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Christmas Cookies


Elizabeth_11
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Pontormo, I think those cookies sound great. I was at a party tonighht where a lemon rosemary poundcake was served, and it was delicious. The addition of pine nuts could only be a good thing.

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This weekend, I baked off my dough for Ling's Chocolate Toffee Butter cookies (from last year) and Ina Garten's Jam Thumbprints. At work, Ling's cookies went over REALLY well. One of the RNs said that all she wanted for Christmas were these cookies! Ling's recipe is wonderful because it makes so many cookies...great for a cookie exchange.

I found Ina's recipe a little more fiddly than I can handle. They turn out to look quite lovely and taste delicious but it took a lot of work to get there. On a positive note, it's a great thumbprint recipe because my mother's version doesn't bake the jam. Everytime Mom wants to serve her thumbprints she's got to get the jam jar out and add a dollup to each cookie. I prefer a recipe where the jam is baked and set so it makes for easy presentation and packaging.

This year, I'm trying to develop my "cookie repertoire" that so many of you already have. I know that I will always make Martha's chocolate crackle cookies and her carrot cake cookies but now I may add Ling's to the bunch. I would also like to find the ultimate thumbprint recipe. Next, I'm going to give the Macrina Cookbook's Angel Thumbprint recipe a try.

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I love all the cookie ideas in this thread...tks for sharing. The boxes intrigue me; I'd certainly love to be on the receiving end of one of these. We don't seem to have such cookie gift boxes here. Our cookies (one type at a time) are almost always packed in not highly creative air tight containers. The only mix we have is Danish cookies. I love buttery danish cookies but, it doesn't beat getting an array of beauties.

Forgive my ignorance but I have a few questions:

How long does it take before the cookie (assuming it's originally a crunchy hard one) softens?

Won't mixing soft and hard cookies encourage softening as I've always been led to believe?

Is it necessary for cookies to be packed in air-tight containers?

Thanks. I'm feeling in great need to sink my teeth in a cookie.

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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Wow, all these amazing cookies have made me feel quite inadequate.

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The nice thing about living overseas, though, is that the barest efforts are rewarded with overwhelming gratitude. I served these at a party I had last night - it was meant to be just a quiet gathering to watch a Christmas movie and eat some cookies, but it morphed into a huge gathering, where I played host to a group of eight or so British ex-pats who were spending their first holidays away from home (in addition to the rest of us hardened overseas warriors). I had these and some peanut butter cookies with dark chocolate chunks - utterly unphotographable as the Drost Dark chocolate discs I had cunningly pressed into the top of each cookie overheated and burnt as I cooked them - rookie mistake!

We went through 8 litres of mulled wine, a flat of 24 Halida beer, a bottle of Wild Turkey, a bottle of Bailey's, and a half-bottle of gin. The night truly got going when the homesick ones started downloading King's College Choir renditions of Anglican carol classics. One of them started directing us in harmony, and we kept the whole street awake with our stylings of "Oh little Town of Bethlehem" and "I saw Three Ships". It's a wonder they didn't call the police on us! The teacher's room was a sorry, sorry place to be today.

These cookies are called "Whipped Shortbread", and as I recall, the recipe is from one of the "Best of Bridge" series of cookbooks. It calls for a cup of butter, one and a half cups of flour, and a half cup of icing sugar. I've kept the recipe in my memory all these years, as they are ideal to be made in a home-baking hostile environment. They were made employing my second largest cooking pot; the plastic paddle from my rice cooker; and my toaster oven (named "Jackie" by her manufacturer).

They were slightly undercooked, and I finished the last of them for breakfast this morning with a cup of Ethiopian mocha.

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Hi Sharon, and welcome to eG! The boxes were only for handing out, as we didn't choose recipes that would necessarily ship well. But the people I'm handing them to are really pleased.

Tepee, you raise good questions about the staling issue. I'm totally trusting Chefpeon here, and her word was that kept in a cool place (like my garage) all together in a big box or wrapped, they'd keep well for a week. I'm giving out the last of them tomorrow, so I'm hoping that's true!

Nakji, I think you get a prize for unusual baking technique, not to mention unusual beverage accompaniments!

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I've been baking to try out some new recipes. Roland Mesnier's Dessert University oatmeal cookies are killers. I tried his chocolate chip ones, too. I've been told they are good but I don't like my chocolate sullied by other ingredients like fruit or cookie ingredients. I also love pizzelles in plain, chocolate, or orange rum flavors.

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I made some chocolate-almond cookies and some bourbon balls (pictures here), both family standards.

I also shipped some nammoura, meticulously packaged, to the boyfriends family. I used a Jordanian friends recipe and it came out great.

And Nakji, ditto on baking in a foreign (non-Western) country. People are literally shocked by brownies, like they are the most exotic things, and choc-chip cookies, they go crazy. Next I am going to have to introduce them to pie!

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I just have to say one more thing about the cuccidati. As I showed upthread, I made half a dozen tarts with the leftovers, tarts that are about 4 1/2" across. Today I ate part of one, the last thing to remain at our house from our bakefest, and it was perfectly fresh and delicious, one full week after baking! It's been on the counter, covered in plastic wrap, all that time, and the dough is still crisp, the filling still moist. And I think I might even prefer it to the cookies, because there's a much higher filling to crust ratio. This is a really awesome recipe.

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A while back, I decided to make the Fig Cookies from Alfred Portale's "12 Seasons Cookbook" for Christmas. As it turns out, the cookies are really cuccidati; the two recipes are almost identical (although Portale's recipe could've used some testing). Like Portale, I decorated the cookies with chopped pistachios:

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I think they look great but taste a little dry. Next time, I'll be using Michael's recipe.

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I'll add my very humble cookie tin from this year.

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Clockwise from upper right: glazed molasses spice cookies, Russian tea cakes, coconut cranberry chews, pretzel "turtles" that the boys made, a row of crystallized ginger butter squares, and finally chocolate rounds dipped in more chocolate and pistachios.

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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Those look really good, Kathy! I'd eat the molasses spice first, then the ginger.

And Zee, it's interesting how different your cuccidati dough looks. Much firmer, with a cleaner cut, and paler. I read somewhere online that colored discs of sugar are traditionally put on these, that's why I added the sprinkles. I agree the pistachios look more elegant, though, and expands the serving season.

Edited by Abra (log)
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Tejon,

Would you care to share the crystallized ginger butter cookie recipe? Those look splendid. You could get me to eat my shoe if you sprinkled crystalized ginger on it.

L.

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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A small assortment of our traditional christmas cookies. Nothing spectacular but very tasty. The first time ever I made this year a soft ginger bread (1 to 2 o'clock position).

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I agree with Abra. The chocolate-dipped ones look very pretty! Is the one that's cut open in the center the same type, and could you post a recipe?

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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SOMETHING NEW TO DO WITH KOROVA/WORLD PEACE COOKIES

That is, if you happen to have pistachio cream/paste. I have a small jar of very precious organic Sicilian paste that I saved to make special Christmas cookies.

As an experiment, I decided to use a little as follows:

Spread your 1/2-inch slices of the chilled cookie dough onto your parchment paper.

Press down in the center of each with index finger to form a recess, but not a hole.

Fill the cavity with 1/4 t of pistachio paste.

Take a little soft Korova dough and put a thin lid over each brilliant green center.

Bake 10 minutes (I like them softer).

While still quite soft, press a naked (skinned), green pistachio in the center of each.

Beautiful. Yummy. Of course, variations are endless, but I love pistachio and chocolate when paired.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I have access to that organic Sicilian pistachio paste, but I'm probably the only person on the planet who doesn't care for the Korova cookies. Too much chocolate for me. However, I love the idea of using the pistachio cream that way, and it's making me think about what other dough I could substitute. But not to worry, despite my taste in cookies I am definitely in favor of world peace!

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I have access to that organic Sicilian pistachio paste, but I'm probably the only person on the planet who doesn't care for the Korova cookies.  Too much chocolate for me.  However, I love the idea of using the pistachio cream that way, and it's making me think about what other dough I could substitute.

Abra: Cf. my most recent post in Baking 101. Or, wait....here's Alberto's recipe for Sicilian cookies that inspired my quest for the pistachio cream.

I've got the dough chilling in the fridge right now, though I used almond meal from Trader Joe's instead of almond flour (or skinning and grinding almonds). Have to say I'm not a fan of confectioner's sugar as a sweetener, but...

Anyway, to solve the oozing factor and sandwich in a little more pistachio than Alberto does, I am planning to turn half the cookies over when they're straight out of the oven and poke them then. That extra recessed space should be enough to increase the size of the dollop of goo and given the flecks of skin in the almond meal, their slight bitterness should counterbalance the intense sweetness of the pistachio mixture.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Wow, thanks Pontormo! I have everything in the house to make Alberto's Baci except the pistachio paste itself. I might be done baking cookies for this year, but then again, I might have to make an exception for these.

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For those of you that have been waiting for recipes from Chefpeon, here are the oatmeal lace cookies and the Swedish thins recipes, in Annie's words. The macaroons, however, are a deep, sweet secret.

Annie's Swedish Creams

1 cup (8 oz) butter, softened

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 cups all purpose or pastry flour

4 Tbsp. granulated sugar

Combine the butter, sugar and heavy cream with paddle attachment on mixer (doesn't have to be smooth). Add the flour. Add color if desired. Mix til all incorporated. Form dough into flat disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

1/4 cup (2 oz) butter, softened

3/4 cup powdered sugar

**1 egg yolk

1 tsp. vanilla

Mix egg yolk, vanilla and powdered sugar together. add butter and whip til creamy.

**If you're concerned about raw eggs in your buttercream, you can either leave it out, and sub a couple Tbsp. warm water in place. OR you can heat your yolk to 160 degrees by whisking constantly in a bowl over simmering water. OR you can make a typical french buttercream.

Roll out dough disk to about 1/4" thick. Cut out desired shapes. I like ovals. Toss the shapes in granulated sugar, place on baking sheet and bake at 375 for about 7-9 minutes. When cool, sandwich together with buttercream.

Lacy Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie Sandwiches (from Nick Malgieri's, "Cookies Unlimited")

1 stick butter (4 oz), melted

1 cup oatmeal, finely chopped, but NOT ground to a powder in the food processor. NOTE: grind the oats, THEN measure.

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp orange juice (Personally, I just use a 1/2 tsp. freshly grated rind, sometimes more)

Put butter in bowl, then add remaining ingredients, one at a time, mixing as you go. You don't need to use a mixer for this, just do it by hand. You can then bake off the cookies right away, or you can refrigerate the batter. I like to refrigerate the batter, because I find it easier to deposit onto the pans when it's a little firmer. Also, they won't spread so much and so quickly.

Use no more than about a teaspoon of batter for each cookie and allow about 3 inches of space in between each cookie on the sheet. I like to bake on parchment or silpats. Bake cookies at 350 degrees until they have spread out and are darker on the edges than the middles. Personally I like to bake them uber-crisp. Mine are dark around the edges and a deep golden in the center. Any lighter in the middles, and they're kinda soft. For this cookie, crisper is better.

These cookies have a tendency to be round-ish but not perfectly round. The non-uniformity of the chopped oats and any flaw or bend in your baking pan will determine how round the cookies end up being. So my advice is to use as

flat a pan as possible! Generally though, the roundest cookies will be in the center, and the weird ones will be on the outsides.

Melt some chocolate. It doesn't have to be tempered. I like to use bittersweet, but you can use semi-sweet or milk if you prefer. Personally I think the bittersweet together with the orangy kind of flavor in the cookie is a killer combo. With a small offset spatula or knife, spread a thin layer of melted chocolate all the way to the edge of one cookie and sandwich together with another cookie. I like to match up all my cookie pairs in advance so when I'm doing the sandwiching I don't have to hunt around for similar shapes. Goes quicker that way. Place cookies in fridge to set quicker, then store at room temperature.

Edited by Abra (log)
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