When I saw the post on Is My Blog Burning about the Sugar High Friday cookie swap, I was…well…giddy. I loved the thought of being able to make two of my favorite cookie recipes before Christmas and for no good reason, save for taking their photos and eating them!
When I was little, baking cookies during the holidays was something I so looked forward to doing with my mom. In these parts (umm..that would be my parents zip code), my mom’s cooking is the stuff of legend – and her cookies were no exception. Scoring a tin of them at the holidays made those people who just didn’t make the cut green with envy.
There were the same treats every year: lemon bars, raspberry thumbprint cookies, old faithful chocolate chip. However, the one cookie that made everyone swoon was The Snowball. They were always at the bottom of the tin so as not to get their powdered sugar all over the other cookies…so they always got eaten last. When people bit into them, not expecting the chocolate in the middle, they grinned a crumby, sugar covered grin.
– 1 cup soft butter
– 1 tsp. vanilla
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 2 cups sifted flour
– 1 cup finely chopped nuts
– 1 5 3/4 ounce package of chocolate kisses
– Powdered Sugar
Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add sifted flour and nuts, blend well.
Chill dough about 1/2 hour.
Remove foil from kisses and shape dough around kisses, using scant tablespoon of dough for each. Roll to form a ball.
Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 12 minutes until set but not brown
While still warm roll in powdered sugar. Cool and store in a tightly covered container.
Roll in sugar again before serving if desired.
While my first recipe is a trip in the way back machine for me, the second one is a recipe that I just recently started making and simply adore: Five Spice Shortbread Cookies. As a general rule, I like sweets that aren’t too sweet. I prefer simple, pure flavors over desserts covered in bells and whistles (previous cookie recipe excluded, of course :) These cookies remind me of a dressed up version of Girl Scout Shortbread Cookies, which I always preferred to the ThinMint. Thank you to Ming Tsai for the recipe.
Butter Shortbread Cookie Dough
Makes 4 logs 10 inches long by 1 1/4 inches in diameter
Lasts 2 weeks, frozen
· 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
· 1 1/3 cups sugar
· 2 teaspoons kosher salt
· 3 egg yolks
· 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
· Interior scrapings of 1/2 split vanilla bean, preferably Tahitian
· 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the butter, sugar, and salt and cream on medium speed until blended, about 2 minutes. One by one, add the egg yolks, mixing until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and the scrapings of the vanilla bean. Scrape down the bowl.
2. Turn the mixer off and add the flour. Turn the machine to low and mix until the flour is completely incorporated. Remove the dough from the bowl. Working on parchment or wax paper, form the dough into 4 logs 10 inches long and 1 1/4 inches in diameter, wrap, and chill
Five Spice Shortbread Cookies
Makes 20 cookies
· 2 teaspoons ground ginger
· 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
· 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
· 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
· 1/2 teaspoon ground star anise (see Ming’s Tip, left)
· 1/4 cup turbinado or other granulated sugar
· 1 chilled log of Butter Shortbread Cookie Dough
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a small bowl, combine the ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, star anise, and sugar.
2. Cut the chilled log into twenty 12-inch rounds. Dip one cut surface of each round into the spice mixture and arrange the rounds 2 inches apart on all sides on a parchment-lined or nonstick cookie sheet or sheets.
3. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the cookies with a spatula and cool on a wire rack.