Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Cookies

Thanks to the recipes that I gleaned off the web from numerous sources, chief amongst them the blogs of Dorie Greenspan, and Simply Recipes, I was able to make a wide selection of cookies with a crew of 7 boys and one determined teeny girl -- determined to put chocolate dough in her mouth that is...

Here are the results, a few comments, and the recipes:

World Peace Cookies (the super chocolaty ones)
Baking: From My Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Makes about 36 cookies.

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.

Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek — if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)

Linzer Hearts (Dorie Greenspan)

Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

- makes about 50 cookies -

1 1/2 cups finely ground almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 large egg
2 teaspoons water
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Whisk together the ground nuts, flour, cinnamon, salt and cloves. Using a fork, stir the egg and water together in a small bowl.

2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the egg mixture and beat for 1 minute more. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the dough. Don't work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. If the dough comes together but some dry crumbs remain in the bottom of the bowl, stop the mixer and finish blending the ingredients with a rubber spatula or your hands.

3. Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, put the dough between two large sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap. Using your hands, flatten the dough into a disk, then grab a rolling pin and roll the dough, turning it over frequently and lifting the paper so it doesn't cut into it, until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Leave the dough in the paper, and repeat with the second piece of dough. Transfer the wrapped dough to a baking sheet or cutting board (to keep it flat) and refrigerate or freeze it until it is very firm, about 2 hours in the refrigerator and about 45 minutes in the freezer.

5. Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.

6. Peel off the top sheet of wax paper from one piece of dough and, using a small heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can. If you want to have a peek-a-boo cutout, use the end of a piping tip to cut a very small circle from the centers of half the cookies. Transfer the hearts to the baking sheets, leaving a little space between the cookies. Set the scraps aside—you'll combine them with the scraps from the second disk and roll, cut and bake more cookies.

7. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 11 to 13 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden, dry and just firm to the touch. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to room temperature.

8. Repeat with the second disk of dough. Gather the scraps together, press them into a disk, roll them between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, then cut and bake.

9. To dip the cookies, have a baking sheet lined with wax paper at the ready. When the cookies are cool, melt the chocolate chips in a coffee cup or small bowl. Dip one edge of each cookie into the chocolate, letting the excess chocolate drip back into the cup and running the edge of the cookie against the edge of the cup to clean the dipped side, then place the cookie on the lined baking sheet. When all the cookies are dipped, slide the baking sheet into the refrigerator or freezer to set the chocolate.

Basic sugar cookies that we iced with Nigella Lawson's chocolate icing from her new Christmas book: 1/4 cup cocoa, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 cup boiling water and sprinkles.

yield: Makes about 40 small or 15 large cookies
For a lemony twist, reduce the vanilla extract to 3/4 teaspoon and add 1 1/4 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel.


* 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 large egg
* 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2 cups all purpose flour
* Sprinkles or other sugar decorations (optional)
* Royal Icing (optional)

print a shopping list for this recipe

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and salt and beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and beat in vanilla. Add flour and beat on low speed just to blend. Gather dough into ball; divide in half. Form each half into ball and flatten into disk. Wrap disks separately in plastic and chill until firm, at least 4 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper to 1/8-inch thickness for smaller (2-inch) cookies and 1/4-inch thickness for larger (3- to 4-inch) cookies. Using decorative cookie cutters, cut out cookies and transfer to prepared sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. If cookies become too soft to transfer to baking sheets, place in freezer on waxed paper for 5 minutes before continuing. Gather scraps, roll out dough, and cut more cookies, repeating until all dough is used. If not icing cookies, decorate with sprinkles or other sugar toppings, if desired.

Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are firm on top and golden around edges, about 10 minutes for smaller cookies and up to 14 minutes for larger cookies. Cool completely on rack. Decorate with Icing, then sprinkles or other sugar toppings, if desired. Let stand until icing sets.

Thumbprint Cookies -- I searched the net quite a bit for this one as I know I love these cookies, but finding the perfect recipe took awhile. I prefer using a nut flours -- in this case hazelnut -- rather than ground nuts. This makes an incredibly crumbly and great texture.

Makes 25 cookies


* 1 cup flour
* 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts (1 cup as whole)
* 4 oz butter, at room temperature
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1/3 cup raspberry jam
* 1/3 cup apricot jam


1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy (5 minutes).
3. Whisk together flour and ground hazelnuts and add to the creamed butter. Mix until well combined.
4. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes (it will be easier to shape).
5. Take a teaspoonful of dough in your hand, form a small ball, press in the center with your finger to make a hole (not all the way) and arrange on baking trays 2 inches apart. (Don’t be tempted to make them bigger than a teaspoonful).
6. Bake for 15 minutes, until the edges are slightly colored.
7. Let the cookies cool and fill the holes with your favorite jams.

Mary’s Butterballs -- these were fun, but in fact too buttery. They melted down quite a bit in the oven and are very greasy. Ah well. The ganache filling (a simply blend of bitter sweet chocolate and heavy cream) is always good.

(Adapted from Chocolate and Vanilla by Gale Gand)

You need:

* 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
* 1/2 cup organic blond cane sugar
* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 cup bittersweet ganache
* Vanilla-scented blond cane sugar, for rolling


* In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter until it becomes light (3 to 5 minutes). Mix in the sugar, and when the dough is homogeneous, add the flour. Mix until it forms a ball. Wrap it in plastic and chill for at least 3 hours. This will help to prevent the cookies from flattening out too much when they are baked.
* Preheat your oven at 375 F.
* Take off pieces of dough with your hands, and roll small (3/4 inch) balls of dough between the palms of your hands. Chill them for 30 minutes in the freezer, then place them 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet, to allow for them to spread.
* Bake the balls for 13 to 15 min, or until the cookies are firm but not browned. Remove them from the oven, and let them cool on the cookie sheet.
* Spread the flat face of half of the cooled cookies with the ganache, and top with a second cookie to form a little sandwiched ball.
* Once the chocolate filling is firmer, roll them in the vanilla-flavored sugar, to coat them entirely.


Airelle said...

happy christmas , Madeleine and thank you for your blog. I allways wonder how you have the time write so often! keep up the good work and very best of new years for you and your family!

Madeleine Vedel said...

Happy Christmas to you Airelle! And actually, without the house full of kids, the school schedule, etc., I've more time... but t'is true family and events fill a bit. Today, it's another day of kitchen time. So, camera at the ready, recipes at hand, off I go.

Have a marvelous New Year's!