If you live in the US, it was Memorial Day this past weekend and all of us folks got treated with a three day weekend. Did everybody enjoy themselves? I kicked it off by stupidly signing up for a hardcore workout class at 5PM on Friday evening, thinking to myself that since it was a holiday weekend, only a handful of folks would show up. NOPE. Because do you know who else signs up for a 5PM Friday evening workout? All the super scary and intense people, that’s who. So after I got my ass kicked at the gym, I spent Saturday hobbling around my kitchen making buttermilk pies for #weeknightbakingbook, and on Sunday proceeded to continue my tour of Portland’s best biscuits (article for Eater coming soon!) before abandoning a planned hike to throw an impromptu margarita night instead.
Since Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer in the US, I’d say that it was a pretty good kickoff to the season. Part of the reason why I quit working my tech job full time last summer was because I’d burned myself out. I’d was working too much at my day job and my blog, neglecting my health and social life. The start of summer this year means that nearly almost nine months have passed since I quit, and it seems like I’m definitely back on track in terms of working out on a regular basis and seeing my friends more and more. I’m still working a ton (especially on that pesky cookbook of mine), but I feel like life is better and I am here for it.
This weekend, we also stopped by Portland’s largest farmers market to check out the produce in season. Although there were a ton of stalls selling strawberries, they were kindof… (whispers)… bad?! I think it’s still too early in the season for the super sweet, bursting-in-your-mouth, diabetes inducing (in a good way) variety. The rhubarb was looking dope though, so I picked up a batch to turn into frosting for these custard yo-yos:
This recipe comes from Ottolenghi’s dessert book, Sweet. I’ve had the recipe bookmarked for ages, but was scared to try anything since the first edition had a crazy ton of mistakes and they actually had to resend everybody a new copy (????). With the new edition though, the recipe for these cookies came out perfectly! The cookies use custard powder, a Very British ingredient that gives them their sunny yellow color and a perfect vanilla flavor that compliments the sourness from the rhubarb perfectly. Be sure to check out my Baker’s Notes below for sources; enjoy!
- Custard powder is an ingredient that is apparently ubiquitous in the UK and Australia, but not so much in the US — I had to do some digging around to find it, and eventually found a tin at World Market and Amazon. Think of it as the British version of instant pudding mix, but classier and more vanilla-ey. The powder results in a pretty pale yellow custard, which you can also see in the cookies. In a pinch, you can substitute with cornstarch but you’ll need to up the amount of vanilla extract to the recipe by 1/2 teaspoon and add a few drops of yellow food coloring to achieve the color. You can probably try using instant pudding mix too, but I haven’t done that myself so I can’t personally vouch for it.
- To shape the cookies, you’ll need to pull out your Play-Doh skills from kindergarten and roll the dough up into perfect little balls and use a fork to smoosh them to get their signature lines. It helps to have a 1-tablespoon cookie dough scoop to portion out the dough; you’ll be sandwiching the cookies together, so it really helps to make sure you’re getting equal sizes!
Custard Yo-Yos with Rhubarb Buttercream Frosting
For the Rhubarb Frosting
- 4 ounces rhubarb, trimmed, washed, and cut into 1-inch lengths
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
For the Custard Yo-Yos
- 1 1/3 cups (6 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) custard powder (see baker's notes for sources and substitutions)
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) confectioners' sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Rhubarb Frosting
- Center a rack in the oven to 350 (F). Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper and spread 4 ounces rhubarb out on the lined baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, or until softened. Remove from oven and allow to cool before transferring to the bowl of a food processor. Process to a puree, then add 1/4 cup butter. Sift in 1 cup confectioners' sugar, add 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, and continue to process for a couple of minutes; it seems like a long time, but you want the frosting to thicken, which it will do as it's whipped. Transfer to a small bowl and chill in the fridge to firm up as you make the cookies.
For the Custard Yo-Yos
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325 (F). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Combine 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup custard powder, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt in the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment in place. Beat on low speed until combined. Add 3/4 cup cold, cubed unsalted butter and continue to beat on low speed until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, about 3 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and increase the mixer speed to medium, beating for about 30 seconds until the dough comes together.
- Use a 1 tablespoon cookie dough scoop to portion out 24 cookie dough balls. Use your hands to roll them into perfect balls, like you did with Play-Doh when you were a tiny kiddo. Dip the prongs of a small fork in flour and gently but firmly press the prongs down into the middle of each cookie. The balls will increase to about 1 1/2 inches; don't press all the way down to the bottom, you just want to create firm lines in the dough rather than force them to spread out.
- Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven; the cookies will be dry on the bottom but not too browned. They will be relatively fragile when warm but still firm to the touch. Leave the cookies on their baking sheets to cool for 5 minutes before transferring each cookie to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Sandwich pairs of cookies together with the frosting, with the “forked” sides facing outward. You should use about 1/2 ounce of frosting in each cookie. It will seem like a lot, but the cookies can take it!