Let’s have a Virtual Cookie Exchange!

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For the uninitiated a cookie exchange is a holiday party where everybody brings a large batch of their favorite holiday cookies.  The cookies are all set out on a table and when the gathering is over each guest takes home some of each kind so you end up with a nice assortment of different cookies.

Obviously we can’t reach into our computers and take cookies home (much as we’d like to!) but Dewberry and I thought this would be a great way to share recipes and give people a chance to try some new ones.

Our family favorite, by far, is iced sugar cookies.  No, ours don’t look quite as good as the ones pictured above but they taste great!  Any sugar cookie dough works but we’ve used Alton Brown’s the last few years with good results:

Sugar Cookies

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown

Serves:
  about 3 dozen-2 1/2 inch

Ingredients

  * 3 cups all-purpose flour
  * 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  * 1/4 teaspoon salt
  * 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  * 1 cup sugar
  * 1 egg, beaten
  * 1 tablespoon milk
  * Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough

Directions

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill. Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack. Serve as is or ice as desired. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

Now this is me speaking.  Be sure to use powdered sugar and not flour for rolling out the dough - you’ll end up with heavy, not very sweet cookies otherwise.  And re-roll the scraps until there’s only enough dough left to eat by itself. ;-)

For icing either make your favorite white icing recipe or do what we do which is buy the pre-made stuff in the store.  Divide into several small bowls and tint with food coloring.  You can mix the basic colors to make all kinds of great shades.  Have plenty of sprinkles, colored sugar and small candies on hand for decorating.  Admire and devour.

Another recipe after the fold.

I think any cookie (or other food dish) featuring ground hazel nuts is good.  This is a nice version of jam thumbprint cookies.  It’s from a cookie recipe book sold as a fund raiser for the Botanic Gardens here and edited by a late and dear friend of mine.

Austrian Cookies

Makes 5 dozen

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2/ cup ground hazel nuts
1 cup butter or margarine
2 egg yolks
raspberry and/or apricot jam

Combine all ingredients except jam.  Chill overnight.  Shape into walnut size balls.  Flatten and make indentations in each with tip of finger.  Grease pans, bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Cool completely and fill holes with jam.

What’s your favorite recipe or recipes?  It’s the season of sharing!  (And anyone who brings up health care reform on this thread will be banned!)

Posted by marindenver on 12/12/09 at 09:00 AM • Permalink

Categories: FoodRecipesI Don't Know Much About Art, But I Know What I LikeMessylaneous

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mar—Just FYI, some of the cookies pictured in the post are symbols of an apostate religion, not Christmas ornaments as they might appear at first glance.

God doesn’t like those cookies one bit. No He doesn’t.

Great timing—my sister and I are having our annual cooking-baking-martini-blackout night this very evening. Here’s one of our faves. I believe it’s a variation on a Martha Stewart recipe, which my sister picked up when she and the domestic diva did a stretch in the federal pen together:

Chocolate Espresso Cookies

Ingredients (makes 18)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 teaspoons instant espresso
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon milk
Confectioners’ sugar, for coating

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until well combined; mix in cooled chocolate. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat in milk until just combined. Flatten dough into a disk; wrap in plastic. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Pour confectioners’ sugar (about 1/2 cup) into a medium bowl; working in batches, roll balls in sugar two times, letting them sit in sugar between coatings.

3. Place on prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies have spread and coating is cracked, 12 to 14 minutes; cookies will still be soft to the touch. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

mar—Just FYI, some of the cookies pictured in the post are symbols of an apostate religion

We are equal opportunity cookie exchangers here, Strange.  Now, unless you have some Codpiece Promethean cookie recipes to offer . . .

Damn you both. Now I want to make these cookies, which is the last thing I should do if I want to see 60.

Here’s our family favorite:

Ricotta Cheese Cookies

Makes about 100

For the cookies:
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1 (15 ounce) container of ricotta cheese
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups all-purpose flour

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
milk
sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all of the cookie ingredients well until the dough sticks together into a big ball. It will be sticky. Drop by teaspoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes or until the bottoms turn golden brown. Let cool for 1 minute and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. In a small saucepan slowly stir milk into the powdered sugar until it creates a glaze thin enough to be spread over the cookies. Stir over low heat then spread over cooled cookies. Quickly top with sprinkles.

Me talkin’
- This recipe make a huge batch of cookies.  They freeze well if you don’t want all those at once or you can cut the recipe in half - its very forgiving.

I have flavored the glaze at times with lemon or almond extract as well.  Be prepared for family and visitors to blanch at the thought of ricotta cheese in a cookie, but they quickly get over it.

Where’s the virtual insulin?

Why would anyone object to ricotta cheese in anything? Those cookies sound fantastic! How would they hold up for shipping, etc., with the cheese?

Do we have any ‘Rosters from the Netherlands? I’m trying to find the best recipe for Jan Hagels.

They’re really pretty simple, but they can run from very crunchy (almost like peanut brittle) to something resembling a stale granola bar. I’m partial to the crunchy ones, but there seems to be a secret science to making them turn out that way consistently.

I’m trying to find the best recipe for Jan Hagels.

I Googled several recipes.  Based on the flour/sugar ratios of all of them (1 cup sugar to 2 cups flour) they appear to be intended to have a shortbread cookie consistency (kind of like cooked pie dough).  I think by halving the flour you would get the peanut brittle crunchiness you’re looking for.  Probably have to experiment a little.  But lace cookies, which have that same crunchiness, use about a 1:1:1 flour/sugar/butter ratio.

Thanks, mar. When I was growing up, they were actually available for several years as a commercial box cookie, like Fig Newtons, rather than a seasonal specialty. The commercial brand was crunchy, heavy on the almonds and rather addictive.

When I get motivated this week, I’ll try your formula. I kind of figured “more sugar, less flour” might be the answer, but part of me wondered if the Dutch don’t do something really wild like plunge them into a bucket of ice water right out of the oven, the same way you temper a horse-shoe.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m a simple girl with simple tastes—rum balls and shortbread for me! The latter is actually harder to make than it appears. I’ll dig up the old family recipe (yeah, I know—butter flour sugar, what’s hard about that?) and see if I can post it later.

My mom used to make fruitcake that I liked. Let me repeat that: fruitcake that I liked. The story is that she got the recipe from my dad’s mother, who got it from my dad’s paternal grandfather. He worked as a cook in lumber camps in Canada when he first came over from Scotland (that’s where the shortbread recipe comes from as well), and he used to make this cake if he was working around the holidays. My grandmother really liked it, and she said he never measured, just tossed stuff together by feel. So she had him toss it on wax paper before he put it in the bowl and then she got the exact measurements. Which worked out to be exact, despite his laissez-faire approach.

I assume that when he went into construction as a stonemason, he was a bit more conscientious about actually measuring twice and cutting once. But who knows? On the other hand, I’ve not heard that any of the buildings he worked on have collapsed from shoddy masonry.

Betty, they ship really well.  The end result of these is a fluffy cake-like consistency.

I have flavored the glaze at times with lemon

I could also see substituting lemon juice for the milk for a really tangy lemon glaze.

My sister in law makes great chocolate chip bar cookies.  She just presses the regular chocolate chip cookie dough into a greased baking pan, cooks them a little longer than regular cookies, then cools and cuts them into bars.  These are great if you like your cookies chewier rather than crisp.

I just make the basic sugar cookies for my dh for Christmas as they are pretty much are the only ones he likes.  Since the heart attack I think he may do without this year.  The other thing I do (which I think may be unique to me) is make mint chocolate chip cookies with fresh chocolate mint.  I get a bog standard chocolate chip cookie mix and put the water in a blender with a metric ton of freshly picked chocolate mint (which grows like a weed in my garden since it escaped its concrete enclosed bed).  I use the liquid to make the dough and bake as usual.  The cookies look a little green but it is a great way to get a “green and leafy” into a cookie.

Chocolate Pixies are an essential Christmas Cookie here


Ingredients

  * 1/4 cup butter
  * 4 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
  * 2 cups white sugar
  * 4 egg
  * 2 cups all-purpose flour
  * 2 teaspoons baking powder
  * 1/2 teaspoon salt
  * 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar for decoration

Directions

  1. Melt butter and chocolate together over low heat or in the microwave.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Stir in melted chocolate mixture. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt . Stir dry ingredients into the egg mixture by hand until well blended. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 300 degrees (150 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
  4. Shape rounded teaspoonfuls into balls and roll in confectioners’ sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until firm to touch.

Stopped eating grains of all kinds ten days ago, so no cookies for me (or oatmeal, or pasta, or corn, etc)

On the upside, my chronic abdominal pain and monoarticular arthritis (chronic left ankle pain) are gone.

We need the cookie exchange bumped!  Somehow I didn’t see this thread (very busy busy crazy busy Saturday). 

Everyone has a version of these, but I make them every year for my dad.


Mexican Wedding Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

powdered sugar

Heat over to 325 degrees.  Combine all ingredients except powdered sugar in large mixer bowl.  Beat at low sped, scraping bowl, until well-mixed.

Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls (you can also make crescent moons).  Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 18 minutes or until very lightly browned.  Cool for just five minutes, roll in powdered sugar while still warm.  Roll again after they have completely cooled.

I’m more of a sweetbread and cake person, but here are some anise cookies I have enjoyed in the past:

1/2 t nutmeg
1 3/4 c flour
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 c butter
2 t anise extract
2/3 c sugar
1 egg

Cream butter, sugar, and anise.  Beat in egg.  Combine dry ingredients, then add.  Divide dough into 4 rolls and refrigerate.  Cut in thin slices.  Bake on greased cookie sheet 8-10 min at 400, or until edges brown.

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