Holiday

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.

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.

 

Craft Show In Tremont

Wine Jelly

Tomorrow, Saturday, December 9th, I will be participating in a truly wonderful craft show. This is the last show I am doing this season, so your last chance to buy my stuff. I will be selling an assortment of jams and jellies. Wine jelly, pineapple vanilla preserves, beet relish and pomegranate jelly. Limited quantities are available.

I will also have my salt free seasoning blends, beer bread mix, bean soup mixes, and books.

The show is a fundraiser for Women Speak Out for Peace and Justice. 20% of every purchase will benefit the group. The selection of vendors is truly like no other show around. A great place to find that unique gift for someone special and support a great cause at the same time.

It is held at Pilgrim Church in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood.

Pilgrim Congregational Church is a historic congregation of the United Church of Christ in Cleveland. Constructed in the 1890s for a congregation founded in the 1850s, it was named a historic site in the 1970s.
Address: 2592 W 14th St, Cleveland, OH 44113
Show time: 10am-4 pm.

 

It is always a great event. I hope you can join us.

 

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.

Cinnamon Ornaments

Cinnamon Ornaments

If you want a simple gift/craft for the holidays, it does not get much easier than cinnamon ornaments. All you need are cinnamon, applesauce, a rolling pin and cookie cutters. There is no cooking involved, or special equipment.

You combine the cinnamon and applesauce to make a sort of dough. You roll out the dough and cut it into shapes. Then, you just need to let the ornaments dry and harden. Allow a few days for drying. If you put them in a dehydrator, they are dry in a few hours.  The house smells really good while they are drying.  Even after they are dried, they continue to have that wonderful cinnamon fragrance. They can be used as ornaments on a tree or simply hung to freshen a room. This is a fun gift for kids to make, too.  Here are the directions.

 

 

Ornament assortment

Ornament assortment

 

Cinnamon Ornaments

These are for decorating, not for eating!

3/4 c. applesauce
1 bottle (4.12 oz.) cinnamon

Mix applesauce and cinnamon and knead to form a stiff dough. Roll out to 1/4-inch thickness and cut out with cookie cutters. Make hole in top of ornament with skewer or straw and carefully transfer to rack to dry. Let dry a couple of days, turning occasionally. Hang dried ornaments with decorative thread or ribbon. Makes about 12-15.

Two Trees and a Roll of Duct Tape

I have some really fun childhood holiday memories. Perhaps the most fun was getting our own Christmas tree. What really made the trip fun was going with Uncle Frank.

Uncle Frank was my dad’s baby brother. He was always so much fun. He had a great sense of humor, too.

The one thing Uncle Frank never seemed to have- at least at tree cutting time- was a car with a working heater. I am not sure if he and my dad thought it was more of an adventure that way. I mean, we could have gone in my family’s car- but we never did.

One year in particular, will always stand out for me. There were 7 of us in a Volkswagen beetle. Two adults, my Dad and Uncle Frank, three of my cousins, my brother and me.  Of course, no heater in the car. It was also a very snowy December, so the car was cold.

We were all bundled up as we headed out to get a couple of Christmas trees. There is a small space behind the back seat in an old Beetle. That is where my cousin Laurie and I sat. My brother and two cousins shared the back seat. Dad and Uncle Frank sat in front.

When we got to the tree farm, the dads pretty much left us kids on our own. There was a lot of snow on the ground and I remember sliding down a snowy hill, over and over. When we were called back to the car- we were all pretty cold- and our boots were full of snow.

I don’t want you to think that my Dad and Uncle Frank were not good parents or reckless. They were the best- and so much fun. They insisted we all take off out wet boots when we got in the car. Everyone tossed them in the area in back were Laurie and I had been sitting. We joined the others in the back seat. My cousin Gary sat on my Dad’s lap. Well, that was after my Dad and Uncle Frank got in the car.

See, there was this problem with the trees. For some reason they didn’t have enough rope- or any rope. I don’t really remember that part.

I just know, that at some point, with the kids shivering in the car- we were now wet and had removed our boots- My Uncle Frank and my father started taping two pine trees to a VW Bug. I remember them passing the tape over and under the car, making sure the trees were not going anywhere.

I feel the need to point out, that the rounded top of the beetle was not an easy place to secure a tree- or two. So the trees ended up more on the sides of the car, taped securely into place. I learned at a very early age, the value of duct tape. The guys had to come in through open windows, since the trees were pretty much blocking the doors.

When my Uncle started up the car- the windows were all frosted up. The heater did not work, so no defroster for the windows. He used his thumbnail to scratch off an area of ice about the size of a silver dollar. He closed one eye, put the open eye up to the little circle he had cleared on the windshield and declared – it was fine- he could see just fine.

We all laughed. He was laughing, so was my Dad. We took our cues from the adults and joined in the merriment. It was a cold, but laughter- filled ride home. When we got back, my uncle crawled out the window and un-taped the trees so we could all get out of the car.

My Mom and Aunt quickly got us into dry clothes and I am guessing they were not as amused by our condition as we were. The point is, no one got hurt and it probably toughened us up a little.

I am glad there are car seats and seat belts and air bags in cars today. I think kids and adults should be safely secured in all moving vehicles. But way back when- we didn’t have those safety features. It isn’t like they decided not to strap us in- they couldn’t.

While my Uncle Frank was laughing and joking around that day, he was also a police officer. I am sure he knew how to drive in snowy conditions. Maybe he was nervous. Maybe my dad was, too. But if they were, they didn’t show it.

I know there was a lot of love and laughter in the Beetle that day. I can only imagine the looks we got from other drivers on our way home. I couldn’t actually see other cars, however, as the view was blocked by the tree branches and frosty windows.

If there is any lesson- perhaps it is to be brave enough to be silly sometimes. While I don’t want anyone to put a child in harm’s way- don’t be so careful that your kid’s miss out on adventures, too.

Be the person that gives a kid a really good memory this holiday season. Perhaps, using duct tape and a couple of trees.

 

 

 

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