Happy New Year and best wishes to you all! 2008 was certainly an exciting year for me and I am looking forward to what 2009 will bring. (Already my to-do list is growing long and ambitious).
Last night was low-key and cozily mellow; perhaps appropriately, the city was blanketed in a soft grey shroud of fog, so the fireworks could be heard but barely seen. It felt like the mists of memory were already drawing close over the ending of the year; in the brightness of morning, the fog melted away over a city that seemed, if not totally shiny and new, dreamily fresh and serene under a soft sun.
We toasted with Prosecco and nibbled on crisp sugar cookies as clock struck midnight. Prosecco is a dry, sparkling Italian white wine – a terrific alternative to champagne and an excellent base for mixing up some cocktails. Combined with a little pomegranate juice and rosewater, we had a rosy way to toast in the new year. Actually, it's so tasty you might try to find any excuse to make it again. I also baked off some chocolate sugar cookie dough – a very handy thing to have on hand as you'll never let a sweet tooth catch you unprepared!
My 2009 is kicking off with a little adventure – I'll be leaving for Hong Kong next week, so I'll hope to come back with fresh inspiration from all the sweets to be found there and some new recipes for you!
Pomegranate Prosecco Cocktail
about 4 to 6 glasses
1-750 ml bottle Prosecco, chilled
1 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 teaspoon rosewater
Pour Prosecco into champagne flutes. Combine the pomegrante juice and rosewater in a pitcher, and divide evenly among the flutes.
Chocolate Sugar Cookies
About 3 dozen cookies
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg at room temperature, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
2. In stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for several minutes until light and fluffy.
3. Scrape the bowl sides and bottom well. While mixer is running on low speed, gradually add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
4. Add the flour mixture gradually while mixer is running on low speed. Mix until the flour is fully incorporated and the dough is smooth and uniform.
5. Divide dough into 2 pieces and flatten into 1/2 inch thick discs.
6. Wrap up dough and refrigerate for 2 hours. At this point the dough can be double wrapped and frozen for up to 2 weeks. To defrost dough, place in refrigerator overnight.
7. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 325°F. Grease several cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper.
8. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and dust with more flour. Gently roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness.
9. Using a cookie cutter, cut out cookies and place on sheets about an inch apart.
10. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden brown. Transfer cookies to wire racks with a metal spatula to cool completely.
11. Once cookies are cooled, decorate them with icing and colored sugars.