Apricot Butter Horns

Apricot Butter Horns

Apricot Butter Horns

These are cookies for the sake of cookies,  cookies for December, cookies for Christmas, or just so I can stand in my kitchen and do something that will result in a mouth-watering morsel of deliciousness.   Lets see how many of these warm, apricot-filled, powdered sugared bites we can fit into our mouths.

The answer for me is 2.5.  That’s how many of these cookies it takes to fill my mouth.  Does that mean I have a big mouth?  I don’t think so, but some people might say “yes”.  So be careful.

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Although I’m making these cookies for Christmas, I’m thinking about other up-coming events, and just general winter-time cookie desires.  These buttery filled cookies fit the bill.  Tender, cardamom-scented, honeyed bites of powdered sugar clouds.  If you’re thinking ahead to Valentine’s Day, these would be lovely with a cherry filling, and I also think a fig filling would be a wonderful accompaniment to the spices used in the cookie dough.  I just talked myself into making them again with a different filling.

I’m throwing down a challenge here…..what kind of filling can you come up with for these cookies?  I want to know.

APRICOT BUTTER HORNS

Yield:   4 dozen

Ingredients:IMG_8718

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup apricot cake and pastry filling
  • powdered sugar
The best flavor comes when you grind the cardamom fresh.

The best flavor comes when you grind the cardamom fresh.

Cardamom seeds are encased in these white papery pods.

Cardamom seeds are encased in these white papery pods.

Grind them with a mortar and pestle.

Grind them with a mortar and pestle.

Directions:

1.  In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter for 30 seconds.  Add the sugar and honey; beat till fluffy.  Beat in the egg.

2.  Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt.   Add dry ingredients to the beaten mixture, stirring to make a soft dough.

3.  Divide dough into thirds; wrap in waxed paper, or plastic wrap.   Chill dough in refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

4.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350*F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

5.  On a well-floured surface roll 1 portion of dough into a 12-inch circle. (keep the remaining dough refrigerated until ready to use.)

Roll dough into a 12-inch circle.

Roll dough into a 12-inch circle.

6.  Spread 1/4 cup apricot filling over dough to within 3/4-inch of the edge.  With a fluted pastry wheel or a sharp knife, cut dough into 16 wedges.

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Roll up each wedge into a crescent.  Place cookies on prepared cookie sheets.

Ready for the oven.

Ready for the oven.

7.  Bake at 350*F. for 12 minutes.

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Cool on a wire rack.  Repeat with remaining dough and filling.  Before serving sprinkle cookies with powdered sugar.

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SOURCE:   Better and Homes and Gardens,  Special Interest Publications,  Christmas, 1996

Just some of my collection of old issues.

Just some of my collection of old issues.

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Swedish Ginger Cookies ( Pepparkakor)

Swedish Ginger Cookies

Swedish Ginger Cookies

I’m into gingerbread and ginger flavored baked goods in a big way this year.  Don’t know why!   That’s not usually the case in previous years.  But for whatever reason, this year is different and I just can’t get enough ginger-spiced goodness.

This vintage Swedish Ginger Cookie recipe has been in my family for a long time, and I just love to make it.  Besides the fact that the flavor is so perfectly spicy, it makes a LOT of cookies, it can be rolled out thin for cutouts, or rolled into a log, and sliced.  The dough is pliable and handles really well; and you can reroll it at least 3 times without it becoming tough.

Makes lots of cut-out cookies.

Makes lots of cut-out cookies.

The dough is made a little differently than some of the contemporary gingerbread cookie recipes.  Instead of creaming butter and sugar together (like most any cookie recipe), the molasses is heated to boiling, then the butter and sugar are added to it so they melt.  Then you let the mixture cool a little and stir in the egg and dry ingredients.  Really very easy to make. Another reason why I love it;  no need to take out butter to soften up,  you can make these any time you want to with cold, hard butter, because it gets melted.  Hee, Hee!

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It’s recommended that you chill the dough overnight before rolling and cutting so the molasses and butter can firm up, but then you are in for a treat as you work with it.  I love it, but you don’t have to be Swedish to love these cookies.

SWEDISH GINGER COOKIES

Yield:   Makes about 10 dozen small cookies

Ingredients:IMG_8714

  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 2  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

1.  Heat molasses in a small saucepan to boiling.  Allow to boil for 1 minute.   Add sugar and butter and stir until butter is melted.

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2.  Cool, then beat in the egg.

3.  Whisk or sift together the flour, salt, soda and spices.

Mix spices in with the flour.

Mix spices in with the flour.

Add to molasses mixture and mix thoroughly .

4.  Cover bowl tightly and chill overnight.   When ready to bake, divide the dough into 3 portions and work with one portion at a time, keeping the rest chilled.  Preheat oven to 350*F.

5.  On a lightly floured surface or pastry cloth, roll the dough out thin.  Cut into desired shapes.  Place on greased cookie sheets, or use parchment paper to line the baking sheets.

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Bake at 350*F for 6 – 8 minutes.  The shorter baking time will give you a more chewy cookie,  while the longer time will produce a crisp cookie.

6.  This dough may also be shaped into a log (roll) and wrapped in wax paper or plastic wrap.  Chill thoroughly overnight or longer.  Slice thin and bake in moderate oven (350*).

These cookies should be stored in an airtight container to allow flavors to “ripen”.

My post tomorrow will show you how I decorated these cookies with a simple, easy glaze.   Y’all come back!

SOURCE:   old family recipe

 

 

Mocha Fingers

Mocha Fingers

Mocha Fingers

Recipes, ingredients and baking equipment change over the years, but cookies have always been a family favorite at Christmas.  Each cookie that we make is a sweet bite of memory, and cookies tell the story of who we are, who we have been, and who we will always be.

The recipe for these “finger” cookies appeared originally in a Special Interest Publication by Better Homes and Gardens, back in 1996.  I have a hugh collection of these special publication magazines devoted to Christmas and each year I get them out and look through them for inspiration on baking and cooking for the Holidays.  These cookies are not hard to make and they are so good.  A little more work to make than a simple drop cookie, but well worth the effort.

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Which will it be?  In your cup or in a cookie, mocha–a blend of coffee and chocolate–is one of the season’s hottest flavors.  It’s a flavor that I particularly love at any time, but around this time of year it seems so right.

These are sophisticated, butter-cream-filled chocolate cookies.  Marvelous with a glass of eggnog!

They are not difficult to make–mix up a simple chocolate dough, roll out thin and cut into “fingers” measuring 1 1/2″ x 3″. Once baked two crisp cookies are sandwiched together with a velvety smooth mocha butter cream filling.  Really pretty simple, but awesome in flavor!

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Warning!!  Once you know how to made this mocha butter cream, you’re going to want to find other uses for it.

MOCHA FINGERS

Yield:  Makes about 27-28 sandwich cookiesIMG_8713

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter ( 1 stick), softened
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  •  1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg

Mocha Filling:IMG_8757

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. instant espresso coffee powder
  • 1 -2 tsp. milk or light cream as needed

Directions:

1.  Into the large bowl of electric mixer, combine butter and sugar, mixing on low to blend.  Add egg and continue to mix.  Blend in dry ingredients, (flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder).  Scrape bowl occasionally and mix until well combined. Note: Chilling the dough is not required, but I find it easier to roll the dough if it has chilled at least an hour.

2.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease 2 large cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

3.  On a lightly floured surface, with rolling pin, roll half the dough out into a 9″ x 9″ square, about 1/8-inch thick.  Cut dough into thirds; then cut each third crosswise into nine 3″ x 1″ rectangles.  Place cookies about 1 inch apart, on cookie sheets.  With a fork, prick each cookie in several places for decoration.  Sprinkle with granulated sugar if desired.

Cut dough into rectangles and prick with a fork before baking.

Cut dough into rectangles and prick with a fork before baking.

4.  Bake cookies 15 minutes or until firm.  With a spatula remove cookies to wire rack to cool.  Repeat with remaining dough.

5.  Make Mocha Filling:  In a small bowl with mixer on low speed, beat 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 1/4 cup butter, 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder, and 2 tsp. espresso powder.  Add milk in tiny amounts as needed to get a creamy spreading consistency.

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6.  Assemble cookies:  Spread bottoms of half of cookies with Mocha Filling; top with remaining cookies, top-side up.

Spread back side of one cookie with filling, top with another cookie, right side up.

Spread back side of one cookie with filling, top with another cookie, right side up.

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Store cookies in tightly covered container.   Makes about 27 sandwich cookies.

 

SOURCE:   Better Homes and Gardens, Christmas Cookies

Holiday Cookies

Today I’m going to keep it short and Sweet!

By way of kicking off the cookie baking season I’ve compiled a few of my favorite cookies recipes from here on the blog to give you some inspiration for those marathon baking sessions…..Christmas Cookies!

I’ve been getting my list of “Plan to Bake Cookies” ready, and am about to embark on a baking storm.  I just love to have cookies and treats on hand to give to everyone I see at this time of year.  So as I bake and photograph these new additions, here are a few to keep you going in the meantime.

Coffee Biscotti

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Gingerbread Biscotti Dipped in Chocolate

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Kringla

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Nutella Crackles

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Red Velvet Crinkles

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White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

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Cocoa Thumbprints

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Stay tuned for some awesome festive treats.   Have a fun time baking!

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

Ginger Snaps

Ginger Snaps

Ginger Snaps

Ginger is always a must in my Christmas baking.  Sometimes it appears in more than one item.  Since I’m keeping it simple this year I settled on ginger snaps for my ginger fix instead of anything more elaborate.

I can remember making these cookies with my mother when I was young and just wanting to help in the kitchen.  I always had the sense of excitement and anticipation when my mother was baking, so that is where I wanted to be also.  Often my job was “prepping”, i.e., chopping nuts, or fruits, or in this case cutting up the candied ginger.  I never minded this because, you know, I got to taste everything in advance.  That’s how I come by my love of candied ginger, and to this day I still have to eat a piece or two while I’m cutting it up.

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If store-bought ginger snaps are the only kind you have ever had then you will be very surprised by these.  They are not in the least bit dry, or crunchy.    You won’t need to dunk them into coffee or milk to soften them up.  They are kind of hard to describe;  a little crispy at the edges, but still soft and chewy inside.  Spicy and gingery, but not overly so–just a good blend of spices.  The outside is sugary, because  you form the dough into balls and roll in sugar.  Everything is better with a little sparkle, right?

These are great for gifting or make a fabulous go-along for your cup of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa.  I hope you love them as much as I do!

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GINGER SNAPS

Yield:   about 3 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup finely diced crystalized ginger (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 – 1 cup coarse/sparkling sugar

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 325*F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt.  Whisk to blend.  Stir in the ginger if using.

2.In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the oil, sugar, molasses and the whole egg.  Mix on medium speed until well combines.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated and a dough forms.

3.  Shape small portions (about 1 Tbsp) into 1 to 1 1/2-inch balls.   Place the sparkling sugar in a small dish, and roll each ball of dough in the sugar so that it is covered in an even layer.  Repeat with the remaining dough balls.

Roll dough balls in sugar.

Roll dough balls in sugar.

4.  Place the coated balls on the prepared baking sheets about 2 to 3 inches apart.  Bake,  just until the tops of the cookies are set and beginning to crack, about 15 – 17 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheets a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container in a cool place.

Cooling after baking.

Cooling after baking.

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Note:  The cookies will become more firm as they cool, but if you prefer a softer cookie for eating, warm in the microwave for 10 seconds.

SOURCE:  my mom’s recipe box

Limoncello Glazed Ricotta Drops

The baking marathon has begun!!. This week my oven is going into overdrive, and I’ll be all about holiday baking. These cookies are the first ones I’ve made, and the reason I chose them is because they make use of the limoncello I also just made.  What a coincidence that I should find this recipe, and I think it’s a super-good one.

Limoncello-Glazed Ricotta Drops

Limoncello-Glazed Ricotta Drops

The cookies are light and cake-like with a definite lemon flavor, and the glaze is made with limoncello so that carries the lemon flavor throughout the cookie.  I tasted one and found it hard to stop at just one.  The ricotta cheese is not detectable in the cookie, but contributes to the tender soft texture.  These would be delightful served at any time of year, but I like to add some yellow color to my plate of Christmas cookies, so these worked in very nicely, since I decorated them with yellow sugar and yellow sprinkles.

Yellow decoration suggests the lemon flavor.

Yellow decoration suggests the lemon flavor.

LIMONCELLO-GLAZED RICOTTA DROPS

YIELD:   Makes about 36 -40 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour

    My own Limoncello, lemon extract and lemon zest give the cookies a definite lemon flavor.

    My own Limoncello, lemon extract and lemon zest give the cookies a definite lemon flavor.

  • 2  1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup butter ( 1 stick), softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon extract
  • 1 Tbsp. limoncello liqueur
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest

Glaze ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. limoncello
  • grated lemon zest (optional for garnish)

Directions:

1.   In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

2.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, place butter and sugar.  Blend on medium speed to cream.  Add egg and continue beating.  Add vanilla, lemon extract, limoncello, and lemon zest.  Add ricotta cheese and blend well.

3.  Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed to incorporate.

4.  Spoon dough into a smaller bowl and refrigerate for 30 – 45 minutes for easier handling.

5.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray.

6.  Drop dough by Tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 12 – 13 minutes.  Edges should be light brown and bottoms evenly browned.  Cool on pans for about 5 minutes, then transfer to wire cooking racks to cool completely before glazing.

7.  Make glaze by mixing together the sugar and limoncello.  Stir till smooth, adding a drop or two of water to reach glazing consistency.  Spread lightly on cooled cookies and sprinkle with lemon zest to garnish, or sprinkle with decorative sugar.

 Glaze and decorate cookies.


Glaze and decorate cookies.

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Enjoy with coffee, tea or cocoa.

Enjoy with coffee, tea or cocoa.

SOURCE:   My Gourmet Connection

Holiday Baking Time is Here

Greetings, fellow bakers!

What with Thanksgiving being so late this year, I’m rather behind in planning my holiday baking.  This week I’ve been getting a mind set for the Christmas Holidays, ordering a few gifts, and am just now trying to sort out all those tempting recipes for baking up cookies and other goodies for gift-giving.  It’s at this time of year that I can bake to my heart’s content and not feel guilty about who is going to eat it all.  I’m giving most of it away!!  Each year I struggle with choosing which treats will make the cut and be included in the packages I make for friends and family, and each year the choice becomes more difficult as I always find a couple new must-makes to include.

For many of you Christmas cookies conjure up thoughts of rolled out gingerbread boys and girls, or brightly decorated trees.  I like decorated cookies certainly, but with time having gotten away from me,  my focus this year will be on great texture and superior flavor rather than cutting and piping. I’m also going to try and emphasize some of the popular flavors and get a diverse mixture going.

While I sort this all out and come up with a few treats to share with you, here are some previous favorites that I will be considering  when I finalize my list this week.

Anytime Sugar Cookies

Anytime Sugar Cookies

Of all the incredible holiday cookies out there, in my opinion, nothing beats a great sugar cookie. These Anytime Sugar Cookies  are simply delicious and are so adaptable to any kind of decorating;  frost or not, sprinkles, colored sugars, etc.  They are sure to please.

Funfetti Truffles

Funfetti Truffles

Truffles are always a favorite of mine.  These Funfetti Truffles are so easy to make, and  you can vary the colors and flavors.

Salted Butterscotch Blondies

Salted Butterscotch Blondies

When I’m baking so many large quantities of treats, I aways appreciate something that is simple to make but garners rave reviews every time.  That would be these Salted Butterscotch Blondies.  One batch makes a large panful and goes a long way.

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints

Last year I made these Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints and they totally wowed everyone.  Sort of  a pecan pie in cookie form.

Gingerbread Biscotti

Gingerbread Biscotti

Some kind of biscotti are always included in my gift packages.  These chocolate dipped Gingerbread Biscotti with crystalized ginger are my favorites, and everyone who has received them always loves them.

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

These Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies, made from a cake mix, are so festive, they really add color to a cookie platter.  They are so moist and chewy, always a popular addition to a box of treats.

Maraschino cherries in a buttery shortbread cookie, dipped in white chocolate, with colored sprinkles decorating the edges.  I made these Shortbread Cookies for the first time last year and they moved right to the top of my list of favorite cookies.  They are pretty to look at, and the flavor is awesome.  I know I’ll be making these again this year.  Can’t wait!!

If, like me, you do a lot of baking for the Holidays, any one of these recipes would be a good place to start.  By next week I should be better organized with my own baking plans and have some new goodies to share with you.  Happy Baking!  😀

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread Cookies

When I first saw a picture of these cookies I knew I had to make them.  They were so pretty in the picture, with the pale pink cookie dipped into white chocolate, then just the edge dipped into the colorful red sugar.  I thought they would make a great addition to a tray of Christmas cookies.

The other ingredient these cookie have going for them is the addition of Maraschino Cherries.  These sweet, almond-tasting cherries are made from a bitter cherry.  The name Maraschino is from the Italian word marasca– the name of the cherry. and amaro which means bitter.  Somehow they become sweet as they soak in their liquid, and I just love them, but don’t find many ways to use them in cooking or baking.  So I was really happy to have come across this recipe. After I made them, I found them to be everything I had anticipated and more.  Just imagine for a moment biting into a buttery shortbread cookie that also includes the flavor of these cherries and almond.  Really good, yes?  Now add the smooth sweetness of white chocolate.   Oh, WOW!  If you are drooling at this point, you need to go make them NOW!

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Do you know what else?  There’s no need to get out your mixer.  It all gets mixed by hand, and there’s no chilling involved ( well, you can if you want to).  Pretty easy and quick to make.  And believe me, just as easy and quick to eat.

The recipe:  WHITE CHOCOLATE CHERRY SHORTBREAD COOKIES

YIELD:   about 60 cookies.  The recipe divides in half easily, which I did, and got 30 cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup Maraschino cherries, cut up and drained well
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup ( 2 sticks ) cold butter
  • 12 oz. white chocolate chips or squares, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 drops red food coloring ( I used a little cherry juice instead for a paler color)
  • 2 teaspoons shortening
  • decorative sugar or sprinkles

DIRECTIONS

1.  Combine flour and sugar.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender.  Stir in cherries and 4 ounces ( 2/3 cup ) chopped white chocolate.  Stir in almond extract and food color ( or cherry juice).

2.  Stir as well as you can and then knead to form a smooth ball.

3.  Break off small pieces of dough and form into 3/4 inch balls.  Place on prepared cookie sheets. (Greased or lined with parchment paper.)

4.  Using a glass dipped into sugar, flatten into 1 1/2 inch rounds.

Flatten with a glass dipped into sugar.

Flatten with a glass dipped into sugar.

5.  Bake at 325 degrees, for 10 – 12 minutes.  Cookies will firm up as they cool.  Transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

6.  In a saucepan over hot – not boiling-water, melt the remaining white chocolate with the shortening.  Dip half of each cookie, then roll the dipped edge into decorative sugar or sprinkles.  Stand upright between the tines of a cooling rack to dry.

Standing at attention to dry.

Standing at attention to dry.

Note:  I never find white chocolate easy to melt or dip into, so what I do is this.  When the chocolate becomes soft enough to stir, I use a small spatula to spread it on the cookie, making sure to cover the edge so the sugar will adhere.  This works for me. However, my cookies don’t get that perfectly half-dipped look.

SOURCE:   Martha Stewart Cookies,  I-Pad newsletter

IMG_2204  Here’s an advance look at tomorrow’s cookie recipe.  Y’all come back then.