Saturday, December 10, 2016

Cookie Infatuation

I fall victim to the December cookie infatuation every year.  It doesn't matter that xmas is not my personal holiday, any month-long celebration of a food group (such as cookies) can certainly not be ignored.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Printable Recipe Packet Here & Recipes listed after the jump below

Linzer Tart Cookies
A dough laced with ground nuts and filled with the jelly of your choice.
Chocolate Clusters, Cinger, Cherry & Pumpkin Seed
These are my attempt at something a little healthier but still decadent.  These are just nuts, seeds, and dried fruit covered in 70% dark chocolate and sprinkled with coarse raw sugar.  

No measured recipe here, just pick an assortment of nuts, seeds and dried fruit, melt some chocolate, mix, spread on a parchment lined pan, sprinkle with raw sugar, cool, and cut.

My favorite combination: Candied ginger (finely chopped) dried cherries, pumpkin seeds, and almonds. Unsweetened shredded coconut and sunflower seeds make excellent and affordable additions.

Brown Butter Rosemary Pecan Meltaways

From Margaret Palca Bakes in Brooklyn
My all time favorite rugelach recipe, from the first bakery I ever worked in!
(Terrible photo by me..;-)

Soft Gingerbread 
From Tartine Bakery in San Francisco
A soft, peppery and not-too-sweet, glazed gingerbread cookie.

Shaved Coconut Macaroons 
from Alice Medrich
Photo by Food 52
By far the best and easiest macaroon EVER.

Chocolate Brownie Cookies
from Claudia Flemming
Rich chocolatey cookie with that wondering shine and crackle of a good brownie.

Click READ MORE below to see the recipes, including:
- Raw cacoa truffles
- Basic shortbread recipe easily adaptable (including the meyer lemon variation I include)
- Basic sugar cookie you can turn into and shape or patter you like.
Last year I added cocoa nibs and chocolate dip to some, and cherry jam thumbprints to others.

There are so many more I love... semolina date cookies for example....but those will have to wait till next year.

What are some of your favorite holiday cookies?

Cookie Recipes
Compiled and Adapted in 2015 by Tagan Engel

Brown butter Rosemary Pecan Melt-aways
Adapted From the Brown Butter Melt-aways in “The Secrets of Baking” by Sherry Yard

2 sticks unsalted butter
1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, plus up to 1 cup for dusting, as needed
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
½ cup finely chopped pecans

1.     A few hours before you wish to bake the cookies, make the brown butter. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the solids separate and brown to a dark golden color, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool at room temperature, and then chill it in the refrigerator until it is solid.
2.     Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the brown butter on medium speed until cream-colored, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Add the 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar and the salt. Cream on medium speed until it is smooth and lump free, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.
3.     On low speed, add the flour. Beat until just incorporated. Do not overbeat. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Remove the dough from the mixer, wrap it in plastic film and chill for at least 30 minutes.
4.     Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
5.     Flour your hands. Pinch off pieces of dough and roll them into 1-inch balls. Place the balls 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
6.     Bake one sheet at a time for 12 to 15 minutes, or until light golden brown around the edges, turning the sheet front to back halfway through the baking. Do not overbake, or your cookies will be too dry and crisp.
7.     As soon as you remove the cookies from the oven, cover them completely with confectioners’ sugar. The best way to do this is to place the powdered sugar in a strainer and tap it over the cookies on the baking sheet. Let the cookies cool completely before removing them from the baking sheets and serving.

Linzer Hearts

Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan



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.
4.     Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.
5.     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.
6.     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.
7.     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.
8.     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.

Storing: The cookies will keep in a covered tin—use wax paper to separate the layers—for about 3 days. They can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Coconut Macaroons
From Alice Medrich
Makes about 22 cookies

4 large egg whites
3 1/2 cups unsweetened dried flaked, not shredded, coconut (also known as coconut chips)
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (available kosher for Passover, or can be omitted)
Slightly rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt

1.     Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2.     Combine all of the ingredients in a large heatproof mixing bowl, preferably stainless steel because the mixture will heat faster than in glass. Set the bowl directly in a wide skillet of barely simmering water (if your bowl bobs in the water, simply pour some out). Stir the mixture with a silicone spatula, scraping the bottom to prevent burning, until the mixture is very hot to the touch and the egg whites have thickened slightly and turned from translucent to opaque, 5 to 7 minutes. Set the batter aside for 30 minutes to let the coconut absorb more of the goop.
3.     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
4.     Using 2 tablespoons of batter, make attractive heaps 2 inches apart on the lined cookie sheets. (You can also make these smaller and bake for less time, in 1-tablespoon heaps.) Bake for about 5 minutes, just until the coconut tips begin to color, rotating the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.
5.     Lower the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cookies are a beautiful cream and gold with deeper brown edges, again rotating the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time. If the coconut tips are browning too fast, lower the heat to 300 degrees. Set the pans or just the liners on racks to cool. Let cool completely before gently peeling the parchment away from each cookie.
6.     The cookies are best on the day they are baked — the exterior is crisp and chewy and the interior soft and moist. Although the crispy edges will soften, the cookies remain delicious stored in an airtight container for 4 to 5 days.
7.     Upgrade 2.1: Chocolate-Topped Coconut Macaroons. Do this for any version of Coconut Macaroons: While the cookies are still hot, top each with a little piece of your favorite milk or dark chocolate. Or drizzle a little melted chocolate over each cookie.
8.     Upgrade 2.2: Coconut Macaroons with Lime Zest and Cinnamon. Stir 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest into the batter before scooping it. Using a fine grater or Microplane zester, grate a little cinnamon stick over the cookies just before serving.

SHORTBREAD (w/ meyer lemon)
Tagan Engel


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling



Mix in grated zest of 2 oranges and 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Mix in grated zest of 2 limes; coat with 1/4 cup cornmeal
Mix in 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots; coat with 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios
Mix in candied meyer lemon zest from 4 lemons (recipe below)
Mix in 1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger; coat with 1/4 cup sesame seeds
Mix in 2 teaspoons dried lavender flowers



1.     With an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and saltuntil smooth. With mixer on low speed, add flour, mixing just until a dough forms. Stir in desired mix-ins.
2.     Divide dough in half; place each half on a piece of floured waxed or parchment paper. With floured hands, gently roll each into a 1 1/2-inch-diameter log. Dividing evenly, sprinkle logs with desired coating if using, rolling log (to help coating adhere) and pressing in gently. Wrap logs tightly in thepaper, and refrigerate until firm, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (To store longer, wrap log and paper tightly with plastic wrap.)
3.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap logs; with a serratedknife, slice dough 3/8 inch thick (if dough crumbles, leave at room temperature 5 to 10 minutes). Arrange slices, about 1 inch apart, on baking sheets.
4.     Bake until lightly golden around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Icebox Shortbread This recipe makes two logs of dough. The logs can be refrigerated for up to four days or frozen for up to three months (thaw before slicing and baking). To make two flavors with one recipe, divide the dough in half in step 1 before adding mix-ins (and use half the amounts given). PREP: 25 MINS TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR 45 MINS YIELD: MAKES 36

Candied Meyer Lemon Peel
4 meyer lemons
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1.     Place sugar and water in a small pot and simmer, stirring occasionally until mixture simmers and all the sugar dissolves.
2.     While sugar is cooking, use a peeler or pairing knife, slice the skin from the lemons cutting off as little of the white pith as possible. Lay each slice of lemon on a cutting board use a thin pairing knife to slice off any white pith attached to the skin.
3.     Slice the lemon peel into desired size. Place in the simmering sugar syrup and simmer on low until peels are translucent. Peel can be removed from the syrup, cooled and then added to cookie batter or other dish. Peel can be stored in the sugar syrup, and lemon sugar syrup can be used to make drinks or other treats.

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

From The Last Course by Claudia Fleming of Gramercy Tavern

1/4 C AP Flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 C sugar
1/2 TB brewed espresso
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
5 oz. best quality 70% extra-bittersweet chocolate
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
3/4 C. mini semisweet chocolate chips or chopped regular sized chips.

1.     Preheat oven to 375. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment.

2.     Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl

3.     In an electric beater bowl fitted with a whisk attachment whip eggs until foamy. Add vanilla, espresso and sugar and beat on high speed until thick for about 15 minutes.

4.     While eggs are beating, melt bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate with the butter in a double boiler, microwave or in a bowl over a pan of water.

5.     Gently fold melted chocolate into thickened egg mixture. Mixture should still be streaky. Fold in flour. Fold in chocolate chips.

6.     Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls (or use a truffle scoop) onto prepared baking sheets leaving an inch or two between cookies. They don't spread too much.

7.     Bake for 8 or 9 minutes until puffed and slightly cracked. Cool on a wire rack before removing them from baking sheet.

From Martha Stewart



1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, plus an extra egg white for "glue"
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 cups flour, plus more for work surface
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup cocoa powder
Food coloring, in various colors



1.     Using the electric mixer, mix the butter and the sugar until creamy. Add the eggs and the salt, and mix well. Beat in milk and vanilla. Add flour a little at a time, mixing it in until all of it has been incorporated.
2.     Divide the dough into balls, one for each color. For chocolate dough, add cocoa (1/4 cup is enough to flavor half a batch). Mix well with electric mixer. For colored dough, start with 1/4 teaspoon food coloring, and mix well. Add more in tiny amounts for darker colors. Gel-paste coloring can be intense, so add it gradually.
3.     Wrap each ball of dough in its own sheet of plastic wrap; pat flat into a rectangle. Refrigerate at least one hour or until ready to use.
4.     Parchment or waxed paper makes a good work surface. Sprinkle generously with flour, then roll out each piece of dough 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick to make the swirls; you can use thicker layers for the bull's-eyes.
5.     The bench scraper is a good tool for trimming dough's edges to make them even. The egg white, brushed on with a pastry brush, will act as a glue, making the layers stick together.
6.     For center: with your hands, roll chocolate dough into a 1/2- to 1 1/2- inch-thick rod; chill 20 minutes. Place rod on edge of rolled-out dough that's been brushed with egg white. Roll rod inside sheet of dough. Cut the dough where it meets up. Seal by pinching and pressing gently. Chill 20 minutes, then repeat to add other layers. To decorate, go to step 7, or jump to step 8 for plain.  For spirals: measure and trim two or more colors of dough to same size. Brush on egg white, then stack layers. Brush top with egg white. Starting at one end, roll up the dough.
7.     Smooth and straighten the layers as you roll them so there are no gaps, then gently pinch and press the edge of the roll to seal it. Now the dough is ready to decorate. If you want plain cookies, skip to step 18.
8.     Add your favorite toppings (try coconut, colored sanding sugar, chopped nuts, or chocolate sprinkles): Spread topping in baking sheet, brush dough with egg white, and roll the log in topping.
9.     Roll each log in parchment or waxed paper; twist the ends of the paper closed. To help the logs keep their round shape, set each in a cardboard paper-towel roll that you have sliced open lengthwise.
10.   To remember what colors you have already used, with crayons, draw the designs onto key tags; tie the tags onto thepaper covering the logs. Chill logs until they are solid, about 1 1/2 hours.
11.   Cut 15 inches of dental floss (or double thickness of thread). Let log soften for about 10 minutes. Remove parchment. Wrap floss around log and pull through. Make the slices thin: 1/4 inch or less.
12.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place slices on an ungreased baking sheet (lined with parchment paper). A grown-up should bake the cookies 12 to 15 minutes, until firm but not browned. Let cool on baking sheet for several minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

Raw Cocoa Walnut Truffles
Delicious, easy and raw, gluten free, and refined sugar free!

1 1/2 cups Medjool dates
2 cups Walnuts
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (raw cocoa or regular cocoa)
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt

Options for coating (pick one or a few):
1/3 cup cocoa for rolling truffles
1/3 cup cinnamon
1/3 cup shredded coconut (raw or toasted)
1/3 cup finely chopped nuts

Some ideas for flavoring:
Cinnamon, clove, ancho chili pepper
Cardamom, orange zest
Peppermint oil
Candied ginger

  1. Remove pits from dates. Put dates in a bowl and cover with warm water for 5 minutes.
  2. Chop nuts in a food processor until fine (coarse if you like). Place in a bowl.
  3. Remove dates from bowl and reserve water. Place dates in the food processor with cocoa, vanilla and a pinch of salt. Pulse until mixture is smooth. Add a spoonful or two of reserved date water if the mixture is too thick to blend. Add walnuts and pulse once or twice to incorporate. Add any flavor options you like.
  4. Using a teaspoon or very small ice cream scoop, portion the mixture into small scoops on a piece of waxed paper. Roll the balls between your hands gently to form a smooth ball. Quickly toss each ball in the cocoa (or other coating). Place truffles in tiny muffin papers if desired. Store in an air tight container. Will keep for 2 weeks at room temperature.

adapted from Margaret Palca Bakes
makes 80 cookies

14 tablespoons butter
8 ounces cream cheese
2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 cup Jam or jelly  of your choice (apricot or raspberry are the classics)
1 1/2 cups walnuts or pecans finely chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

  1. Line 3 baking pans with parchment paper or butter very well. Cream butter and cream cheese till very fluffy, add sugar and flour until well combined. 
  2. Split into 5 rounds*, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour, or overnight. Lightly flour one dough round at a time and Roll out between two sheets of wax paper, about 10 or 12 inches in diameter. 
  3. Mix nuts, cinnamon and sugar together. Blend jam in a food processor or melt and cool it to make it easy to brush onto the soft dough. 
  4. Working with one round at a time, brush with a thin layer of jam, and sprinkle with crushed nuts mixture. Cut round into 16 wedges (like a tiny pizza), roll them up from the outside edge inwards and place on baking sheet. 
  5. Bake at 350 till very golden. I didn't time these, but I think about 18 minutes or so... Must cool completely to come off of parchment paper.

Soft Glazed Gingerbread
From Tartine
Makes 12 to 20 cookies depending on size of cutters


3¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
4 tsp. ground ginger
1½ tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1¼ tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 large egg
½ cup blackstrap or other dark molasses
2 tbsp. light corn syrup

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp. water

To make the dough:
1.     Stir together the flour, cocoa powder, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl.  Set aside. 
2.     Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy.  Slowly add the granulated sugar and mix on medium speed until the mixture is completely smooth and soft.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.  Add the egg and mix well. Add the molasses and corn syrup and beat until incorporated.  Stop the mixer again and scrape down the sides of the bowl. 
3.     Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until a dough forms that pulls away from the sides of the bowl and all the ingredients are well incorporated.  Remove the dough from the bowl,  flatten it on a large piece of plastic wrap into a rectangle about 1 inch thick, cover the dough with the plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
To Shape:
·       Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick liner. Unwrap the dough and place on a floured work surface.  If using a plaque with a design, roll our the dough 1/2-inch thick, lightly dust the op with flour, press your cookie molds over the dough, and then cut out the shapes with a small knife and place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart.  Alternatively, using the mold as a guide, cut around it with a small knife, flip the mold over so the design is facing you, and place the dough over it, pressing it into the design.  Unmold the shapes onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between them.
·       If using a patterned rolling pin, lightly dust the lined baking sheet with flour and transfer the dough to the pan.  Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and roll it into a rectangle about 1/3 inch thick with a plain pin.  Then, using the patterned pin, roll over the dough with enough pressure to ensure a clear impression of the design.  Trim the sides with a small knife.  It is not necessary to cut into smaller sizes before baking.
·       Bake the cookies until lightly golden along the sides but still soft to the touch in the centers, 7 to 15 minutes.  The timing will depend on the size of the individual cookies, or if you have made a single large patterned piece that will be cut after baking.
·       While the cookies are baking, prepare the glaze.  In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and water until smooth.
·       When the cookies are ready, remove from the oven and let cool on the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.  Then, while the cookies are still warm, using even strokes, brush a light coat  of glaze on the top of each cookie, evenly coating it.  Let the cookies cool completely.  When the glaze dries, it should leave a shiny opaque finish.  If you have a used a patterned rolling pin to make a single large plaque, cut into the desired shapes with a small very sharp knife.  The cookies will keep in an airtight container in a cool place for about 2 weeks.

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