December 4: Italian Sand Cookies

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I saw this recipe on Pinterest, but wasn’t going to make it. I liked reading about the search to get this “secret” recipe right, and it brought back memories of also getting this cookie in bakeries over my lifetime. (Note: I have yet to meet a bakery I didn’t like.)

But this recipe was like an ear-worm, only it was in my brain. I couldn’t stop thinking about it–remembering the cookie myself, and then the blogger’s quest to find the recipe. It’s something I can understand doing (To this day, I fantasize about a cookie I had a few years ago and can’t find the recipe. I’m sure one of these days I’m just going to try to figure it out for myself.)

You may have eaten these in the past, too. When I was a kid, they were in the top shelf of the display at Kings’ Bakery, in the tray closest to the front. They aren’t anything fancy, but boy were they good. The ones they had came with some rainbow sprinkles on them.

So, the good people (or person..I think it’s just one fabulous lady) at Chef Tess Bakeresse went in search of the recipe. There’s a whole post devoted to the mission at http://cheftessbakeresse.blogspot.com/2010/06/evil-italian-butter-cookies.html and it really is adorable.

"Creaming method" adding of the flour.

“Creaming method” adding of the flour.

I love how the instructions are simply “creaming method,” as if it’s saying “if you don’t know what we mean, then you probably should stick with ready-made cookies.” It’s just an easy way to say mix the butter, shortening, and sugar together, then add the vanilla and eggs, and then finally the rest of the ingredients.

(I will say though that my dough was a little to sticky when I followed the recipe. I could have chilled it, but instead I added a little more flour–about another 1/3 c. In hindsight, it probably could have been a little less, but they turned out just fine.)

Once that is done, you get out a big star tip and a pastry bag, and fill it with the dough. Pastry bags are nothing to fear. It’s just a matter of getting the right tip with the right consistency of dough. And, like this recipe, most of the time it will tell you which one to use.

My tasty little Italian babies, all ready for the oven.

My tasty little Italian babies, all ready for the oven.

I piped circles on the parchment paper and filled them in. There are two schools of thought on this…either go from the inside out, or the outside in. Either way, they will taste the same, so do whatever makes you happy.

After they came out of the oven and cooled, my kids were home from school. And of course, I had a little helper. After I melted the chocolate chips (with just a little bit of coconut oil for consistency reasons), Mini Me informed me she was the official sprinkle-putter-onner. That lasted for one tray of cookies. She abandoned me for Sofia the First, and I had to sadly finish the cookies myself.

A simple recipe that tastes like a million bucks!

A simple recipe that tastes like a million bucks!

I let the cookies dry on wax paper, but then decided to speed up the process by throwing the cookies (stilon wax paper, now back on cookie sheets) into the freezer for 10 minutes.

After trying one, Disgruntled Husband had a look of shock on his face and said, “These are REALLY good.”

(Thanks for the vote of confidence, dear.)

The (much shorter) video about said recipe:

 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.

Cookies today: 37

Cookies this year: 230

December 3: Swirled Sugar Cookies

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I don’t know what previous generations did without Pinterest. I really don’t. I can find jokes, recipes, directions on making plutonium from common household items (come on, what movie?), and a vast array of urban legends people post. One of these days, I’m going to put something on there super outrageous, just to see how many people try it. (“The secret of younger skin is found in the litter box!”)

But I digress.

I found these on Pinterest and the pictures were just so pretty, I couldn’t not try to make them myself. It’s from a site called salt tree.com. I followed the basic sugar cookie recipe from that website, and then split the dough in half and dyed one part of it Royal Blue.

Nothing in nature is this color, which makes it fun!

Nothing in nature is this color, which makes it fun!

And I don’t care who you are, you will somehow always get food coloring on you somewhere when you work with this stuff. It looks like I committed a Smurf-icide.

Both doughs got wrapped in plastic wrap and chilled in my fridge for an hour. I then rolled it out and uttered some not-Christmas friendly terms. Putting one layer of dough on top of another requires patience and precision, of which I have neither. But somehow, I made it work.

I think I may have actually broken out "Son of a Nutcracker" whilst trying to make this work.

I think I may have actually broken out “Son of a Nutcracker” whilst trying to make this work.

Here’s a (much shorter) video on how I did it, and then how I did the next part–rolling the whole damn thing in sprinkles.

After I let the roll hang out on my front porch, I sliced the roll into 1/4″ slices and baked them. And, thanks to Salttree.com and Pinterest, it turned out exactly as it looked online! Win!

So pretty!

So pretty!

Swirled Sugar Cookies

(From Salttree.com)

Sugar cookie recipe:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream it all together.

Then split it in half and dye one (or both, I suppose) with food coloring.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out each ball of dough separately to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Using a pastry brush, apply a little water to the darker layer of dough.  Roll the lighter colour of dough around the rolling pin and transfer it on top of the darker coloured layer of dough.  The little bit of water will help them stick together.

Trim the edges so you end up with a neat and tidy rectangle.  Save the scraps! (I did and made smaller rolls with them.)

Roll it up, jelly roll style and pour out a container of sprinkles. (Take it from me, it’s easier to use a cookie sheet or something.) Brush the log with a little water and roll in the sprinkles.

Cover with plastic wrap and let chill for an hour.

Slice them about 1/4″ thick and place on cookie sheet (I line mine with parchment paper). Bake for about 10 minutes at 350.

Cookies today: 105

Cookies this year: 193

December 2: Swedish Butter Cookies

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I blame this guy.

Tommy in my kitchen, just hanging around.

Tommy in my kitchen, just hanging around.

Just ask Little Miss Muffett–spiders are no good.

(Actually, I kind of like spiders, but today, they are on my list.)

This was supposed to be a post about how good these Swedish Butter Cookies are, and how I got the recipe last year from Michele, a friend of mine from college. (Since last year, she has increased her children by 2/3…twins arrived right before Thanksgiving.)

But, I got a little distracted by that dude at the top. As I was baking the cookies, I saw him (I’ve decided it’s a him, and I’ve decided to name him Tommy, after the boy in 2nd grade that I had a distracting crush on) and was fascinated. You can even see it in the video below, complete with oven timer blasting away.

In as much time as it took me to get a good picture of Tommy (and I think it is a pretty rad pic), my cookies burnt. Yes, I am a mere mortal. The tops and sides looked okay, but the bottoms, well…

Sad panda.

Sad panda.

So I whipped up another batch after I made the video. These fared much better.

And as for Tommy, he disappeared somewhere on the linoleum floor. Maybe he was a feline snack; maybe I’ll see him again.

Here’s the video. Let’s all just remember that I had to make these all over again without the camera.


2nd time around...

2nd time around…

Swedish Butter Cookies

courtesy of the Divine Ms. Michele!

½ lb. butter or margarine (2 sticks)
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
½ c. sugar
1 egg yolk (save whites to whip)
1 T. half & half (I always use milk)
½ t. baking powder
½ c. chopped pecans
1 bottle maraschino cherries
Cream butter, add sugar; add egg yolk then vanilla and mix well.  Next, add the flour with the baking powder mixed in.  Alternate adding the flour with the half & half.  Form dough into little balls the size of a walnut.  Whip egg whites stiff.  Dip dough balls into whipped egg white and roll in pecans.  Place a half of a cherry in the center and push it down lightly.  Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 15-20 min. in a 350 degree oven.  Watch them so they don’t over brown.  Yum, yum, yum!
Cookies today: 26
Cookies this year: 88

December 1: Chocolate Chip Cookies Without Chocolate Chips

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Well, we have returned from Chicagoland and none of my pants fit, which generally means that Thanksgiving has come and gone, and now we are on to December.

It’s that time of year again, folks.

New website, new Youtube channel (more on that later), new Pinterest board (I’ll figure out how to put the link on here later), and a few new recipes to try.

Chocolate Chip Cookies Without Chocolate Chips. There has to be a better name for these.

Chocolate Chip Cookies Without Chocolate Chips. There has to be a better name for these.

To ease us into the cookie season, I’m starting with a relatively easy one: Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies. Except, I have a friend that requested these without any chocolate chips, so that’s what I’ve done.

Mixed it all up, plopped it on a cookie sheet, and baked them. I did try to make them festive by dying the dough red, except it looked more like bubblegum, and by the time they came out of the oven, they were kind of flesh-colored (my flesh color anyway).

I’m trying something new this year (and I don’t know how long I’ll stick with it), but I made a video of myself (unshowered with no makeup, mind you) making these cookies.

This is our new kitty Gandalf. Nothing to do with cookies, but isn't he cute?

This is our new kitty Gandalf. Nothing to do with cookies, but isn’t he cute?

Here’s what you didn’t see in the video: my boys upstairs with me, Larry Potter asking if our kitten had his vet appointment this week. (New kitty is Gandalf, and he’s getting neutered on Tuesday.) I said he was, to which Hoover asked what was going on. LP described the procedure in as much detail as he could imagine, and then he and Hoover got in a discussion about what that would mean for Gandalf’s reproductive future.

Larry Potter, right before he held sex ed class in my kitchen.

Larry Potter, right before he held sex ed class in my kitchen.

And then, my smart eldest son decided to teach his little brother all sorts of biologically-based terms and phenomenon. Yeah. So now all that I’m going to remember about these cookies–Hoover skipping down the stairs shouting words that will surely have his teacher calling me about this week.

Nestle Tollhouse Cookies

(from https://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/18476/original-nestle-toll-house-chocolate-chip-cookies/)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks)  butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2  large eggs

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Cookies today: 62

Cookies this year: 62