December 15: Almond Butter Sticks

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Note: I got behind because of illness.. Now that I can at least sit upright for more than a few hours, I am catching up. But with that, these are going to be more bare-bones than in the past.

Almond Butter Sticks

(courtesy of Saving Dessert)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon (divided)
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg, separated (white reserved for glazing)
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sugar for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl combine the sugar and almond extract; cover and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.
  5. In a large mixing bowl combine 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) butter and cream cheese. Beat on low until blended. Add the egg yolk and blend until smooth. Add half the flour mixture and beat on low until combined. Add the remaining flour and blend just until the dough starts to come together.
  6. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Knead by hand about 25 strokes until the dough is pliable. Roll or press into a 12×12 inch square. Spread with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.
  7. Cut the dough in half and place one half on the prepared cookie sheet, butter side up.
  8. Spoon the sugar mixture to within 1/2-inch of the dough edges all the way around. Place the remaining dough half, butter side down, over the sugar. Press the edges tightly to seal.
  9. Brush the dough with a lightly beaten egg white. Sprinkle with almonds and coarse sugar.
  10. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. It’s best removed from the oven when you think it needs one or two more minutes.
  11. Cool at least 30 minutes.
  12. Cut the pastry in half lengthwise and then into 1/2 to 1 inch strips crosswise.
  13. Store in an airtight container.

Somewhere in the original recipe for this, it says that the author likes that these don’t immediately appeal to children, and therefore are leftover when cookies trays are passed.

I feel this in my soul.

These are my hands-down favorite fave cookie that I make. I love almond extract. I love butter and cream cheese and sugar and actual almonds, and I love making a cookie so good, it flies under the radar like a spy drone.

Here’s the link to when I made them last year, if you need the play-by-play. I doubled them last year, because I don’t like sharing. I still don’t like sharing, but I only had one brick of cream cheese left in my fridge and it’s supposed to be 10 degrees outside tonight.

No problems at all making these, as usual. Even with the rolling out and measuring going on here, these are pretty straight forward. By far, the biggest challenge with these cookies are hiding them from my kids, because they’ve caught on how awesome they are.

December 6: Cherry Surprise Cookies

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Cherry Surprise Cookies (from Honest and Truly)

Ingredients:

  • 10 T unsalted butter, softened (or coconut oil to make them dairy free)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T milk (or rice or soy or almond milk)
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla bean extract (I used almond actually)
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 30 maraschino cherries
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat butter and sugar until they are creamy and have come back together and the color is lightened. Add egg, milk, and vanilla, and mix to combine. Once it’s mixed together, turn it up to high again for another thirty or so seconds to get it nice and fluffy.
  3. Add the salt and baking powder, and mix well. Then add the flour, and stir slowly until it’s combined.
  4. Prepare your cherries. Place a paper towel in a small bowl and remove the maraschino cherries from their juice. If they have stems, go ahead and remove them and let the cherries dry out a bit on the towel.
  5. Scoop out cookies using a cookie scoop or make little mounds with about 2 tablespoons of dough each. This is what you’ll use to start the cookie itself. They don’t need to be pretty yet, as we’re just focused on making sure that your cookies will all be approximately the same size.
  6. Next, start making the surprise. Pick up a dough mound and carefully flatten it in your hand. You want it to be a little over two inches in diameter, but they don’t have to be perfect circles.
  7. Place a cherry in the center of your flattened disc and fold the edges up around it. Crimp and seal the opening and roll the balls in your hand until they are completely sealed and nicely rounded. Place on a cookie sheet. Make sure they are a couple inches apart, though they don’t spread as much as many other cookies and can be a little closer than normal.
  8. If you’re dipping them in sugar, now is the time to do it. Place your sugar or sprinkles in a small dish and gently press the top of your cookie into the sugar before placing the cookie onto the cookie sheet.
  9. Bake in your 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden around the edge and the outside is starting to crack. Cool on your cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then move to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container on the counter for up to a week.

I have been looking for the same cookie recipe for the better part of a decade. It has almond extract and maraschino cherries. The dough is almost like a butter cookie, and the cherry sits in the middle of it, totally hidden.

This isn’t it.

But it’s pretty close.

Butter cookie-based, maraschino cherries, and almond extract…okay, this recipe calls for vanilla bean extract, but I used almond because I love almond.

I mixed it together, poured a bottle of maraschino cherries in a strainer and rinsed, dried said cherries, and took mounds of dough and turned them into mini cookie dough pancakes. The cherries found a home in the dough, where I rounded them into balls.

I also dipped the cherry balls in red sugar. I have a small problem with sprinkles, as I’ve mentioned before. Here’s the current collection:

And I like looking for different colors, sizes, and mixes. But for these, I just used regular old red sugar.

For the first batch, I just dipped the tops in red sugar. This was before I knew the cookies would spread the way they did. And the result out of the oven looked like slightly pornographic cookies, if that particular industry was interested in middle age women.

So for the next batch, I rolled the whole cookie in red sugar, and we had success.

Once they cooled, my taste-tester and I determined that these were pretty darn good.

Maybe not the recipe I’ve been trying to recreate over the years, but still delicious.

December 21: Almond Rosettes

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I know I’m posting these a day later, but I did make them on the 21st. My little brother’s birthday was yesterday and I went to his grown-up birthday party last night when I’d normally post about cookies. So like most things in a big sister’s life, let’s blame yesterday on the younger sibling.

I haven’t made almond rosettes in a few years, and I’m not quite sure I made them yesterday. Oh, I mixed together the dough (it’s delicious even raw) and put it in the pastry bag like you’re supposed to, but after decorating cookies the day before, my hand kinda hurt, and forcing the dough through a star tip was more than my old arthritic bones could handle. I tried. But then I decided life was too short to cripple oneself over baked goods. So I pulled it out of the pastry bag and tried different methods in making cookies.

I tried rolling the dough into snakes and then curling it around itself. I also rolled the dough into balls by hand. And then I used my cookie scoop and just plopped them onto the parchment paper like that. Again, life is short. And these cookies are good.

They may not be rosettes, but I have a feeling they will still get eaten.

Almond Rosettes
(from The Spirit of Christmas Cookbook, Volume 4.)

Ingredients:

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 egg
3 T. milk
1 t. almond extract
2 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
sliced almonds to decorate

Directions: 

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg, milk, and almond extract. Beat until smooth.

2. Combine flour and baking powder in a small bowl and add to creamed mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. 

3. Transfer about 1/3 of dough into a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip. Pipe 2″ diameter rosettes onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Press an almond slice in the center of each cookie.

4. Bake 8-11 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.


December 16: Almond Crescents

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Greetings from 10 o’clock at night. 

Today, I graded most of the morning (only 11 essays left) and this afternoon I took my son for a haircut and then the kids and I went to Jeanne’s birthday party. (For more on Jeanne, see December 14.

We got home and I realized two things: 1.) I have to get these last 11 essays graded so I can put final grades in and 2.) I hadn’t baked any cookies yet. And while I can grade essays from bed, I can’t bake cookies from there (yet…I have hopes for the future generations to figure out something). So I took my remaining energy and whipped up some Almond Crescents. 

Now, if there’s one thing I know about these cookies, it’s that you can’t sneak one and get away with it. These are the delicious little morsels covered with powdered sugar. They are evidence-inducing, and I like that. Bravely show the world you have eaten one (or more) of these cookies. Own it. 

They are kind of a crumbly cookie to make, but as long as you know that going in, you’ll be fine. 

The recipe calls for a cup of butter, 3/4 cup of sugar, and then 3/4 cup of finely chopped almonds. Thanks to a fantastic coupon last week, I have nuts coming out of my ears, so this was not a problem. 

The flour is then added (I used 2 cups and about 2 Tablespoons), and you mix. Like I said. It’s a little crumbly.

I tried several methods for shaping my cookies and what worked best was quickly dashing my hands under the faucet and then rolling snakes on my cutting board. The water keeps it together until the heat from your hands warms the butter and that then keeps it together. 

Once they are out of the oven, they get a gentle dipping in some powdered sugar. You know, the evidence. 

Almond Crescent Cookies

(courtesy of An Italian in my Kitchen)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • pinch salt (if you use unsalted butter add 1/4 teaspoon salt)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped fresh almonds, walnuts or pecans
  • 2 -2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • powdered sugar 

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°  
  2. In a large bowl beat butter until fluffy, add sugar and beat again until fluffy.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add nuts, flour  (add 2 cups to start and 1 tablespoon at a time and salt.
  4.  Bring dough together with your fingers.  Break off small pieces and form into a crescent shape.  Place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for approximately 15 minutes . While cookies are still warm roll in icing/powdered sugar.  Can be frozen.  Enjoy!

December 10: Almond Butter Sticks

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I’ve never officially made these as part of my 24 Days of Cookies, but I have made them before for other things. They are amazing. They are more than amazing, like stupendous, super duper, and outrageous (in a good way). They are so good that this is the first time I have doubled a recipe on an official cookie-baking day. 

I made these last week for my Composition 1 class, and they were gone within minutes. On the site where I got the recipe, the lady writes that they are deceptive and kids don’t normally go for them, which is fine because it means more for the adults. I agree with this statement, however my kids now know what these are, which means they will polish off a whole batch before someone else gets a chance to try one. Hence, the doubling. 

Normally, you mix 3/4 cup sugar with 2 teaspoons of almond extract and let it sit. Because I doubled it, that was 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 4 teaspoons. Now, I love almond, but even this was a bit strong-smelling to begin with. My son always likes to tell me how cyanide smells like almonds (thanks internet) so whenever I make this, I think about cyanide and wonder if it tastes as good as almond extract and sugar do. And then I schedule an appointment for a psychiatrist, because I clearly have some issues. 

In my mixer went double amounts as well: two sticks of unsalted butter and 12 ounces of cream cheese. I looked for the scene of the movie Julie and Julia, where Meryl Streep says there’s so much butter, it can stop your heart, but I couldn’t find it in gif form. But that’s where my head goes. (Along with cyanide, apparently.) This is definitely a rich dough. To that, I added two egg yolks instead of one (because, again doubling), and my dry ingredients, also doubled. 

(I keep saying I doubled it because I know I would probably miss it if someone said this in a blog and I’d compare my dough to their pictures and wonder where I went wrong. And then I’d probably cry or get mad or both and vow to never make anything again. So to make sure I don’t kill any one’s baking future, I keep saying that I doubled this recipe.)

For this dough, you do have to roll it out, which is not my favorite thing to do, but because these cookies are so good, I do it happily. My silicone mat is leftover from my Pampered Chef days and it has measurements on it, which is great because for this I need my dough to be a 12×12 square. (This part is not doubled! I just rolled it out twice for two batches.) I cut away whatever is above that measurement and add pieces of dough to where it’s lacking. 

From there, I split in in half and then take a tablespoon of butter and spread it all over the dough. Remember, these are called Almond Butter Sticks, and for good reason. Then, one half the dough goes on a cookie sheet and the almond sugar is spread on. 

The other half is then put on top, butter-side down, and I pinch the edges to make sure they stay closed. You want all this almond buttery goodness inside the dough, I promise. Brush on the egg white and top with sliced almonds and sugar, and in a 375 degree oven it goes. 

Because this dough has no sugar in it, your kids will not be interested in licking the bowl. At all. But, my feline friends are all about it. 

You can’t tell here, but they were definitely licking it clean. I even gave them the rubber spatula. They’re sleeping it off now. 

As this bakes, your house will smell like a warm french pastry, which is something I’m okay with. 

Let it cool, and then cut it in half lengthwise, and then cut pieces in one inch increments. 

Drool.

Almond Butter Sticks

(courtesy of Saving Dessert)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon (divided)
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg, separated (white reserved for glazing)
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sugar for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl combine the sugar and almond extract; cover and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.
  5. In a large mixing bowl combine 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) butter and cream cheese. Beat on low until blended. Add the egg yolk and blend until smooth. Add half the flour mixture and beat on low until combined. Add the remaining flour and blend just until the dough starts to come together.
  6. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Knead by hand about 25 strokes until the dough is pliable. Roll or press into a 12×12 inch square. Spread with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.
  7. Cut the dough in half and place one half on the prepared cookie sheet, butter side up.
  8. Spoon the sugar mixture to within 1/2-inch of the dough edges all the way around. Place the remaining dough half, butter side down, over the sugar. Press the edges tightly to seal.
  9. Brush the dough with a lightly beaten egg white. Sprinkle with almonds and coarse sugar.
  10. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. It’s best removed from the oven when you think it needs one or two more minutes.
  11. Cool at least 30 minutes.
  12. Cut the pastry in half lengthwise and then into 1/2 to 1 inch strips crosswise.
  13. Store in an airtight container.