Cookies




 

Alfajores de Manjor Blanco

The alfajor, a traditional Spanish and Latin American cookie, is a sandwich cookie filled with delicious dulce de leche. Sometimes it is sprinkled with powdered sugar, rolled in coconut, or coated in chocolate.

My friend, Theresa, introduced me to this cookie. It was Christmas time and we got together for our annual all-day cookie making fest. Each year we choose a cookie that we haven't made before. She chose alfajores. Although I was skeptical as I watched her make this cookie, I fell in love with it after the first taste.  Her version was coated in chocolate and rolled in coconut. It was delicious. Since then, I've been obsessed with finding the perfect alfajores recipe.

There are hundreds of alfajores recipes and each country and region has its own version. The cookie part is made different ways; some recipes using sugar, butter, flour, and cornstarch (alfajores de maizana) and others just using sugar, butter and flour.  The recipe below is from Peru and it uses more of a shortbread or butter cookie.  I sprinkled the alfajores with powdered sugar but you could dip them in chocolate as well.

Makes about 24 alfajores




 


Ingredients


For the Manjar Blanco or Dulce de Leche:

  •     4 cups of whole milk
  •     2 cups of granulated sugar
  •     1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •     pinch of cinnamon
  •     1/4 teaspoon baking soda


For the Alfajores:

  •     1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  •     1/4 cup confectioner’ sugar, plus more for sifting
  •     2 large egg yolks
  •     1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  •     1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •     1-1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1 cup dulce de leche
  •     Finely grated dried coconut (optional)



 

Instructions

Step 1: To make the manjar blanco or dulce de leche: Over medium heat, bring the milk to a boil in a heavy 4 quart sauce pan. Add sugar, vanilla bean, and cinnamon being sure to stir the sugar with a whisk until it’s completely dissolved.  Otherwise, your Dulce de Leche will have a gritty consistency.

Step 2: Once the sugar has dissolved, add the baking soda and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered at a bare simmer. Stir occasionally, but do not re-incorporate the foam that appears on the top of the mixture. Continue to cook for 1 hour.

Step 3: Remove the vanilla bean after 1 hour and continue to cook until the mixture is a dark caramel color and has reduced to about 1 cup, approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a month.

Step 4: For the Alfajores: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and confectioners sugar until smooth.

Step 5: Beat in the egg yolks. Add the zest and vanilla extract and mix well.

Step 6: Sift the flour and baking powder, then mix into the butter mixture to make a dough that is soft but not runny. If it is too soft, add some more flour. Form into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Step 7: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment

Step 8: On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thick and cut into 1 1/2 -inch rounds. Place on the prepared cookie sheet and bake until set, about 10 minutes; the cookies should not color at all.

Step 9: Remove from the sheet and let cool on wire racks.

Step 10: Spread one cookie with dulce de leche and press a cookie on top. If desired, spread dulce de leche around the sides of the cookie and roll in the grated coconut. Or just sift confectioner’s sugar on top.

Repeat with the remaining cookies and dulce de leche


Great alfajores in Sausalito




 

Amaretti (Italian Almond Cookies)

Adapted from Epicurious, December 2006
 
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
 



 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole almonds (perferably blanched), plus 16 for garnishing
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg white, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • Powdered sugar for dusting tops of cookies
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350°F.  Lightly oil 2 large baking sheets, then line with parchment paper.
 
Step 2: In food processor, combine almonds and sugar. Process until finely ground, scraping down sides once or twice.
 
    
 
Step 3: Add egg white, almond extract, and salt and pulse until combined.
 
Step 4: Roll mixture into 1-inch balls, place 2 inches apart on baking sheets, and flatten slightly. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and top each with whole almond. 
 
 
Step 5: Bake until cookies are golden about 10 minutes, switching positions of pans halfway through. Cool on sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
 
 
 



 

Anise Strips (Anise Toasts)


Ingredients

 

  •     6 large eggs                      
  •     1-1/2 cup canola oil                       
  •     4 teaspoon baking powder                  
  •     1/4 teaspoon salt                      
  •     1/2 cup whole milk                      
  •     2 cup granulated sugar                      
  •     4 tablespoons pure anise flavoring                    
  •     2 drops yellow food coloring          
  •     3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 

                    
Instructions


Step 1: Grease and flour two standard bread pans.

Step 2: Add flour and baking powder in a bowl and whisk until combined.

Step 3: In bowl on electric mixer, beat eggs until thick and foamy.

Step 4: Add sugar gradually to eggs and beat well.

Step 5: Slowly add oil and then milk and flavorings until combined.

Step 6: Gradually add flour mixture. 

Step 7: Divide mixture evenly among greased 2 bread pans. Bake at 350 degree until lightly brown, about 20 minutes. slice and toast in oven.

Betty Grace's Ultimate Sugar Cookie




 

Ingredients

  •     1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  •     3/4 cup sugar
  •     1 large egg
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla
  •     1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
  •     2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1 teaspoon baking soda
  •     2 to 3 tablespoons  whole milk (usually just 2 tablespoons)

 




 

Instructions

 

Step 1: Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 

Step 2: Add egg, vanilla and orange peel. 

Step 3: Sift dry ingredients.

Step 4: Add the dry ingredients alternately with milk.  Mix until just combined. Dough should not be sticky.  Chill dough for 1 hour. 

Step 5: Roll dough to 1/8 inch thick on lightly floured surface.
 
Step 6: Cut into desired shapes and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.

Step 7: Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 7 to 10 minutes until light brown. 

Step 8: Decorate as desired.




 

Bitter Chocolate Macarons

I've learned that chocolate macarons are not the easiest to make. In fact I've attempted this recipe three times and finally after the third try, my macarons were somewhat picture presentable. These aren't perfect but they are much improved from the first two attempts. Because of the addition of the melted chocolate to the macaron batter, there seems to be less room for error in your technique for making the Italian meringue and folding the egg whites into the batter. 

 
I adapted this recipe from Pierre Herme's bitter chocolate macaron recipe found in his Macaron Cookbook.  The recipe calls for unsweetened or bitter chocolate to be added to macaron batter.  The macaron shells are also filled with chocolate ganache made with 72% cacao chocolate.  This macaron is loaded with chocolate and then more chocolate, so if you are a chocolate lover like me, this is the macaron for you.
 

Makes 72 macarons




 

Ingredients

 

For the macaron shells:

  • 120 grams cacao p√Ęte (or dark chocolate 100% cocoa - I used Callebaut brand)
  • 300 grams finely ground blanched almonds (if possible, use Trader Joes sliced dry roasted almonds)
  • 300 grams confectioners sugar
  • 200 grams extra fine granulated sugar
  • 75 mL water
  • 110 grams aged Egg Whites at room temperature (to be mixed into dry ingredients)
  • 110 grams aged Egg Whites at room temperature (place in bowl of mixer) 
  • 4.5 grams Red food coloring
  • Cocoa powder for dusting

 

For the bitter chocolate ganache:

  • 400 grams heavy whipping cream
  • 400 grams Valrhona chocolate (72% cacao chocolate)
  • 140 grams sweet unsalted butter at room temperature
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the macaron shells: Separate eggs at least 24 hours before using (or up to five days). The older the eggs the better.  
 
Step 2: Line 6 half sheet trays with silpat baking sheets or parchment. 
 
Step 3: Using a scale, measure out all the ingredients. Remember to set aside 110 grams of egg whites for mixing into the dry ingredients and 110 grams of egg whites to place into the bowl of mixer. 
 
Step 4: Chop chocolate for shells and melt in a double boiler, remove from heat once melted. Set aside.
 
 
Step 5: Place the ground almonds and confectioners sugar in a food processor and process until finely ground (about 1 - 2 minutes). Sift the mixture to remove any lumps.
 
Step 6: Mix red food coloring into 110 grams of egg whites. Take the egg whites mixed with the food coloring and pour into the almond meal and powdered sugar mixture. Allow it to sit.
 
Step 7: Take a heavy bottomed pot and pour the granulated fine sugar and water into the pot. Attach a candy thermometer to measure the temperature of the sugar and water as it heats up. Bring the water and sugar solution to 245 degrees F. 
 
Step 8: Meanwhile, in the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the remaining 110 grams of egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Start beating your egg whites when your sugar is close to your desired temperature. 
 
Step 9: Once the sugar solution reaches 245 degrees F, slowly pour it over the whisking egg whites.  Continue to whisk and allow meringue to cool.  Meringue should not be hot when you add to almond sugar mixture.  Continue to beat meringue until it cools.
 
Step 10: Once meringue has cooled, gradually fold egg whites into almond sugar mixture, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Gradually fold in the melted chocolate. Once the almond chocolate mixture is completely folded into the meringue, the batter will fall back into the bowl in a thick ribbon. 
 
    
 
Step 11: Fill a pastry bag, fitted with 1/2 inch (1 cm) tip (#5 or 805 ATECO tip), with about half the batter. Pipe about 1 - 1 1/2 inch (3 - 4 cm) rounds onto silpat-lined pans.  Leave at least 1 inch between macarons. As you pipe, hold the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet and flick the tip of the bag as you finish each cookie to minimize the peaks. Use a sieve to sprinkle the rounds of batter with a light dusting of cocoa powder. Let the macarons sit at room temperature for about 60 minutes or until the tops of the macarons are no longer tacky.
 
 
Step 12: While your macarons are sitting at room temperature, preheat oven to 300 degrees F with an oven rack in bottom third of the oven. You may have to do some experimenting with your oven to determine the best temperature for your macarons - it could be anywhere between 250 to 350 degrees F.
 
Step 13: Bake the cookies (one sheets at a time) for about 10 minutes, rotating the pans front to back, about halfway through baking. The macarons are done when you can just barely separate the cookies from the parchment paper.  
 
Step 14: Remove from oven and let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet placed on a wire rack. 
 
Step 15: To make the ganache: Chop up the chocolate and put into a medium bowl. Bring the cream to a boil (212°F) and pour over the chopped chocolate a third at a time until the chocolate melts completely into the cream. 
 
Step 16: Add the pieces of butter a few at a time and stir to melt. Whisk to obtain a smooth ganache. Pour this mixture into a glass or ceramic baking dish and press plastic wrap over the surface of the ganache and set aside in the fridge for about 30 minutes so that it thickens.
 
Step 17: To assemble the macarons: Take two cookies and sandwich them together with your ganache.  Place filling on flat side of cookie, and leave a narrow, unfilled border when piping the filling onto the cookie bottoms. You want to use just  enough filling so that it spreads to the edge when topped but doesn’t squish out much when bitten. Top the filled halves with their partners. Best served at room temperature. Filled macaroons can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
 
 



 

Caramel Pecan Bars

Adapted from Fine Cooking, December 2006






Ingredients


For the crust:

 

  •     Non-stick cooking spray, vegetable oil, or melted butter for the pan
  •     7 ounces (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to just warm
  •     1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  •     1/2 teaspoon table salt
  •     9 ounces (2 cups) unbleached all purpose flour


For the caramel topping:

 

  •     2 cups pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped
  •     1 cup packed light brown sugar
  •     3/4 cup heavy cream
  •     4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  •     1/2 cup light corn syrup
  •     1/4 teaspoon table salt

 

For the ganache:

  •     6 tablespoons heavy cream
  •     2 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

 






Instructions


To make the shortbread crust: For the best results, measure your flour by weight instead of volume. (1 cup of all-purpose flour equals 4-1/2 ounces) If you don’t have a scale, be sure to use the proper technique when filling your measuring cups.

Step 1: Line a straight-sided 13x9-inch metal baking pan with foil, letting the ends create an overhanging edge for easy removal. Lightly coat the sides of the foil (not the bottom) with nonstick cooking spray, oil, or melted butter to prevent the caramel from sticking.

Step 2: In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, brown sugar, and salt. Stir in the flour to make a stiff dough.

Step 3: Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Refrigerate the pan for 30 minutes (or freeze for 5 to 7 minutes), until the dough is firm.

Step 4: Meanwhile, position a rack near the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F.

Step 5: Bake the dough for 20 minutes, and then decrease the oven temperature to 300°F and bake until the crust is golden all over and completely set, about 15 more minutes.

Step 6: To make the topping: Sprinkle the pecans evenly over the crust.

Step 7: In a heavy medium saucepan, bring the brown sugar, cream, butter, corn syrup, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until all the ingredients are melted and smooth. Let the mixture continue to boil, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 240°F, about 6 more minutes.

Step 8: Turn off the heat and immediately (but carefully) pour the caramel evenly over the prepared crust. Let the bars cool completely, about 2 hours, before garnishing with the ganache.

Step 9: To make the ganache: Put the chocolate in a small heat proof bowl.

Step 10: In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for 3 minutes. Stir gently with a rubber spatula until combined and smooth.

Step 11: Fill a plastic zip-top baggie with the ganache, snip the tip off a corner, and drizzle the ganache decoratively over the caramel bars (you don’t have to use all the ganache; keep the extra in the fridge for 5 days). Let the ganache set for 30 minutes to an hour.

Step 12: Carefully lift the bars from the pan using the foil sides and transfer them to a cutting board. Separate the foil from the bars by sliding a spatula between them. Cut the bars into 1-1/2-inch squares. They will keep at room temperature for 1 week.
 





Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe comes from Cake Love, a bakery located in the Washington, DC metro area.  I've never met Warren Brown, the baker and owner, but I did take a class several years ago at the Cake Love located in Silver Spring, MD. I'm still slightly bitter that Warren wasn't available to teach the class, but  I was able to obtain this very delicious chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe.   I've read quite a bit over the years about how to make chocolate chip cookies chewy and it seems that Warren has a winning recipe. 
 
To make your cookies chewy, you should use more brown than white sugar,  add melted butter to your sugars instead of creaming them together, and eliminate half of the egg whites (e.g., for a recipe using 2 eggs, use 1 egg and 1 egg yolk).  For best results, weigh your ingredients.  However, if you don't have a kitchen scale, I've included some approximate conversions.
 

Makes about 40 cookies




 


Ingredients

  •     6 ounces sugar (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
  •     14 ounces dark brown sugar (2 cups, packed)
  •     8 ounces butter (melted, cooled) (2 sticks)
  •     4 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  •     2 large eggs
  •     2 large egg yolks
  •     20 ounces all-purpose flour (4-1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon)
  •     1 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     13 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  •     6 ounces of 60% chocolate pistols



 


Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Step 2: Melt butter, remove when melted and allow to come back to room temperature.

Step 3: Sift dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and gently whisk for 10 seconds to blend them together. Set aside.


Step 4: Add butter to sugars in the bowl of your stand mixer. Allow it to fully combine running the mixer on low speed, add in vanilla extract.  Add eggs and yolks one at a time. Combine fully.

 

Step 5: Add dry ingredients in scoopfuls. Mix to just combine. Pour in chocolate pieces, and just combine.

  
Step 6: Scoop out the dough into small balls using an cookie scooper.  Evenly place balls a few inches apart on a parchment lined sheet tray.

Step 7: Bake until light and golden in appearance (for 8 minutes, rotate, then bake for 8 minutes more).

  




 

Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated: Thick and Chewy Triple-Chocolate Cookies, published September 1999




 

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  •     2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  •     1/2 cup cocoa powder
  •     2 teaspoons baking powder
  •     1 teaspoon table salt
  •     16 ounces semisweet chocolate , chopped
  •     12 ounces Reese's peanut butter chips (about 2 cups)
  •     4 large eggs
  •     2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  •     2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
  •     10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks), softened
  •     1-1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  •     1/2 cup granulated sugar



 


Instructions


Step 1: Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.

Step 2: Melt chocolate in medium heatproof bowl set over pan of almost-simmering water, stirring once or twice, until smooth; remove from heat.



Step 3: Beat eggs and vanilla lightly with fork, sprinkle coffee powder over to dissolve, and set aside.



Step 4: In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 seconds. Beat in sugars until combined, about 45 seconds; mixture will look granular.



Step 5: Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in egg mixture until incorporated, about 45 seconds. Add melted chocolate in steady stream and beat until combined, about 40 seconds. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula.


Step 6: With mixer at low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not overbeat.

Step 7: Mix in peanut butter chips. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until consistency is scoopable and fudgelike, about 30 minutes.



Step 8: Meanwhile, adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Leaving about 1 ½ inches between each ball, scoop dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets with 1¾-inch ice cream scoop.

Step 9: Bake, reversing position of the baking sheets halfway through baking (from top to bottom and front to back), until edges of cookies have just begun to set but centers are still very soft, about 10 minutes.

Step 10: Cool cookies on sheets about 10 minutes, slide parchment with cookies onto wire racks, and cool to room temperature.  Remove cooled cookies from parchment with wide metal spatula and serve.





Chewy Pecan Toffee Cookies

Makes approximately 36 cookies
 




Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1-1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup Heath English toffee bits
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350. 
 
Step 2: Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.
 
Step 3: Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
 
Step 4:  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, then add vanilla.
 
Step 5: Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.  Fold in the pecans and toffee bits until evenly distributed.  
 
Step 6: Drop by the heaping teaspoon onto a pan lined with parchment and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.   
 
Step 7:  Cool cookies on wire rack for about 10 minutes.
 
 
 




Chewy Salty Oatmeal Cookies

When it comes to oatmeal cookies, there's nothing I love more than one that's crispy around the edges with a moist and chewy center. I know, I'm very particular about my oatmeal cookies. So I set out to find the perfect recipe, which I might add was no easy task. I've tried several different recipes, all with varying amounts of fat, sugar, eggs, and leavening agents but none seemed to give me that perfect oatmeal cookie that I was seeking.  I finally decided to create my own and use as my guide a recipe in a cookbook that my mother bought me (Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 12th Edition).
 
Now you might be wondering how I altered the basic recipe to create a cookie that meets all of my criteria. Well, I decided to decrease the amount of flour (from 1-3/4 cups to 1 cup), add 1 cup of blended oatmeal and increase the oatmeal from 2 to 3 cups to give the cookie a slightly denser texture, more oatmeal flavor, and also to ensure that it retained its shape. I increased the amount of brown sugar (from 1 to 1-1/2 cups) to make the cookie sweeter and help it retain moisture. I also used 1 egg and 1 egg yolk instead of two eggs to make the cookie chewier, increased the amount of fat (from 3/4 cup to 1 cup) and used baking powder instead of baking soda to give the cookie more rise or lift.  And because I like a salty cookie, I sprinkled the unbaked cookie dough with Maldon sea salt flakes.  Finally, I've created an oatment cookie that satisfies all of my cravings.
 
 
Makes approximately 24 cookies



 

Ingredients

 
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks or 226 grams), room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cup packed brown sugar (315 grams)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (98 grams)
  • 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (115 grams)
  • 1 cup blended oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 cups old-fashion rolled oats (260 grams)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Maldon sea salt
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
 
Step 2: Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
 
Step 3: Place raisins in a bowl and pour hot water over them just to cover. Let set for 30 minutes. Drain and dry thoroughly.
 
Step 4: Using a food processor, blend oatmeal to a fine powder. You should have 1-1/2 cups of blended oatmeal. Whisk together the oats, blended oatmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside.
 
 
Step 5: Working in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
 
 
Step 6: Add the whole egg and egg yolk, one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each addition and then beat in the vanilla. 
 
 
Step 7: Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients slowly, beating only until blended. Add raisins and mix well. At this point, the dough can be wrapped well and chilled for up to 2 days.
 
Step 8: Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart onto the baking sheets or use a medium (1-1/2 tablespoons) scoop. If the dough has been chilled, gently press down on the mounds of dough until they’re about 1/2-inch thick.  Sprinkle each mound of cookie dough with Maldon sea salt.
 
 
Step 9: Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the sheets front to back and top to bottom after 5 minutes. The cookies will be golden and just firm around the edges.
 
Step 10: Cool cookies on cooling racks
 



 

Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, published September 1999
 
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
 



 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks), softened
  • 1-1/2cups packed light brown sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.
 
Step 2: Melt chocolate in medium heatproof bowl set over pan of almost-simmering water, stirring once or twice, until smooth; remove from heat. 
 
Step 3: Beat eggs and vanilla lightly with fork, sprinkle coffee powder over to dissolve, and set aside.
 
 
Step 4: In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 seconds. Beat in sugars until combined, about 45 seconds; mixture will look granular. 
 
Step 5: Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in egg mixture until incorporated, about 45 seconds. 
 
Step 6: Add melted chocolate and chips in steady stream and beat until combined, about 40 seconds. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula. 
 
Step 7: With mixer at low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over beat. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until consistency is scoopable and fudge-like, about 30 minutes.
 
Step 8: Meanwhile, adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Leaving about 1-1/4 inches between each ball, scoop dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets with medium ice cream scoop.
 
Step 9: Bake, reversing position of the baking sheets halfway through baking (from top to bottom and front to back), until edges of cookies have just begun to set but centers are still very soft, about 10 minutes. 
 
Step 10: Cool cookies on sheets about 10 minutes, slide parchment with cookies onto wire racks, and cool to room temperature. Cover one baking sheet with new piece of parchment paper. Scoop remaining dough onto parchment-lined sheet, bake, and cool as directed. Remove cooled cookies from parchment with wide metal spatula and serve



 

Chocolate Biscotti

Makes about 3-1/2 dozen


Ingredients

  •     4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  •     1 cup unsalted butter
  •     3 large eggs, separated
  •     1-1/4 cups sugar
  •     1/2 teaspoon anise extract
  •     1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  •     3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1 cup sliced almonds
  •     1 egg white, slightly beaten 


Instructions
 

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.

Step 2: Melt chocolate and butter in top of double boiler over simmering water. Remove from heat. Cool. Alternatively, you may melt the butter and chocolate in microwave by heating about 2 minutes at MEDIUM (50%) power stirring at 30 second intervals.

Step 3: Beat egg yolks and half of the sugar until thick and pale. Slowly beat in melted chocolate mixture.

Step 4: Add anise and almond extract. Alternatively, you may substitute 2 drops of anise oil for anise extract.

Step 5: Beat three egg whites with remaining sugar until stiff but not dry. Fold into chocolate mixture.

Step 6: Sift flour and baking powder in bowl. Add flour mixture slowly to chocolate mixture. Add almonds and blend well.

Step 7: With lightly floured hands, divide dough into four portions. Form dough into cylinder shaped logs (1-1/2" wide by 10 inches long).

Step 8: Place on prepared baking sheets. Brush dough all over with lightly beaten egg whites. Bake until dough is set about 35 to 45 minutes.

Step 9: Remove from oven. Allow cookie log to become firm for 2 or 3 minutes after removal from oven before attempting to slice it, and use a very sharp knife to prevent the fragile slices from breaking. Cut on diagonal into l/2" slices.

Step 10: Arrange on baking sheet, placing the slices on their sides. Return to oven and bake until slightly dry, turning once Bake about five minutes on each side. Cool on wire rack. Cookies can be stored up to two weeks in an airtight container.
 

Chocolate Biscotti by Dorie Greenspan

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours

Makes about 40 cookies

 




 

Ingredients

 

  •     2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  •     2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  •     3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     6 tablespoon (or ¾ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  •     1 cup sugar
  •     2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  •     1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •     1/2 cup chopped almonds (blanched or unblanched)
  •     4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or ¾ cup mini chocolate chips



 


Instructions
 

Step 1: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Step 2: Sift together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Step 3: Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes; the mixture may be crumbly.

Step 4: Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes; don't worry if the mixture looks curdled.

Step 5: Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until a dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Step 6: Mix in the chopped nuts and chocolate, then turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead in any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

Step 7: Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough into 12 inch long logs. Flatten both logs with the palm of your hand so that they are 1/2 to 1 inch high, about 2 inches across and sort of rectangular, then carefully lift the logs onto the baking sheet.



Step 8: Sprinkle each log with a little sugar.

Step 9: Bake the logs for about 25 minutes, or until they are just slightly firm. The logs will spread and crack - and that's just fine. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, put it on a cooling rack and  cool the logs for about 20 minutes. (Leave the oven on.)

Step 10: Working with one log at a time, using a long serrated knife, cut each log into slices between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick. Stand the slices up on the baking sheet - you'll have an army of biscotti - and bake the cookies again, this time for just 10 minutes.



Step 11: Transfer biscotti to a rack to cool.


 




 

Chocolate Caramel Slice

Adapted from Bon Appetit, published May 2007
 
Makes 20 to 24 slices
 




Ingredients

 

For the crust:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon ice water
  • 1 large egg yolk
 

For the toppings:

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup (such as Lyle's Golden Syrup) or dark corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons whipping cream
  • Flaked sea salt (such as Maldon)
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: For the crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. 
 
Step 2: Butter 11x7x2-inch metal baking pan. 
 
Step 3: Blend first 4 ingredients in processor. Add butter. Using on/off turns, blend until coarse meal forms. 
 
Step 4: Add 1 tablespoon ice water and egg yolk. Blend until moist clumps form. 
 
Step 5: Press dough onto bottom of pan; pierce all over with fork. Bake until golden, piercing if crust bubbles, about 20 minutes. Cool completely.
 
  
 
Step 6: For the toppings: Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves, butter melts, and mixture comes to boil. 
 
 
Step 7: Attach candy thermometer to side of pan. Boil gently until caramel is thick and temperature registers 225°F, whisking constantly, about 6 minutes. 
 
Step 8: Pour caramel evenly over crust; cool 15 minutes to set.
 
 
Step 9: Meanwhile, melt chocolate with cream in microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring occasionally. Spread chocolate over warm caramel; sprinkle with sea salt. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, at least 1 hour. 
 
  
 
   
 
Step 10: Cut dessert lengthwise into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 5 or 6 slices. Transfer to platter and serve.
 
 




Chocolate Chip Cookies

Traffic is one of the worst things about living in the DC metro area.  I spend an incredible amount of time on the road. In fact, last year, I drove over 20,000 miles. With all this time spent driving, I need to find creative ways to entertain myself. Lately, I’ve been talking to Siri (my iPhone) quite a bit (sad but true). The other day, on my commute home, I asked Siri to tell me how to make chocolate chip cookies.  Siri informed me that the basic ingredients for chocolate chip cookies are flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, eggs, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips. For the rest of my commute home, I couldn’t help but think about all the ways you can fuck up a chocolate chip cookie using various combinations of those basic ingredients. 
 
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts on this site, I’m very particular about my chocolate chip cookies. There aren’t many that I like.  I’ve posted a couple of other recipes - one that is a soft chewy cookie which I’m not a big fan, and another that uses browned butter, which I love. The browned butter in that recipe is delicious but it’s an added step that complicates the mixing of the cookie dough. I want a chocolate chip cookie recipe that’s straightforward and easy to make that yields a cookie that is perfectly crisp on the outside and chewy in the center with a rich, chocolaty, nutty and caramelized flavor.  The recipe below meets all of my criteria.  The important step that takes a little planning and that you shouldn’t skip is the long hydration time for the cookie dough.  This allows the ingredients in the dough to fully soak up the liquid. So store your dough in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and up to 72 hours if you want to make a more evenly browned, rich, and caramelized cookie. 
 
Adapted from David Leite’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, published July 2008 in the New York Times
 
Makes about 4 dozen small cookies
 
 



 

Ingredients

  • 8-1/2 ounces cake flour
  • 8-1/2 ounces bread flour
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2-1/2 sticks (1-1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces light brown sugar
  • 8 ounces granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or chips, at least 60 percent cacao content 
  • Maldon sea salt
 
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Weigh flour and then sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
 
Step 2: Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. 
 
Step 3: Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well.
 
Step 4: Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
 
Step 5: When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
 
Step 6: Scoop 1 tablespoon mounds of dough onto baking sheet, Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, about 10 minutes. 
 
Step 7: Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. 
 



 

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

An Italian American tradition in my hometown in West Virginia is to have, at wedding receptions, tables loaded with dozens of homemade ethnic and other types of cookies. These cookies, and of course, the wedding cake, are my favorite part of the wedding.
 
Recently, I volunteered to make cookies for the wedding reception cookie table for a cousin who is getting married this summer. I needed a rich, delicious, gooey chocolate cookie to compliment and complete my cookie ensemble that included Italian wedding, biscotti, gallettes, pecan tassies, Mexican wedding, peanut blossoms, Hungarian nut roll, chocolate chip, pressed cookies, date pinwheel, and pistachio cranberry. I lucked out and found that perfect chocolate cookie in a recent edition of Cook’s Illustrated magazine. 
 
This chocolate crinkle cookie is both beautiful and delicious, with a soft, luscious, chocolaty center and has the perfect amount of sweetness. This recipe uses unsweetened chocolate (100% cacao) and cocoa. Many other recipes that I’ve read used semi-sweet chocolate, and the extra sugar found in semi-sweet chocolate makes those chocolate crinkle cookies too sweet for me to eat. That’s why this cookie is the perfect chocolate crinkle cookie.  And if you follow the recipe exactly, you too will make the perfect chocolate crinkle cookie.
 
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, published November 2014
 
Makes approximately 48 cookies
 



 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1-1/2 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups packed (10-1/2 ounces) brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped (I used Ghiardelli 100% cacao)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) confectioners' sugar
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. 
 
Step 2: Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in bowl.
 
Step 3: Whisk brown sugar; eggs; espresso powder, and vanilla together in large bowl. 
 
Step 4: Combine chocolate and butter in bowl and microwave at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, 2 to 3 minutes.
 
Step 5: Whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture until combined. 
 
Step 6: Fold in flour mixture until no dry streaks remain. Let dough sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes to firm up so that you can roll it. I let mine sit for up to 2 hours and it firmed up enough to roll into soft balls.
 
Step 7: Place granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar in separate shallow dishes. Working with 1 tablespoons dough at a time, roll into balls. Drop dough balls directly into granulated sugar and roll to coat. Transfer dough balls to confectioners’ sugar and roll to coat evenly. The granulated sugar prevents the confectioners' sugar from being absorbed in to the cookie while it bakes. Evenly space dough balls on prepared sheets.
 
Step 8: Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until puffed and cracked and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), about 10 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let cool completely on sheet before serving.
 
 



 

Chocolate Gallettes

I was talking to my mother the other day on the phone and she mentioned that she had made gallettes, one of my favorite cookies.  My mom and aunts have been making these waffle cookies all of my life and they will forever remind me of them and my childhood. That night, after talking with my mother, I had a heavenly, sweet, and inspiring dream -instead of the delicious vanilla almond tasting cookie of my childhood, they were chocolate through and through.  The next day, I had no choice but to recreate the chocolate gallette in my dreams.  And I have to say, they are OMG chocolicious. This is one time where my reality is so much better than in my dreams.

Inspired by Better Homes and Gardens' Chocolate-Peppermint Waffle Cookies

Makes about 6 dozen cookies

Ingredients

 

For the waffle cookie:

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 9 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 

For the glaze:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk
 
 

Instructions

 
Step 1: For the waffle cookies: Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.
 
Step 2: Melt chocolate in medium heatproof bowl set over pan of almost-simmering water, stirring once or twice, until smooth; remove from heat. 
 
Step 3: In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 seconds. Beat in sugars until combined and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
 
 
Step 4: Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Beat egg yolks and vanilla lightly with fork, then sprinkle coffee powder over to dissolve, and set aside.
 
Step 5: Reduce speed to low and gradually add egg yolk mixture to the creamed sugars until incorporated, about 45 seconds. 
 
 
Step 6: Add melted chocolate in steady stream and beat until combined, about 40 seconds. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula. 
 
 
Step 7: With mixer at low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over beat. 
 
 
Step 8: Beat egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into dough.
 
  
 
Step 9: Preheat electric gallette iron according to the manufacturer's directions. Lightly grease grids with cooking spray.
 
Step 10: Drop 1 to 2 tablespoons batter into the center of the pre-heated gallette iron and bake until cookies are set and firm, about 45 to 60 seconds. Using a fork, carefully lift cookies off grid and cool on a wire rack. Repeat with remaining batter, lightly greasing grids periodically, as needed.
 
  
 
   
 
Step 11: For the glaze: In a small saucepan melt the 2 tablespoons butter over low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in the powdered sugar and the 2 tablespoons cocoa powder until smooth. Stir in the milk to make a thin glaze.
 
  
 
Step 13: Dip one side of each cookie in the glaze to coat the top, allowing excess glaze to drip off. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Let stand until set.
 
 
 

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

Adapted from Gourmet, January 2003

Makes 12 big pies






Ingredients


For cakes

 

  •     2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  •     1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  •     1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla
  •     1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  •     1 cup packed brown sugar
  •     1 large egg
     

For filling

 

  •     1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  •     1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
  •     2 cups marshmallow cream such as Marshmallow Fluff
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla
     




Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350°F.

Step 2: To make the cakes:

Step 3: Whisk together flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl until combined.



Step 4: Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl.

Step 5: Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a handheld, then add egg, beating until combined well.

Step 6: Reduce speed to low and alternately mix in flour mixture and buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with flour, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, and mixing until smooth.

Step 7: Spoon 1/4-cup mounds of batter about 2 inches apart onto 2 buttered large baking sheets.

Step 8: Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until tops are puffed and cakes spring back when touched, 11 to 13 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack to cool completely.



Step 9: To make the filling: Beat together butter, confectioners sugar, marshmallow, and vanilla in a bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Step 10: To assemble pies: Spread a rounded tablespoon filling on flat sides of half of cakes and top with remaining cakes.





Coconut Macaroons

Makes 36 cookies






Ingredients

 

  •     14 ounce sweetened condensed milk
  •     2 extra-large egg white
  •     1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  •     1/4 teaspoon salt
  •     14 ounce flaked or shredded sweetened coconut
  •     6 ounce semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate (optional)





Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 325°F.  Grease or line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Step 2: Combine the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl.

Step 3: In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and salt on high speed until they make medium-firm peaks.  Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.

Step 4: Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheets. 

Step 5: Bake, 1 sheet at a  time, until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.  Let stand briefly, then remove to a rack to cool.


Step 6: To dip in chocolate: While the macaroons are baking, in a stainless steel or glass bowl fitted over a small saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. When macaroons are cooled, dip one half into chocolate and place on cooling rack or parchment lined sheet pans to set.

 





Cook's Illustrated Brown Sugar Cookies

Makes approximately 24 cookies
 




Ingredients

  • 1-3/4 sticks (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (1-3/4 ounces)
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar (14 ounces), divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons (10-1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter to melt; set aside for 15 minutes.
 
Step 2: Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large (18 by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. 
 
Step 3: In shallow baking dish or pie plate, mix granulated sugar and 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, rubbing between fingers, until well combined; set aside. 
 
Step 4: Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder together in medium bowl; set aside.
 
Step 5: Add remaining 1-3/4 cups brown sugar and salt to bowl with cooled butter; mix until no sugar lumps remain, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula.
 
Step 6: Add egg, yolk, and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl. 
 
Step 7: Add flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 1 minute. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.
 
Step 8: Divide dough into 24 portions, each about 2 tablespoons, rolling between hands into balls about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Working in batches, toss balls in reserved sugar mixture to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart, 12 dough balls per sheet. 
 
Step 9: Bake until cookies are browned and still puffy and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft about 12 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Do not over bake.
 
Step 10: Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes; using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.
 




Crostoli (Italian Bow Tie Cookies)

This recipe belongs to my Aunt Carmella and I love these cookies.  I mean how could you not love a cookie that's deep-fried and drizzled with honey.  My aunt would always make these for Christmas and Easter so I had never really tried making them myself - why would you when you have an expert making them. Sadly, my aunt moved away and I haven't had these cookies in a few years. This year, I decided that it was time to carry on this cookie tradition and try to make them myself. Below is my first attempt at making these wonderful, light, crispy, deep-fried, honey-drizzled cookies. The recipe is not too difficult if you use a pasta machine to roll out your dough. But if you don't have a pasta machine, be prepared for a workout. And honestly, I can't imagine making them if I had to roll the dough with a rolling pin.
 



 

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
 
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: In a bowl, combine eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla, lemon zest, and sugar. 
 
  
 
Step 2: Sift together flour and baking powder. Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour wet ingredients into center and gradually work in. 
 
 
Step 3: Knead until you have a stiff dough. The dough should not be sticky. Let dough rest for 20 minutes.
 
Step 4:  Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and roll the dough into very thin strips using a pasta machine. I rolled the dough to setting 6 on my pasta machine.
 
  
 
  
 
Step 5: Cut and shape into bow ties.
 
 
Step 6: Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large heavy skillet to 375 degrees F. Drop bow tie shape cookie in the heated oil and deep fry until golden. Drizzle honey over cookies while still warm.
 
 



 

Cuccidati (Italian Fig Cookies)

The cuccidati is the Italian version of the American Fig Newton or actually, more accurately, I think the Fig Newton is the American version of the Italian cuccidati.  The cuccidati is a Sicilian fig cookie made typically at Christmas time, and boy is it a pain in the ass to make. The dough is soft and buttery and melts the minute you start to roll it out.  Once the dough begins to melt, it becomes incredibly difficult to roll the fig filling in the dough.  Here are some helpful tips that I've learned over the years -- Don’t ignore the refrigeration time for the dough, the colder the dough, the easier to roll. When rolling your dough, don't be afraid to dust your counter with a little flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Also, the longer you chill the filling, the more flavorful your cookies will be. You should marinate the fig filling in the brandy, honey, and spices for at least 24 hours or longer. And finally, my best friend when making these cookies is a dough scrapper.  You should definitely have one on hand when rolling the dough and forming the cookie logs.

Adapted from Gourmet magazine

Makes about 6 dozens

 




 

Ingredients


For the filling:

  •     1 cup packed soft dried Mission figs (8 oz), hard tips discarded
  •     3/4 cup raisins (3 3/4 oz), plumped
  •     3/4 cup mild honey
  •     1/4 cup brandy
  •     1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest
  •     1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
  •     1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  •     1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  •     1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  •     3/4 cup whole almonds (4 oz), toasted and coarsely chopped
  •     3/4 cup walnuts (3 oz), toasted and coarsely chopped


For the dough:

  •     4 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  •     1 tablespoon baking powder
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  •     2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  •     1/2 cup whole milk
  •     1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  •     1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest


For the icing:

  •     1 cup confectioners sugar
  •     1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  •     1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  •     A few drops of natural orange oil (optional but very good)



 


Instructions


Step 1: To make the filling: Pulse the figs and raisins in a food processor until finely chopped, then stir together with the remaining filling ingredients in a bowl. Chill, covered, at least 8 hours. The filling can be made 1 week ahead and chilled, covered.

Step 2: To make the dough: Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Step 3: Add the butter and blend with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until the most of the mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly a pea-size) butter lumps.

Step 4: Add the eggs, milk, vanilla, and zest and stir with a fork (or pulse in the food processor) until a soft dough forms (starts to form – for the food processor method; do not over process).

Step 5: Halve the dough and gather each half into a ball, then flatten each half into a rough 6- by 4-inch rectangle between sheets of plastic wrap. Chill until firm, at least 8 hours. The dough can be chilled, wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil, up to 3 days.

Step 6: To form the cookies: Center an oven rack and preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat. Set aside.

Step 7: Roll out 1 rectangle of dough (keep the remaining dough chilled) into a 1/8-inch thick rectangle, about 15- by 14-inch, on a well-floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Trim the edges to form a rectangle with one side exactly 13-inches long; another side can be as long as it can be assuming you rolled it evenly thin (chill the trimmings). Then cut the 13-inch side into 4 (3 1/4-inch-wide) strips. Arrange a little bit less than 1/8 of all filling in a 1-inch-wide log lengthwise down the center of each strip, then fold the sides of each strip up over the filling to enclose it, pinching edges together to seal.


Step 8: Turn the rolls seam-sides down and press gently to flatten the seams. Chill the logs, covered with plastic wrap, for about half an hour before slicing and baking. Cut the logs crosswise with a sharp knife into 1 1/2-inch-wide slices and arrange 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Make more cookies in the same manner with the remaining chilled dough, trimmings (re-roll once), and filling.

Step 9: Bake the cookies, in batches, until golden around edges, about 30 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and cool until warm, about 10 minutes. Glaze until the cookies are still warm.

Step 10: Make the icing while the first batch of cookies is baking:

Step 11: Whisk together the confectioners sugar, vanilla, and enough orange juice to make a pourable icing.

Step 12: Brush the icing on the warm cookies. Let the icing to dry completely before packing the cookies for storing.




 

Date Pinwheel Cookies

There are a lot of cookies that I adore and this date pinwheel cookie is high on my list of the top 25 best ever cookies. I love the brown-sugar dough wrapped around the date nut filling. When it’s baked correctly, the cookie has a wonderful mouth-watering rich caramelized outer cookie with an inside date filling that's lusciously sweet and nutty.
 
These cookies can be a little tricky to roll out.  I can honestly say I haven’t quite yet perfected rolling the dough, adding the filling, and baking the cookie slices. Sometimes they come out picture perfect and sometimes they just don’t, like the ones in the picture above. I will say this, regardless of how they look, they have always tasted amazing.
 
I don’t know much about the origins of this cookie either but of course I’d like to believe that it’s Italian. Most days, I'd like to believe that all things delicious are Italian.  Even though my mom and aunts have been making these cookies for years, they are unfortunately not Italian. As far as I can tell from my search online, the cookie's origins are American. The oldest recipe that I could find was a similar date-nut pinwheel cookie recipe in Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book, originally published in 1963. They list the caramel cookie dough part of the recipe (with the option to add the date-nut filling) as one of the best cookie recipes in the early 1940s.  So there you have it, this is an old American classic that will most definitely complement any holiday cookie tray.  
 
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the cookie dough:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

 

For the date filling:

  • 7-1/4 ounce pitted dates
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Dash of salt

 




 

Instructions


Step 1: To make the cookie dough: sift flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Step 2: Beat butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in medium bowl until light and fluffy. 

Step 3: Beat in vanilla and egg.

Step 4: Add sifted dry ingredients. Divide dough into two equal portions, wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm enough to roll, about an hour.

Step 5: To make the filling: Cut dates in small pieces and place in a medium saucepan.  Then add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, dash salt, and 1/3 cup water. Bring date mixture to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add chopped walnuts and then cool to room temperature.

Step 6: Roll each dough half, on floured waxed paper, into a 9x12 rectangle. Spread with filling; roll up tightly from end.



Step 7: Wrap in paper; chill overnight, Slice 1/8'" thick.

Step 8: Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes.

 




 

Denise Hinton's World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have never been a huge fan of chocolate chip cookies. I think mainly because I have never found one with the right combination of ingredients. They’ve either had too much or too little brown or granulated sugar, or they were too thin, too hard and crispy, or too soft, or they didn’t have the right proportion of chocolate chips to cookie dough. Since I had never found one that I liked I was convinced that I just didn’t like chocolate chip cookies - which seems almost un-American to me. Then one day, my life changed.  My boss has been bringing these cookies to all of our office parties for many years. Finally one day I tried one and honestly it was love at first bite. These cookies are perfectly crisp on the outside and chewy in the center.  And what really makes these cookies unique is the addition of the browned butter. That along with baking the cookies at a slightly higher temperature (375 degrees Fahrenheit) gives them a wonderful nutty, caramelized flavor and nice brown tops. Many thanks to Denise for finally giving me a chocolate chip cookie I could love.

Adapted from Food and Wine, published June 2012

 




 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temp. and cut into 16 pieces
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup tightly packed, light brown sugar (or dark brown sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons of whole milk (alternatively you can substitute carnation milk, cream, or half and half)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces chocolate chips or chocolate chunks (use a good brand like Callebaut)
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Place the butter into a medium-size saucepan. Over medium heat, cook the butter until melted, and browned. As the butter is cooking, use the handle of saucepan to swirl it around and prevent burning. 
 
Step 2: As the butter browns, it will start to become frothy, as soon as the froth dissipates, keep a close eye on the butter. It should have a lovely nutty fragrance and the bubbles will be deep golden brown. The browning process can take about 5-9 minutes. As soon as the butter is ready, remove the saucepan from the heat and transfer the butter to a heat-proof bowl. Allow it to cool to room temperature.
 
    
 
    
 
Step 3: In a separate, large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda; Set aside.
 
Step 4: Beat together the browned butter and both sugars on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth, about 7 minutes.
 
 
Step 5: Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and milk choice. Beat on medium speed to combine.
 
Step 6: On low speed, beat in the dry ingredients, beating just until they're incorporated into the wet.
 
Step 7: Use a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon to fold in the chocolate chips.
 
Step 8: Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the dough for at least 12 hours. This allows flavors to blend and give the cookie a better texture.
 
Step 9: When you're ready to bake, remove the dough from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 375 F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
 
Step 10: Use scoop to place them on the prepared cookie sheets, leaving about 2-inches of space between each mound of dough. 
 
Step 11: Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are just starting to turn golden brown. The center will look under cooked, but will firm up after cooling for about 5 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. 
 



 

Dorie Greenspan's Les Whoopies

In November 2014, I enjoyed a gourmet lunch at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. with my favorite cookbook author, Dorie Greenspan. Dorie was there promoting her latest cookbook, Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere.  Included with lunch was a copy of her cookbook - big bonus for me because I really wanted the cookbook and was planning on buying it even if I didn’t attend the luncheon.  Of course Dorie made her way to all of the tables that day and personally signed each of our cookbooks.  And Dorie was so sweet to take a picture with me. She is the absolute best!
 
This particular recipe has been calling out to me to make since I first opened her cookbook.  Peanut butter and chocolate are my favorite and this has to be the best whoopie pie in the world. 
 
 
Makes about 24 small cakes
 
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the whoopie pies:

  • 2 cups (272 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (42 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) whole milk, at room temperature
 

For the peanut butter filling:

  • 1-1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces; 170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (256 grams) creamy peanut butter (not natural)
  • 1  cup (120 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon teaspoon fine sea salt

 

For the optional chocolate glaze:

  • 4  ounces (57 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) heavy cream
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the whoopie pies: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. 
 
Step 2: Butter or spray a whoopie pie pan or if you’re making whoopie pies without a pan, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon baking sheet liner.
 
Step 3: Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together into a medium bowl. Set aside
 
Step 4: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes. 
 
Step 5: Add the egg and beat for 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.
 
Step 6: Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions. 
 
Step 7: Mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated and you’ve got a thick, smooth, silky batter.
 
Step 8: Using a small cookie scoop (capacity of 2 teaspoons), place dollops of batter on the baking sheet, making sure to leave about 2 inches of space between the mounds of batter. 
 
Step 9: Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cakes puff and spring back when poked lightly; a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. 
 
Step 10: Slide the parchment paper or silicon baking sheet liner with the little cakes off the baking sheet onto a rack and let the cakes cool to room temperature before gently lifting them off the paper. 
 
Step 11: Allow the cakes to cool to room temperature before filling them.
 
Step 12: To make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater,  beat all the ingredients together on medium-high speed until soft, fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. 
 
Step 13: To fill the whoopie pies: Using a piping bag with a plain or star tip or a spoon, put about 1 tablespoon filling on the flat side of half the cakes. Top with the other halves, flat side down, twisting the tops gently just to make certain that the pieces are “glued” together. 
 
Step 14: To make the glaze if using the glaze:  Put the chopped chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl and heat it for about 90 seconds at 50% power. Bring the cream to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds, then gently stir the mixture, starting at the center of the bowl and working your way out in ever-widening concentric circles, until you have a smooth, glossy ganache.
 
Step 15: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. One by one, dip the tops of the whoopie pies into the ganache, twirling each pie slightly as you lift it out of the chocolate, so that the excess drips back into the bowl, and place glazed side up on the baking sheet. When all your pies are dipped, refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or just long enough to set the glaze. 



 

Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies

For anyone who knows me, it's no secret where I fall on the political spectrum. As you might imagine, I’ve been feeling a little emotional since the 2016 election. I wake up every morning with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and I'm having difficulty trying to shake this feeling of impending doom. When I have anxiety, the best therapy for me, outside of exercising, is baking.  Baking always lifts my spirits. So this morning, I decided to take a large dose of my favorite medicine and start baking cookies for Christmas.
 
What better cookie to start my morning off baking than with these hopeful and inspiring World Peace cookies. No, I didn’t make that name up. This very intense and rich chocolate butter cookie is really called a World Peace cookie.   You might recognize this type of cookie by its more common name,  a French sable.  According to Dorie Greenspan, eating one of these cookies a day would most certainly ensure world peace.  Well Dorie, with the results of the 2016 election, our country and the world are in dire need of these cookies. I would surely make Donald Trump about 122 dozen of these world peace cookies so he could eat one a day for the next 4 years if I thought it would help.  Unfortunately, I fear nothing can help us now.  In the meantime, please experience a little bit of heaven and be inspired to spread love and world peace by having one of these cookies.

Recipe by Dorie Greenspan: Baking from My Home to Yours

 
Makes about 24 to 28 cookies
 



 

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 11 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fleur de sell or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 5 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 85% cacao), chopped into chips (no pieces bigger than 1/3 inch), or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Sift flour, cocoa, and baking soda into medium bowl. 
 
 
Step 2: Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth and creamy but not fluffy. 
 
Step 3: Add both sugars, vanilla, and salt; beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. 
 
 
Step 4:  Turn off mixer. Pour in dry ingredients, drape a kitchen town over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the  mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time.  
 
 
Step 5: Take a peek - if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not remove the towel. Continuing on low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears in the dough. For the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don't be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly.
 
Step 6: Toss in the chopped chocolate; mix just to distribute (if dough doesn't come together, knead lightly in bowl to form ball). 
 
Step 7: Divide dough in half. Place each half on sheet of plastic wrap. Form each into 1-1/2-inch-diameter log. Wrap each in plastic; chill until firm, about 3 hours. The dough can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled. There are 4 logs in the picture because I doubled the recipe.  Also, I like a llittle bigger cookie so I made each log about 2 inches in diameter. 
 
 
Step 8: Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using thin sharp knife, cut logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Space 1 inch apart on prepared sheets.
 
 
Step 9: Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies appear dry (cookies will not be firm or golden at edges), 11 to 12 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool. 
 
And here is Dorie, the pastry queen herself, and her World Peace Cookies.  
 



 

Gallettes

Makes 6 dozen




 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 6 large egg yolk
  • 6 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour


 


Instructions


Step 1: Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.

 

Step 2: In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.  Beat in sugars until combined and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.


 

Step 3: Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Beat egg yolks and vanilla lightly with fork and set aside.
 
Step 4: Reduce speed to low and gradually add egg yolk mixture to the creamed sugars until incorporated, about 60 seconds. 
 
Step 5: With mixer at low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over beat.

Step 6: Beat egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into dough.

  

Step 7: Chill batter overnight. 

Step 8: Preheat electric gallette iron according to the manufacturer's directions. Lightly grease grids with cooking spray.
 
Step 9: Drop 1 to 2 tablespoons batter into the center of the pre-heated gallette iron and bake until cookies are set, firm, and light brown, about 45 to 60 seconds. Using a fork, carefully lift cookies off grid and cool on a wire rack. Repeat with remaining batter, lightly greasing grids periodically, as needed.
 




 

Hungarian Nut-Filled Cookies

I wish I knew the true heritage of this cookie because it’s one of my favorites.  My mother and aunts have been making this hearty and gratifying cookie as far back as I can remember. I’d like to think that this delicious cookie is of Italian origin; however, rumor has it that the recipe hails from my cousin’s mother-in-law who was Eastern European.  Whether Italian or Hungarian, this is an awesome cookie for any occasion and one that you should try.

Makes approximately 7 dozen cookies




 

Ingredients


For the Filling:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 cups walnuts (finely ground)
  • 2 large egg whites (or enough to make a good spreading consistency)


For the Dough:

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk

 

For the Browned-Butter Icing:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 evaporated milk (or whole milk)



 


Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2: For the Dough: Place all dry ingredients in large bowl and whisk until well-blended.

Step 3: Add butter and shortening to dry ingredients. Cut in shortening and butter (with a pastry blender) until size of small peas.



Step 4: In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk and eggs. Beat until combined.

 

Step 5: Make a well in the flour mixture, then add egg-buttermilk mixture. Using pastry blending, mix until dough forms into a soft ball. Dough should be soft but not too sticky.  If dough is sticky, liberally add flour to your work surface when rolling dough out.  



Step 6: Divide dough into 6 equal pieces (approximately 9.5 ounces each). 

 

Step 7: For the Filling: Combine sugar, finely ground walnuts and 2 egg whites in a bowl. Mix well and set aside.

Step 8: Roll dough into a 4" X 14" rectangle.  Arrange approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup of filling in a 3-inch-wide log lengthwise down the center of each strip leaving approximately 1/2 inch free around the edges. Roll up dough as you would a jellyroll.  Turn the rolls seam-sides down and press gently to flatten the seams.

      

Step 9: Chill the logs, covered with plastic wrap, for about 1/2 hour before slicing and baking.

 

Step 10: Slice into 1/2 inch slices. Bake on cookie sheet 350°F oven until light golden brown.

  


Step 11: For the browned-butter icing: Heat two tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until golden brown. Add 2 cups of sifted powdered sugar and 1/4 cup evaporated milk (or whole milk) and beat until smooth.

Step 12: Ice cookies once they are cool.




 

Italian Wedding Cookies

This is my mother's signature cookie -well these and her biscotti. No one in the world makes these cookies better than her. This recipe dates back for generations. My mother has altered it slightly over the years, replacing milk with orange peel and orange juice. Twelve cups of flour make a boat load of cookies, and it's probably just fine for families of 6 or more people. If you have a small family, feel free to cut the recipe in half. Oh, one other fact about this recipe - it won first place in the 2008 Montgomery County, Maryland Fair in the "Rolled by Hand" cookie category.

Makes about  15 dozen cookies




 

Ingredients

  •     12 cups all-purpose flour
  •     2-1/2 cups sugar
  •     9 teaspoons baking powder
  •     2 teaspoons salt
  •     2 cups unsalted butter (4 sticks)
  •     2 teaspoons vanilla
  •     2 tablespoons anise flavoring
  •     2 teaspoons almond flavoring
  •     12 eggs
  •     1/4 cup orange juice
  •     2 to 3 tablespoons orange zest


For the Icing:

  •     Powdered sugar
  •     Milk (or orange juice)
  •     Vanilla or other flavoring



 


Instructions


Step 1: Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Sift to combine. 

Step 2: Cut butter into 16 pieces and add to the flour mixture. Work in butter with hands until completely and fully incorporated and butter/flour bits are smaller than the size of peas. As my father always said, mix and caress the butter and flour like you love it. 

  

Step 3: Add eggs, orange juice, orange zest and flavorings together in a small bowl. Beat together and set aside.

Step 4: Make a well in the flour and add egg mixture to flour mixture. Mix dough with hands until the dough is smooth and firm enough to roll out.  You will most likely need to add a little flour to your surface and knead the dough for a few minutes.

Step 5: Roll into desired shapes and bake at 325 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes until lightly brown.  

 



Step 6: For the glaze:  Add powdered sugar, milk and vanilla together and mix. The icing's consistency should be runny and easily spreadable.  I sometimes use orange juice instead of milk in the icing.

Step 7: Cool cookies completely, then glaze cookies with powdered sugar icing.

 



 

Joyce Grandinetti's Chocolate Crinkles

Makes 66 cookies






Ingredients

 

  •     1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  •     1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  •     2 teaspoons baking powder
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •     4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (chopped).
  •     1/2 cup unsalted butter
  •     1 3/4 cups sugar
  •     3 large eggs
  •     2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  •     3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  •     3/4 cup chopped walnuts or hazelnuts (optional)
  •     1/2 cup powdered sugar

 





Instructions


Step 1: In bowl, mix flour, baking powder, cocoa and salt. 

Step 2: Melt chocolate and butter, stirring; cool. 

Step 3: In mixing bowl, mix chocolate mixture and sugar and beat on slow speed to blend.  Beat in eggs one at a time, then vanilla. 

Step 4: Beat in flour mixture.  Stir in chips and nuts. 

Step 5: Cover, refrigerate overnight.  Let dough rest for 10 minutes before rolling next day. Roll level tablespoons into 1” balls; roll in sifted powdered sugar. 

Step 6: Spray baking sheet and place balls 2” apart.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake 12 to 14 minutes until tops crack. Store in airtight container for up to two weeks.





Jumbo Raisin Cookies

 

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies

 





Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 1/2 cup shortening, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)





Instructions

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2: Cook raisins in 1 cup boiling water for five minutes.  Set aside and cool. Do not drain raisin mixture.

Step 3: Mix together flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.
 

Step 4: Cream shortening, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. 

Step 5: Add vanilla and cooled raisin mixture. 


Step 6: Gradually add dry ingredients and blend well.  If you are using nuts, add them at this time and mix with wooden spoon. 



Step 7: Drop by teaspoon on greased cookie sheet. 

Step 8: Bake at 375 degrees until lightly brown 12 to 15 minutes.





Lady Locks

I love this cookie. I have wanted to try this recipe for some time but I found making the pastry dough and horns a little intimidating. This recipe belongs to one of my mother's friends, who was kind enough to teach us how to make them. It was actually much easier than I had anticipated.




 

Ingredients

For the dough:

 

  •     4-1/2 cups flour
  •     1 pound butter, softened
  •     1/2 pint sour cream
  •     1 cup buttermilk


For the filling:

  •     2 cups whole milk
  •     7 tablespoons flour
  •     2 cups shortening (crisco)
  •     2 cups sugar
  •     2 cups powdered sugar
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla
  •     1 cup marshmallow cream



 


Instructions


Step 1: For the dough: Mix flour and butter as you would pie dough.  I used a pastry blender.  Softened or room temperature butter will incorporate better into the flour.

       
Step 2: Add sour cream and buttermilk. Mix until blended.  You may need to add a little more flour if dough is too sticky.  I added an additional 1/2 cup of flour.


Step 3: Divide dough into four parts.  Roll each part like a pie shell then fold all four corners to make a square wrap. 

    


Step 4: Wrap each square in wax paper and refrigerate overnight.  Next day, roll each square long about 24 inches long and 3 inches wide.  



Step 5: Cut into strips approximately 1/2 inch wide (perpendicular to the long length). Wrap strip around rod so that edges overlap slightly. 


   

Step 6: Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Slide horn molds quickly off of rods while still hot. 



Step 7: Let cool completely.

Step 8:  For the filling:  Add 2 cups of milk and flour to saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat. Cook until thick and let cool completely.

Step 9: Beat 2 cups shortening and 2 cups sugar - add sugar a little at a time. Add two cups of powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup marshmallow cream. 

Step 10: Add cooked milk/flour mixture and cream well.
    
My mother's friend, Mary Ann Malcolm.



 My Mother




 

Mary Mermigas' Melomakarona (Greek Christmas Cookies)





Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup of sunflower oil
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup of brandy
  • 1/2 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 to 7-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • Grated walnuts for garnish

For the Syrup:

  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup of honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 lemon slices
  • 3 orange slices 
 




Instructions

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 325 F with a convection oven, or 350 F with a conventional oven.
 
Step 2: Put all the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda) in a bowl and mix until blended with a whisk. 
 
Step 3: Cream together butter and oil until fluffy
 
Step 4: Add the sugar and continue beating until sugar is well combined.
 
Step 5: Add the eggs, orange juice, brandy, and orange zest.  Continue beating until everything is incorporated.
 
Step 6: Gradually add flour mixture. Add additional flour so that the dough will not be too soft or sticky.
 
 
Step 7: To shape the cookies, take a fistful of dough and make it into a log. Press the dough gently with your fingers on one side to flatten slightly. The shape of the cookies can be rounded, oval, or a small log shape.
 
Step 8: Place the cookies well spaced on a greased cookie sheet, place on the middle rack in the oven and bake until browned (about 20 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool on baking racks.
 
Step 9: To make the syrup: Put the water, honey, sugar, cinnamon stick, and orange and lemon slices in a wide pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat down to low. Remove cinnamon stick and orange and lemon slices.
 
 
Step 10: Put in cookies (as many as will fit on the bottom) into the hot syrup and use a spatula to hold them down for about 45 seconds to a minute, depending on how syrupy you want them to be.
 
 
Step 11: Once the cookies have been soaked, remove them with a slotted spoon, letting some of the syrup drip, place on a large serving plate in layers, sprinkling each layer liberally with the finely chopped walnuts.
 
 
 

Do not refrigerate the melomakarona. Cover them with plastic wrap or store in tins so they don't dry out.




Mexican Wedding Cookies

The Mexican wedding cookie, in my opinion, isn’t an exciting cookie. In fact, it's a really boring cookie to make because it doesn’t have any of the new trendy cookie ingredients, like salted caramel, browned butter, lavender, rosemary, chili, pepper or bacon. But it is an old classic with good basic ingredients - ground nuts, butter, sugar, and flour. And if made correctly, you will have a delectable, rich, buttery, sugary cookie that will literally disintegrate and melt in your mouth. I’ve been making these cookies for years and it will always be a part of my cookie repertoire.
 



 

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  •     1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  •     1/2 cup powdered sugar
  •     1 to 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  •     1/8 teaspoon salt
  •     2 cups flour
  •     1/2 cups finely chopped nuts



 


Instructions

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350°F.

Step 2: Sift your flour first, then measure the required amount.  Sifting, for this particular recipe, is an important step that you shouldn't skip.  Sifting aerates the flours, which alters the texture of the cookie, resulting in a lighter, airier, melt in your mouth texture.

Step 3: Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Step 4: Add 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt; beat until well blended. Stir in flour and nuts.  Note: you should also sift your powdered sugar beforehand to remove any lumps.

 

Step 5: Shape into 1-inch balls. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.



Step 6: Bake for about 13 to 15 minutes until cookies are slightly brown around the edges. Remove from baking sheets.

Step 7: Immediately roll hot cookies in remaining powdered sugar. Place sugared cookies on wire racks to cool. When cool, roll again in sugar.

 




 

My Mother's Best Biscotti

Biscotti, which literally means twice-baked, is a traditional Italian cookie that’s named after its baking process. These cookies are actually baked twice and made purposely dry and hard because they are meant to be dunked in a drink, such as coffee, tea, or wine. This particular biscotti is one of my mother’s signature cookies and the best biscotti recipe ever. It’s perfectly flavored with almonds, anise and vanilla. 




 

Ingredients

  •     2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •     1/4 pound unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  •     1 cup granulated sugar
  •     1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  •     2 large eggs
  •     2 teaspoons anise flavoring or black anise seeds
  •     1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •     1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  •     1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped almonds (toasted)
     



 

Instructions

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2: Sift the flour, black anise seeds (if using seeds instead of flavoring), baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Step 3: Beat butter, sugar and orange zest until fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Step 4: Beat in eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla, almond extract and anise flavoring (if not using the seeds).

Step 5: Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in almonds.

Step 6: Divide dough into 2 equal portions, about 15 ounces each.

 

Step 7: Form dough into two logs about 1-1/2" wide by 14" long. Put on a baking sheet about 3" apart. 

Step 8: Brush the top of each log with egg whites.  

Step 9: Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Step 10: Remove logs from oven and reduce oven temperature to 250°F.

Step 11: Allow cookie logs to cool and become firm for 2 or 3 minutes after removal from oven before attempting to slice it, and use a very sharp knife to prevent the fragile slices from breaking. Cut logs into 1/2" slices, and put the cut-side up on baking sheets. Instead of a baking sheet, my mom turns a cookie rack upside down and places the cookies on the rack. 

Step 12: Bake until dried, 30 to 40 minutes. If using a baking sheet, turn cookies over after 15-20 minutes. If using the cookie rack, it's not necessary to turn the cookies over.

 




 

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 112 cookies





Ingredients

  •     5 cups blended oatmeal
  •     2 cups butter
  •     2 cups white sugar
  •     2 cups brown sugar
  •     4 eggs
  •     2 teaspoons vanilla
  •     4 cups flour
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     2 teaspoons baking powder
  •     2 teaspoons baking soda
  •     24 ounces chocolate chips
  •     8 ounces Hershey Bar (grated)
  •     3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)





Instructions


Step 1: Measure oatmeal and blend in a food processor to a fine powder.



Step 2: Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla



Step 3: Mix together flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and soda. Gradually add to egg mixture, Add chocolate chips, hershey bars and nuts.

Step 4: Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet.



Step 5: Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.





Nonna's Italian Wedding Cookies

Every Italian family has their own recipe for Italian Wedding Cookies. My family happens to have two recipes - one that belongs to my mother's family and one that belongs to my father's family. The recipe below belongs to my nonna on my father's side. It is similar to my mother's recipe but uses oil instead of butter. This recipe, like my mother's, makes a ton of cookies. The cookies freeze really well so I often make a whole recipe- you can store them in the freezer for up to 3 months.

 

Makes at least 10 dozen cookies

 




 

Ingredients

For the cookie dough:

  •     2-1/2 cups sugar
  •     2 cups vegetable oil
  •     12 large eggs
  •     1 tablespoon vanilla
  •     2 tablespoons anise flavoring
  •     11 cups all-purpose flour
  •     7 teaspoons baking powder
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     1/2 cup orange juice
  •     2 tablespoon orange zest


For the icing:

  •     Powdered sugar
  •     Milk
  •     Vanilla or other flavorings



 


Instructions


Step 1: Beat eggs until thick and lemon colored. Add sugar gradually and blend well. Gradually add oil while beating. Add flavorings.

Step 2: Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour and orange juice alternately to egg mixture. Add enough flour to make a soft dough. Dough will be sticky. Refrigerate overnight.

Step 3: Roll out and shaped into braids or knots.

Step 4: Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet 350 degree until lightly brown, about 10 minutes. Do not over bake.

Step 5: Ice cookies with powdered sugar icing.




 

Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies




 

Ingredients

  •     2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •     2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  •     1 cup sugar
  •     1 cup brown sugar
  •     2 eggs
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •     3 cups oats (not instant)
  •     1 cup dried cranberries
  •     6 ounces of good quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped



 


Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350; line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Coarsely chop white chocolate.  Make sure to use a good quality white chocolate. I used Ghiardelli brand

Step 2: Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

Step 3: Cream butter, both sugars, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture; stir with a tubber scraper or wooden spoon until completely blended.

  



Step 4: Fold the oats, cranberries, and white chocolate into the dough until evenly distributed.



Step 5: Drop dough in 3 tablespoons mounds (a #40 cookie scoop is perfect) onto prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.



Step 6: Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, or until golden but still a little moist. Let cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack. If desired, dip cookies in melted white chocolate.

 

 

 




 

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies

When making sugar cookies, the thought of using cookie cutters and then having to decorate each cookie stresses me out. So if you are like me, you want a sugar cookie that’s simple and quick to make. This particular sugar cookie recipe has been around since the beginning of time - well at least most of my life. And it’s perfect because the only rolling is when you roll the little ball of dough in sugar and the only decorating is sprinkling each flattened ball of dough with decorative or colored sugar. The recipe is foolproof too. I once decided to make this cookie using a combination of whole wheat pastry and all-purpose flours (don’t ask why) and I couldn’t believe how perfectly shaped and tasty the cookies were. So if you are looking for a slightly healthier sugar cookie (is that an oxymoron?), you can substitute half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour, and if the dough is too stiff, just add a tablespoon or two of whole milk.
 

Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies

 

Ingredients

  •     3-3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  •     3 teaspoons baking powder
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •     1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
  •     1-1/2 cups sugar
  •     2 eggs, room temperature
  •     3 teaspoons vanilla
  •     Granulated sugar or colored sugar
  •     Soft butter for bottom of glass


Instructions


Step 1: Sift dry ingredients.  

Step 2: Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  

Step 3: Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla.

Step 4: Add flour gradually beating only until combined.

Step 5: Roll into a 1- or 2-inch balls and then roll each ball in sugar. Press each sugar-coated ball with the bottom of a glass that has been coated with butter. Sprinkle each flattened cookie with decorative sugar.  

Step 6: Bake at 350 degrees for about ten minutes or until lightly brown

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.






Ingredients

  •     48 Hershey Kisses
  •     1/2 cup shortening
  •     3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  •     1/3 cup granulated sugar
  •     1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  •     1 egg
  •     2 tablespoons milk
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •     1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •     Granulated sugar





Instructions


Step 1: Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

Step 2: Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended.

Step 3: Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy.

Step 4: Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well.

Step 5: Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

Step 6: Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Step 7: Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Step 8: Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.





Peanut Butter Cookies

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan: Baking: From My Home to Yours

 





Ingredients

 

  •     2-1/2 cups flour
  •     1 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1/4 teaspoon salt
  •     pinch of nutmeg
  •     2 sticks unsalted butter
  •     1 cup creamy peanut butter
  •     1 cup packed light brown sugar
  •     3/4 cup sugar
  •     2 large eggs
  •     1 cup chopped salted peanut
  •     Raw sugar





Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2: Stir dry ingredients.

Step 3: Cream butter and peanut butter. Add sugar. Then eggs one at a time. Combine with dry ingredients. Fold in peanuts.

Step 4: Bake on lightly greased cookie sheets, roll cookies in raw sugar, press down with fingers or fork.

Step 5: Bake for 12 minutes, cool on rack.





Peanut Butter Nanaiamo Bars





Ingredients

 

For the Cookie:

  •  1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped blanched almonds

For the Peanut Butter Filling:

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

For the Chocolate Glaze:

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

 





Instructions

Step 1:  Line an 8 by 8-inch baking pan or casserole with aluminum foil, with long flaps hanging over each edge.

Step 2: For the cookie: Put the butter in a heatproof medium bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer over medium-low heat. Set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Once the butter is melted, add the sugar and cocoa, and stir to combine. 

Step 3: Add the egg and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, until warm to the touch and slightly thickened (it should be about the consistency of hot fudge), about 6 minutes. 

Step 4: Remove from the heat and stir in graham crumbs, coconut and nuts. Press the dough firmly into the prepared pan. (Save the pan of water for melting the chocolate.)

Step 5: For the filling: Beat the butter, peanut butter and confectioners' sugar together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until light. 

Step 6: Spread over the cookie and freeze while you prepare the chocolate glaze.

Step 7:  For the glaze: Put the chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl, and set over the barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Alternatively, put the chocolate and butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 1 minute. Stir, and continue to heat until completely melted, about 1 minute more.

Step 8: When cool but still runny, pour the chocolate layer over the chilled peanut butter layer and carefully smooth out with an offset spatula. Freeze 30 minutes.

Step 9: To serve, remove from the freezer and let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Pull out of the pan using the foil flaps and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 1-inch squares with a sharp knife. Serve cool or at room temperature.





Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies





Ingredients

  •     3/4 cup peanut butter
  •     1/2 cup butter
  •     3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  •     1/2 cup granulated sugar
  •     1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  •     2 large eggs
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla
  •     1-1/4 cups flour
  •     2-1/2 cups regular oatmeal
  •     1-1/2 cups chocolate chips





Instructions


Step 1: In a large mixing bowl, combine peanut butter and butter -- mix 30 seconds at medium speed. Add sugars and beat until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well.

Step 2: Add flour, baking soda and baking powder in a separate bowl and whisk to combine. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix to combine. With wooden spoon, stir in oatmeal and chocolate chips.

Step 3: Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls onto cookie sheet about 3" apart. Press into 4" circles. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.

Step 4: Cool on wire rack.





Pecan Tassies

Adapted from Carole Walter, Great Cookies: Secrets to Sensational Sweets

 
Makes 4 dozen tassies.
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the cream cheese pastry:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
 

For the filling: 

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups lightly packed very fresh dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped lightly toasted pecans, divided
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: For the cream cheese pastry: mix together using a pastry blender the butter and cream cheese until thoroughly blended.
 
Step 2: Add in 1 cup of the flour and the salt, working with the pastry blender until almost incorporated. Mix in another 1/2 cup flour, working until the flour is almost incorporated. Complete the process by adding in another 1/2 cup flour. Do not overwork.
 
Step 3: With lightly floured hands, shape the dough into a mound, then divide in half and form two 5 inch rectangles. Wrap with plastic. Chill for at least 4 hours or up to 3 day
 
Step 4: Divide each rectangle of pastry into 24 1-inch squares. Roll each square into a ball and place into mini-muffin tins. Mold the dough into each hole, pressing it up the sides. Chill while preparing the filling.
 
Step 5 Position the shelves in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Heat the oven to 325F.
 
Step 6: For the filling: Place the eggs, brown sugar, butter, salt, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk together until smooth.
 
 
Step 7: Distribute 1 cup of the pecans among the pastry lined muffin cups. Empty the filling into a measuring cup with a spout and pour the mixture into the tins, filling them no more than 2/3 full. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining 1 cup nuts.
 
 
Step 8: Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown around the edges. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back towards the end of baking time. Let stand 5 minutes. using the tip of a paring knife, run the blade carefully around the edges of the muffin cups to loosen the tassies. When the tassies are cool enough to handle, remove them from the pan and set on cooling racks. (Note: The tassies can either be either be eased out with the tip of the knife or inverted onto the cooling rack.)



 

Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti

I love Christmas time because it’s really the only time of year that I bake cookies. In fact you could say that I run a cookie baking marathon during the Christmas season, baking a different batch every other evening after work during the month of December. I have traditional cookies that I always make and sometimes I’ll try something new.  I’ve only made this particular biscotti once before and I’m not sure why I've waited so long to make it again because it's so delicious. It’s also very festive with all the colors of the holiday baked right into the cookie, and it's perfect for decorating your Christmas cookie tray. This biscotti just may become part of my Christmas cookie tradition.

Adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2003




 


Ingredients

  •     2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
  •     1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  •     3/4 teaspoon salt
  •     6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  •     3/4 cup sugar
  •     2 large eggs
  •     1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  •     1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  •     1 teaspoon black anise seeds (alternatively you can use 1 tablespoon of pure anise extract)
  •     1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  •     3/4 cup shelled natural unsalted pistachios
  •     6 ounces imported white chocolate, chopped



 


Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 1 large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Step 2: Sift first 3 ingredients into medium bowl.

Step 3: Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl on medium speed until creamy about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in lemon peel, vanilla, and black anise seeds (or anise extract if using instead).

 



Step 4: Beat in flour mixture just until blended. Stir in cranberries and pistachios (dough will be sticky).



Step 5: Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Gather dough together; divide in half.

 

Step 6: Roll each half into 15-inch-long log (about 1-1/4 inches wide). Carefully transfer logs to 1 prepared baking sheet, spacing 3 inches apart.



Step 7: Bake logs until almost firm to touch but still pale, about 28 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet 10 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.



Step 8: Carefully transfer logs still on parchment to cutting board. Use a serrated  or very sharp knife to gently cut logs crosswise into generous 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Step 9: Place slices, 1 cut side down, on remaining 2 prepared sheets. Instead of a baking sheet, you can also use a cookie rack and turn in upside down and place the cookies on the rack. Bake until firm and pale golden, about 9 minutes per side. If using the cookie rack, it's not necessary to turn the cookies over. Transfer cookies to racks and cool.



Step 10: Line another baking sheet with waxed paper.

Step 11: Stir white chocolate in top of double boiler over barely simmering water just until smooth. Remove from over water.

Step 12: Dip one end of each cookie into melted chocolate, tilting pan if necessary; shake off excess chocolate. Place cookies on prepared sheet. Chill until chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes. (Can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight between sheets of waxed paper at room temperature.)




 

Pistachio Cranberry Ice Box Cookies

Adapted from Gourmet, December 2007





Ingredients

  •     1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  •     1/4 teaspoon salt
  •     1-1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  •     1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  •     1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest
  •     1/2 cup shelled pistachios (2 1/4 oz; not dyed red)
  •     1/3 cup dried cranberries (1 1/4 oz)
  •     1 large egg, lightly beaten
  •     1/4 cup decorative sugar (preferably coarse)
     




Instructions


Step 1: Make dough: Stir together flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.

Step 2: Beat together butter, granulated sugar, and zest in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Step 3: Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until dough just comes together in clumps, then mix in pistachios and cranberries.

Step 4: Gather and press dough together, then divide into 2 equal pieces.

Step 5: Using a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper as an aid, form each piece of dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

Step 6: Square off long sides of each log to form a bar, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until very firm, at least 2 hours.

Step 7: Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Step 8: Brush egg over all 4 long sides of bars (but not ends). Sprinkle decorative sugar on a separate sheet of parchment or wax paper and press bars into sugar, coating well. 

Step 9: Cut each bar crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, rotating bar after cutting each slice to help keep square shape. (If dough gets too soft to slice, freeze bars briefly until firm.)

Step 10: Arrange cookies about 1/2 inch apart on lined baking sheets. Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are pale golden, 15 to 18 minutes total. Transfer cookies from parchment to racks using a slotted spatula and cool completely.

Dough bars can be chilled up to 3 days or frozen, wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil, 1 month (thaw frozen dough in refrigerator just until dough can be sliced).





Pistachio Macarons

I've read a lot about macarons since my second attempt at making them using the Italian Meringue Method.  For the recipe below, I used Pierre Herme's recipe but  decided to switch things up a bit and try the French Meringue Method. Although I've read horror stories about this method all over the internet, it seemed to work just fine for me. The jury; however,  is still out about which method I like better.  Since I'm still a novice, I'll continue to use both the Italian and French meringue methods until there is a clear winner.
 
For this particular recipe, because I like a pistachio macaron with lots of pistachio flavor, I decided to use half ground pistachios and half ground almonds for my macaron cookie and I added some pistachio extract to both the macaron batter and the buttercream.  By the way, you can buy pistachio extract at silvercloudestates.com. 
 
I also tried a slightly different technique for adding the flavoring. During my previous attempts at making macarons, I added the flavorings and food coloring after I folded the meringue into the dry ingredients. I ended up with slightly deflated, runny, and loose meringue. This time, I added my liquid flavorings and food coloring near the end of whipping my egg whites to stiff peaks.  This seemed to work really well; the color was infused evenly and I didn't run the risk of deflating my meringue like before.
 
Makes 72 macarons
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the cookie:

  • 150 grams finely ground blanched almonds (if possible, use Trader Joes sliced dry roasted almonds)
  • 150 grams finely ground pistachios
  • 300 grams powdered sugar
  • 300 grams extra fine granulated sugar
  • 220 grams aged Egg Whites at room temperature 
  • Green food coloring
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pure pistachio extract
 

For the pistachio French buttercream:

  • 12 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup finely ground pistachios
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons pure pistachio extract
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the macaron cookie: Separate eggs at least 24 hours before using (or up to five days). Save yolks for egg yolk buttercream. The older the eggs the better.  
 
Step 2: Line 6 half sheet trays with silpat baking sheets or parchment. 
 
Step 3: Using a scale, measure out all the ingredients. 
 
Step 4: Place the ground almonds, ground pistachios, and confectioners sugar in a food processor and process until finely ground (about 1 - 2 minutes). Sift the mixture to remove any lumps.
 
  
 
Step 5: In the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add your granulated sugar to whisking egg whites and beat to stiff peaks.  Add green food coloring and pistachio extract and continue whipping under the color is evenly distributed through out the meringue.
 
 
Step 6: Gradually fold egg whites into your dry ingredients, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.  Completely fold in your dry ingredients into your egg whites. The batter will fall back into the bowl in a thick ribbon.
 
 
Step 7: Fill a pastry bag, fitted with 1/2 inch (1 cm) tip (#5 or 805 ATECO tip), with about half the batter. Pipe about 1 - 1 1/2 inch (3 - 4 cm) rounds onto silpat-lined pans.  Leave at least 1 inch between macaroons. As you pipe, hold the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet and flick the tip of the bag as you finish each cookie to minimize the peaks.  Let the macarons sit at room temperature for about 60 minutes or until the tops of the macarons are no longer tacky.
 
  
 
Step 8: While your macarons are sitting at room temperature, preheat oven to 325 degrees F with an oven rack in bottom third of the oven. You may have to do some experimenting with your oven to determine the best temperature for your macarons. Using my convection oven, I found that 315 degrees F was a good temperature.
 
Step 9: Bake the cookies (one sheets at a time) for about 8-10 minutes, rotating the pans front to back, about halfway through baking. The macarons are done when you can just barely separate the cookies from the parchment paper (there will be some browning of the cookies).  
 
Step 10: Remove from oven and let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet placed on a wire rack. 
 
 
Step 11: To make the pistachio French buttercream: Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan to 242 degrees F or a few drops form a soft ball in cold water.
 
Step 12: While syrup is cooking, beat egg yolks until they are fluffy. Pour hot syrup in a thin stream into yolks, beating constantly.
 
Step 13: As the mixture cools, it will become thick and light. Continue to beat for a few minutes and then set aside until entirely cooled. If the syrup has not been cooked sufficiently, no amount of beating will make the mixture thick enough. If the syrup has been cooked too long, it will not beat smoothly into the egg yolks but will form little lumps of sugar.
 
Step 14: Beat in softened butter until thick and creamy. You may have to beat up to 5 to 10 minutes for the buttercream to become creamy. Add ground pistachios and extract.
 
Step 15: To assemble the macarons: Take two cookies and sandwich them together with your filling.  Place filling on flat side of cookie, and leave a narrow, unfilled border when piping the filling onto the cookie bottoms. You want to use just  enough filling that it spreads to the edge when topped but doesn’t squish out much when bitten. Top the filled halves with their partners. Best served at room temperature. Filled macaroons can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
 
 



 

Pitta 'mpigliata

My parents have been making this Italian pastry for Christmas for as long as I can remember.  It's almost unbelievable and I'm embarrassed to say that I have only just recently (in Christmas 2016) made this recipe for the first time.  Luckily, my parents and my aunt and uncle were all available to help me out this year and to impart their wisdom on the proper technique and traditional way our family makes them.

 

In addition to making them the traditional way, this year, we made a couple of 21st century changes to the recipe. First, my uncle suggested that we add a layer of grated milk chocolate on top of the raisin and nut filling.  In my opinion this was an excellent suggestion because the chocolate added a nice depth of flavor to the pastry. I liked it so much that I plan to intensify the chocolate flavor the next time I make them by bumping it up to a semisweet instead of a milk chocolate. The second change we made was in how we traditionally roll, bake, cut, and serve the pittas. There are many ways to roll and assemble the pastry. My parents traditionally roll the pitta 'mpigliata into a log, bake the log, and then cut the log into slices and serve.  For some, we decided to slice the unbaked logs and then bake the slices. For others, we rolled each little pitta individually into rosettes. I think my preference is slicing the unbaked log first, then baking the individual slices, rather than rolling each pitta individually or baking the logs first and then slicing before serving. My only caution with slicing first before baking is that you should make sure that you roll the pittas tightly and seal the ends and bottom of the pitta logs so your slices will stay round and pretty while they bake. Regardless of how you do it, I promise you, they will be delicious.  As we say in Italy, "meglio di nostri!"  

 

Learning to make pita 'impigliata has been on my bucket list for quite some time and now I can happily cross it off. So here is our family recipe for the famous pastry that hails from the small village of San Giovanni in Fiore in the Sila. Also, on your way to San Giovanni in Fiore, you won't want to miss a stay at the fabulous Hotel Grandinetti, nestled in the Sila mountains, and only a few minutes by car away from San Giovanni in Fiore.




 



Ingredients

For the Filling:

  • 2-1/2 pounds walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 pounds raisins
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup amaretto or orange-flavored liquor
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 8 ounces milk chocolate 
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
     

For the Dough: 

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup amaretto or brandy
  • 1-1/2 cups white wine
  • 10 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar

 




 


Instructions


Step 1: Mix walnuts, raisins, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1-1/2 tablespoons cinnamon, amaretto or orange-flavored liquor, honey, and orange zest together in a large bowl and let set overnight.

Step 2: Melt shortening.  Add oil, wine, and brandy or amaretto to the melted shortening.

Step 3: In stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat eggs, then add oil mixture to eggs and beat until incorporated.

Step 4: Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Add dissolved yeast to the egg mixture and beat on low speed.

Step 5: Sift dry ingredients together.  Gradually add dry ingredients to liquid ingredients. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.



Step 6: Divide dough into 9 equal parts. Let dough rest for about 30 minutes.


Step 7: While dough is resting, finely grate chocolate, if using. Set aside. Mix together 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 1 cup of sugar in a bowl. Set aside.

Step 8: To roll out in logs -- roll out each piece of dough and brush lightly with melted butter.

  

Step 9: Spread honey over dough. Sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. 

Step 10: Spread raisin and nut filling over dough. Sprinkle with chocolate (if using). Top with a small amount of honey. Roll as desired.

   

To roll out individually into rosettes:


Step 11: Bake at 325°F for 30 minutes or until light brown. Do not over bake. Slice cooled rolls and serve.



 




 

Pressed Sour Cream Cookies





Ingredients

  •     1 cup butter
  •     1 cup sugar
  •     2 egg yolks
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla
  •     4 cups flour
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •     1 teaspoon nutmeg
  •     1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1/2 cup sour cream





Instructions


Step 1: Cream butter and sugar until creamy. 

Step 2: Add beaten egg yolks and sour cream and vanilla. 

Step 3: Sift dry ingredients. Gradually add to creamed mixture mixing well after each addition.  Fill cookie press. 

Step 4: Press cookie dough on cookie sheet and sprinkle with decorative sugar.

   

Step 5: Bake  at 375 degree until lightly browned.





Raspberry Cassis Macarons

In 2006 and then again in 2013, I visited Paris and each time I fell in love with the French macaron. It is basically two meringue biscuits filled with ganache, buttercream, or jam. The macaron should have a soft, almost meringue texture in the middle with an egg shell-like outer crust. A perfect macaron should have feet that surround the flat side of the cookie. 

I've attempted to make this cookie once and let's just say that while it wasn't a disaster, I would have been embarrassed to serve it to anyone who knew what it was supposed to look and taste like.  Making this cookie is all about technique, and I've been incredibly intimidated to try again without taking a class. 
 
Recently, I took a class from Ann Amernick, a well renowned Pastry chef who lives in the Baltimore area. My mother, three of my friends, and I went to Ann's house one Saturday. The class was really fabulous and I learned a great deal from Ann, and I'm now on a mission to perfect my technique.  Ann taught us the French Meringue Method in which egg whites are whipped to stiff peaks using sugar and then folded into the dry ingredients.  Ann asked me not to share her recipe (you'll have to take her class to learn how she makes her macarons) so I'm posting another recipe which I tried after the class. The recipe below, which is posted all over the internet, belongs to Pierre Herme, the Picasso of pastries.  His uses the Italian Meringue Method which incorporates the same ingredients as the French method except instead of making a regular meringue, sugar and water are boiled together and then poured into soft peak egg whites. Also, the dry ingredients are glued together by an addition of egg whites before the meringue is folded into them.
 
This recipe had a few more steps than the one I learned in class but I think it's worth it.  I was pleased with the results.
 
Makes 72 macarons
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the cookie:

  • 300 grams finely ground blanched almonds (if possible, use Trader Joes sliced dry roasted almonds)
  • 300 grams confectioners sugar
  • 300 grams extra fine granulated sugar
  • 75 mL water
  • 110 grams aged Egg Whites at room temperature (to be mixed into dry ingredients)
  • 110 grams aged Egg Whites at room temperature (place in bowl of mixer) 
  • 4 drops Red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon pure raspberry extract
 

For the raspberry French buttercream:

  • 12 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup raspberry preserved
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons creme de cassis
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the macaron cookie: Separate eggs at least 24 hours before using (or up to five days). The older the eggs the better.  Save yolks to make the French buttercream.
 
Step 2: Line 5 half sheet trays with silpat baking sheets or parchment. 
 
Step 3: Using a scale, measure out all the ingredients. Remember to set aside 110 grams of egg whites for mixing into the dry ingredients and 110 grams of egg whites to place into the bowl of mixer. 
 
 
Step 4: Place the ground almonds and confectioners sugar in a food processor and process until finely ground (about 1 - 2 minutes). Sift the mixture to remove any lumps.
 
      
 
Step 5: Mix 4 drops of red food coloring and 1 teaspoon of raspberry extract into 110 grams of egg whites. Add more or less food coloring until you reach your desired raspberry color. Take the egg whites mixed with the food coloring and raspberry extract and pour into the almond meal and powdered sugar mixture. Allow it to sit.
 
 
Step 6: Take a heavy bottomed pot and pour the granulated fine sugar and water into the pot. Attach a candy thermometer to measure the temperature of the sugar and water as it heats up. Bring the water and sugar solution to 245 degrees F. 
 
 
Step 7: Meanwhile, in the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the remaining 110 grams of egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Start beating your egg whites when your sugar is close to your desired temperature. 
 
Step 8: Once the sugar solution reaches 245 degrees F, slowly pour it over the whisking egg whites.  Continue to whisk and allow meringue to cool.  Meringue should not be hot when you add to almond sugar mixture.  Continue to beat meringue until it cools.
 
 
Step 9: Once meringue has cooled, gradually fold egg whites into almond sugar mixture, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Once the almond mixture is completely folded into the meringue, the batter will fall back into the bowl in a thick ribbon. 
 
     
 
Step 10: Fill a pastry bag, fitted with 1/2 inch (1 cm) tip (#5 or 805 ATECO tip), with about half the batter. Pipe about 1 - 1 1/2 inch (3 - 4 cm) rounds onto silpat-lined pans.  Leave at least 1 inch between macarons. As you pipe, hold the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet and flick the tip of the bag as you finish each cookie to minimize the peaks. Let the macarons sit at room temperature for about 60 minutes or until the tops of the macarons are no longer tacky.
 
 
Step 11: While your macarons are sitting at room temperature, preheat oven to 300 degrees F with an oven rack in bottom third of the oven. You may have to do some experimenting with your oven to determine the best temperature for your macarons - it could be anywhere between 250 to 350 degrees F.
 
Step 12: Bake the cookies (one sheets at a time) for about 10 minutes, rotating the pans front to back, about halfway through baking. The macarons are done when you can just barely separate the cookies from the parchment paper.  
 
Step 13: Remove from oven and let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet placed on a wire rack. 
 
 
Step 14: To make the raspberry French buttercream: Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan to 242 degrees F or a few drops form a soft ball in cold water.
 
Step 15: While syrup is cooking, beat egg yolks until they are fluffy. Pour hot syrup in a thin stream into yolks, beating constantly.
 
Step 16: As the mixture cools, it will become thick and light. Continue to beat for a few minutes and then set aside until entirely cooled. If the syrup has not been cooked sufficiently, no amount of beating will make the mixture thick enough. If the syrup has been cooked too long, it will not beat smoothly into the egg yolks but will form little lumps of sugar.
 
Step 17: Beat in the softened butter until thick and creamy. You may have to beat up to 5 to 10 minutes for the buttercream to become creamy. Add raspberry preserves and cassis.   
 
Step 18: To assemble the macarons: Take two cookies and sandwich them together with your filling.  Place filling on flat side of cookie, and leave a narrow, unfilled border when piping the filling onto the cookie bottoms. You want to use just  enough filling so that it spreads to the edge when topped but doesn’t squish out much when bitten. Top the filled halves with their partners. Best served at room temperature. Filled macaroons can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
 
 
 
Here are pictures from my class making macarons using the French meringue method.
 
   
 
The French meringue method:  First we processed our ground almonds with the confectioners sugar in a food processor (far left picture).  Next we beat our egg whites and granulated sugar to stiff peaks (middle picture) and then we folded our egg whites into our dry ingredients (far right picture).
 
  
 
The picture on the left is our batter before we added the food coloring.  You can see how the batter falls back into thick ribbons.  The far right picture is the macarons piped onto our cookie sheet.  These need to sit for about an hour before baking in the oven.
 
 
The macarons in the top pictures were the raspberry macarons. Pictured above are the rose macarons that we filled that day.  Ann had already made the meringue shells the night before our class.  We filled these macarons with a rose and lychee French buttercream.  These were really delicious and truly tasted like a rose.  The secret is really in the flavorings so Ann gave us a tip on where to buy just about any kind of flavored extracts - check out Silver Cloud Estates at silvercloudestates.com


 

Scalille (Italian Fried Little Latters)





Ingredients

  •     3 eggs
  •     1 tablespoon oil
  •     1 tablespoon sugar
  •     1 to 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (or anise extract)
  •     1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  •     1 teaspoon baking powder
  •     approximately 3 cups all purpose flour
  •     1 to 2 cups honey





Instructions


Step 1: Mix eggs, oil vanilla, lemon peel and sugar. 

Step 2: Make a well with flour. Pour wet ingredients into center and gradually work in.  Add enough flour to make a stiff dough. Let dough rest for 20 minutes.

Step 3: Roll dough, cut and form into ladders. 

Step 4: Deep fry in oil until golden.

Step 5: Dip cookies in honey while still warm.





Strawberry Macarons

 

Makes 72 macarons
 

Ingredients

 

For the cookie:

 
  • 300 grams finely ground blanched almonds 
  • 300 grams powdered sugar
  • 250 grams extra fine granulated sugar
  • 220 grams aged Egg Whites at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure strawberry extract
  • Red food coloring
 
 

For the strawberry French buttercream:

  • 12 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh (or frozen) strawberries, pureed
  • 1 teaspoon pure strawberry extract
 

Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the macaron cookie: Separate eggs at least 24 hours before using (or up to five days). Save yolks for egg yolk buttercream. The older the eggs the better.  
 
Step 2: Line 6 half sheet trays with silpat baking sheets or parchment. 
 
Step 3: Using a scale, measure out all the ingredients. 
 
Step 4: Place the ground almonds and confectioners sugar in a food processor and process until finely ground (about 1 - 2 minutes). Sift the mixture to remove any lumps.
 
Step 5: In the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add your granulated sugar to whisking egg whites and beat to stiff peaks. 
 
Step 6: Gradually fold egg whites into your dry ingredients, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Once your dry ingredients are completely folded into the meringue. The batter will fall back into the bowl in a thick ribbon. Add red food coloring and strawberry extract and gently fold into the batter.
 
Step 7: Fill a pastry bag, fitted with 1/2 inch (1 cm) tip (#5 or 8505 ATECO tip), with about half the batter. Pipe about 1 - 1 1/2 inch (3 - 4 cm) rounds onto silpat-lined pans.  Leave at least 1 inch between macaroons. As you pipe, hold the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet and flick the tip of the bag as you finish each cookie to minimize the peaks. 
Let the macarons sit at room temperature for about 60 minutes or until the tops of the macarons are no longer tacky.
 
Step 8: While your macarons are sitting at room temperature, preheat oven to 300 degrees F with an oven rack in bottom third of the oven. You may have to do some experimenting with your oven to determine the best temperature for your macarons. 
 
Step 9: Bake the cookies (one sheets at a time) for about 10 minutes, rotating the pans front to back, about halfway through baking. The macarons are done when you can just barely separate the cookies from the parchment paper (there will be some browning of the cookies).  
 
Step 10: Remove from oven and let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet placed on a wire rack. 
 
Step 11: To make the strawberry French buttercream: Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan to 242 degrees F or a few drops form a soft ball in cold water.
 
Step 12: While syrup is cooking, beat egg yolks until they are fluffy. Pour hot syrup in a thin stream into yolks, beating constantly.
 
Step 13: As the mixture cools, it will become thick and light. Continue to beat for a few minutes and then set aside until entirely cooled. If the syrup has not been cooked sufficiently, no amount of beating will make the mixture thick enough. If the syrup has been cooked too long, it will not beat smoothly into the egg yolks but will form little lumps of sugar.
 
Step 14: Beat in softened butter until thick and creamy. You may have to beat up to 5 to 10 minutes for the buttercream to become creamy. Add strawberry puree and strawberry extract.
 
Step 15: To assemble the macarons: Take two cookies and sandwich them together with your filling.  Place filling on flat side of cookie, and leave a narrow, unfilled border when piping the filling onto the cookie bottoms. You want to use just  enough filling that it spreads to the edge when topped but doesn’t squish out much when bitten. Top the filled halves with their partners. Best served at room temperature. Filled macaroons can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
 

Struffoli





Ingredients

  •     2-1/2 cups flour
  •     4 large eggs
  •     1 egg yolk
  •     1/4 cup vegetable oil
  •     1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  •     1/8 teaspoon salt
  •     1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  •     2 cups vegetable oil
  •     1-1/2 cups honey





Instructions


Step 1: Combine flour, sugar, lemon peel, and salt together.

Step 2: Place flour mixture on a board and make a well in the center.

Step 3: Add eggs, egg yolk, and oil. Mix and work dough well.

Step 4: Shape dough into very small balls about the size of marbles, and fry in 2 cups of hot oil until golden. Fry only a few at a time. 

Step 5: When balls are done drop them in the honey and remove with a strainer spoon. Pile on a serving dish into a conical mound. Cool.

Step 6: Top with candy sprinkles or powdered sugar or leave plain.





Susie's Raisin-Filled Cookies





Ingredients

For the Filling:

  •     Approximately 36 ounces of raisins
  •     2/3 cup sugar
  •     2/3 cup light brown sugar
  •     5 cups water
  •     1/4 teaspoon salt
  •     2 tablespoons butter
  •     1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  •     1 teaspoon cinnamon
  •     4 tablespoons cornstarch
  •     1/2 cup water


For the Cookie Dough

  •     3-1/2 cups flour
  •     1 cup sugar
  •     1/2 cup Crisco
  •     1/2 cup butter
  •     2 eggs
  •     1/4 cup whole milk
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     3 teaspoons baking powder
  •     1 teaspoon nutmeg
  •     2 teaspoons vanilla





Instructions


Step 1: For the Filling:  Place raisins, both sugars, salt, cinnamon and 5 cups of water in a heavy kettle. Cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Cook for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cornstarch which has been dissolved in a little cold water. Cook a few minutes longer until mixture thickens. Add butter and lemon juice.


Step 2: For the Cookie Dough: Sift together dry ingredients. Work in crisco and butter using a pastry blender as you would for piecrust dough. You could alternatively use a food processor.

Step 3: Beat eggs and then add milk and vanilla to eggs.


Step 4: Make a hole in center of flour mixture. Add egg mixture and mix well. If dough is too soft to roll out, add some flour for right consistency.


Step 5: Roll out dough in a long piece, about 4 inches wide. Place raisin filling on dough. Roll another piece of dough the same size. Place on top of dough with the raisin filling. Use a cookie crimper to cut and seal cookie.


Step 6: Bake for about twenty minutes in a 350 degree oven about 20 minutes until cookies are light brown in color.





Turdilli

Turdilli, a traditional Christmas cookie from San Giovanni in Fiore in Calabria, are sweet deep fried cookies, shaped like gnocchi and drizzled with honey. They are delicious and one of my favorite cookies.




 


Ingredients

  •     1 cup crisco, melted and cooled
  •     1 cup sugar
  •     1 cup canola oil
  •     2 tablespoon vanilla
  •     1 egg
  •     1 egg yolk
  •     2 cups sweet wine (Marsala, sweet sherry, or red vermouth)
  •     8 cups flour
  •     2 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  •     1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •     1 teaspoon ground allspice
  •     About 2 cups honey, warm
  •     About 4 to 6 cups of vegetable or canola oil for deep-frying the cookies



 


Instructions


Step 1: Sift together the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

Step 2: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the first seven ingredients until well blended. 

Step 3: Add dry ingredients on low speed until mixture forms a cohesive mass.  

Step 4: Scrape the dough onto a very lightly floured board. Knead lightly until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball, flatten, and place in a bowl. Dust the top lightly with flour, cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight to allow the dough to relax.

Step 5: Roll into logs and cut one inch pieces.  Roll down on fork or gnocchi board.  The deeper the grooves on the cookies the better as they puff up as they fry and the ridges, unless deep, tend to disappear.

Step 6: Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or deep pan to 350 degrees F. Deep fry until golden brown.  Each batch should include enough cookies to cover the surface of the oil. Any fewer and the oil gets too hot and browns the cookies before they are cooked through. Stir the cookies while they fry so they do not stick together. Remove cookies just as they turn a light milk chocolate color or a little before. Drain on paper towels.

Step 7: While still hot, put the cookies in a large shallow dish and pour the honey over them. Toss the cookies several times as they cool. If the cookies absorb all the honey, add more - they should be fully saturated.  Cookies will keep for about 1 week in an air tight container.