Astrobaking: US eclipse cookies

Amateur astronomer and baker Katharine Kilgour looks forward to this summer's US eclipse with American-style cookies mimicking the path of totality.

Katharine Kilgour likes to combine her love of astronomy with her love of cooking, making tasty treats to feed herself, her friends and her family Astro-boy (aged 12), Astro-girl (aged 16) and Astro-dad.

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Bake your own Jovian system following Katherine's recipe below.
Image credit: Katherine Kilgour

Astro Girl was just a couple of weeks old when she 'witnessed' her first eclipse.

There would have been better viewing in the south of England, but nevertheless I sat on the back steps of our house in Glasgow with her in my arms as the sky dimmed and the birds went silent.

Her first astronomical event!

When we watched Brian Cox’s Wonders series we were enthralled as the Moon eclipsed the Sun over the Ganges.

It truly is one of the wonders of the cosmos that our Solar System is aligned with the Moon and Sun sized and positioned so that this beautiful event can occur. 

We were able to catch a glimpse of this wonder ourselves in 2015 when the Solar eclipse reached nearer totality in Scotland. That morning the day dawned grey with cloud cover: not promising!

Astro Boy and I were hoping to view the eclipse on our walk to school. As we set out, there was cloud cover but the light was fading.

Halfway to school the cloud thinned, a glimpse of a clipped Sun then … cloud cover!

Reaching the school gates, the clouds thinned again sufficiently to reveal a crescent Sun! Wow!

Meanwhile Astro Girl had convinced her chemistry teacher that an eclipse was more important than the periodic table, at least for one lesson. She headed to the top of the science building and as the clouds thinned she glimpsed the Sun eclipsed over the city.

 

Katherine's capture of the cloudy total solar eclipse of 20 March 2015

 

We are on the wrong continent for the 'Great American Eclipse' of 2017. I’m sure the power of modern technology will beam it live into our homes, so from the comfort of our armchairs we can munch on eclipse cookies and enjoy the views of totality.

If you're not planning on making the trip across the pond yourself, we invite you to do the same!

These are ‘cookies' in the American style: two biscuits sandwiched with buttercream. 


 

Ingredients:

We need two batches of biscuit dough each made with:

150g Butter

50g icing sugar

150g plain flour

2 tbsps custard powder OR 2 tbsps cocoa powder

 

For the icing:

150g icing sugar

25g Butter

½ teaspoon vanilla essence

A little hot water


 

Method:

 

1. Beat together the butter and icing sugar until it is soft and creamy. Mix in the custard powder ensuring everything is thoroughly mixed.

 

 

2. Stir in the flour. 

 

 

3. Bring the dough together into a ball and wrap in cling-film. Refrigerate for half an hour, or until you are ready to roll!

 

4. Make the second batch of dough replacing the custard powder with cocoa powder.

 

5. Roll each colour of dough out to the thickness of a pound coin and use a circular cutter to cut out the light and dark discs.

I used a 5cm cutter and made 48 biscuits from each batch of dough. If you use a cutter with a larger diameter you will need to bake the cookies for a little longer.

 

6. Pair each light circle with a dark one and use the same cutter to cut varying sizes of crescents, or degrees of totality

 

7. Keeping the pairs of biscuits together, swap the cut pieces and place them on a baking tray. You will have pairs of cookies, one looking like the Sun with a ‘bite’ taken. The other will be its reverse!

8. Bake at 180°C for about 10 minutes. When cooked they will be firm but the pale parts will not be coloured. Allow to cool on the baking tray for a couple of minutes before moving to a cooling rack until cold.

9. Make your buttercream filling. Mix together the icing sugar, butter and 10ml hot water. Add a little more hot water, a few drops at a time until your icing is a spreading consistency.

10. Spread a teaspoon of buttercream onto one half of each pair of biscuits and sandwich them together. Alternatively you can use a piping bag to pipe the buttercream on.

11. Make sure you serve the cookies the right way up or, as Astro Boy pointed out when I didn’t, the Sun will be eclipsing the Moon!


All images by Katharine Kilgour

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