As the name suggests shaped cookies or molded cookies are made by molding a pliable dough into decorative shapes. This is achieved either by pressing the dough into a mold or shaping it by hand.
Some of the world’s most exotic cookies are shaped. There is Lebkuchen from Germany, Russian Tea Cakes, Kipfel from Austria, Kourabiedes from Greece and Madeleines from France.
Some cookies are baked in the molds and some are simply shaped by the molds, then turned out and baked.
Of course the most famous of these is shortbread. This type of dough is soft and buttery and easily pushed into a shortbread mold.
It’s not necessary to go out and buy special shortbread molds. Simply use whatever you already have in your kitchen. Fluted flan tins can be used to make petticoat tails. If you don't have a fluted tin, a straight-sided layer pan would do. To make it more decorative press a pattern around the edge.
Square or rectangular pans can be used to make shortbread fingers. Simply press the shortbread dough into the pan, prick the surface with a fork then score the dough into the desired shapes with a knife.
The mold should be brushed with a flavorless oil the first time it is used. Wipe clean with kitchen paper.
Dust with flour each time you use the mold.
Cut a piece of dough roughly the size of the mold and press it firmly into the mold.
Trim the dough by running a knife across the mold.
Gently ease the dough out of the mold.
Some cookies are shaped by hand. The most well known of the hand shaped cookies of course are jumbles, pretzels and thumbprints.
Divide the dough into equal portions of about 1 tablespoon. Roll between the palms of your hands until smooth and rounded.
For thumbprints make an indent with your thumb.
For other cookies, flatten the dough, then make cross-cross lines with a fork.
Cookie stamps are another way of creating beautifully designed cookies. Simply press the top of the cookie dough with the cookie stamp.
Work the dough into a log then cut into 2 inch lengths. Roll the length into a thin, 8 inch rope by rolling it back and forth with your fingers on a lightly floured board. Work from the center outwards to lengthen it.
To make a pretzel, take a piece of dough and roll it into a thin strand about 10 inches long. Lay the rope of dough on a baking sheet in a circle.
Cross one end over the other, with about 1 inch overlap from the ends. Twist the dough where the rope overlaps and fold back on to the circle. Press the ends into the top of the circle.
Tips for Making Molded Cookies
For cookie dough to be able to withstand such handling it needs to be pliant, which is why most molded cookie doughs have a high butter content.
But don’t over work your dough. Try to handle it as little as possible. Work quickly to achieve the shape then leave it alone.
Molded cookies look and cook better when they are the same size and shape. They will certainly bake more evenly. For consistency in size use either a cookie scoop or an ice-cream scoop.
To prevent the dough sticking, lightly oil or grease your hands.
If making ropes use only a little flour on your work surface. Too much flour will result in tough cookies.
Don’t be deterred by some of the exotic sounding names or think that they are too difficult to make. Shaped cookies are definitely worth trying. Many of these cookies are made for special occasions and at holiday time, so mastering these recipes will definitely give you the WOW factor.
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