Happy December! Thanks to all who entered the Teacake Bake Shop giveaway. The winner of the cookie sampler, chosen at random, is:
Reader #10, Amy! Congratulations and hope you enjoy!
For everyone else, no need for sadness, as we are entering the prime cookie-baking season of the year. My fab friend Annelies just threw a cookie swap party over the weekend – keep an eye out for some truly tasty cookie recipes popping up on the blogs in the next few days. I have to admit I was a little unoriginal with my entry: I used one of my favorite linzer cookie recipes (making them always puts me in a holiday frame of mind), but I changed up the presentation with some little alphabet cookie cutters.
I’m going to be really nerdy and point out that we were asked to bring a dozen cookies to the party, and the phrase I chose worked out to a baker’s dozen. Sweet, yes? I also inadvertently provided some of the party entertainment by essentially bringing edible anagrams; obviously bloggers will be ardent wordsmiths, and I’ll let you figure out how we got from “Happy Holidays” to “Laos”.
For those of you looking for some more cookie inspiration, there are quite a few new cookie books out for the holidays. Let’s take a look (FYI, my full cookbook roundup will be following soon!)
One Sweet Cookie: Celebrated Chefs Share Favorite Recipes by Tracey Zabar is the sort of fantastic concept I would have loved to do: ask your chef friends to contribute cookie recipes for a virtual cookie swap. This engaging little cookbook serves up the most well-credentialed cookie party ever, with recipes from some of the best known chefs and bakers in the business, including Sarabeth Levine, Lidia Bastianich, Dorie Greenspan, Maida Heatter, Daniel Boulud, and Thomas Keller, to name just a few. This cookbook has a very high readability value, as it’s absorbing just to read what each chef has to say about the recipe they selected: often a funny anecdote, sometimes a little history lesson, other times a baking tip. The cookie selection ranges from the refreshingly basic (although I’m assuming ice-cream sandwiches by Thomas Keller taste anything but basic) to some wonderfully, chefly twists on classics. If you want to bring Jacque Torres’ chocolate chip cookies or Michael Laiskonis’ gingersnaps to your next holiday gathering – this is the cookie book for you.
Cookies at Home with The Culinary Institute of America is the latest in CIA’s line of cookbooks for the home cook. I also have their chocolate book and artisan bread book, and they all boast appealing design and layout. Cookies at Home is a straightforward collection of cookie classics, with all the usual suspects and a few international varieties included. What I really like are the initial chapters on baking methods and decorating techniques. Knaster offers up a wealth of tips and tricks – the little refinements that take your cookies to the professional level, like having your ingredients all at the right temperature, or how to pipe with a parchment paper cone, or how to make uniformly sized cookies. This would be a fantastic book for beginning bakers to give them a solid starting repertoire, and for anyone looking to sharpen their cookie-making skills.
I’m not the most talented cookie decorator, but The Art of the Cookie: Baking Up Inspiration by the Dozen by Shelly Kaldunski might finally get me to pull out my piping bag again. There aren’t a huge number of cookie recipes, but this book is focused more on decorating technique, which Kaldunski details very well. The recipes are divided into two sections: the first takes five basic cookie recipes and shows numerous ways to shape and decorate them in some fun and creative ways. The second section takes some other traditional cookie recipes like biscotti, meringues, and shortbread and updates them with some modern ingredients and presentation. One major thing I love about this book is that it’s beautiful; clean, appealing layout, and nearly every recipe has a full page photo, which gets two thumbs up from me. This is a great book for the holidays, and for anyone who loves giving cookies as gifts and wants to add a little flair to their creations.
Finally, although this isn’t technically a cookie cookbook, I have to mention that I got Momofuku Milk Bar and immediately set about making the infamous Compost Cookies. They are kitchen sink cookies on overdrive; combining chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coffee, graham crackers, potato chips, and mini pretzels pretty much guarantees tastiness. I had to add them to this post though, because in the recipe, it mentions that when you add in the pretzels, if you’re lucky you might end up with an unbroken pretzel in your cookie. Look what happened when I made them!
(I swear I did not manipulate the dough to make this happen). I felt like I’d found the equivalent of a four-leaf clover in baking!
What kind of cookies are you making for the holidays?
- 1 1/4 cups (135 g) slivered almonds
- 2 3/4 cups (334 g) all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon (3 g) ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon (0.5 g) ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon (0.5 g) ground cardamon
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.3 g) baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.5 g) salt
- 1 cup (220 g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup (160 g) redcurrant, raspberry, or other jam for filling
- about 1/4 cup (30g ) confectioners' sugar for dusting
- Using a food processor, finely grind almonds with the flour.
- Combine almond mixture with spices, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
- Combine butter and sugar in bowl of stand mixer and beat on medium speed for several minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add egg and beat until combined. Add almond mixture and beat on low speed until the dough just comes together into a ball.
- Turn out dough onto a clean surface and form into a flat rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours until firm.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Roll dough to about 1/16 inch on lightly floured surface. Cut out shapes with a 2-inch wide cookie cutter. Use a small cookie cutter to make cutouts in half of the cookies, so when you make sandwiches the filling will show through. Arrange cookies on cookie sheets about 1 inch apart.
- Chill cookies on the sheets for about 15 minutes before baking (This will prevent them from spreading).
- Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until cookies turn golden brown and smell like toasting nuts, rotating sheets halfway through. Cool sheets on wire racks.
- Wait until cookies are completely cool before assembling them. Stir the jam to soften it, and spread over half the cookies. Sift the confectioners' sugar over the rest of the cookies and place them on top of the jam covered halves.