Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Cookies!

I always try out new cookie recipes for Christmas and host a cookie swap. This year I was traveling right up until recently so the cookie swap did not take place. I did try out four new recipes for gift giving and to bring to holiday gatherings; A colorful pistachio cranberry cookie, a rich and buttery chocolate espresso that adds a little sparkle with vanilla sugar, a chewy amaretti cookie sandwich with raspberry jam and chocolate ganache filling, and an orange cardamom with orange vanilla icing that melts in your mouth! All are equally decadent in their own way. Make one or all any time during the year!

Cranberry Pistachio 
Source: Gourmet 2006

I found this recipe while searching online for Christmas cookies a few years back. I love the color and they are very easy to make. Leave the dough in the fridge and cut and bake as needed.

1 1/2 cups 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 
1/3 cup dried cranberries

Stir together flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Beat together butter, sugar, and zest in a separate bowl with electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add flour mixture in small batches until dough comes together in clumps. Mix in pistachios and cranberries. Split the dough in half and form two logs (it helps to use plastic wrap). Form the tubes into a square shape and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350, cut 1/4" slices and arrange on parchment covered cookie sheet 1/2" apart. Bake until edges are pale golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from parchment and cool on racks. I doubled the recipe and ended up with about 4 dozen cookies.

Chocolate Espresso Sparklers

This is a Martha Stewart original. I really like the cocoa and espresso combination with pretty vanilla sugar decorating the outside. This is also another easy recipe where you can cut and bake as needed. 

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used Valrhona cocoa powder sold at Whole Foods)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon good-quality instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 pure vanilla extract
Gold course sanding sugar (I used vanilla sugar)

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt, pepper, espresso powder, and cinnamon in large bowl. Set aside. Mix butter and sugar together in a separate bowl until pale and fluffy. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Roll out dough on parchment, and roll into a 2 inch log. Roll log and square off. Chill for at least one hour. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350, remove dough from fridge and let sit for a few minutes to soften. Roll the dough in the vanilla sugar to coat. Next, cut into 1/4" slices and bake for 10 minutes. The cookies are done when there is slight resistance when touched with fingertip.

Chewy Amaretti Sandwich Cookies

I knew that I wanted to make an almond cookie after my recent trip to Switzerland where I had a delicious chewy marzipan cookie with chocolate covered bottom. I performed a quick search, and found that one of my favorite blogs of all time, Smitten Kitchen had exactly what I was looking for! The cookies came out perfect and the recipe is very easy. No flour and I enjoy using a pastry bag when creating these! I decided to use raspberry jam AND chocolate ganache for the sandwiches. Both are equally incredible with the chewy almond.

1 7-ounce tube pure almond paste
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 large egg whites, room temp for at least 30 minutes

Preheat oven to 300. Place parchment paper on cookie sheet. The recipe says to pulse the almond paste and sugar until broken up. Since I do not have a food processor, I used a Pastry Blender which worked fine. Add the egg whites and puree until smooth with the food processor or beat with electric mixer like I did. Next, fill pastry bag with mixture and pipe 3/4" rounds onto the parchment paper with a 3/4" tip or no tip like I did. Be sure to space the cookies 1" apart. Bake for 15-18 minutes (mine took 16 minutes) or until pale golden on the edges. Turn the cookie sheet at halfway point at around 7 minutes. Let cool completely and remove from parchment. To make the ganache, melt 3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate with 1-2 tablespoons cream. 

Orange Cardamom Cookies with Orange Vanilla Glaze

This recipe was adapted from In a world of electronic recipe keeping, I am known to have many recipes decorating my fridge at a given time! This recipe has been on my fridge for quite a while, and I am happy to finally make it! I love cardamom and the combination with orange makes this my favorite of all cookies listed in this post. 

2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 Tablespoons heavy cream

Whisk together flour, zest, cardamom, and salt. Set aside. Beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then beat in yolk and cream. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in three batches just until dough forms. Quarter dough and form each piece into a disc. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap until firm for at least 2-3hrs. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350. Roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper and cut out cookies using a 3" round cookie cutter or a cutter of your choice. When dough starts to soften, chill quickly in freezer and continue making cookies. Bake for 12 minutes or until pale golden on edges. To make orange vanilla glaze, mix 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons milk with 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract and approximately 1/4 teaspoon orange zest. Be sure that cookies are completely cool before drizzling with glaze. 

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

1 comment:

  1. These cookies look fabulous! Can you do royal icing decorations on the orange cardamom cookies? Would love to try as is, and add some fun for the kiddies :)


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