December 10: Italian Sand Cookies

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Note: Because of illness, I got behind. 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.

Italian Sand Cookies

(courtesy of Chef Tess Bakeresse)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour (we used AP)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar *
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 eggs
*(we also liked 3/4 c. conf sugar & 1/4 c. granulated which made them a slight bit sweeter)

Directions:

Creaming method. Put through bag with large star tip. Bake @ 375 F for 12-15 minutes or until lightly brown. Decorate with choc chips, sprinkles or leave plain and dip half in melted choc., etc.

So, in making these, I realized too late that I was out of my traditional red, white, and green sprinkles. So, the Italian Sand Cookies this year represents my vast sprinkle collection. Well, at least the ones that show up on chocolate.

These don’t last very long in my house, even with my threats to the kids.

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 19: Pecan Sandies

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I’m at the tail-end of a writing deadline, but I did take time out to bake. My mom came by to watch my daughter cheer at a basketball and she asked if I’d make her favorite cookies. Who can say no to that?

She even stopped off and bought me vanilla extract because as I started, I realized I was out of vanilla. (I’m now on bottle #3 since the month started.)

Now that I live in the area, things like this can happen…her going to my kids’ activities, me baking cookies, and her going to the grocery store for me. It’s kinda cool.

My mom’s favorite cookies, well at least the ones I make, are Pecan Sandies. I haven’t made them in years, but I figured I could whip these up in a just a little bit and then get back to writing.

It’s just your basic butter shortbread recipe, but with nuts–butter, powdered sugar, flour, and pecans. No fancy ingredients. No chilling in the fridge. Hell, there aren’t even any eggs. Into a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, and then let them cool. When they are cool to the touch, roll in powdered sugar.

These are also known as Mexican Wedding cookies, I hear, but for me, they’re just Mom’s cookies.

(And now, back to the job that pays me.)

Pecan Sandies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter 2 sticks
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar plus more for rolling baked cookies
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 
  2. Cream together butter and sugar with electric mixer. Add in the flour and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly stir in the pecans. 
  3. Scoop a teaspoon of the cookie dough and roll between your palms to form a ball. Place the ball of cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake until lightly golden, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool to the touch. Roll in confectioner’s sugar. 
  4. When ready to serve and once the cookies have completely cooled, roll or dust them with a bit of additional confectioner’s sugar, if you prefer.