Our freshman year of high school, our grandmother's both passed on the same day. We came together for a short period during that time of grief and I shared with her my fond memory of her gran's blueberry pancakes.
Fast forward to today, and my 3-year-old daughter's obsession with blueberries.  I keep a bag in the freezer for her.  She'll eat them frozen and be covered in blueberry juice by the time she's done.  I actually bought her a special bib just for blueberry eating.  Actually, it's a smock.  Hey, kid's clothes are expensive and it's the next best thing to letting her eat naked.  Here's an example of what Miss Nee looks like after a bowl full of blueberries:

Now onto the cookie.  These biscuits are known by a rather strange name, which I'm not particularly fond of.  They're called "Smashed Fly Biscuits" because, well, the little dried berries look like smashed flies. Yuck.  They're traditionally made with currants, but I substituted dried wild blueberries. 
They are scrumptious.  They're not an overly sweet cookie - more like a shortbread.  The sugar on top adds a nice crunch and extra sweetness and the egg wash gives them a beautiful glossy finish.  They'd be perfect for breakfast with a cup of tea (or in my case, a Diet Coke - yes, I'm one of those).  I ate a good portion of this batch in the car on my way to work and, of course, I had to share some with Sydney.  Thank goodness they're dried and didn't make too much of a mess on the way to preschool.
I adapted this recipe from a few different ones I found while researching the Smashed Fly Biscuit.  Most of the recipes I found where British and therefore the ingredients are listed by weight. 

Maine Blueberry Biscuits
8 ounces softened butter
6 ounces sugar
2 eggs, separated
Zest of one lemon
14 ounces AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ounces of dried blueberries (that was the package size I could find)
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
Cream butter and sugar together until smooth.  Beat in egg yolks until just combined, then add lemon zest. 
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together and add slowly to the butter/egg mixture until well combined.
Stir in dried blueberries.
Cover the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll dough on a well floured surface until about 1/4" thick.  Cut into desired shapes (I used a 2 1/2" scalloped circle cutter).  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet about 2" apart.
Chill the cut out dough for about 15 minutes before baking. While the dough is chilling, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies are just starting to turn golden.
Whisk the egg whites with about a tablespoon of cool water.
Remove the cookies from the oven and brush one cookie at a time with egg white and then sprinkle with turbinado sugar. 
Return to the oven for about 5 minutes more until the edges are golden.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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