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 8: Nate’s Eggnog Cookies

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I’ve been doing this cookie thing for a long time now. The first official year of 24 Days of Cookies was in 2004, when my now 16 year-old son was a precocious two-year-old. He was an only child at that point (and he’d joke that those were the good ol’ days) and was the cutest little dude you ever did see. 

Because 2004 was about a million years ago, I don’t have those pictures digital on my computer, but I do have this picture of Nate when he was 3, so just imagine this dude a year younger. Precious.

Anyway, Nate has been my longest-running taste-tester, beater-licker, and cookie-sampler. Nowadays, he’s also my bus boy and world’s greatest dishwasher. Let’s just say he doesn’t have the same enthusiasm about 24 Days of Cookies ever since he was upgraded from garbage to dishes, but he doesn’t complain. Much. 

Last week, he sent me a text from upstairs (because: teenagers), with a cookie recipe. He’s never suggested a cookie before. They grow up so fast. 

Here he is now, at drivers ed last week. Doesn’t he look thrilled to be taking a picture with his mom?

So, for Nate, I made Eggnog Cookies today. The recipe looked pretty good and tasted even better. 

I creamed together the butter and sugars, and once again, the recipe called for it to be pale and fluffy. What’s with that? It’s got brown sugar in it too, so I wasn’t sure how pale this would end up. 

After adding vanilla and rum extracts to this, I added the pièce de rèsistance:

This is a hot commodity in our house. My middle son has been asking for eggnog for awhile, and so I bought two quarts early in the week. Aside from a glass or two by other people, he drank both quarts on the sly, and then complained all evening of digestive disturbance. Even with those natural consequences, I had to buy this secretly and hide it. 

After adding all the dry ingredients, I put the dough on my parchment-lined baking sheets and baked them as directed. Because I think my oven is a few degrees cooler than normal (hi landlord…), it took a few minutes longer, but ultimately turned out pretty well.

I then got started on the frosting, which also calls for rum extract and eggnog. And butter, and a crapload of powdered sugar. 

Can anyone make frosting without making a mess? I seem to just have a knack for the mess, and I hope there are others out there like me. 

Once frosted, I topped the cookies with a shake or two of nutmeg. Nate emerged from his den of adolescence and ate one. He gave his seal of approval and said they tasted just like eggnog. 

That’s his professional opinion, of course.

Nate’s Eggnog Cookies

(adapted from Cooking Classy)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg , plus more for topping
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter , at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp rum extract
  • 1/2 cup eggnog

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter , at room temperature (I used 1/4 cup salted and 1/4 cup unsalted butter)
  • 3 – 5 Tbsp eggnog
  • 1/2 tsp rum extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon for 30 seconds, set aside. 
  2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. 
  3. Mix in egg yolks one at a time, blending just until combined after each addition. Mix in vanilla extract, rum extract and egg nog. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until combined. 
  4. Scoop dough out by the heaping tablespoonfuls and drop onto Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 2-inches apart. 
  5. Bake in preheated oven 11 – 13 minutes. Allow to rest on baking sheet several minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely then frost with Eggnog Frosting and sprinkle tops lightly with nutmeg.

For the Eggnog Frosting:

  1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter until very pale and fluffy. Add in rum extract and 3 Tbsp eggnog and mix in powdered sugar. Add additional eggnog to reach desired consistency.
  2. Recipe Source: slightly adapted from allrecipes.com and inspired by Parent Pretty