Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Cookies















One of the things I most look forward to every year is making holiday cookies. This year, I went a bit nuts. Among the cookies I worked on were:

Lemon Gingerbread Trees

Raspberry Bars

Chocolate Snowfall Cookies

Mini Tarts with Lemon Curd Filling

Reverse Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lemon Cookie Sandwiches

Sugar Cookies

Thin Mints

And a few other recipes I've been meaning to try.

Yesterday, I got together with my friend and baking-partner-in-crime, the poet Jeanne-Marie Beaumont, and we made four cookies that were new to both of us. All of them were winners. The first one, a Mexican Chocolate Cookie, I'll be blogging about later. It's delicious.

We also made a black and white cookie (pictured above) from the book The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle.


These cookies, cinnamon coffee cookies, had a wonderfully rich coffee flavor. They're like chocolate chip cookies for grown-ups, using chocolate-covered espresso beans in place of chocolate chips. I loved them, and I don't even like to drink coffee.




Finally, these orange cookies from Lidia Bastianich, have been a big hit. They're a refreshingly sunny addition to holiday cookie plates, which tend to be dominated by darker flavors like chocolate or fall spices (nutmeg, ginger, and cloves). The cookie is soft, tender, with a hint of orange flavor but not too sweet. The glaze, a mix of confectioner's sugar and orange, adds a sugary note.

The original version simply covers the cookies with the glaze, but Jeannie and I thought a bit of orange sanding sugar on top was a nice addition, just to let people know what they're getting into before they take a bite.

The recipe follows:

Orange Cookies
Lidia Bastianich of Lidia’s Italy
Makes about 80 cookies
COOKIES
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl, and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions. Add the vanilla, orange juice, lemon juice, and orange zest. Beat to combine.With the mixer off, add the flour mixture and mix just until combined.Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Roll the dough into 4 logs, each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 10 to 12 inches long. Chill or freeze the logs, uncovered, until firm enough to cut without losing their shape.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line three half-sheet pans with parchment paper. Cut the logs into 1/2-inch rounds and place on the prepared pans. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cookies are golden. Cool completely on wire racks.
GLAZE
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice, or as needed
Sift the confectioner's' sugar into a bowl and whisk in the orange juice to make a smooth glaze.
Dip a cookie in the glaze, which should form a thin layer. If necessary, adjust the consistency of the glaze with more juice or confectioners' sugar. Repeat the dipping process, and then let the glazed cookies set on wire racks.

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