Archive for Wednesday, December 5, 2001

Holiday baking recipes

December 5, 2001


Pecan Squares Americana

Pastry shell:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon salt

Zest of 1 large lemon

3 cups sifted flour

Pecan topping:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup whipping cream

4 1/2 cups (18 ounces) pecan halves or large pieces

Grease 15 1/2- by 10 1/2-inch jellyroll pan; line with foil, shiny side up. If possible, place pan in freezer while you make pastry shell.

For pastry shell, beat butter until softened in bowl of electric mixer. Add sugar; mix well. Beat in egg, salt and lemon zest. Gradually beat in flour until mixture holds together.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line pan sides and bottom with dough. Prick dough at 1/2-inch intervals with a fork. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Bake until edges are lightly colored and bottom is pale, but dry, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven.

For topping, cook butter and honey, stirring occasionally, in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until butter is melted. Add sugars; stir to dissolve. Heat to boil; boil 2 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat. Immediately stir in cream, followed by pecans. Set aside 5 minutes.

Place pecans over crust using slotted spoon. Drizzle remaining syrup over pecans. Bake until bubbly, about 25 minutes. Cool on wire rack, 15 minutes. Refrigerate 15 minutes.

Cover jellyroll pan with large cookie sheet. Turn pan over; remove pan and foil. Cover with second cookie sheet. Turn over again, leaving the bars right side up. Cool in refrigerator 30 minutes to chill. Cut into bars.

Makes 48 bars.

Pear-Coffee-Walnut Cookies

1 teaspoon instant coffee powder

1 cup water

2 cups cored and finely chopped pears (any variety, but preferably ripe), skin on

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup raisins

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon cloves

3/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts


1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon butter at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons hot coffee

1 cup walnut halves, golden raisins or Craisins for garnish

In a small bowl, dissolve instant coffee in the water. In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine coffee mixture, pears, granulated sugar, 1/2 cup butter, raisins, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg; simmer gently until pears are tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. When pear mixture is at room temperature, add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

In a large bowl, blend flour, baking soda and salt. Add pear mixture and chopped walnuts; mix until just combined. Drop by heaping teaspoons on an ungreased baking sheet and bake about 12 to 14 minutes. Cool on a rack.

To prepare icing: In a medium bowl, blend powdered sugar and butter. Add vanilla extract and coffee and blend until smooth. Drizzle frosting on cookies, and top with garnish as desired.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Hausmacher (Spritz) Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

Pinch salt

4 egg yolks

1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract

2 cups flour

3 ounces semisweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the butter, sugar and salt, just until creamy. Add yolks and extract and mix to combine. Add flour and mix to combine.

Spoon dough into a cookie press and pipe into 2-inch-long logs onto parchment-covered baking sheets. Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until edges and bottoms are golden brown. Remove to a rack and cool.

In a double-boiler, melt chocolate. Dip bottoms of cool cookies into melted chocolate; set aside to cool.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Ginger-Citrus Cookies

5/8 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar

5 ounces (1 1/4 sticks) butter

1 egg

3/8 cup molasses

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup candied citrus zest

Edible gold leaf for decoration

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, blend together granulated sugar, light brown sugar and butter until smooth and fluffy. Beat in egg until incorporated, scraping sides of bowl. Add molasses and mix.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, baking soda, white pepper and salt, then add to butter mixture and mix until combined. Fold in candied citrus.

Using an ice-cream scoop, scoop rounds of dough about 1 1/2 inches in diameter onto ungreased parchment paper. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown. To make into "rings," while still hot, cut center out of cookie with a smaller cutter (such as the cap to a bottle of olive oil). Remove to a rack and cool. If desired, brush with gold leaf.

Makes about 2 dozen (2 1/2-inch) cookies.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Coins

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup unsalted cocktail peanuts, finely chopped

Using a mixer and mixing bowl, beat the butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and mix together until smooth.

In a small bowl, stir the egg with the vanilla and add to the butter mixture, blending well.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture in three stages, blending well after each addition. Add the peanut butter and blend well.

Divide the dough into thirds. Place each piece on a large rectangle of wax paper and roll each into a cylinder about 7 inches long and 1 inch thick.

Place chopped peanuts in a shallow pan. Roll each cookie dough log in peanuts to coat the outside of the log. Wrap the logs in wax paper, wrap again in plastic wrap or place in a resealable bag. Chill at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cut each cylinder into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place slices on the cookie sheet, with 2 inches between cookies. Bake for 10 minutes or until firm. Remove from oven and transfer the cookies to cooling racks.

Makes 48 cookies.

Eggnog Cutout Cookies

2 cups sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

2 eggs

1/3 cup eggnog

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 1/2 cups all-purpose or unbleached flour

1 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons baking powder

Egg yolk paint:

2 egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon water

Liquid food coloring, assorted colors

In a large bowl, combine sugar, butter and eggs; beat until light and fluffy. Stir in eggnog and vanilla.

Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In a medium bowl, combine flour, nutmeg and baking powder.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture; blend well. Cover dough with plastic wrap; refrigerate 30 minutes for easier handling.

When ready to bake cookies, combine egg yolks and water in a small bowl; blend well. Divide mixture into several small cups; tint with food color. If paint thickens, add a few drops of water.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. On a floured surface, roll half of dough at a time to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with assorted 2 1/2- to 3-inch cutters, rerolling dough as necessary. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Using a small paint brush, paint designs on cookies with egg yolk paint.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 11 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets and cool. (Baked cookies may be frozen.)

Makes 72 cookies.

Gingerbread People

1 (18.25-ounce) package spice cake mix

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup molasses

Raisins for eyes, optional

Vanilla icing, optional

In a large bowl, combine cake mix, flour and ginger. Add eggs, oil and molasses. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon to form a smooth dough. Chill 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets.

Roll dough onto a lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with 4-inch gingerbread person cookie cutters. Place on prepared cookie sheets. Press raisins into dough for eyes and buttons, if desired. Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until edges start to brown. Cool 5 minutes or until firm on baking sheet; them remove to racks and cool completely.

Decorate cookies with frosting, if desired.

Makes 24 cookies.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 large egg yolks

1 large whole egg

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, lemon zest, coriander and poppy seeds. Mix well with a wire whisk and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with electric mixer at medium speed until mixture forms a grainy paste. Scrape down sides of bowl, then add yolks, egg and lemon extract. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add the flour mixture and mix at low speed just until combined. Do not overmix.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake 21 to 23 minutes until cookies are slightly brown along edges. Immediately transfer cookies with a spatula to a cool, flat surface.

Makes 24 cookies.

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