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 8: J-Dub’s Toffee Grahams

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J-Dub’s Toffee Grahams

(from Gooseberry Patch’s Old Fashioned Country Cookies)

  • 24 square graham crackers
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325. Arrange cracker squares on a lightly greased cookie sheet with edges around it. In a saucepan, bring the butter and sugar to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Pour over crackers, covering them well. Sprinkle with nuts and bake for about 10 minutes. Cool slightly and cut into 24 squares or 48 “fingers.”

If there’s an easier cookie out there, I don’t know what it is. Aside from buying a pre-made roll of cookie dough or the individual raw sugar cookies with pictures on them, there probably isn’t one. If there is, let me know! I want to see!

If you’re one of my regulars, you know I make this every year. Seriously, every year. Why? Because it’s easy and I can be unbelievably lazy for someone that runs a crazy cookie endeavor each year. But also because these are always popular with my cookie-eaters. Young and old alike love these. I make enough cookies that are weird and specialized as it is; it’s good to have an old standard that I know will please most people.

Today, I’m at Man Friend’s while he watches sportsball on TV. We ran to Trader Joe’s (I love you TJ’s) and I asked if he minded if I made cookies here. He did not, and I came back with the ingredients for today’s cookie.

Now, Man Friend is a man living by himself. While he’s a neat freak (more on this later) and a great cook, my kitchen has more general stuff in it than his. I attribute that to me living with three growing kids, and also, you know, running this cookie blog. He doesn’t have a cookie sheet, so we made do.

He’s Italian and he calls this a lasagna dish. Because I’m a little bit of everything and nothing all at once, I call this a 9×13 pan. I like his name for it better.

Him being a neat freak is something that scares me, mostly because I’m…not. Scroll back through the pictures of my kitchen during cookie season for evidence of this. I knew I couldn’t make his kitchen look like this. At all. Not even a little.

I asked for a sauce pan and he hands me a small saucepan. I flip it over to see how big it is.

Okay, 1 quart. With two cups of butter and 1 cup of brown sugar, that’s three cups. This should work.

Or not.

Right after I took this last picture, I said, “Honey, how many cups are in a quart?” He answered “Four,” which is right, so now I have a beef with Circulon and will be writing them next, asking how long it’s been since their cookware has been regulated by the Department of Weights and Measures. But I digress.

The last thing I wanted in my neat freak’s kitchen was a mess. And unfortunately, thanks to Circulon’s version of a quart, I had one.

This is once we poured it into a different–and bigger–sauce pan.

That’s a small spillover mess there. But in the terms of my baking messes, we all know this is minor.

I tetrissed the graham crackers in the lasagna pan, as well as in another smaller square pan and poured the toffee mixture on top of it.

Added the nuts and put it in the oven for 10 minutes. Actually, because I wasn’t using cookie sheets, I left them in the oven for 15 minutes.

December 7: Italian Sand Cookies

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Yesterday was my last day of the semester, so now it’s just grading to get done and I’m free until January! Well, minus my other gigs and parenting and general adulting. But I’m not worrying about those things today. Today, it was sleeping in, cleaning, and making Italian Sand Cookies. 

I found the recipe for this years ago on Pinterest, and ever since, they’ve been a staple in my December cookie baking. However, during the three Louisiana years, they didn’t turn out quite right. I’m not sure if it was the humidity or my own distraction (you know, leaving the mixer on too long while I write another paragraph about Elizabeth Barrett Browning), but they spread out way too much there. We still ate them, so I’m not exactly sure what I’m complaining about. 

Again, the recipe amuses me. It lists all of the ingredients, and for the directions, it says, “Creaming method.” If you don’t know what that is, it’s mixing together the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. 

It’s pretty simple really. Then you add the cornstarch and flour, and mix it all together. Again, I needed more flour than the recipe calls for…I used about another 1/3 of a cup. And when I was all done mixing, I looked for my beater-lickers, but alas, they were all at school.

So I guess I had to do it. It’s a sacrifice I was willing to make.

I piped them with a star tip onto my baking sheet and put them in the over. I also kinda burst the bag because I don’t know my own strength, and then had to put my finger over that part so the dough wouldn’t come out there. These are the behind the scenes things you don’t get with professional baking blogs.

They baked up wonderfully and looked the way they were supposed to look.  After they cooled, I dipped them in melted chocolate (chocolate chips with a little crisco to make it thinner), and topped them with sprinkles. These take a while to dry, so I set them outside on my back step for 15 minutes. (Thanks 21 degree Illinois day!)

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.

December 1, 2017–Italian Sand Cookies

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Whoa, is it that time of year again? My tree is up, Elf is on prime time, and I have a pile of final exams to grade. Yup, it must be December!

It was a little up-in-the-air whether or not I’d do this, and in the spirit of openness, the way I was feeling in December, I didn’t know if I could ever get in the Christmas Spirit again. But I’ve prevailed against the doldrums, and here I am.

I’m starting the season off with one of my favorites–Italian Sand Cookies. I got this recipe a few years ago off the internet and they are always a crowd-pleaser.

Tonight, as I was starting to bake, I couldn’t find cornstarch. So, despite my best efforts, I was not prepared, and back to the store I went. Sigh.

Mixed it all together and piped it on a cookie sheet (I also didn’t have parchment paper, which I discovered after I got home from the store for the second time today. I was not about to return for a third.)

Now, when I lived in Wisconsin and made these, the piping came through a lot better.

See?

Now, I don’t know why it is that these have spread out so much the past few years, but my inclination is that it has something to do with humidity and general Louisiana-ness. (50th in everything, except humidity.) If you happen to know the real reason, please let me know.

To celebrate my first day (night?) of holiday baking, I picked up a little something at Albertsons when I went for corn starch.

No, not the cat. That’s Zelda, and she’s a new addition. I’m talking about the glass of Prosecco, also a new addition of sorts.

When they were cooled, I melted some milk chocolate with a little coconut oil and dipped them, and then added the mandatory sprinkles.

My best friend once caught a glimpse of all the sprinkles on my shelf via FaceTime and made me count them for her. There were 20 different kinds. This was a few years ago, and the collection has indeed grown. I don’t have a problem; I can stop any time I want!

Welcome to December friends. Now would anyone like to write a 20 page paper for me this weekend?

SAND COOKIES

(from www.cheftessbakeresse.com)

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)

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.

December 10: Pizzles

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Today, I made the crowd pleaser Pizzles, and the actual challenge in these are not eating them the minute they come off the iron.

(Also a challenge? Having a Pizzle iron, but that can be rectified with an Amazon Prime account and a pressing desire to drop $40 on something you’ll use maybe twice a year.)

Pizzles are a wafer cookie from Italy. I made them last year, and they were divine.

They have a hint of anise, but not enough to make you run away, I promise! You barely taste it, and it deepens the vanilla flavor in the cookie.

It starts with six eggs. (I think that classifies these cookies as a health food now.)

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I mixed up the batter and started the long, arduous journey into counter-top desserts.

The good Captain oversees production.

The good Captain oversees production.

I used my cookie scoop to do these, making sure they were centered in the middle of the hot iron. (Oh, and I generally put a little coconut oil on it before I start, just to grease the iron.)

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(And yes, I’m now the asshole cook that uses hard-to-find ingredients.)

I take them off with a non-metal spatula, and start over again. And again. And again. It’s a good thing I had some time to do these. Four minutes isn’t a long time, especially when you are only doing two at a time.

But these? These are worth every minute.

Pizzles (Italian Waffle Cookie)

(from Gooseberry Patch Old-Fashioned Country Cookies)

6 eggs

3 ½ c flour

1 ½ c sugar

2 sticks butter, melted

4t baking powder

1T vanilla extract

1T anise extract

cap full of anise seeds

Beat eggs until foamy. Add sugar and melted butter. Follow with other ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Place 1 teaspoonful on each side and cook until delicately browned. Lay flat until cooled.

Cookies today: 90

Cookies this year: 467