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Posts Tagged ‘Cookies’

Ginger Molasses Crinkle Cookies

Life gets too busy sometimes. Mine got so busy that I dropped writing this blog. Perhaps you noticed.

I stopped posting because I fell into a food rut. Does that ever happen to you? I just got bored with my own cooking.

I think of this place as a way to share favorite recipes with you, my friends and family. It’s my on-line cookbook, in a way. However, when I wasn’t excited about cooking, I wasn’t inspired to share.

But I was moved the other day to make these cookies for my great Girl Scout co-leaders, Geri, Ginger, Jen and Cate. The weather turned a bit cooler, and that put me in the mood for these warm sweet and spicy gems. My friends deserve a little love, which is what these taste like.

Afterwards  they clamored for the recipe, so I dusted off my tripod and my blog to share it with all of you.  Thanks for the inspiration, gals!

Ginger Molasses Crinkle Cookies

Adapted from a recipe at Rev. Taylor’s Country Restaurant, formerly of Niwot, Colorado

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar (plus more for rolling)
½ cup Grandma’s molasses
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine flour, salt, soda and spices in medium bowl. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (three minutes with a stand mixer should do it). Add molasses and continue to mix. Scrape bowl. Add eggs and mix well. Scrape bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix until blended.
Place a cup or so of sugar into a shallow bowl or plate.
Roll dough into balls approximately 1 ¼ inch in diameter (I use a little cookie scoop for this, but it’s not necessary). Place each ball into the sugar and toss gently to coat.
Place dough balls on cookie sheet that either has been greased or lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Top should appear crinkly and cookie will be slightly browned. Let cool on sheets for 3-5 minutes before removing to cooling rack.
A batch this size makes about 80 cookies, about 2 ½ inches in diameter.

These cookies keep well and make great gifts!

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This cookie is relatively new to my holiday repertoire, and quickly has become a favorite. It is packed full of great winter flavors: cranberry, citrus, toasted pecans and maple syrup. It is super easy to put together and have in the refrigerator or freezer for those times when you suddenly need fresh-baked cookies on short notice (something that seems to happen often this time of year). And finally, I love that the dough is not overly sweet.

With all that fruit and nut goodness, and some whole wheat flour thrown in, I can almost convince myself that these are good for me.

Cranberry Orange Pecan Shortbread

Adapted from Whole Foods Market

Makes 32 cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup candied orange peel, diced

1 cup pecan pieces, toasted and chopped

Directions:

In an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar and maple syrup until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Add flour and salt, one cup at a time, mixing well after each cup is added. Stir in the cranberries, orange peel, and pecans.

Shape dough into two logs and chill until firm, 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut dough into 1/2-inch slices and arrange on baking sheet. Bake for 18 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Cookies will keep several weeks in an airtight container.

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Almond Crescents

I’m often tempted at the holidays to bake elaborately decorated or fancy cookies. And they undoubtedly have their charms.  But, sometimes, simpler is better.

Nothing could be more perfect in its unassuming splendor as these almond crescents. They look like nothing special, but then you bite in, and the cinnamon sugar yields to the tender butter crumb, and then that yields to the subtle flavor of ground almonds.  And then it’s gone, and you find yourself reaching for another, thinking, “well, that was so small, surely one more won’t hurt,” and before you know it you’ve polished off a dozen and wonder what happened.  A couple dozen of these, wrapped in red tissue paper makes a gorgeous gift for someone you really love.

Almond Crescents

Adapted from Rose’s Christmas Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen crescents

Ingredients:

Cookie dough:

2 ounces (about 2/3 cup) blanched slivered almonds

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup unsalted butter

1 2/3 cup all- purpose flour

Topping:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, grind the almonds and sugar together until the almonds are very fine. Add the butter a couple tablespoons at a time, with the motor still running, and process until smooth and creamy.  Add the flour and salt, and scrape the sides of the bowl.  Pulse the processor a few times, just until the flour is incorporated.

Scrape the dough into a bowl, and cover with plastic.  Refrigerate for two hours or until firm.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Roll a piece of dough into a ball less than an inch in diameter.  Roll it between your palms, until it is in the shape of a cylinder, with slightly tapered ends on both sides, about 3 inches long by 1/2 inch thick. Form each cookie into a crescent shape and place on an ungreased cookie sheet, about an inch apart.

Bake 14-16 minutes, or until set but not brown. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer them while warm into a bowl of cinnamon sugar (see topping, above), turning gently to coat thoroughly, one at a time.

Keep in an airtight container for up to one month.

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Gingerbread People

Certain cookies are iconic at this time of year, but they often don’t taste as good as they look.  Thankfully, these are the perfect gingerbread cookies — adorable, spicy, a tad chewy, and utterly delicious.  I make them every year, and people always say they are the best gingerbread cookies they’ve ever had.

Once again, my reputation as a baker rests on the shoulders of Rose Levy Berenbaum.  Her book, Rose’s Christmas Cookies, should be on the shelf of everyone who bakes cookies at the holidays.

Gingerbread People

adapted from Rose’s Christmas Cookies

Makes about 40 small or 25 large gingerbread people

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup Grandma’s molasses (unsulphured)

1 egg

Royal Icing, for decorating

Directions:

Mix together the flour, salt, baking soda and spices in a small bowl.  In a separate bowl, cream together the brown sugar and butter until fluffy (about 3-5 minutes using a stand mixer). Add the molasses and egg and beat until blended. On low speed, add the dry ingredients until well blended.

Scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto a sheet of plastic wrap.  Form into a flat-ish disc or rectangle. Wrap tightly and chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, or overnight, if necessary.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, to about 1/8 inch thickness or so.  If the dough is very cold, you may need to let it warm a bit on the counter before you begin to roll it out. Cut out the dough with cookie cutters in the shape of people, large or small.  Place the shapes on a piece of baking parchment or a lightly greased cookie sheet, leaving an inch or so between them.  Bake for 8-10 minutes for the small cookies, a couple minutes longer for the large ones.  Cookies will not color appreciably in baking, so look for them to rise a bit in the center, and be just starting to firm up.

Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to wire cooling racks.  Decorate with royal icing (or melted white chocolate).

These cookies keep for months, stored in an airtight container, making them the perfect cookie to make early in your holiday season.

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Double Butterscotch Cookies

Long before the whole dulce de leche craze swept the country, I was a big fan of caramel and butterscotch.  I swoon for homemade toffee. Now, I love chocolate as much as the next girl, or maybe a little bit more. But I adore when sugar and butter come together and create such sublime magic.

So, imagine my delight when I ran across this recipe at Cookie Madness, a prolific baking blog.  She rated these very highly, so I dutifully filed them away, thinking I should give them a try.  A recent kids’ party gave me the excuse  I needed, and let me tell you, these are the real deal!  A welcome break from your traditional chocolate chip, oatmeal, or peanut butter, these are chewy and buttery and nutty — just like you’d imagine a marriage of toffee and cookies should be.  I particularly love how the flavor develops when the dough is left to rest in the refrigerator for a day or two before slicing and baking.  This is a serious yum…

Double Butterscotch Cookies

Adapted from the Taste of Home Cookbook

makes approximately 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup shortening or margarine

2 cups dark brown sugar, packed

2 eggs

1/2 Tablespoon vanilla

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup English Toffee bits (like Heath bar bits)

1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans

Directions:

In a large bowl cream the butter, shortening and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Stir to combine. Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and mix until combined. Gently fold in the toffee bits and nuts.

Shape dough into 2 12 inch rolls. Wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for 4 hours or until firm.

When ready to bake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Unwrap and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Place 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lighlty browned. Cool for 1-2 minutes on sheet before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

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Lemon Bars, two ways

Lemon bars are a classic cookie, and often show up at bake sales and coffee shops. But I am frequently disappointed, and perhaps because I’ve been spoiled. Too often, I’ve bit into one, hoping for that contrast of sweet and sour, creamy and crisp, only to get a mouthful of limp and pasty. Yuck.

In my opinion, a good lemon bar depends on an outstanding, lemony topping on a cookie crust that is buttery and just firm enough to support the layer of lemon curd on top.  And this recipe, from the incomparable Rose Levy Berenbaum, never fails to deliver. Once you try her lemon curd topped shortbread, you’ll never go back.

Even though I know better than to tamper with perfection, I recently experimented with a gluten-free version, with very good success. Since gluten is what makes a tough cookie tough, traditional shortbread recipes try to minimize it. So, making a shortbread cookie base with gluten-free flours seemed like a natural, and was almost as good as the original.

Both recipes start with homemade lemon curd, which is cooked on the stove and then poured over the baked shortbread base. This is what distinguishes quality lemon bars from the inferior types, which rely in adding flour to the lemon topping and having it thicken in the oven.

I usually double the lemon curd recipe, to have extra on hand, because this stuff is just so good. It’s great on scones for breakfast or tea-time, or, as my British friend Michael confesses, just spread on toast. Personally, I like to just lick it off a spoon. Makes me pucker up just thinking about it…

adapted from Rose’s Christmas Cookies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Prepare 8″x8″ baking pan, by lining with an 8″ x 16″ piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. (This makes it easy to remove the bars from the pan without breaking.)

Traditional shortbread base:

Ingredients:

8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (6.25 oz.)

Alternative Gluten-free shortbread base:

Ingredients:

8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour

1/2 cup rice flour

Directions for either shortbread base:

Cut the butter into 1 inch cubes, wrap and refrigerate.

In a food processor with the metal blade, process the sugars for 1 minute or so, until the sugar is very fine. Add the butter and pulse in until the sugar disappears. Add the flour and pulse in until there are a lot of little moist crumbly pieces and no dry flour particles remain.

Dump the mixture into a plastic bag and press it together. Remove the dough from the bag and knead it lightly until it holds together.

Pat the dough into the prepared pan. Use a fork to prick the dough all over. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and the top is pale golden (do not brown).

While the shortbread is baking, prepare the Lemon Curd.

Lemon Curd

Makes 1 cup, enough for one 8″x8″ pan of lemon bars

Ingredients:

4 large egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

3 fl. ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 2 or 3 lemons)

Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

pinch of salt

Directions:

In a heavy noncorrodible saucepan, beat the yolks and sugar until well blended. Stir in all the remaining ingredients, except the lemon zest. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened enough to thickly coat a wooden spoon, but still liquid enough to pour. The mixture will change from translucent to opaque and begin to take on a yellow color. It must not be allowed to boil or it will curdle. Whenever steam appears, remove briefly from heat, stirring constantly, to keep from boiling. When the curd has thickened, pour at once through a strainer into a heat-proof bowl or Pyrex measuring cup. Press with the back of a spoon until only coarse residue remains. Discard the residue. Stir in the lemon zest.

If using to top lemon bars, pour over shortbread crust at this point. Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Return pan to oven and bake for additional 10 minutes.

Cool the lemon curd topped shortbread completely in the pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate the pan for 30 minutes to set the lemon curd completely before cutting into bars. Place some powdered sugar in a strainer and tap the strainer to sprinkle a thick, even coating, entirely covering the lemon.

Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pan and the pastry on the 2 sides without the aluminum foil. Use the foil to life out the lemon curd covered shortbread onto a cutting surface. Use a long, sharp knife to cut the shortbread into even pieces. Wipe the blade after each cut.

The powdered sugar will start to be absorbed into the lemon curd after several hours, but it can be reapplied before serving. Or, better yet, don’t sprinkle them with sugar until shortly before you are ready to serve.

Keeps up to 3 weeks, refrigerated.

Note: If saving the lemon curd for other uses, pour into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. The curd will continue to thicken while it chills. Store it in the refrigerator. It will keep quite a while, but the flavor will dull a bit after three weeks. Mine never lasts that long.

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Love, simply

Tea and cookies are a simply elegant way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  Now, I’ve had sumptuous formal teas, like the splendid bounty offered at the Dushanbe Tea House, and truly enjoyed every morsel. But you can create a little oasis of peace in your own home by sitting down to a pot of properly brewed tea and some buttery homemade cookies. Invite your neighbor or your sweetie, or your girlfriend, or your daughter, or your mom to join you for a mid-afternoon tea.  Set out your nicest tea cups and a couple of pretty plates.  What are you saving the fine china for, anyway?  Bring a kettle of water to a full boil and brew some good quality tea (I’m fond of the many wonderful black teas available online from the Upton Tea Imports). Set out a plate of these lovely cookies. And enjoy the company of this person you love. Now, isn’t this what Valentine’s Day is all about?

Rich Roll Cookies

Adapted from the Joy of Cooking, by Irma Rombauer

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter

2/3 cup sugar

1 egg

2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg until well combined.  Add flour, salt and vanilla.  Mix until thoroughly combined.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 3 hours.  Roll out on lightly floured surface to about 3/8″ thickness.  Cut into desired shape with cookie cutters.  Transfer to lightly greased cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes or just until edges begin to color.  Cool on rack before frosting.

Decorator Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

1 lb. powdered sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla or 1/2 tsp. almond extract

1/3 cup soft butter, unsalted

Directions:

Cream butter until soft. Add milk, vanilla and salt and mix until combined.  Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

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