Tag Archives: 2010

Cookies 23: Speculass

Speculass cookies, which are from the Netherlands, resemble the Springerle cookies from Germany we made way back on Cookie Day 4.

This speculass recipe is from Martha Stewart and it looks difficult and amazing. But then again, isn’t that what we’ve come to expect from Martha?

Speculass

Ingredients

Makes about 32 cookies

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for surface

Directions

  1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, mace, white pepper, and cloves in a large bowl.
  2. Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in half the flour mixture. Beat in water, then remaining flour mixture. Shape into 3 disks. Pat each to a 1-inch thickness, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Dust surface and springerle mold lightly with confectioners’ sugar. Roll out dough to a 1/4- to 3/8-inch thickness (deeper molds will need thicker dough). Cut a piece of dough about the size of the mold. Press mold firmly into dough, flip over, and gently roll over dough with a rolling pin. Flip over, and press onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a knife, trim excess dough. Gently coax dough out of mold with fingertips and onto a baking sheet. Repeat, spacing cookies 1 inch apart, and placing same-size cookies on same sheet. Freeze until firm, about 1 hour.

Read more at Marthastewart.com: Speculaas Cookies – Martha Stewart Recipes

 

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Cookies 22: Basler Brunsli

Today’s cookie is from Switzerland and – much like that country – it’s pretty picture-perfect for the holidays!

This Basler Brunsli recipe is from Pastrywiz.com.

Basler Brunsli (Chocolate Almond Cookie)

1½ cups natural almonds (8oz)
1 cup sugar
½ cup powdered sugar
6 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chopped
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 large egg whites

In a food processor combine almonds with sugars until ground fine. Add chocolate and mix until fine. (Do not overmix or chocolate will melt.) Add spices and egg whites and mix until dough comes together. Chill dough for about 1/2 hour.

On a surface covered with sugar, roll dough to about ½ inch thickness. Cut out cookies with a 2 inch cookie cutter (heart or star shaped) and transfer onto baking pan lined with parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 350º F. Put cookies into the oven and reduce the temperature to 325º F. Bake for 15 minutes or until firm. Be careful not to overbake or the cookies will be too hard.

 

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Cookies 21: Belgian Christmas Cookie

Belgium’s Christmas cookie is a bar that resembles a sugar cookie but includes almonds.

A lot of care and attention is put into the decorations which almost always include green and red sugar.

This Belgian Christmas cookie recipe is from MomsWhoThink.com.

Belgian Christmas Cookies

Ingredients:

2/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped unblanched whole almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons red sugar crystals
2 teaspoons green sugar crystals
Directions:

Cream butter with almond extract. Add brown sugar gradually, creaming until fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together; add in thirds to creamed mixture, mixing until blended after each addition.

Turn into a greased 15 x 10 x 1 inch jelly roll pan and spread evenly to edges.

Sprinkle a mixture of almonds and cinnamon over batter, then sprinkle with a mixture of red and green sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees F 10 to 12 minutes. Cut into bars while still warm.

Makes 5 dozen cookies.

 

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Cookies 20: Gurabia

Gurabia is the Christmas cookie of choice in Armenia but their holiday season actually begins on December 31st and their Santa Claus – Gaghant Baba – comes around on January 6 because Armenians follow the old Julian calendar.

Here is a gurabia recipe from Lisa of the blog Lisa Cooks. It’s a challenging dough to perfect so this is probably not for beginners.

 

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Cookies 19: Chocolate Oat Cookies

Australia’s chocolate oat cookies are not only festive and easy to make, they also travel extremely well.

If you’re baking cookies to send to friends or family far away, these cookies may be just the thing for you.

Here’s a recipe for Anzac biscuits – also known as Australian chocolate oat cookies -from Allrecipes.com. These cookies are also widely made in New Zealand.

Chocolate Oat Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 2 baking sheets. Mix quick oats, flour, coconut, brown sugar, and ginger in a bowl. With your fingers, make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
  2. Dissolve the baking soda in boiling water. In a small saucepan, melt the butter, and stir in the golden syrup to combine. Pour in the dissolved baking soda, and pour the mixture into the well in the dry ingredients. Stir lightly until just combined; drop by rounded tablespoon about 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until the cookies are golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

 

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Cookies 18: Besitos de Coco

besitos de cocoBesitos de Coco are a coconut-flavored cookie from Puerto Rico but they are popular throughout the Caribbean.

Christmas in the Caribbean gives the holiday a tropical flavor.

Here’s a besitos de coco recipe from Food.com you can try to help sweeten your celebrations!

Besitos de Coco

Ingredients

2 cups grated coconut (bagged will do)

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 cup water

Directions

Combine the coconut and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil. Add the brown sugar and stir. Cook on low heat until the sugar melts and the texture is thick and very sticky. Drop by tablespoons on a greased cookie sheet or on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper or parchment. Let the cookies cool down.

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Cookies 17: Burrebrede

burrebredeBurrebrede, or Scottish shortbread, is a delicious treat that was supposedly favored by England’s Queen Elizabeth I.

This burrebrede recipe is from AllRecipes.com.

Burrebrede (Scottish Shortbread)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter, softened

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, allspice and salt. Divide into two equal parts, and set one aside. Add the flour and butter to the other half, and stir until blended. It should be slightly grainy.
  3. Press the dough evenly into an 8 inch square pan. Cut into 1×2 inch pieces using a knife, and prick with the tines of a fork. This will keep the shortbread from warping while baking. Sprinkle the reserved sugar and spice liberally over the top, brushing into all of the cuts and holes.
  4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until firm and golden at the edges. Do not brown. Cool completely in the pan, and break into pieces along the lines to serve.

 

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Read: Christmas Classics

There are so many fantastic Christmas books that it’s hard to choose just a few, but here are my favorite children’s books about Christmas.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

The Nutcracker by E.T.A Hoffman and illustrated by Maurice Sendak

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

There are many more – so share your favorites with me!

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Cookies 16: Alfajores

alfajoresAlfajores are a sandwich-style cookie that originated in Spain. Its name comes from the Arabic word for stuffed.

There are many variations on alfajores, including a recipe from Peru and another from Argentina.

These Latin American versions of the cookie are very different from those made in Spain.

This alfajores recipe, from AllRecipes.com, is from Argentina.

Alfajores (Argentinean style)

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 (11.5 ounce) jar dulce de leche
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and baking powder; set aside.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, allowing each yolk to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla rum, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and lemon zest with the last egg. Gently fold in the flour mixture with a spoon, making a crumbly dough. When the dough becomes cohesive enough, press it together into a ball with your hands. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Roll out the dough, using as little flour as possible, about 1/4 inch thick. The dough will have an unusual consistency. Cut with a small round cookie cutter. Continue pressing the dough together, rolling it out, and cutting until you have used it all. Place cookies 1/2 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until set but not browned, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the cookies immediately to cool on a wire rack.
  5. Spread the underside of a cooled cookie with a teaspoon of dulce de leche, then sandwich together with another cookie until the caramel oozes out the sides. Roll the sides in the shredded coconut.

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Cookies 15: Macaroons

macaroonsThis famous French pastry actually originated in an Italian monastery where – it is believed – their shape was modeled on the monks’ belly buttons!

Macaroons came to France in the 16th century when Catherine de Medici married Henri II.

Try this royal – and religious – treat via Martha Stewart’s recipe.

Macaroons

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar

1 cup (4 ounces) finely ground sliced, blanched almonds

6 tablespoons fresh egg whites (from about 3 extra-large eggs)

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions

To make the macaroons: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and ground almonds. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip until stiff glossy peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the confectioners’ sugar mixture until completely incorporated.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Fit a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch #4 round tip, and fill with batter. Pipe 1-inch disks onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. The batter will spread a little. Let stand at room temperature until dry, and a soft skin forms on the tops of the macaroons and the shiny surface turns dull, about 15 minutes.

Bake, with the door of the oven slightly ajar, until the surface of the macaroons is completely dry, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet to a wire rack and let the macaroons cool completely on the baking sheet. Gently peel off the parchment. Their tops are easily crushed, so take care when removing the macaroons from the parchment. Use immediately or store in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

To fill the macaroons: Fill a pastry bag with the filling. Turn macaroons so their flat bottoms face up. On half of them, pipe about 1 teaspoon filling. Sandwich these with the remaining macaroons, flat-side down, pressing slightly to spread the filling to the edges. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Variations: To make coffee-flavored macaroons: In step 1, add 2 drops brown food coloring to the egg whites after they are whipped. In step 4, blend 1/2 cup macaroon filling with 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder dissolved in 1/2 teaspoon warm water for the filling. To make cassis-flavored macaroons: In step 1, add 2 drops purple food coloring to the egg whites after they are whipped. In step 4, use 1/3 cup good-quality cassis jam for the filling. To make pistachio-flavored macaroons: In step 1, add 2 drops green food coloring to the egg whites after they are whipped. In step 4, combine 1/2 cup macaroon filling with 1 tablespoon pistachio paste for the filling.

Macaroon Filling

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

Directions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk egg whites and sugar. Set mixer bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and heat mixture, whisking often, until it feels warm to the touch and sugar is dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer bowl to the mixer, and fit with the whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until mixture is stiff and shiny, 3 to 5 minutes. Add butter, one piece at a time, and continue mixing until butter is thoroughly incorporated. The filling can be kept, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before stirring.
  3. Variations: To make hazelnut-honey filling: In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of macaroon filling with 1/3 cup finely ground hazelnuts and 2 tablespoons good-quality honey.

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