Did you know that although strawberries have been found in the wild for thousands of years, it was not until the renaissance period in Europe that they were cultivated?
Little is known about the origin of the word strawberry but it is believed that most likely the word comes from the Old English streawberige because the plant sends out runners which could be likened to pieces of straw.
Strawberries are a fruit that is native to North America. It is believed that the first colonists in America shipped the fruit back to Europe as early as 1600s. The variety of strawberry discovered in Central and South America was called futilla by the conquistadors. Initially, the fruit was not cultivated by the early Mercian settlers because the fruit grew wild and was in plentiful supply. However, as its use in desserts became common (particularly strawberries and cream), cultivation began in the early part of the 19th century.
My children love strawberries in any form – fresh fruit, candied fruit or used in any manner in shakes, smoothies, cakes or cookies. That is why I prefer to keep a supply of dried fruit at hand. For my cookies I prefer to use the oven dehydrated variety and not the freeze dried fruit because when the freeze dried fruit is thawed it releases moisture which messes with the consistency of the cookies. The freeze dried or fresh fruit is ideal for shakes and smoothies or even cakes.
My strawberry cookies, ever since I first made them for my kids many years ago, are a hit. They are soft and crumbly, and ooze bursts of flavour. Here is how I make them.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (not melted)
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1egg, plus 1 egg yolk
- 2 teaspoon vanilla essence or 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp strawberry essence
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (needed to balance the sweetness of the cookies)
- 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour (maida)
- 1 1/2 cup chopped dried/dehydrated strawberries
- 1 drop pink food coloring (optional)
Note – If you are partial to chocolate in your cookies then you can use 1 cup white chocolate chips. I prefer not to use.
- Preheat oven to 180 degree C
- Line 2-3 baking trays with parchment/baking paper and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl sift/whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
- In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar together till the mixture turns soft and fluffy (approx 2 minutes) . You can do this by hand but I prefer to use an electric hand held mixer (stand mixer is fine too) as that yields better result.
- Add the whole egg and egg yolk and whisk again till the egg is well combined. Once done, stir in the vanilla essence and the strawberry essence (if using). If you intend to use the pink food colour then add that in at this stage and mix well so that it incorporates well.
- Add the mixture of dry ingredients to the above mixture. Add in batches, whipping all the while till all the dry mix is amalgamated with the wet mix.
- Stir in the strawberries and white chocolate chips (if using). Cover with a cling film and keep in the fridge.
- As is with all the cookie dough using all purpose flour, this too needs to rest in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour before it is baked. This helps the mixture to firm up and the cookies retain their shape during baking.
- After an hour measure out scoops of the dough (I use a medium sized ice cream scoop so that the measurements are even. But, you can use a spoon or just roll the dough into medium sized balls between your palms) and place them on the lined baking trays.
- Bake at 180 degree C for 9-14 minutes (depending on size) till the edges of the cookies firm and they turn slightly golden. The cookies will flatten a bit and also puff up during the baking process. That is normal.
- Allow to cool on a cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- In case your cookies appear slightly undone even after cooling, you can microwave them on high for a minute. That helps them cook and firm up too.