Can you feel it? I definitely can. Summer is coming. Well, it’s definitely taking its time, especially here in the UK, but believe me when I say that at some point it shall be warm. Days are already getting longer and, most surprisingly, we have even had some sunny spells over the last few days. Also, on a more personal (and professional) note, I have recently started working as an interpreting tutor/professor at the same MA I completed 3 years ago at the University of Leeds. I now teach interpreting from and into Italian once a week and I will also be taking part in exams and marking the students’ performances. I have to say, it is a tiring job, but I’m really loving every minute of it! I also made it a personal resolution to bake something for the students each week and not, as you might think, because I want to buy their appreciation but, rather, because you should nourish your body AND your mind. Also, seeing as we only practice for 4 hours on one afternoon, sweet treats provide the necessary sugar boost and distraction to carry on without falling asleep.
Therefore, what better way to celebrate both these wonderful news than with a batch of watermelon cookies? Before you ask, no, they do not taste of watermelon. These are pretty standard vanilla shortbread cookies which are shaped to look like cute watermelon slices. The idea and the recipe come from this video on YouTube, which also details the steps to take in a more visual and interactive way. You will also see my cookies are not as beautifully shaped as the ones in the video even though I followed the recipe word by word. Not sure why that happened, I think maybe brushing the different layers of dough with egg whites before gluing them together would ensure they don’t peel off during baking. Alternatively, make sure your layers adhere well one to the other before you chill them. If you don’t feel comfortable working with food colouring, you can always replace it with natural dyes (beetroot for red and mint for green).
- 170g unsalted butter, softened
- 170g caster sugar
- 1 medium egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 250g plain flour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- red and green gel food colouring
- 50g mini chocolate chips
- In a large bowl or in the bowl of a freestanding mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and the extract and thoroughly combine them.
- Combine the dry ingredients, then slowly add them to the butter mixture and beat until fully incorporated. Remove 1 cup of the dough (I used an actual US cup measuring spoon), then set that aside.
- Use the red food colouring (sparingly, I shall add) to tinge the remaining dough, then shape it into a 15cm log. Wrap it in clingfilm, then put it in the fridge to firm up for a good hour.
- Now take the reserved dough and divide that in half. Wrap one half in clingfilm and put that in the fridge too. Use the green food colouring to dye the rest of the dough, then warp it and chill it.
- When it’s time to assemble the cookie log, take all of the coloured doughs out of the fridge. Roll the white and green ones to 15x16cm rectangles, then wrap them around the red log, starting with the white dough. Make sure to pinch and smooth the seals, then wrap it in clingfilm once more and put it in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
- Pre-heat your oven to 180C and line two baking trays with parchment.
- Remove the log from the fridge, then use a very sharp and clean knife to cut it into 1cm slices. Cut each slice into halves and there you have your watermelon slices! Press the chocolate chips pointy end downwards into the cookies, then bake each batch for 10 minutes. They will start to puff up towards the end of the baking time. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.