The holidays are never complete without overindulging and overeating- and this definitely includes sweets and desserts. I enjoy baking several kinds of cookies for the holidays.. it gives me an excuse to try a few recipes that I never seem to get around to during the year without feeling guilty for eating the whole dozen by myself. I sent these off with Andreas for his family to enjoy, and brought some home to my own.
I hope everyone had a happy holidays!
adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours
These flaky cookies can be filled with many combinations of jam, nuts, and chocolate. I chose raspberry jam with semi-sweet chocolate chips, and apricot jam with pecans.
4 oz. cream cheese, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 stick butter, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Let the cream cheese and butter rest at room temperature about 10 minutes, until slightly softened. Put flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Add chunks of cream cheese and butter, and pulse in 1 second pulses, about 6-10 times until the mixture looks sandy. Then turn the processor on and continue to process until the mixture forms large curds. Do not process so long that the dough forms a large ball on the side. Divide the dough in half, shape into a flat disc, and wrap with plastic wrap. Refridgerate for 2 hours or overnight. The dough can also be stored in the freezer for later use.
You could use any flavor of jam and any combination of nuts or chocolate you wish. The recipe adds a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with 2 tablespoons sugar for the fillings, but I did not add this. I also skipped microwaving the jam to make it more spreadable because the jams I used were pretty easy to spread.
Assembling the cookies
Remove one disc from the fridge and if too firm to roll easily, let rest at room temperature for a few minutes. On a lightly floured surface (adding flour to the top of the dough and your rolling pin), roll the dough into a circle about 11-12 inches in diameter. Cut the circle in half, then cut each half into half. Cut each quarter into 3 or 4 pieces, making 12-16 wedges. Spread jam into a thin layer on the wedges using a butter knife. Sprinkle nuts and/or chocolate chips onto the wedges. Then roll up each wedge, starting with the base, to form a crescent. Transfer each cookie to a parchment (or silicon mat) lined baking sheet. Once all the cookies are formed, chill the cookies in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare glaze, using 1 egg plus 1 teaspoon cold water, whisked together. Brush the cookies with the glaze, then sprinkle coarse sugar on top of each cookie.
Bake about 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden.
World Peace Cookies
from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets
These cookies are beyond fantastic for any chocolate-lovers out there. The chocolate flavor is infinitely enhanced by the use of brown sugar and contrasting salt, making this one intensely rich bite that just melts in your mouth and begs to be enjoyed with milk!
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
Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together. (I also like to add a pinch of instant coffee powder at this step.)
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. Mix at low speed, take care that the flour may fly a little. 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.(Note, I’ve found that mixing for a bit longer, about 1-2 minutes when the mixture starts to turn a darker brown as the flour is incorporated, allows the cookie to hold together better as a cookie when it is time to bake.)
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.)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Working with a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about one inch between them.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes — they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.
Dough can be frozen ahead of time, then sliced and baked off, adding a few minutes to the baking time.
(or Mexican Wedding Cookies, or Russian Tea Cookies….)
adapted from The Betty Crocker Cookbook
These cookies are synonymous with Christmas to me. Ever since I was little, one of my favorite aunts would bake up big batches of these nutty buttery cookies for the holidays, and I would always be left at the end of Christmas wishing we had more. This was my first time making them on my own, but it will certainly not be my last.
2 sticks of butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (plus extra for dusting and rolling after the cookies are baked)
1 cup unsalted toasted almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc. (I used pecans), chopped finely (can use the food processor)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Beat sugar until creamy. Add confectioner’s sugar and beat until light and fluffy, an additional minute. Add nuts, salt, vanilla, and beat until well incorporated. Add the flour and beat until just combined, about 30 seconds. Shape dough into 1 inch balls, place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 10-12 minutes until bottoms begin to brown. Let rest on sheet a few minutes until just warm to the touch. Pour about 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar in a shallow bowl and roll warm cookies in the sugar to coat. Let rest until at room temperature, and can roll again in the sugar if a thicker coat is desired.