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

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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

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