Macaroon Cookies

Chocolate Pistachio Macaroons

Chocolate Pistachio Macaroons

During my time in college I roomed with a gal who was Jewish.  We became close friends and continued rooming together throughout our four years.  This resulted in many visits to her home, and time spent with her parents and sisters.  As a result I felt that I became one of the family, learning about Jewish Holidays and food traditions.  I have participated in the Seder meal for Passover and become acquainted with the traditional foods that are eaten during this time and the need for unleavened breads and baked goods.

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One of the popular desserts served at this meal is macaroon cookies.  I have a strong affinity for these cookies, and I always stop to admire them whenever I pass a Jewish Deli or bakery.  Jewish baking has tremendous significance, and the ingredients and shapes are directly tied to specific holidays when they are prepared.  For Passover, observant Jews eat unleavened foods to commemorate their ancestors’ hurried departure from Egypt.  These macaroons are flourless and get their texture from egg whites, making them the ideal cookie for the holiday.IMG_6992

The basic macaroon, while certainly enjoyable without anything added, can be “dressed up” with additions and minor changes to its shape.  What I’ve included here are several ways to embellish these sweet, delectable cookies if you should choose to do so.  They are very easy to make, and I’m sure you will enjoy them with or without the extras.  The cookies pictured in my photos are the chocolate pistachio variety.

COCONUT MACAROONSIMG_6988

Yield:  Makes about 30 macaroons

Ingredients:

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 (14-ounce) package shredded, sweetened coconut

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 325*F.  and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites till foamy, add the sugar, salt and vanilla mixing well.  Fold in the coconut.

2.  Scoop heaping tablespoons of the coconut mixture about 1-inch apart onto the baking sheet.  Using your fingers (dampened) to form into pyramids.

Use your fingers to form into pyramid shapes.

Use your fingers to form into pyramid shapes.

Bake until golden brown around the edges, 20 – 25 minutes.  Let cool 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Golden brown around the edges when fully baked.

Golden brown around the edges when fully baked.

Variations:

1.  Chocolate Pistachio:  Substitute 1/4 tsp. almond extract for the vanilla and stir in 1/2 cup chopped dried cherries before adding the coconut.  Bake as directed and cool.   Melt some semisweet chocolate chips in the microwave until smooth.  Dip the tops of the macaroons into the chocolate, sprinkle with chopped pistachios and chill until set.

Dipping the tops into melted chocolate and sprinkling with pistachios.

Dipping the tops into melted chocolate and sprinkling with pistachios.

2.  Cocoa-Cinnamon:  Whisk 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1 teaspoon grated orange zest into the egg white mixture before adding the coconut.

3.  Run-Raisin:  Stir 1/4 cup dark rum and 1/3 cup raisins into the egg white mixture before adding the coconut.

4.  Raspberry Thumbprints:  Scoop the macaroon mixture onto the baking sheet; bake 10 minutes.  Make an indentation in each cookie using the back of a teaspoon, or a cork;  fill with 1/4 tsp. raspberry jam, then continue baking until golden brown around the edges, 10 to 15 minutes more.

SOURCE:  FOOD NETWORK MAGAZINE

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Black Bottom Coconut Bars

 

Black Bottom Coconut Bars

Black Bottom Coconut Bars

The name of these bars sounds like a dance right out of the “roaring 20’s”.  But, no, we are going to bake and eat them.  Oh, Yum!

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Coconut and chocolate is a flavor combination I particularly love, and recently I’ve had a craving for coconut. It’s been so bad that I over-bought coconut; would you believe in my pantry there are three bags of shredded, two bags of flakes, and a container of “chips”. Not to mention a large package of “bite-size” Mounds bars!!    What was I thinking?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that when a craving strikes the best thing to do is give in to it.  So I baked these bars.  A friend’s birthday was my reason for baking, but at the same time I reasoned, I could have 1-2 bars to “taste”, and hopefully that would be the end to my craving.  We’ll just see how that works out…..

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These bars are moist chewy brownies on the bottom, with a wonderfully, gooey, coconut-y mixture on top, and that layer is topped with more coconut that I toasted and sprinkled over all.   Let me tell you, it’s a good thing I gave most of these away or I could have eaten them all myself.   They are incredibly good.  I’m thinking they would make a perfect dessert for Easter. 😀

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If you like brownies and you like coconut, you really need to try these seriously addictive bars.

BLACK BOTTOM COCONUT BARS

Yield:   16 – 24 bars

Ingredients:

For the brownie layer:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powderIMG_0261
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

For the coconut layer:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 7 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut,  reserve 1/2 cup for sprinkling on top

Instructions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.   Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang.  Spray bottom and sides of paper lining.

2.  Toast the reserved 1/2 cup coconut by spreading on a baking sheet and baking for about 5 – 7 minutes.  Watch carefully that it doesn’t get too dark.  Stir twice during baking time.  Remove and set aside for later.

3.  Make brownie layer:  using a microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in microwave.  Whisk in sugar and salt.  Whisk in egg, then cocoa powder and flour.  Mix until smooth.  Spread evenly in prepared pan.

4.  Bake for 10-15 minutes.  The sides should be starting to pull away from the pan. Don’t over bake.  Set aside while you make the topping.

5.  Make coconut layer:  Whisk eggs with sugar and coconut extract.

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Mix in flour and coconut.  Drop mounds of topping onto chocolate base.  Spread and press into base with moistened fingers.  Sprinkle with the toasted coconut.

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6.  Bake 25 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached.  Cool completely in pan.  Then remove from pan using the overhang.  Peel back paper or foil, and cut into bars.  Store in an airtight container for 3 -4  days.

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Don’t wait.   Go. Now. Make these bars.

 

SOURCE:  Adapted from Martha Stewart

 

 

 

Orange Cardamom Madeleines

Orange Cardamom Madeleines

Orange Cardamom Madeleines

History is uncertain as to the exact origins of madeleines, but it is certain that these small, delicate cakes were first made in France.   Was it Louis XV’s father-in-law who introduced them to the court of Versailles way back in 1730?  Was it an accident discovered by a pastry chef and then kept secret for many years?  Who knows?  And really, do we care?  What matters is that these simple little cakes, these simply divine creations made of flour, butter, eggs and sugar are simply wonderful.

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Madeleines conform to the configuration of the pan they are baked in.  They are small, ridged, and elongated–somewhat like a shell shape.  A madeleine made in any other form is not a madeleine.

Traditionally these cakes are not particularly sweet, and therefore appeal more to grownups sipping their tea or coffee than to children who like their treats a little sweeter.  If you have a basic recipe for madeleines it can be adapted to include add-ins like finely chopped nuts or mini chocolate chips,  or other flavors like orange or lemon.  Dusting them with a coating of powdered sugar is all that’s needed before serving, but you can make them fancy schmancy by dipping one end in melted chocolate if you like, or drizzling them with a thin icing.   These look pretty elegant on a buffet table,  say for a bridal shower, for instance.

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Back some time ago I was rummaging through an “odd lots” store near me and came across a pair of madeleine pans that had a ridiculously low price tag on them.  Not one to pass up a good bargain, I bought them and then never used them.  Well, newsletters with recipes included come to my e-mail in-box every day it seems, and the latest one included a recipe for—-you guessed it—madeleines.   Ok, so that was the stimulus that brought about the response to break out the never- used-pans and make madeleines.   They came out so well that I had to share my baking efforts with you.

Making madeleines is easy, but you must allow at least 30 minutes for the dough to chill.  Otherwise, during baking, the batter will not rise into the traditional peak so necessary for a perfect madeleine.  Some of the newer madeleine pans are of the nonstick variety, which makes baking these treasures easier than ever.

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ORANGE CARDAMOM MADELEINES

Yield:   Makes 16  3-inch cakes

Ingredients:IMG_6558

  • 1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the pans
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp. finely grated orange zest, plus 2 Tbsp. orange juice

1.   Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl.  ( I melted an extra 1 Tbsp. and used it to lightly brush the molds with a pastry brush.)  Stir in honey and vanilla.  Let cool for 10 minutes.

Silicone molds are easy to work with.  The cakes pop right out.

Silicone molds are easy to work with. The cakes pop right out.

2.   Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt in a medium bowl.

3.  In another small bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar.  Gently add to flour mixture and stir until well combined.  Add butter mixture and fold to combine.   Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Batter will be thick.

Batter will be thick.

4.  Preheat oven to 325*F.  Brush molds with butter.  (note, I did this earlier when I melted the butter.)    Spoon batter into prepared pans, filling each mold half-way.  Tap on surface to eliminate air bubbles.

Partially filled molds.

Partially filled molds.

Bake until puffed and edges are golden,  7-8 minutes.

Puffed and golden when thoroughly baked.

Puffed and golden when thoroughly baked.

Let cool slightly, then unmold onto a cooling rack.

Unmold onto a cooling rack.

Unmold onto a cooling rack.

5.  Make orange glaze:   Stir together sugar, zest and orange juice in a small bowl till glaze is smooth, thick, and opaque.  Using a pastry brush, coat ridged side of each cake with the glaze..  Let set about 15 minutes.  Store in a single layer in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Only slightly sweet, they are lovely with a cup of tea.

Only slightly sweet, they are lovely with a cup of tea.

SOURCE:    Martha Stewart.com

Orangeburst Cookie Bars

Orangeburst Cookie Bars

Orangeburst Cookie Bars

When I was growing up there were two kinds of oranges, eating oranges from California, and juice oranges from Florida.  Now when I survey the display of citrus fruits in the market, the variety of oranges is mind-boggling.  So each week when I grocery shop, I buy a different kind of orange, just so I can try them all and learn the differences between them.

My last shopping trip resulted in my bringing home Blood Oranges.  The color of the flesh of these oranges is deep red/maroon and the juice is dark pink.  The flavor is hard to describe, but seems almost to have a cranberry flavor mixed with the orange.    Besides simply eating them, I wanted to capture that flavor in something baked.  So I turned to this recipe for cookie bars that uses orange juice and zest in the  filling that is baked on a sugar cookie crust.  The juice from the Blood oranges gave the filling a soft pink color that is quite attractive, and the flavor is intense.

Blood orange juice made my filling a pink color.

Blood orange juice made my filling a pink color.

I really liked the texture of these bars;  the filling is soft and chewy while the base is firm sugar cookie.  A nice contrast.  Chopped hazelnuts provide some crunch and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar is all that’s needed to get them ready for serving.

Cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar.

Cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar.

On a personal note:  I found these bars to be a little too sweet.  In making them again, I would use less sugar because there is sweetness in the cookie base, plus corn syrup and white sugar in the filling.  My feeling is that you could reduce the sugar by half and thereby let the orange flavor become even more prominent.

ORANGEBURST COOKIE BARS

The convience of sugar cookie dough makes an easy crust.

The convenience of sugar cookie dough makes an easy crust.

Yield:    about 24 bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped (almonds are a good substitute)
  • 1/2 cup sugar ( you could use as little as 1/4 cup)
  • 5 tsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 2-3 tsp. orange zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1-3 Tbsp. powdered sugar for garnish

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Lightly spray a 13×9-inch pan.

2.  Cut cookie dough into 1/2-inch slices.   Line button of pan with the cookie slices, and using fingers press together and flatten evenly to form a bottom crust.

Press sliced cookie dough into pan to form a crust.

Press sliced cookie dough into pan to form a crust.

Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the nuts, and press into the dough.   Bake 12 – 15 minutes until dough is puffed.

Sprinkle on some nuts and press into the dough.

Sprinkle on some nuts and press into the dough.

3.  Meanwhile in a medium bowl, mix sugar and flour.  With a whisk mix in the corn syrup and remaining ingredients (except powdered sugar).  Stir in remaining 1/4 cup nuts.

4.  Carefully pour the filling over the partially baked crust.

Pour the orange mixture onto the partially baked crust.

Pour the orange mixture onto the partially baked crust.

5.  Return to oven and bake 18 – 23 minutes till edges are brown and filling is set.

After baking the bars.

After baking the bars.

Cool completely on a wire rack.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into bars.   Makes 24 bars.

Delightfully chewy.

Delightfully chewy.

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SOURCE:  Pillsbury Christmas, 2011

Brownie Conversation Hearts

Conversation Brownie Hearts

Conversation Brownie Hearts

If brownies could speak what would they say?  How about things like:  U R 4 Me,  I (heart) U,  B Mine,  B F F.  I think you get the idea.  Just think of those little heart candies with the sweet sentiments on them.  Those same sentiments can be written on  fudgy brownies for Valentines Day.

Write on them or leave them plain.  They are still pretty.

Write on them or leave them plain. They are still pretty.

Using a boxed brownie mix, these don’t take long to make, but they look like you spent a lot of time on them.  Here’s how I made them.   You will need….

BROWNIE CONVERSATION HEARTSIMG_6377

Yield:   about 18 heart shaped brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (family-size) fudge brownie mix
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons water

1.  Empty brownie mix into a large bowl.  Add the sour cream, eggs, and water.  Mix well, but do not over mix.  Spoon batter into a greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

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2.  Bake and cool as package directs.   When sufficiently cool, cut out with heart shaped cookie cutters.  Mine were about 2  1/2 inches wide.

Cutting out the hearts.

Cutting out the hearts.

Place brownies on a wire rack over a wax paper-lined baking sheet.

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For Frosting:IMG_6386

  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • red food coloring

1.  Mix confectioners’ sugar, water, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan.  Cook on medium-low heat until sugar is melted, stirring occasionally.  Stir in vanilla.  Tint with food coloring to the desired level of color.  While icing is hot, spoon or pour icing over tops of brownies.  If icing becomes too stiff, or starts to crystalize, gently reheat to pouring consistency.  Let cool till icing is set.  Note:  I thought mine looked neater, with the drips trimmed away, keeping the icing on the tops only.

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2.  Remaining icing may be tinted a darker shade to use for writing on the brownies, or melt a few chocolate chips to write with.   Put the icing (or melted chocolate) in a zip lock bag.  Cut a tiny snip off one corner, and squeeze out the icing to write on the brownie tops.

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SOURCE:    All Recipes Magazine

Chocolate Almond Cherry Biscotti

Chocolate Almond Cherry Biscotti

Chocolate Almond Cherry Biscotti

Don’t try to resist these.  Just go with the flow and have one (or two) with  a warm cup of coffee, or hot cocoa.  Oh, my, they are beyond good.

Perfect with a cup of coffee or cocoa.

Perfect with a cup of coffee or cocoa.

If you have never made biscotti before, let me assure you they are not hard.  Yes, they bake twice.  That’s what gives them their crunch.  First you mix up the dough and shape it into a log on a baking sheet.  Then the log is baked and allowed to cool a bit.  Then you slice it crosswise, and bake it again.  These cookies are crunchy and chocolatey.  Chock full of chopped almonds and sweet dried cherries, then they’re dipped into melted semisweet chocolate for that extra special Valentine touch.  Ta-da!!

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These are perfect for dessert, teatime, with a cup of cappuccino, perfect for breakfast, perfect for packaging up and giving this Valentine’s Day.  Did I say they are perfect?       Ooooo-yeah!

CHOCOLATE ALMOND CHERRY BISCOTTI

YIELD:   16-18 pieces

Lots of good things go into these lovely biscotti.

Lots of good things go into these lovely biscotti.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1  3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1  1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 cup dried cherriesIMG_6461

For chocolate dip:

  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips, divided
  • 2 tsp. shortening

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2.  With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar till fluffy.  Add in the eggs and extracts, beating till well combined.

3.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, almond flour, baking powder and salt.

Mix dry ingredients together.

Mix dry ingredients together.

With the mixer on “Low”, add in the dry ingredients in several batches.  Stir in the almonds and cherries.

4.  Spoon the dough onto the baking sheet diagonally in a long line.  With lightly floured hands, shape the dough into a log that measures approx. 14″ x 3″.   Smooth the top with a rubber spatula if necessary.

Shape dough into a "log".

Shape dough into a “log”.

5.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes.

The log, after baking.

The log, after baking.

6.  Reduce oven temperature to 325*F.   Spritz log lightly with water just to slightly moisten the crust.  Cut crosswise into strips about  3/4-inch to 1-inch wide.  Stand upright.

Spritz the crust lightly, cut crosswise, and stand upright.

Spritz the crust lightly, cut crosswise, and stand slices upright.

7.  Return to the oven and bake an additional 25 – 30 minutes till dry.  Remove and let cool completely.

8.  To Dip:  Melt 2/3 cup chips and the shortening in a microwave safe dish ( about 45 seconds at 50% power).  Stir to smooth out, then stir in the remaining chips and stir again till smooth.  Dip bottoms of biscotti into the chocolate.  Let dry on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet.  Refrigerate for 5 – 10 minutes to set.

Dip bottoms of biscotti into melted chocolate.

Dip bottoms of biscotti into melted chocolate.

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SOURCE:    Bake at 350

Shortbread Heart Cookies

Shortbread Heart Cookies

Shortbread Heart Cookies

I remember the first time I ever had shortbread cookies.  They were made by a woman from Scotland who was a friend of my mother’s.  I thought they were the most delicious cookies I had ever had.  Tasting strongly of butter, with a texture that was tender and flaky, they simply melted on my tongue.  I have tried on many occasions to duplicate those cookies.  Somehow the ones I turn out fall just shy of the perfection I remember.  Or is it that time has a way of altering our memories just a little?

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Anyway, the recipe I’m sharing with you today is my go-to recipe for shortbread cookies.  I like it because the dough can be made in the processor, thereby eliminating all that stirring and blending of butter with the flour /sugar mixture.  An egg yolk, a little water, and almond or vanilla extract add just enough moisture to hold it all together.  Once chilled it is easy to work with and rolls out easily, so it can be cut into shapes for whatever the occasion may be.  Here, I cut heart shapes, and then to fancy them up for Valentine’s Day I added a strip of raspberry jam and a chocolate drizzle.  Since raspberry and chocolate are a favorite combination, this works very well, and makes an attractive and tasty cookie.

Shortbread  Heart Cookies

Shortbread Heart Cookies

SHORTBREAD CUTOUT COOKIES

YIELD:   Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds**
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

** If you would prefer to eliminate the almonds, substitute 1/2 cup more flour.

To make cookies that look like mine you will also need:

  • 1/2 cup seedless raspberry preserves
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1.  In a food processor, combine the flour, almonds, sugar and salt;  cover and process until almonds are finely ground.  Cut butter into cubes; add to processor.  Pulse on and off until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

2.  Combine the egg yolk, water and extract in a small bowl.  With processor running, gradually add yolk mixture; process until dough forms a ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

3.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the dough to 1/4-inch thickness.  Cut into desired shapes with floured cookie cutters.  Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Repeat with remaining dough.

Cut into desired shapes

Cut into desired shapes

4.  With the handle of a wooden spoon, or other small cylindrical object, make a depression diagonally across each cookie.

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4a.      Place the raspberry preserves in a microwave safe cup or small bowl, and stir in the cornstarch.  Bring to a boil in the microwave:  about 1 minute.  Stir well and allow to cool.

Fill the indentation in each cookie with a small amount of the raspberry preserves.

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5.  Bake at 325*F.  for 12 – 14 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Cool for 1 minute before removing from pans to wire racks to cool.

6.  Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring @ 30-second intervals until melted and smooth.   Drizzle  the melted chocolate over each cookie.  Allow the chocolate to harden before storing in an air-tight container.

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SOURCE:  Adapted from Taste of Home

Here are some more Valentine’s Day cookies that have been featured previously in this space.

Sandwiches Sweet and Pink

Pecan Sour Cream Sandies

Speculoos Buttons

Speculoos Buttons

Speculoos Buttons

Speculoos, or Speculatius, are lightly spiced little cookies that are often made with a special rolling pin, that imprints a design on the cookie.  In this version the dough is formed into a log, then sliced; thus making them small and round like a button.  To keep this idea going I put only a small round disc of frosting on the top of each one and sprinkled colored sugar or pearls on it.  These cookies are quite small and dainty, with their edges sparkling with sugar, and the dab of frosting on top, each one is just a quick little bite of deliciousness.

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I modified the original recipe to include a more elaborate mix of spices that make a nice blend with the light brown sugar and mild-flavored light molasses.  You might wish to make these little gems somewhat larger than I did, if you wish to decorate the top surface with piping or add more colored sugar.

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SPECULOOS BUTTONS

Yield:  About 8  dozen cookies

Ingredients:

A nice blend of spices give these cookies their yummy flavor.

A nice blend of spices give these cookies their yummy flavor.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground mace
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup (1-stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. mild-flavored (light) molasses
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white
  • sanding, or other decorative sugar

    Decorative sugars to roll the logs in.

    Decorative sugars to roll the logs in.

Glaze:

  • 1  1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • sprinkles, colored sanding sugar, or dragées

Directions:

1.  Whisk the dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a medium bowl; set aside.  Using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat butter in a medium bowl until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Add both sugars and molasses; continue to beat until mixture is smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in egg and vanilla, mix for 2 minutes.  Reduce speed to low;  add dry ingredients and mix to blend well.

2.  Scrape dough from bowl and divide into thirds.  Using your palms, roll each piece of dough into an 8″ log.  Wrap logs tightly in plastic or parchment paper and freeze for at least 3 hours.

Roll the dough into 3 logs, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.

Roll the dough into 3 logs, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.

I left mine overnight before baking.  For neater edges, remove logs from freezer after 1 hour and roll on counter.   Do Ahead:  These cookies can be made up to 2 months ahead. Keep frozen until ready to bake.

3.  Preheat oven to 375*F.  Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

4.  Whisk egg white in a small bowl to loosen, lightly brush all over 1 log.  Sprinkle with (or roll in) sanding sugar.  Using a long slender knife, slice off a sliver of dough from each end of log to make ends flat. Cut log into 1/4″-thick rounds.  Transfer to baking sheet, spacing 1/2″ apart;  place in freezer while you cut the next log.  (The cookies hold their shape better if you bake when dough is cold.)  Repeat with remaining dough.

Slice the logs into "coins" before baking.

Slice the logs into “coins” before baking.

5.  Bake the cookies for 11 – 13 minutes, until tops are golden brown and centers are almost firm.  Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool.  Repeat with all of the baking sheets.  Do Ahead:  Cookies may be baked up to 2 days before glazing.  Store airtight at room temperature.

6.  Glaze:  Mix powdered sugar and 1 – 2 teaspoons cold water in a medium mixing bowl.  Add more water a little at a time if needed.  Glaze should be quite thick.  You may spoon about 1/2 tsp. glaze onto each button, or fill a resealable plastic bag with glaze and cut a small hole in 1 corner, and pipe an even circle onto the cookies.  Decorate with sprinkles, colored sugar, or dragées, if desired.

Decorate each cookie with a little glaze and some colored sugar.

Decorate each cookie with a little glaze and some colored sugar.

Let stand on rack at room temperature for at least 30 minutes for glaze to set.  Cookies may be stored at room temperature in a tightly sealed container.

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SOURCE:   Slightly modified recipe from Dorie Greenspan, via Bon Appetit.com

Cocoa Thumbprints

Cocoa Thumbprints

Cocoa Thumbprints

Today, because I don’t already have enough browned, crisp, sugary, buttery thoughts swirling around in my head, I’m going to talk about chocolate, thumbprints, white sugar, sprinkles and all sorts of other decorative garnishes.  So just let me get suited up in my mask, and super-woman cape and gallop into my kitchen with a sense of urgency.  Not so fast, time, I’m coming, I’m coming. Wait for meeee…….

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Something would be noticeably absent if I didn’t include a chocolate cookie in my gifts and platter of Christmas cookies.  I have too many such recipes to count, but if you’ll remember I’m trying to keep my cookie choices to ones that are simple to make, yet have great texture and outstanding flavor.  So this great recipe got my vote this year.  At this point, I’ve made them and we’ve eaten a few, and I can say for certain they get a “standing ovation”.  You can mix them up by hand, no electric mixer to get out, butter is melted so you don’t have to take it out in advance to soften, and once they come out of the oven they are finished and ready to eat.  If you’re in a hurry, these are perfect!

Thumbprints are easy to make and traditionally filled with jam, but these are much more fun.  Even though the cookies are all the same, they look different due to the variety of garnishes I used in the centers.  Try chocolate kisses, crushed candy canes or a dollop of frosting.  Colored sprinkles, mini marshmallows,  M&M’s, or dried fruit would work out nicely as well.  Let your imagine go wild, use what ever you have on hand.  They will be delicious no matter how you decorate them.

COCOA THUMBPRINTS

Yield:    Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

Dutch process cocoas makes a nice dark cookie.

Dutch process cocoa makes a nice dark cookie.

  • 1  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup for rolling
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • various decorative sprinkles, nuts, mini marshmallow, candies etc. for filling

Directions:

1.  Whisk the flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the melted butter and eggs and stir until combined.  Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.  If you’re really in a hurry I think you could shape these without chilling, but the cookies may spread more while baking.

2.  Preheat the oven to 325*F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.  Place the confectioners’ sugar and the remaining granulated sugar into 2 separate small bowls.  Roll scant tablespoonfuls of dough into balls;  roll in the granulated sugar and then in the confectioners’ sugar.

Roll first in regular sugar, then in powdered sugar.

Roll first in regular sugar, then in powdered sugar.

Place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Lightly flatten each ball with your fingers and make a deep 1/2-inch wide indentation in the centers with your thumb.  (TIP:  use a cork to make perfect indentations, taking care not to press all the way to the bottom of the cookie.)

3.  Place your choice of filling in the indentations.

Red and green glacée cherries fill these cookies.

Red and green glacée cherries fill these cookies.

4.  Bake cookies until puffed and slightly cracked, about 10 minutes.  Let cool 3 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Cocoa Thumbprints with various fillings.

Cocoa Thumbprints with various fillings.

SOURCE:   Food Network Magazine, Dec. 2011

Oatmeal Ginger Cream Cookies

Oatmeal Ginger Cream Cookies

Oatmeal Ginger Cream Cookies

These large sandwich cookies made their way onto my cookies-to-give list.  The moist filling and the soft oatmeal cookie are both delicious separately, but when you put them together they become sublime.  I chose to include them in my cookie collection this year because they are BIG, not some little dainty cookie that’s gone in two bites.  (Although I love those, too!)  I think guys will really like them because they’re “manly”.

These are generously sized cookies, with a cream cheese filling that has bits of crystalized ginger in it.  (Did you notice what happened there?  I found another way to sneak in some ginger. :P)  The cookie part is a nice soft, oatmeal that’s got lots of spices in it.  The oats are toasted in the oven before incorporating them into the batter, making them crispier and toasting the oats also brings out their nutty flavor.  When two oatmeal cookies are sandwiched together with the ginger cream filling the flavors fuse and compliment each other so well.  Mr. D. described them as YUMMO!!IMG_5676

The recipe expects you to get 12 cookies, but I must have made mine a little smaller, because I got 15 sandwich cookies, and they were plenty big for my taste.  They are not low in calories, but I tried to reduce the fat and calories somewhat by using low-fat cream cheese.  These are definitely cookies that guys will like.

Without the filling these are still very good oatmeal cookies, and I think the addition of raisins in that case would really enhance them.

OATMEAL GINGER CREAM COOKIES

Yield:  Makes 12-15 sandwich cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/2 cups rolled oats

    These cookies are nicely spiced.

    These cookies are nicely spiced.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • Ginger Cream  (recipe follows)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Position racks in the top and bottom levels of the oven.  On a baking sheet, bake oats on the top rack, shaking the pan intermittently to prevent burning, until lightly browned, 10 minutes.  Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool, leaving oven on.

Begin by toasting the oats on a baking sheet.

Begin by toasting the oats on a baking sheet.

2.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy….

Cream butter, sugars and egg.

Cream butter, sugars and egg.

Beat in the egg.  Add the flour mixture, beating until just combined.  Stir in the toasted oats.

This is a thick dough.

This is a thick dough.

3.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll dough ( about 2 tablespoons/cookie), into balls, or use a #30 (1-ounce) ice cream scoop.  For each baking sheet, drop 12 balls 2 inches apart.  With dampened hands, flatten each ball to 1/2-inch thickness.

Flatten dough balls prior to baking.

Flatten dough balls prior to baking.

Using the bottom and top racks, bake until cookies are lightly browned around the edges and set, 12 minutes, switching the baking sheets from top to bottom and rotating them from front to back halfway through baking.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

After baking, browned but not crispy.

After baking, browned but not crispy.

4.  Frost the bottoms of 12 cookies with Ginger Cream, then top with the remaining 12 cookies.

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For Ginger Cream:IMG_5670

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (low-fat cream cheese is OK)
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Beat in the ginger.

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SOURCE:  The Beekman Boys via Country Living Magazine