December 16: Stroopwafels

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Truth be told, these are the fanciest cookies I make. They are also the ones that take longest to create. They are ALSO my personal favorites of any of the cookies I make, and if you get one, it’s because I really, really like you. Actually, with this economy, I’m going to need to bump that up to love now.

(They are also the cookie that got me an award and some serious poetic street cred because I wrote a poem about making them. But we don’t need to talk about that.)

(I can see you’re not going to let this go…here’s the link.)

I don’t expect any one to have a pizzelle iron at home (or even better, an actual Stroopwafel one), but on the off hand chance you do, well, let me introduce you to my favorite of the favorites.

This one needs yeast. Don’t be afraid of yeast. Just make sure the water you’re using is warm, not hot. You don’t want to kill the yeast.

IMG_4556While my yeast was yeasting, I went to get my flour. I was digging at the bottom of the barrel (bucket) for this recipe, but thankfully, I had enough.

(Also, I keep flour and sugar in food grade buckets. Write a cookie blog sometime and tell me you won’t do the same.)

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You have to cut the butter into the flour, and I find it’s easier if you cube the butter first.

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Anytime I bring out my pastry cutter, I think of my friend Jenny B., who once had some very important questions about using such a device. You don’t need one–you can do the same thing with two knives–but I’ll tell you it’s easier to use the pastry cutter.

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After I added in all the other ingredients, I mushed it into a ball and let it rise for an hour.

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And through the magic of the Internet…

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Time to make the heavenly filling for the Stroopwafel. It’s pretty easy–butter, brown sugar, dark Karo syrup, and cinnamon. This is the Karo syrup, in my Pampered Chef measuring cup–a measuring cup that has paid for itself many times over because of it’s syrup-measuring (and peanut butter, and mayonnaise) abilities.

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Let it boil until it reaches the soft ball stage. Don’t let it go any further than that, or you will have crunchy cookies that take your fillings out.

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Once the filling is done, I like to pour mine into an extra large measuring cup.

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The dough needs to be made into cookies. I take biggish balls (okay, 8th grade boy…) and press them until they are juuuust lightly golden. It takes a few tries. You want it just on the brink of being fully cooked.

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I take a serrated knife and cut through the cookie. This is why you want the cookie to be just almost done. It helps you find the sweet spot in the cookie without tearing the whole thing apart. I would have had a picture of this for you, but I’m a safety gamble using two hands doing this, and I wasn’t about to try it with one, just so there’d be a picture.

(Adulting kind of blows, btw.)

I filled the cookies with the delicious insides. I don’t know why this picture is sideways. Deal with it.

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And then I quickly put the tops on the cookies, pressing lightly.

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As you can see above, these cookies make my counters look like there’s been a struggle. Or neglect. Or both. But all in the name of good cookies.

It’s recommended that you put a Stroopwafel on top of a hot cup of coffee or tea to really get the insides gooey. This was a coffee cup I painted at one of those “Paint your own ceramics” places a few years ago. It’s holiday-themed and says exactly what you think it does.

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Again, you are only getting my stash if I love you.

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Stroopwafels

(from http://www.food.com)

Ingredients

Waffle cookies

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water

Filling

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons dark corn syrup

Directions

Preheat a pizzelle iron.
To Make Waffles: Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Cut butter into the flour. Mix in the sugar, cinnamon, eggs and yeast mixture. Mix well and set aside to rise for 30 to 60 minutes.
Roll dough into 12 small balls; Squeeze each ball into the preheated pizzelle iron and bake for about 30 seconds. Cut the waffles into two thin waffles and spread with filling.
To Make Filling: In a saucepan boil the brown sugar, the remaining one cup of the butter, cinnamon (this is a must-have ingredient), and dark corn syrup until it reaches the soft ball stage (234-240°F, 112-115°C), stirring constantly.

To Assemble: Cut each waffle (only if home-made waffles) into 2 thin waffles and spread with filling. Repeat this process until all the filling is used. If using store bought, simply spread about 1 tablespoon of filling on one waffle cookie, let it cool about 1 minute, and squeeze a second cookie on top.

 

December 15: Orange Drop Cookies

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This cookie comes with a story. I mean, they all come with a story, but this one comes with a recent story.

We had an apple tree at our old house in Wisconsin. We got it (and another one that didn’t make it) many years ago when our city cut down our large tree for power line reasons, and we got three new trees out of the deal. (Other one was a beautiful Blaze Maple.) Hoover, our middle son, loves apples, which is why we chose an apple tree.

Fast forward to now, and we live 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, where we have no apple trees (I don’t know if they grow here or not, but we don’t have access to one anymore).

Hoover has always been obsessed with seeds and planting and all sorts of stuff. He used to save his orange seeds in Wisconsin to try and plant orange trees. Guess what; it didn’t work.

But, do you know what does grow in Southwest Louisiana?

The other day, our grandfatherly neighbor came to the door with a grocery bag full of oranges from his tree. Hoover’s enthusiasm seemed to charm him, and he then offered Hoover the chance to pick oranges whenever he liked. Hoover and I went to his side yard and encountered a 20 foot Satsuma Orange (or tangerine, possibly…jury is still deliberating what a Satsuma really is–other than a scent at The Body Shop) tree.

Walter (not the neighbor’s name, but it’s something like that) is lousy with oranges, and looks to be quite sick of them, much like my dad was when he had two giant apple trees. He emphasized that any time he wanted to pick oranges, Hoover (and his brother and sister) could and should, otherwise they’d just go to waste.

Didn’t have to tell this kid twice.

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He asked me if I could make orange cookies with the oranges. Many years ago, I made Orange Drop cookies, so I knew I could. And how can you resist fresh oranges?

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This is some of Hoover and Mini-Me (my daughter)’s second stash, after they juice a half-gallon of juice by hand. (And then drank it.)

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Luckily, I had a helper in juicing.

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Had to strain it so I’d just get the juice.

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Chopping a half cup of walnut, graciously given to me by my poetry professor Amy!

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Into the oven it went. Now, I’ll say this. These cookies come out looking light and airy if you do it right. I did it right. 🙂

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Seriously, don’t they look like meringue tarts?

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The frosting involved a pound of powdered sugar, and more orange juice and zest. This is probably the tastiest frosting I make, and the fresh ingredients only enhance it!

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As my kids noted, they aren’t all that orange. When I’ve made these with regular store-bought juice, they aren’t all that orange, either. But, they sure do taste (and smell…holy smokes, the smells in my kitchen…) great!

Orange Drop Cookies

(I’m sorry, I can’t remember where I got it from! If you do, let me know and I’ll credit it accordingly!)

1/2 c shortening                                   2 1/2 c flour

1 c sugar                                             1/2 t salt

2 eggs                                                 1 T grated orange peel

1/2 c orange juice                                 1/2 c walnuts

1 1/2 t baking powder

Cream together shortening and sugar, add eggs one at a time and beat well. Add orange juice and mix. Blend in dry ingredients. Drop onto cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Orange Frosting:

6 T Butter                                              2 t grated orange peel

1 lb. bag of powdered sugar                    2 T orange juice

1 1/2 t vanilla

Cream together butter and orange peel; gradually add about half of the sugar, blending well. Beat in orange juice and vanilla. Add enough sugar to make spreading consistency.