cookies

Cheesy Chocolate Hamantaschen

Cheesy Chocolate Hamantaschen

A friend shared this recipe recently, and I was intrigued. I had to try these cookies. The filling for these traditional Jewish cookies, is inspired by the filling used in cannoli.

I made a few changes from the recipe he shared, and was very happy with how they turned out.

The dough, which contains no sugar, has a wonderful, pastry-like texture. It pairs up well with the filling. The drizzle of chocolate is a perfect finish for them.

They aren’t a gooey, overly sweet cookie, which I really like.

They pair up nicely with tea or coffee. I confess,  I had a couple for breakfast with my morning tea. I would definitely make these again.

Thanks, Jared, for sharing this recipe.

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Cheesy Chocolate Hamantaschen

 

Filling:

¼ c. ricotta cheese

5 oz. cream cheese

½ c. powdered sugar

1 t. cinnamon

½ c. mini chocolate chips

Dough:

½ c. (1 stick) butter, softened

3 oz. cream cheese

½ c. half and half or milk

1 t. vanilla

½ t. salt

2½c. flour

Topping:

1 egg white

2 T. water

½ c. chocolate chips

Powdered sugar, optional

 

Prepare the filling. Beat together the ricotta and cream cheese until smooth. Mix in the milk and cinnamon, then stir in the chips. Chill until ready to use. Make the dough by mixing the cream cheese and butter together. Add the milk, vanilla and salt and mix until smooth. Stir in the flour until a stiff dough forms. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, or put in a bag and chill at least an hour – or up to a couple of days – before proceeding. On lightly floured surface, roll the dough to a little less than ¼ – inch thickness. Cut dough out into 2-3 inch circles. Place a scant teaspoon of filling in middle of each dough circle. Combine the egg white with water and beat together. Brush a little of the egg white mixture over the edges of the dough circle. Fold the dough up in thirds towards the center, pinching the edges to seal. They should look like little three-corner hats. Repeat with remaining dough, re-rolling the scraps. Brush folded cookies with a little more of the egg white mixture. Place on lightly greased cookie sheets and bake in a 375-degree- oven for 15 minutes, or until golden on the bottom. Remove to cooling rack. Once cooled, melt the chocolate chips and drizzle over the cookies. You can top with some powdered sugar, if you like. Makes 2½-3 dozen.

 

Lemons in the Snow

Lemons in the Snow Cookies

The funny name for these cookies is really easy to explain. The cookies are flavored with both lemon juice and lemon zest in the dough. When nearly cooled, they are rolled in powdered sugar. They end up looking like little snowballs.

Yummy, lemon flavored snowballs.

The dough also contains finely ground almonds, for extra texture. They are a delicate, cake like cookie, with a slightly crisp outside. You could also add a little grated lemon peel to the powdered sugar, before rolling the cookies in it, for a more intense lemon flavor.

 

Lemons in the Snow Cookies

1/2 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel -or more if you like
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
confectioners’ sugar

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar and egg until well blended. Add lemon juice and peel. Combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; stir into creamed mixture. Add almonds. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour or overnight. Roll into 1-in. balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned (cookies will not brown on top). Remove immediately to wire racks; cool for 5 minutes, then roll in confectioners’ sugar. Makes 36.

 

Fig Kolachy Cookies

Fig Kolachy

These cookies really speak to me about the holidays. I have fond memories of making these delicate cookies with my Mother every Christmas. I still make them.

I often make them with a cherry filling, but have also used blueberry, apple or nut fillings. I decided to make a batch with fig jam, for a change.

I made my own fig jam, ( recipe follows)  but you could use store bought, if you prefer. You can also finish off the cookies with a light dusting of powdered sugar, if you like. I really love the way they taste. Something rich about the cookie. Perfect end to a holiday meal.

 

Fig Kolachy

Dough

3 sticks butter

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

3 cups flour

Fig Jam– recipe follows

Powdered sugar, optional

Mix dough ingredients together and chill well before using.

Roll out chilled dough into squares or circles. Spoon a little fig filling into the center and pinch 2 ends or corners together. Bake in 350-degree oven for about 12 minutes, or until golden on edges. Cool and dust with powdered sugar. Makes 4-5 dozen.

 

Fig Jam

1 lb. dried figs
2 c. water
1-2 c. sugar- I used 1 cup, but use according to your taste
Zest of 2 lemons
2 t. cinnamon
Chop up figs and place in saucepan with the water and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Add sugar, zest and cinnamon and cook until thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir often to prevent sticking. Puree mixture and set aside to cool.

 

Phyllo Chocolate Fan Cookies

Chocolate Fan Cookies

If you want a cookie that is really going to impress, you might want to make these Chocolate Fans. They are crisp, not too sweet, and tipped with chocolate and fine chopped nuts.

While they look difficult to make, they are actually quite easy. For starters, you don’t have to make dough. These are made with phyllo dough.

Phyllo is found in the freezer section at the grocery store. Phyllo dough (also spelled filo)  can be a little fussy. Be sure to keep extra dough covered with a damp towel so it won’t dry out and get brittle. It is best to work quickly when making these. We made these dipped in finely chopped toasted almonds. Other nuts could be used. You could also use white chocolate, if you prefer. I have even added a few sprinkles to the nuts for a pop of color.

 

 

 

Chocolate Fan Cookies

1 lb. phyllo dough, thawed*
1 c. butter, melted
12-oz. chocolate chips
2 T. shortening- you can use coconut oil instead
1 c. finely chopped nuts or coconut, pistachios are extra nice

Remove phyllo from box, still rolled up and cut crosswise into 5-6 equal pieces. Keep unused dough covered in a damp towel to prevent drying out. Take one piece of dough and open it up, cutting it in half crosswise. Take 1 sheet and brush with butter. Place another sheet on top and brush again with butter. Place third piece of dough on top and butter again. Starting at short end begin to fold the dough in ¾ inch folds, accordion style. Pinch together at one end and fan out the dough at the other. It should look like a little fan. Place on ungreased baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough. Bake at 375 degrees for 5 minutes. Cool. Melt chocolate and shortening together in microwave or on top of double boiler. Stir to smooth. Dip tip of wide end of fans in melted chocolate and then in the nuts or coconut. Place on a rack to cool and harden. Makes about 65 fans. Can be frozen.

 

 

*I buy frozen phyllo dough but be sure to get the right one. Around here there are 2 different sizes. You’ll need the long box- where the dough is 15 inches long.

Peanut Butter-Coconut Shortbread – Vegan

Peanut Butter Coconut Shortbread

Friends are coming in for the holiday weekend and I wanted to bake some cookies. My friends are vegan, so butter and eggs were out.

I ended up making shortbread cookies. I needed to change them though, to make them vegan.  Rather than using butter, I used a combination of crunchy peanut butter and coconut oil.

They came out just right, with the crumbly, dry texture of a traditional shortbread and the added flavor of the peanut butter, coconut and vanilla.

I used crunchy peanut butter- it was what I had. I like the bits of peanuts in the cookies. I could see adding a few more chopped peanuts the next time I make these cookies

 

Peanut Butter-Coconut Shortbread

1 c. sugar, plus 1/4 cup extra for sprinkling

1 c. peanut butter

1 c. coconut oil

4 c. flour

2 t. vanilla

Cream together sugar, peanut butter, coconut oil and vanilla. Stir in flour until mixture forms into a dough. Press into 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle extra sugar over the cookies dough, and cut into squares. Bake in a 300 degree oven for an hour or until light brown around edges. Re-cut while warm. Makes 4 dozen.

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. We had one Christmas with 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 mintextract or a fruit flavor to these cookies.

Soft Butter Cookies

Soft Butter Cookies

Soft Butter Cookies

If you are looking for a truly tender cookie, this is 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

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.

Tech Support Cookies- Pecan Cinnamon Shortbread

Tech Support Cookies

Tech Support Cookies

There is a good reason for the odd name for these cookies. I have a great friend who is also a tech guy. Really knows his stuff. He has always been there when I have some tech trouble or a new tech toy. The only problem is he won’t let me pay him for his trouble. Well, he won’t take money. Our arrangement is that I cook stuff for him in exchange. I think I am getting a pretty good deal. He says that he is. He came over today to look at a problem I was having with my computer and I decided to bake some cookies for him. I even ended up creating a new cookie just for him. I started with my shortbread cookie recipe and added ground pecans and cinnamon. I also sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar. They came out great. Here is the recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

Tech Support Cookies – Pecan Cinnamon Shortbread

1 c. sugar
2 c. butter
4 c. flour
¾ c. finely ground pecans
2 t. cinnamon
½ c. cinnamon sugar
Cream together sugar and butter. Stir in flour, nuts and cinnamon and press into 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and cut into squares. Bake in a 300 degree oven for an hour or until light brown around edges. Re-cut while warm. Makes 4 dozen.

Fresh from the oven

Fresh from the oven

 

 

Alfajores

Alfajores

Alfajores

If you are looking for a new cookie 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.  These cookies are popular in a number of South American countries and in Spain although the origin is probably from the Middle East.

Alfajores

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.

Cover cans of sweetened condensed milk with water

Cover cans of sweetened condensed milk with water

Dulce De Leche- this is what it looks like when you open the can

Dulce De Leche- this is what it looks like when you open the can