lundi 14 décembre 2009

Cookie Extravaganza!


In the spirit of Christmas, I have been in a cookie-making frenzy. I went to a Christmas Cookie party this weekend at my friend Andi’s place, where we got all sugared up and played rowdy Christmas games. Among those present at the party . . .

Linzertorte Cookies

This classic Austrian treat comes in torte (lattice pie) form, but makes for beautiful wintertime cookies. The powdered sugar topping is reminiscent of snow, and the center cutouts and red jam contrast are instantly striking. The dough is basically a sugar cookie dough with ground nuts (usually hazelnuts, but also almonds or walnuts—I used almonds) and lemon zest. The lemon zest is absolutely essential; the flavor really comes out in the cookie. If you want to impress, this is the cookie for you.

• 3/4 cup butter, softened
• 1 cup white sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup blanched slivered almonds, ground
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1 cup raspberry jam

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets.
2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and lemon peel. In another bowl, stir together the flour, almonds, cinnamon and cloves. Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. The dough will be stiff, so you may need to knead it by hand to get it to come together.
3. Roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thickness and cut into rounds using a cookie cutter. Place cookies onto a cookie sheet spaced 2 inches apart. Count your rounds and use a small cookie cutter to cut the center out of half of the cookies. This can be done while the other half of the cookies bakes.
4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until firm and lightly browned at the edges. Allow cookies to cool completely. Spread jam on the tops of the solid cookies and top with the cookies that have shapes cut out. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.


Orange Gingerbread

Last month I was seduced by the chewy, faintly spicy gingerbread from Nuremburg, Germany, called lebkuchen. Lebkuchen comes in cookies, but I decided to make a block of gingerbread. Real gingerbread is made with molasses, and you just won’t get the same flavor and color without it, but you can settle for a honey substitution.

In this particular recipe the orange flavor overrides everything else, so it ends up being orange bread more than gingerbread. Which was still tasty, but if you want to stick to the spice flavors I suggest cutting out the orange juice and orange liqueur.

• 1 cup butter, softened
• 2 cups packed brown sugar
• 3 eggs
• 2/3 cup honey
• 1/4 cup orange liqueur
• 1 cup sour cream
• 1/2 cup orange juice
• 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup whole wheat flour
• 4 teaspoons baking powder
• 2 teaspoons ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1 cup raisins
• 1 cup chopped candied ginger

1. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, and spices.
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter or margarine with the brown sugar. Beat in the eggs, then the honey, orange liqueur, sour cream, and orange juice. Beat the flour mixture into the creamed mixture, and then stir in the raisins and ginger. Turn batter into a greased and floured tube pan.
3. Bake cake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 80 minutes, or until it tests done with toothpick. Transfer to a rack to cool.


Chocolate Crinkle Cookies (photo, below right)

Like snickerdoodles, these cookies are fun to make, so you can pass off the baking on any small children there might be around the house. The texture is what makes these cookies so good—perfectly soft and chewy. I’m no big fan of chocolate, but these cookies won me over. Recipe courtesy of Andi Busch and family.

1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 oz. melted chocolate
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup confectioner sugar

1. Mix oil, chocolate, and sugar. Blend in one egg at a time. Add vanilla. Stir in salt, flour and baking powder which have been sifted together.
2. Spoon out small balls and roll them in confectioner's sugar. If you refrigerate the mixture before spooning it out, it is easier to handle!
3. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.


Hermits (photo, left)

These holiday spice bars will remind your mouth that it is indeed the Christmas season. Another Andi Busch family favorite.

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup butter
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cup currents or raisins
1/2 cup chopped nuts
2 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (to sprinkle on top)

1. Sift together flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Put butter and brown sugar in a mixing bowl and cream them well. Blend in the egg and egg yolk. Beat well. Add dry ingredients gradually. Stir in currents and nuts.
2. Divide dough into 4 pieces. Shape each in a 13" roll and place 4 " apart on a cookie sheet. Flatten to 1/2 " using a floured fork. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon mixture. Sprinkle a few chopped nuts on top.
3. Bake at 400 for 11-14 minutes until lightly brown. Cut diagonally into 1" bars.


Eggnog

There’s a reason eggnog is a Christmas drink—nobody could stomach it more than once a year. It is pretty heavy stuff. Half eggs, half milk and cream, with a good dose of alcohol. Personally, a second glass would have made me vomit. But I’ll give you the recipe anyways. You can substitute dark rum for the whiskey and brandy.

12 eggs, separated
6 cups milk
2 cups heavy/ thickened cream
2 cups bourbon
1½ cups sugar
¾ cup brandy
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1. In a large bowl and using a mixer, beat the egg yolks together with the sugar for approx 10 minutes (you want the mixture to be firm and the colour of butter).
2. Very slowly, add in the bourbon and brandy - just a little at a time.
3. When bourbon and brandy have been added, allow the mixture to cool in the fridge (for up to 6 hours, depending on how long before your party you're making the eggnog).
4. 30 minutes before your guests arrive, stir the milk into the chilled yolk mixture. 5. Stir in 1+ ½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
6. .In a separate bowl, beat the cream with a mixer on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks.
7. In yet another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
8. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture.

9. Gently fold the cream into the egg mixture.
10. After ladling into cups, garnish with the remainder of the ground nutmeg.


Happy Holiday baking!

1 commentaire:

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