• Birthday Cookies for Emily. Photo: Adi Shilon.
    Birthday Cookies for Emily. Photo: Adi Shilon.
  • Emily Hand. Photo courtesy of the family
    Emily Hand. Photo courtesy of the family
Recipe

Birthday Cookies for Emily Hand

Their favorite dish: Emily Hand's 9th birthday was on November 17, while she was in captivity. Adi Shilon made her festive birthday cookies

Emily, the girl with the big blue eyes, beautiful golden curls and a heart that always shines bright, is known for her love of life. Her joy is contagious it radiates from her through her ever present smile and open heart. She has a real passion for music and uses every free moment to dance, sing, play and perform. And let’s not forget her witty sense of humor, yes, Emily can go toe to toe with any stand-up comedian. She is always making others laugh.

Emily has a special bond with the people around her and especially, with her older sister Natalie. As a child, Emily did not like her curly hair – every night before bed she wished for straight hair. It is only thanks Natalie, who boasts a head of beautiful curls herself, that Emily learned to love and see the beauty of her golden curls. Over the years, their curls became a common superpower.

Emush, as she is called at home, lived nearly her entire life in Kibbutz Be’eri. Emily was kidnapped from her home by Hamas on October 7th. She celebrated her ninth birthday, on November 17, in captivity.

After 50 days in captivity, Emily was released.

Ingredients for Birthday Cookies

  • 1 cup (230 grams) butter room temperature
  • 1¼ cup (250 grams) Sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract good quality
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons (260 grams) flour
  • 1 tablespoon (10 grams) cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup candy sprinkles rainbow

For Shay Golan's vanilla crembo:

  • 4 egg whites from medium sized eggs
  • 1/2 vanilla pod
  • 2½ cups (300 grams) Sugar
  • scant ½ cup (90 grams) water

Instructions

Prepare the cookies:

  • 1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs and vanilla and continue to mix for another two minutes.

  • 2. In a separate bowl mix all the other ingredients except the sprinkles and add to the mixer. Mix a little bit on low speed. Add the sprinkles, and mix a little more. With a spatula, make sure all the flour is incorporated, wrap the dough and refrigerate for at least an hour (more than an hour is better if you can).  

  • 3. Divide into equal balls of the desired size (I like those weighing 1 oz/30 grams) and bake at 350F (175C) degrees for about 11 minutes until the cookies are no longer shiny on top. Cool.

Prepare the Crembo:

  • 4. Put the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, place the egg whites and the contents of the vanilla bean pod. Only when the mixture on the heat starts to gently bubble should you turn on the mixer to medium speed. If you have a thermometer, you want the sugar/water to reach 240F (116C) degrees. Don't you have a thermometer? No problem! Wait for the big bubbles that first fill the pot to become smaller. It takes about five minutes from the time it begins to boil.  

  • 5. When the egg whites are quite stable (!) gather your patience and start pouring in the sugar water, with the mixer running, in a thin trickle. Continue whipping on low-medium speed until a thick meringue is formed, so that when you insert a finger into it, it comes out with a stiff peak that does not droop.

  • 6. Decorate each cookie with four layers of crembo, just like in the video, stopping completely between layers and sprinkle more candies on top.

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This recipe is part of Adi Shilon’s “Their Favorite Dish” project, which tells the story of 60 abductees through the recreation of their favorite recipe for a pastry or dessert. For all the details and additional recipes in the project.

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