Ok, I already know that these are controversial. I grew up going to Roman Catholic church schools and then, when we moved to the States, a very conservative Christian school. If I hadn't developed a bit of a sense of humour about the whole thing, I'd either be in a convent or in prison by now.
I made raspberry jam filled stigmata cupcakes a few years ago, and they went down well. The fact that every time Drew and Christian ate one, one would say "The body of Christ" and the other "Amen" did feel rather blasphemous, even to me.
Last summer I came across a shiny new hand-shaped cookie cutter, which I snapped up in excitement. It has sat for the past eight months next to the Easter cutters, just waiting for its debut.
I have made 'proper' Easter cookies too, but to me, these have far more to do with the actual holiday than eggs, bunnies, flowers and lambs.
I have made the royal icing rather thin, so that I can paint it on instead of pipe it and I use raspberry jam with the seeds still in because the texture is better. I toyed with the idea of liquorice nails sticking out ofthe wounds, but I thought that might be a step too far, and wouldn't taste at all good.
Stigmata Sandwich Cookies With Raspberry Filling
Makes about 3 dozen sandwich cookies
340g (12oz) butter
400g (14oz) golden caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
625g (1lb, 6oz) plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 pinches, salt
For the icing:
450g (1 lb) icing (confectioners) sugar
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lime
brown gel food colour
red gel food colour
yellow gel food colour
Good raspberry jam (I use Bonne Maman)
In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until pale and smooth. beat the eggs in one at a time, making sure each is well incorporated before adding the next. I learned for the umpteenth time not to keep the mixer going while you crack each egg in, as you'll more than likely drop a shell in and then spend the next twenty minutes picking shell out of the mix...
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, and stir well into the buttery mix. Scoop this lovely lot into a big ball and wrap in clingfilm. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or until tomorrow.
Divide the ball of dough roughly into 4 balls, rolling out one at a time and keeping the others wrapped until you need them.
Turn your oven to 170C (340F)
Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface to a thickness of about 5mm (1/4") and use your hand-shaped cookie cutter to cut out your shapes. Flip every other one over and cut out a circle from the centre of it. I used the metal screw lid form a bottle of glycerine, but just try to find something about 1cm (1/2") in diameter with a sharp edge. If you want to create both hands, then on every-other pair, cut the hole out of the other hand. That way you'll have a back and a front for both left and right hands.
As you go, lay the hands on an ungreased, cool cookie sheet and (as I learned later) use the cutter as a guide to position the fingers properly, as they'll wiggle about when you move them. If the fingers are all over the place, they wont line up when placed back to back as a sandwich.
refrigerate each tray of cookies for a few minutes before baking for 8-10 minutes, you want the edges to just be going golden. Remove from the oven and cool on the sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into the bowl and pour the juices over, stirring constantly to combine. You may need to add a little more juice or water to make the mixture smooth and about the consistency of custard. It should not hold its shape for more than half a second when drizzled back on itself in the bowl. Use a toothpick to add a teeny tiny bit of the brown, a little less red and even less yellow colouring to make the flesh colour of your choice and mix well.
Use a pastry brush or large, clean paintbrush to paint the icing over the hands with the holes in and leave at room temperature for an hour to set/dry.
Use a teaspoon to put a blob of jam in the centre of the hand without the hole, then top with the holey hand and squeeze together so that the jam oozes out of the hole a little.
Now go to church.