Slice and Bake Almond Flavored Sugar Cookies

>
It’s day 5 of my week of Christmas cookies. My pants are fitting a bit tighter, but I’m still smiling. I love cookies. 🙂


These cookies are just fun and festive. You can let your imagination run wild as you make these cookies. Red and green swirls, white and green swirls with multi-colored sprinkles, plain white swirls with sprinkles in between… my mind is racing with the possibilities. Keep in mind you could also change the colors up for pretty much any holiday.

Another great thing about these cookies is that you can make a roll, keep it tightly wrapped in the freezer and pull it out if you have unexpected company and need a quick dessert. Another typically store-bought convenience item made from scratch. I love it!


On top of all of that, you can also use a variety of mix-ins. Deb, from Smitten Kitchen, has a list of different mix-ins you can try. I wanted to keep mine simple and festive, so I left out the mix-ins and went for a strong almond flavor.

Slice and Bake Almond Flavored Sugar Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
Food coloring, as desired
Sprinkles, as desired

Directions
In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat butter until light and smooth. Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth. Add the egg yolks, salt, and extracts and mix until combined. Add the flour and mix just until combined, be very careful to not over mix.

To make a 2 color swirl, divide the dough in 2 and color each half as desired. Shape each half of the dough into a ball, wrap in saran wrap and chill for 20-30 minutes. After chilling roll half of the dough, on top of a piece of parchment paper, to 1/8-1/4-inch thick. Roll the other half of the dough the same way. Carefully flip the dough you want on the inside of the swirl on top of the dough you want on the outside of the cookie (option to sprinkle the first layer with sprinkles before placing the second layer). Remove the top sheet of parchment paper. Roll the stacked dough into a log, using the bottom sheet of parchment paper to keep the log even. Once it’s shaped, you can roll the outside of the log in your choice of sprinkles. Wrap the log in saran wrap and place in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight. You can also double wrap it with aluminum foil and freeze it for up to a month.

While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the log from the fridge and use a sharp knife to cut into 1/3-inch cookies. Place the cookies on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes.

Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Dorie Greenspan

Homemade Milano Cookies

>
Day 4 of my week of Christmas cookies and things are starting to get really good.


I would like to petition that instead of putting out sugar cookies and milk for Santa, we put out these homemade Milano cookies and a hot cup of coffee instead. Santa has got to be exhausted with all of the flying around the world and army crawling down chimneys. He’s going to need some replenishment. He’s also probably getting tired of the same old boring cookies. I have a feeling that once you give these cookies a try and dunk them in a really good cup of coffee, you’ll agree.

These cookies are indeed, all that and a bag of chips. Milanos were always a favorite of mine growing up, then I got a bag a few weeks ago and I was kind of disappointed. They didn’t have that same flavor I remember loving so long ago. But this homemade version has restored my love. The cookie by itself tastes almost like a crispy bite of angel food cake: light, airy and sweet. The chocolate is exactly what chocolate ganache should be, rich and decadent – without the waxy after taste. Together, they make the perfect coffee dunking cookie.

The only changes I made to the recipe were to exclude the citrus stuff. I didn’t want my cookie tasting like lemon or my chocolate tasting like orange. So I only used the vanilla extract in the cookie and just left the orange out of the chocolate. I’m glad I did, to me it would have ruined it. But if you’re into the chocolate citrus flavor combo then you can check back with the original recipe and give it a try.


Homemade Milano Cookies

Ingredients Cookies
12 Tbsp butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
2 Tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour

For chocolate ganache filling
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with either a silpat baking sheet or parchment paper*.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter until pale and smooth. Add the powdered sugar, and, starting on low speed, mix in the sugar. With the mixer running on medium speed, gradually add the egg whites and vanilla. Add the flour and mix just until combined. It should look like thick cake batter. Fill a pastry bag, fitted with a 1/4″ round tip, with the dough. Using medium pressure, pipe the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet in 2-inch long sections, 2 inches apart.**

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies just start to turn golden brown. Let cool on the cookie sheet.

To make the chocolate ganache filling, scald the heavy cream (bring to a boil) in a sauce pan. Place the chocolate in a bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. While the ganache is cooling, carefully remove the cookies from the cookie sheet and match up your cookies by similar size and shape.

Using a spoon, spread the chocolate over the smooth (bottom) side of one cookie. Carefully place the matching cookie on top of the chocolate and gently press down. Place bake on cookie sheet and allow to set for about 30 minutes (you can also place them in the freezer for 10 minutes).

Serve with a hot cup of coffee. 🙂

Slightly adapted from Gale Gand, Food Network

*I recommend using a silpat.I used silpat for one batch and parchment for another. The parchment I used wasn’t completely smooth so those cookies turned out really wonky. For the third batch I went back to the silpat. However if you don’t have one, parchment paper will work, just make sure it is completely smooth and level on the cookie sheet. **You don’t want the dough to be too skinny, as this will result in thinner cookies, so go kind of slow as you pipe the 2-inch cookies. Think of a thicker tootsie roll.

And feel free to use any reject cookies as dippers for the left over ganache!

Gingerbread Cookies

>
I am really excited about day 3 of my week of Christmas cookies. First, it’s another traditional Christmas cookie. Possibly even THE Christmas cookie.


Who doesn’t think of Gingerbread men when they think of Christmas cookies? Second, they are just fun. My Gingerbread men especially had a lot of fun during their photo shoot… up until the end….


And in case you’re not into the destruction of Gingerpeople, you can make something more delicate, like mittens.

As for the recipe, I think it hits the nail on the head. Thick, chewy, and spicy.


Gingerbread Cookies

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
12 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
3/4 cup unsulphured molasses
2 Tbsp milk

Directions

To the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and baking soda. Run for about 20 seconds, until well combined, then give a few 3 second pulses. Add the chunks of butter and process for another 20 seconds, until it starts to resemble sand. Turn the processor on and stream in the molasses and milk. Process for 1 minute or until it starts to form a dough ball.

Turn the dough ball out onto a floured surface. Knead a few times with your hands to make sure it all sticks together. Divide the dough into 2 and roll each half between 2 pieces of parchment paper, until 1/4 inch thick. Stack the dough and place in the freezer for 20 minutes or the fridge for at least 2 hours (up to overnight) until the dough is very firm.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the dough from the fridge or freezer and gently loosen the parchment paper on both sides of the dough. Remove the top piece of parchment paper and cut with cookie cutters. Place the cut cookies 1-inch apart on a a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (use the top piece that you removed to be less wasteful!). Bake for 8-10 minutes or until you can barely see a finger print when you gently touch the tops of a cookie. Allow to cool for 2 minutes then move to a wire rack.

Decorate with icing of your choice. Royal icing is a great choice if you want the design to last and harden. Buttercream or cream cheese are great for taste, but don’t stack well. It’s up to you!

Source: Cooks Illustrated, November/December Issue, 1999

Thumbprint Cookies

>
Day two of my week of cookies! Today I bring you a classic Christmas cookie!


I stumbled on this recipe probably 4 years ago and it quickly became a part of my yearly cookie baking tradition. It’s not super fancy, there are no surprising ingredients, it’s not exotic, it’s just classic. And that’s what I like about it.

A soft, chewy cookie with a buttery shortbread flavor and of course, my favorite part, sweet and tangy black raspberry preserves. The saying is true, sometimes less is more!


Classic Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour
Seedless Raspberry or Blackberry Preserves
Powdered sugar for sprinkling, optional Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl cream together the butter and sugar. Add egg yolks and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy, just a few minutes. Add flour and salt, blend at low speed. If the dough is too soft to roll into a ball, chill for 30 minutes.

With floured hands, roll the dough into 1” balls (about 1 tablespoon of dough per cookie). Place cookies 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Press a thumbprint into the top of each cookie. Fill the thumbprint with raspberry preserves. Bake for 15-18 minutes, the cookies will still look pale. Cool on racks and sprinkle with powdered sugar if you like. Makes about 4 dozen.

Adapted from Vintage Victuals