Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Cookies

Although I usually love baking, when Christmas comes around, I'm usually a candy maker.  I also do not prefer spice cookies, largely because they are often heavy on the ginger and molasses, ginger which I can take in small doses or in savory foods and molasses which I prefer to avoid.  But Tuesday I decided to make cookies.  I had some plans, all of which required getting extra ingredients, but it was 23 when I got up, so I decided to try to bake with what I had instead.  Which, based on my spice cabinet, is spice cookies.  My favorites were probably the tea cookies.  I used Samurai Chai Mate from Teavana, though the recipe calls for Lady Grey, I decided to use what I had and I thought Chai sounded good and Christmasy.  I could see Jasmine working in spring.  The picture (which admittedly is a little fuzzy) is what I had left today, mostly the Chocolate Box cookies.  All were pretty easy and I managed to bake all of them start to finish except for dipping all of the Chocolate Box cookies in less than 4 hours, plus a good deal of the cleanup.

Chocolate Box Cookies (makes about 50)
1 1/2 c self rising flour
1/4 c cocoa powder
1 tsp apple pie spice (I used a heaping half teaspoon of cinnamon, slightly more than a 1/8 tsp of allspice, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp ginger and a dash of cardamom)
1/4 c unsalted butter at room temperature
generous 1/2 c caster sugar (I used 1/2 c regular and it was fine), oh and generous means plus 2 Tbsp per cup
1 egg
1 egg yolk (in other news, I need to make meringues because I have 9 egg whites in my freezer)
For decorating:
Milk Chocolate
Dark Chocolate
White chocolate
Cocoa powder, almonds, cinnamon, etc

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Put flour, cocoa powder, spice and butter in a food processor (or use your hands).  Process until thorougly blended  Add sugar, egg, egg yolk, and mix into smooth dough.
  3. Turn dough to a lightly floured surface and knead gently.  Cut the dough in half (I actually used fourths because I misread "lightly" as "well" and pushed the flour to the other side of my cutting board and therefore worked on a smaller surface) and roll each piece in the palms of your hands (misread that too) to form two logs 13 inches long.
  4. Cut into 1/2 slices (this may even be too thick if you really want to make these look like chocolate box pieces, which is the goal).  place slices on greased baking sheet.  Chill for at least 30 minutes (oops, I missed this part completely).
  5. Bake for 10 minutes until slightly risen. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
  6. Decorate by melting chocolate and dipping, drizzling and otherwise making pretty as you see fit.  I really don't think you need instructions for this.  Just make them pretty as you want them to look.
Spicy Pepper Cookies (makes about 48)
Quick note: These don't have raw eggs so I tasted the dough and was worried about the amount of pepper I added, but after baking, it became more subtle.  Though I would recommend tasting the dough to make sure none of the flavors are too weak.

1 3/4 c flour
1/2 c cornstarch (oops, I missed this, but I'm sure it's for the texture and I liked the texture they ended up)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 c butter at room temperature
scant (I just unpacked) 1/3 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 c whipping cream
3/4 c finely ground almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Sift together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and spices.
  2. Cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in vanilla and lemon zest.
  3. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the cream (it's hard to alternate when there is only a 1/4 cup, but I added it in 2 additions), starting and ending with the flour mixture.  FYI, I know this is terrible form, but to save myself an extra bowl, I measured the flour, added some at a time and 2-3 of the other ingredients at each addition.  It worked fine, though not perfect.  And I missed the cornstarch.
  4. Stir in the ground almonds.
  5. Shape dough into 3/4 inch balls (I assumed that was radius, based on the picture in the book, and with that assumption, I got 41, which is about right considering I forgot the cornstarch)
  6. Bake on ungreased (my sheet had a little leftover grease from the chocolate box cookies) baking sheet about 1 inch apart.  Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown underneath.
  7. Leave cookies on the sheets for about a minute to firm up before transferring to a metal rack to cool.
Tea Finger Cookies
10 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 c light brown sugar
1-2 Tbsp tea leaves (the book says Lady Grey, but use whatever)
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 c flour
demerara (raw) sugar for sprinkling, though I used turbiando since someone gave it to me, so that's what i had
  1. Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy.  Stir in tea leaves until well combined.  Beat in egg, then carefully fold in flour.
  2. Using your hands, roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a cylinder about 9 inches long
  3. Gently press down on the top of the dough cylinder, wrap in plastic wrap and refridgerate for about an hour until dough is thin enough to slice.
  4. Preheat oven to 375
  5. Using a sharp knife (even better, a floured knife), cut dough cylinder into 1/4 inch slices.  Place parchment paper on 2-3 baking sheets and lay the slices on the baking sheet, slightly apart.
  6. Sprinkle cookies with a little demerara sugar and bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

1 comment:

  1. Oooo. I think I'm going to have to make the pepper cookies!