Cooking

Lemon Meltaway Cookies

Lemon Meltaway Cookies

These cookies have a great lemon flavor and delicate texture. The cookie is so tender, in part, because there is cornstarch in the dough. I think you and your family and friends will love them as much as I do.

I will admit to adding a little more lemon zest to the dough and frosting, for even more lemon flavor.

They are also easy to make. They are a slice and bake cookie. That means you make the dough, form into a roll, and chill. Now you can just slice and bake when you have the time. I sometimes make a batch and freeze them- so I can make fresh cookies whenever I like.

We made these cookies in class last night. Everybody loved them. Perfect cookie to add to your holiday cookie tray.

 

 

Lemon Meltaways

Dough:
1 ¼ c. flour
¾ c. butter, softened
½ c. cornstarch
1/3 c. powdered sugar
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. grated lemon peel
Frosting:
¾ c. powdered sugar
¼ c. butter, softened
1 t. lemon juice
1 t. grated lemon peel

In large bowl combine all dough ingredients and mix well. Divide dough in half and roll each half into an 8- inch roll. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, 1-2 hours. Slice chilled dough into ¼ inch slices and place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-12 minutes, or until cookies are set, but not brown. Cool completely on a rack. Combine frosting ingredients and beat until light and fluffy. Frost cooled cookies. Makes 4 dozen.

 

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

I never met a shortbread cookie I didn’t like. These are no exception.  With the addition of cocoa, you end up with a cookie that has the traditional delicate texture of shortbread, with the added bonus of a rich chocolate flavor.

They are great just plain, dusted with powdered sugar or, my favorite way, brushed with a little melted bittersweet chocolate. Simple, tasty and a nice treat for the chocolate lovers you love.

I used a heart shaped cookie cutter, but you can cut them out in seasonal shapes, too, like snowflakes or trees.

 

Chocolate Shortbread

1 c. butter, room temperature

3/4 c. sugar

2 c. flour

1/3 c. cocoa

1/4 t. salt

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

Beat together butter and sugar until well blended. Mix together dry ingredients and slowly beat into butter mixture, stirring it in at the end. Roll out dough about 1/4 inch thick and cut out with cookie cutters. Re-roll scraps and cut out the remaining dough. Place on an un-greased baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees until cookies are firm around the edges, about 20 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool.  Melt chocolate and dip cookies in it or use chocolate to hold 2 cookies together. Makes 2-3 dozen, depending on the size.

Alfajores Cookies

Alfajores Cookies

It is the time of year when many of us are baking cookies. I have certain cookies I make every year, but I always look for new recipes, too. I started making alfajores cookies a few years ago- and I really love them.

If you are looking for a new cookie recipe, you might want to try these. Made with cornstarch as a primary ingredient, they are very crispy and light. Sandwiched together with dulce de leche they make a wonderful dessert.

Alfajores cookies are popular in a number of South American countries and in Spain, although the origin is probably from the Middle East.

 

 

Alfajores Cookies

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

2 egg yolks

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. lemon rind, grated

1 1/2 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

Cream butter; add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg and egg yolks, one at a time, beating well. Beat in vanilla and lemon rind. Sift together cornstarch, flour, baking powder and salt. Add to mixture and mix well. Drop batter by small spoonfuls onto well-buttered baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove immediately. Sandwich the cookies together with (dulce de leche) sweet milk dessert. Makes 40 cookies.

Dulce de Leche (Milk Jam)

This is the easiest way to make Dulce de Leche…the taste is pretty authentic and the work is almost completely eliminated!

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Place the can inside the pot on top of a wire rack. I use a round rack used for cooling cakes. If you don’t have a rack place a towel on the bottom of the pot. Add water to completely cover can, plus 1-2 more inches. Simmer for 4 hours, making sure the can is always completely covered with water…if not…there is an explosion!! Leave the can to cool several hours and only then open it and serve. Serve the golden-brown confection over flan, as a filling for crepes, cakes or just plain. For breakfast you can spread it on croissants, rolls or toast.

Russian Teacake Cookies

Russian Teacakes

I had a conversation with a childhood friend recently about these cookies. She remembered that my Mom used to make them, and she wondered if I still did. I still do make them. Wouldn’t seem like Christmas without them. Many of my favorite Christmas memories are about making cookies with my Mom.

I was about 7 or 8 years old when my mother showed me how to make Russian Teacakes. She sat me down at the kitchen table with the chilled dough. She showed me how to roll them into 1-inch balls. I sat there rolling one after the other while we listened to Christmas music.

Russian Teacakes, also known as Mexican Wedding Cakes, are a delicate, nut filled shortbread cookie coated in powdered sugar. The magic is created when the cookies, hot from the oven, are rolled in powdered sugar. Once cooled they are dusted with more powdered sugar. Whether you call them Russian Teacakes, Mexican Wedding Cakes, or as another friend always refers to them, butter balls, these cookies are a must for my holiday cookie baking.

 

Russian Teacakes

1 c. butter
½ c. powdered sugar, plus extra for coating
1 t. vanilla
2 ¼ c. flour
¼ t. salt
¾ c. finely chopped nuts, nearly ground

Mix butter, ½ cup sugar and vanilla well. Stir flour and salt together and then add to butter mixture. Mix well and stir in nuts. Wrap dough and chill. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cookies should be lightly browned on the bottom. While still warm, roll cookies in powdered sugar. Dust again with sugar once cooled. Makes about 4 dozen.

Polish Butter Cookies

Polish Butter Cookies

Don’t let their simple appearance fool you. The flavor and texture of these cookies is really special. They have a secret ingredient that you probably haven’t used in cookies before. The ingredient is eggs.

 

I know, you use eggs in cookies all the time. But you probably haven’t used COOKED eggs in cookies. More specifically, hard cooked egg yolks. Cooked yolks are pressed through a fine sieve and added to the dough. The end result is a cookie with an amazing delicate texture and rich flavor. If you don’t want to have a bunch of cooked egg whites to use up, you can do what I do. I separate the whites and yolks of raw eggs. I always have recipes that call for egg whites, so they don’t go to waste. Then I simmer water in a small saucepan. I gently add the egg yolks, and poach them until they are cooked through. Drain well, pat dry and cool before using them in the cookie dough.

 

Polish Butter Cookies

 

Dough:

1 c. butter

3/4 c. sugar

5 hard-cooked egg yolks, pressed through a fine sieve

1 t. vanilla

2 1/4 c. flour

1 t. salt

Glaze:

1 egg white

1 t. water

1/3 c. sugar

1/2-1 t. cinnamon

 

Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt. Wrap dough and chill for at least an hour. Roll out 1/4 of the dough at a time into scant 1/4 -inch thickness. Use extra flour sparingly and use a marble rolling pin or one with a cloth sleeve.  I also keep extra dough chilled until ready to roll. Cut out with cookie cutters and place on greased baking sheet. Mix egg white with water and brush on cookies. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on cookies. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 10-12 minutes. Cookies will be golden. Makes around 5 dozen, depending on the size of the cutters.

 

Holiday Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookie Trees

These cut-out cookies are a classic, and always part of my holiday cookie baking. I will confess to having an enormous assortment of cookie cutters, so there is almost no end to the shapes I might use.  This time of year I am making trees, stars, snowmen and more.

These cookies are crisp and sturdy enough to stand up to frosting, without being too hard. They also hold their shape well when baking.

I use royal icing to frost them, and an assortment of sprinkles and other candies. Royal icing is made with egg whites or  powdered egg whites. The advantage over a butter cream, is that royal icing hardens, making the cookies easy to pack and stack. You don’t need much- just a thin layer. Tinting the frosting different colors is a big part of the fun. Depending on how much time you have, you can get really creative with decorating.

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies

1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
3 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
3 T. milk
Extra sugar for sprinkling, if desired
Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients and add to butter mixture. Beat in milk. Heat oven to 375-degrees. Roll dough on lightly floured surface to about 1/3- inch thickness. Cut out with lightly floured cutters and sprinkle with sugar or colored sugar if you like and if you are not going to frost them. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 10-12 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 3 minutes before placing on wire rack to cool completely. Frost when cooled. Makes about 4 dozen.
Decorating your cookies:
You can use a buttercream frosting, if you like,  however the topping I prefer is royal icing. Because royal icing contains egg whites it gets hard. Cookies have a smooth appearance and can be stacked. When making royal icing, use pasteurized egg whites or powdered egg whites. Raw egg whites pose a risk of salmonella.
You can also use colored sugar and sprinkles and mini chocolate chips for eyes.

Royal Icing
1 lb. powdered sugar
½ t. cream of tartar
5¼ t. egg white powder
6 T. water
½ t. vanilla, optional
Assorted food coloring
In large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients and mix well. Add water and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Divide into small bowls and tint each batch as needed. Keep bowl covered with a damp towel while waiting to use so frosting will not dry out.

Old Fashioned Spritz Cookies

Spritz Cookies

Some cookies are really about the memories for me. I remember making pressed cookies when I was a kid. I loved using the machine to press out dough in all sorts of magical shapes.

My mother was so kind- she let me make whatever I wanted. One Christmas, we had a whole plateful of camels.

The machine we had required turning a handle- watching carefully, and turning the handle backwards to stop the flow of the dough. There are much easier versions of cookie presses today. Mine has a ratchet which pushes out the right amount of dough with one click. I decided to make some little green trees and red flowers this year. These cookies are light and very crisp. Great for having with coffee. They are also fast to make, once you get used to the cookie press.

The fun thing about using a cookie press is that you can crank out a high volume of pretty cookies in no time flat. They taste good, too. I used vanilla extract in the little trees. In the flowers, I added some sweet cherry flavor, which paired well with the vanilla.

 

Spritz Cookies

1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 T. vanilla*
½ t. salt
2½ c. flour
In mixing bowl beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg. Stir in vanilla and salt. Tint dough, is desired. Add flour and stir until smooth. Using a cookie press with desired shape press cookies on to ungreased baking sheet. Leave about 1-inch between cookies. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for about 10 minutes- cookies should be a light golden color around the edges. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about 3 dozen.

 * You can play around with other flavors. I often add mint extract or a fruit flavor to these cookies.

Soft Butter Cookies

Soft Butter Cookies

If you are looking for a truly tender cookie, this may be it. These cookies are so delicate, they just melt in your mouth!! The secret ingredient might surprise you. It is oil. Yes, I know I said butter cookies – they also contain butter. But the combination of oil and butter makes them soft and delicate, even days after baking.

They also contain both granulated and powdered sugar. Not your typical cookie recipe, for sure.   This just may be my “go to” butter cookie recipe from now on.

I found a sheet of paper with the ingredients written on it. No directions, just ingredients listed and a notation about cooking time and oven temperature. I wish I knew where I got the recipe. I would certainly give the source credit. I did increase the amount of vanilla a little. You don’t have to chill the dough and they roll very easily, without sticking to your fingers. You could chill the dough, but let it warm up a little before rolling. The dough can also be made ahead and frozen- I tested it.

I dipped the tops of the raw cookies in sprinkles, but you could leave them plain and then roll in powder sugar, once baked and cooled, or drizzle with melted chocolate.

 

Soft Butter Cookies

1 c. butter

1 c. oil, I used avocado oil

1 c. sugar

1 c. powdered sugar

2 eggs

1 T. vanilla

1 t. baking soda

1 t. cream of tartar

½ t. salt

4 ½ c. flour

 

In mixing bowl, beat together butter, oil, sugars and vanilla. Once well blended, beat in eggs. Stir in the baking soda, cream of tartar and salt, then add the flour, mixing until well combined. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into one inch balls and press tops of cookies in sprinkles or colored sugar, if desired. Place one inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 12 minutes, or until light golden on bottom. Leave cookies on baking sheets 3 minutes before placing on cooling rack. Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Vanilla Shortbread with Coffee/Cinnamon Filling

Vanilla Shortbread Cookies with Coffee/Cinnamon Filling

Certain cookies bring back special memories for me. More so around the holidays. Most memories are of making cookies with my mom. This cookie though, is one I used to make with my friend, Kim. She really loved coffee and the coffee-cinnamon filling made these one of her favorites. The cookies are tender, and not too sweet. The filling, which sandwiches them together, is what makes them special. It is a buttery mix of cinnamon and coffee flavors. They pair so well together.

 

Use a cookie press to make any shape you like for these cookies. Once baked, two halves are put together in little sandwich cookies. These are a big hit, whenever I make them.

 

Vanilla Shortbread with Coffee/Cinnamon Filling

1 c. butter
½ c. powdered sugar
½ t. vanilla
2 c. flour
¼ t. baking powder

Heat oven to 375-degrees. Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla. Blend in flour and baking powder. Using flower design of cookie press to make 1- inch cookies on ungreased baking sheet. Bake about 7 minutes, or until very lightly browned. Cool and then put two cookies together with coffee filling.
Note: You can make these cookies in almost any cookie press design that is symmetrical. I have made strips, trees and stars among others. Makes about 2 dozen double cookies.

Coffee/Cinnamon Filling

2/3 c. powdered sugar
2 T. butter, softened
1 t. instant coffee dissolved in 1 t. boiling water
1 t. cinnamon
Beat all ingredients together until smooth. Add a few drops of water if too dry.

Date Cookies

Date Pinwheel Cookies

Since it that time of year, I thought I would start sharing some of my favorite cookie recipes.

I love the  sweetness of dates, and really enjoy using that natural sweetness in baking. I always seem to make several dishes with dates around the holidays.  These date filled cookies are one of my favorites. Moist and cake-like, with the wonderful flavor of the dates, nuts and citrus zest, these cookies taste even better than they look. The cookie dough, made with brown sugar, has an almost caramel-like flavor. The combination is a winner for sure.

Date Pinwheel Cookies

Date Filling

12 oz. pitted dates, chopped
1/3 c. brown sugar
¼ c. water
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
½ c. finely chopped nuts
Combine dates with all ingredients (except the nuts) in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in nuts.  Cool.

Dough
½ c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1¾ c. flour
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
In bowl combine butter and sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Combine dry ingredients and stir into butter mixture. Divide dough in half. Roll or pat one half of the dough into a rectangle about 7×11- inches in size. Spread with half of the cooled date filling. Starting at long end, roll dough up . Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Wrap rolls in wax paper or plastic wrap and chill in fridge several hours. This dough/roll is pretty soft. I sometimes put the rolls in the freezer for an hour or two before baking to make them easier to slice.
To make the cookies: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice the rolls into ¼ -inch slices and place an inch apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake about 12 minutes- or until cookies are a light golden color. Cool on wire rack. Makes about 5 dozen.

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