December 15: Almond Butter Sticks

Standard

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 19: Pecan Sandies

Standard

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.


Soft Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies

Standard

When I think of the flavors I love, the top two are lemon and caramel. (What, you don’t sit around and think what two flavors you would want if you could only have two flavors for the rest of your life? Yeah…me either…) And since I live in the south now, sometimes I am blessed with a bag of lemons straight from someone’s tree. img_0028

(You can grow LEMONS and other citrus fruit down here! It still blows my Northern Girl mind!)

Mini- Me’s friend’s grandma gave us a bag of lemons and satsumas before Thanksgiving, and I thought there had to be a recipe out there for a deliciously lemon cookie.

I found one on Pinterest and went to work. Though as tasted the dough, I realized that it was not lemony enough for my liking. And then this Northern Girl realized that the lemons that grow down here are Meyer Lemons, and not as sour as your everyday lemons. Oh well.

To try and rectify my sourpuss sensibilities, when it came time to make the lemon icing, I improvised a little. Instead of just powdered sugar and water, as the recipe calls for, I tried to make a sour lemon icing with the juice from the Meyer Lemons and sugar, boiled and reduced in a pot, and then added to powdered sugar.

img_0022img_0023img_0024

The result? Lemony icing, but still not sour enough. Oh well. They still taste good to the non-lemon flavor purists out there, and that’s a success in my book.

 

Soft Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies

(from Swankyrecipes.com)

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 – 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Icing (as they wrote it, not my 24daysofcookies.com variation)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup powdered sugar

Combine butter and cream cheese in a bowl fit with a paddle attachment of a mixer. Cream together for about 1 minute. Add granulated sugar and continue to mix. Add egg and vanilla extract and continue to beat on medium to high speed until light and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes. Add half the flour, all the baking soda, salt, cornstarch and lemon zest. Add lemon juice and the remaining flour. Mix to combine until the dough starts to form like a ball. Add a little more flour until slight ball starts to form. Cover and refrigerate dough at least 2-3 hours or up to a few days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheet and spray with cooking spray or parchment paper. Using a cookie scoop, scoop about 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie dough. Roll cookie dough between hands to get a nice round ball and place on prepared cookie sheet.Bake for 8-10 minutes, removed from oven and while still hot, slightly press down if desired. Allow cookies to cool down completely before transferring. Cookies will slightly harden overnight a little more so don’t bake them much longer.

To make the glaze, combine powdered sugar and water together in a small bowl. Whisk fast until ingredients are combined with no lumps. Dip cookies upside down into icing or drizzle icing over the top and allow to harden.

December 16: Stroopwafels

Standard

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.)

IMG_4558IMG_4557

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

IMG_4560

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.

IMG_4561

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

IMG_4562

And through the magic of the Internet…

IMG_4569

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.

IMG_4567

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.

IMG_4571

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

IMG_4572

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.

IMG_4570

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.

IMG_4573

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

IMG_4574

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.

IMG_4576

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

IMG_4578

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.