Friday, May 17, 2013

Summer Flavors in a Cookie

These cookies have a lot going on in each bite. There's lemon zest, candied ginger, chopped mint, not to mention butter and sugar inside. On the outside, a light coating of crunchy turbinado and vanilla sugar mixed.

If your taste buds aren't as inclined to the sweet side of things as mine are, you could omit the sugar on top, though I would miss the satisfying crunch it provides.

The recipe itself was submitted by reader Debra Satterthwaite of Carmel, Indiana to Everyday Food, and is a great way to use up that runaway mint growing in your garden. (I've just planted my first herb garden and am learning how quickly and copiously mint spreads!)

It's also very, very simple to put together, and the perfect mix of flavors for a summertime tea.

Lemon Ginger Cookies with Mint
(adapted from Everyday Food)

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves (about 20 large), finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger (about 1 ounce)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg yolk, room temperature
1/4 cup coarse sugar, for rolling (can be a mix of half coarse, half vanilla sugar)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, mint, ginger, lemon zest, and baking soda. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, granulated and brown sugars, vanilla, and egg yolk on medium until fluffy, about 8 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat just until combined.
2. Place coarse sugar in a small bowl. Roll rounded teaspoons of dough into balls and gently roll in sugar to coat. Place, 2 inches apart, on two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets. Bake until edges are slightly brown, 14 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.

Yield:  36 cookies

Friday, May 10, 2013

Cookies and Wine


I've been eyeing this recipe for Mexican wine cookies for a while.  Cookies with port wine in the dough?  How bad could those be?

The dough is fairly simple, as with most cookie doughs. It's a bit sticky, so it needs to be refrigerated before rolling it out, but I've worked with worse. And the flavor of the raw cookie dough is wonderfully rich with the crunch of ground almonds, spiky hints of cinnamon, and the delicious port wine. It reminded me of the Jewish Passover dessert charoset.

Baked, the cookies mellowed out in flavor. They were like a pleasant shortbread, but they were missing something, so I sprinkled on some colored sanding sugar. I went for purple, to suggest the port wine. The sanding sugar gave them a nice crunch.

I'd make these again as part of a cookie tray, or as a novelty item for a wine-themed party, but the recipe didn't quite live up to their name, or their dough.

Mexican Wine Cookies
(adapted from Joyce White)

3 1/2 cups all-purpose four
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 large egg
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds, blanched or with skins
4 to 6 tbsp sweet sherry or port

1.  Whisk together flour and salt and set aside.  In a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and cinnamon until light and fluffy.  Stir in the egg and beat again until well blended, then add the almonds and mix well again.
2.  Stir in half the dry ingredients and mix well.  Then add the port and the rest of the dry ingredients.  Continue mixing and then form dough into a disc, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
3.  Preheat the oven to 350 and line two cookie sheets with parchment. Divide the dough into four quarters and leave three in the fridge. On a floured work surface, roll out dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cur the dough in circles and place an inch apart on the cookie sheets.
4.  Bake one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes, or until lightly tinged with brown. When done, remove sheet and let cool for a few minutes, then remove cookies onto another rack to finish cooking.

Yield:  about four dozen cookies