Sure, you can make red, white and blue treats for the 4th of July. But how can you really American 'em up for the holiday?
Like a summer blockbuster movie, these cookies are chock full of explosions: they're both infused and garnished liberally with Pop Rocks. This not only makes them crackle like fireworks but also pays homage to that other all-consuming american obsession: truly trashy candy (and I say this in the most loving way possible).
So--are you ready to make your fourth of July extreme?
Here's how you do it.
1/2 cup (3 1/4 ounces) butter
2/3 cup (4 3/4 ounces) sugar
1/4 cup (2 ounces) buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, to taste
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar till smooth. Add the buttermilk and vanilla, again beating till well-combined. The mixture may look a bit curdled; that's OK.
Add the nutmeg, flour, baking soda and salt to the wet ingredients, and beat until the mixture forms a cohesive dough.
Divide into three parts, mixing one part with blue food coloring (a lot!), one part with red (also a lot) and leave one part plain. This way, you can have a mix of red, white and blue.
At this point, you'll want to break into those Pop Rocks. I put a nice little handful of red (strawberry) and blue (raspberry) into the corresponding balls of dough (you could do a mix in the white dough).
Drop the dough in round blobs onto a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet. They should be a bit bigger than a ping-pong ball, a bit smaller than a golf ball. Using a cookie scoop (or, if you have one, a small ice cream scoop, one that will hold about 2 level tablespoons of liquid) makes this task extremely simple. Leave about 2 inches between the dough balls, as they'll spread as they bake.
Bake the cookies in a preheated 350°F oven for about 12-14 minutes, or when they are just starting to brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack. While you're waiting for them to cool, you'll want to take a small bowl and mix the leftover pop rocks with whatever red, white and blue sprinkles you've got around. Once cool, either top with a generous dollop of frosting (I used cream cheese, below) or put a dollop between two cookies for a sandwich. If you've just frosted the top of the cookie, apply sprinkle mixture to the top or dip it into the bowl if the frosting consistency allows for it; for the sandwiches, you can dip the sides in the bowl so that they pick up the sprinkle mixture.
Cream Cheese Frosting (from Slashfood)
Beat 8 oz. cold cream cheese (not rock solid, but it means you can use it straight out of the refrigerator) with 5 Tbsp. softened butter and 2 tsp. vanilla until combined. Gradually add 2 c. powdered sugar that has been sifted after measuring. Continue to add more sifted powdered sugar until you reach a consistency and sweetness that fits your taste.