Maple-Pecan Swirls

This recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated with streamlined directions.

Bake 375F 12 minutes

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup superfine sugar (or regular sugar put through a food processor)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) butter, room temp. cut into 16 pieces
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. (2 ounces) cream cheese, room temp.
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans, cooled
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup turbinado sugar

In mixer, mix flour, sugar & salt on low speed until combined (5 sec). On low speed, add butter 1 piece at a time, mix till crumbly. Add vanilla & cream cheese and mix until just forms large clumps.

Remove dough and knead by hand 2-3 turns to form cohesive mass. Pat into square (7 inches), wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 20-30 minutes.

Pecan filling
Pulse pecans in food processor until finely ground.
While pulsing, add maple syrup in a steady, slow stream; add egg yolks and process until combined.
Transfer to a small bowl and cover. Refrigerate until needed.

Shape Cookies
Roll dough between 2 large sheets of parchment paper to 11″ x 16″ rectangle.
Chill 30 minutes.

Using an offset spatula, spread pecan filling evenly, leave half inch border around all edges.

Starting at long end, roll tightly. Press to seal seam.

Spread turbinado sugar evenly on parchment. Roll log in sugar, pressing lightly. Wrap in parchment and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Can be wrapped in plastic and stored 2 days.

To bake:
Preheat oven to 375F, adjust oven rack to middle.

Use chef’s knife to slice log into 1/4-inch thick rounds (you may discard the ends if you don’t like odd shaped cookies but I think that’s crazy!)

Place about 1 inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets.

Lightly beat egg whites and brush tops of cookies. Bake one sheet at a time until lightly golden, about 12 minutes.

Cool on wire rack.

It seemed like the egg white wash was just a way to use up the whites, but it did give the cookies a nice glaze.


Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated. Cook’s has intricate directions and an explanation of why these steps works. Please see their website for full information.
Makes 22 large or 40 smaller cookies / 325F one tray at a time

1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
4 tsp. instant espresso powder (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken up
4 Tbsp. butter

For rolling – place in separate bowls:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 325 with rack in middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in medium bowl.

Whisk brown sugar, eggs, espresso powder, and vanilla together in a large bowl.

Combine chocolate and butter in microwave safe bowl and microwave (at 50% power) until melted, stirring occasionally about 2-3 minutes.

Whisk melted chocolate into egg mixture until combined. Fold in flour mixture until no dry streaks remain. Let sit at room temp. for 10 minutes.

Scoop about 2 Tbsp. batter at a time (these were too big for us so we used about 1 Tbsp.) Form into balls (a joke, just drop them). Drop into granulated sugar, roll into a ball and coat evenly with sugar. Then place in confectioner’s and roll to coat. Evenly space half (11 of the large size) on baking sheet.

Bake cookies one tray at a time, until puffed and cracked and edges begin to set but centers are still soft – about 12 minutes.

Let cool completely on sheet.

Fried Dough (Italian Chrusty/Cenci or Polish Chrusciki)

Before my mother suffered any noticeable signs of Alzheimer’s Disease she started typing up recipes to pass along to her grandchildren. Mom was not the most organized person (I think she relied on her intellect and my Dad), eventually she couldn’t remember what she had typed. She decided to discard the original recipes as she went to help keep track. Sigh. Given her limited computer skills, not all her documents were saved. Add her worsening disease and suffice it to say, some things are lost.

Here are three versions rescued by my sister Gail before things really fell apart. Sadly we still have to guess.  If you read each recipe you will see that they contradict each other.  If you make each one please let me know which works well.

Polish Chrusciki
I am sure this is Mom’s recipe because it has an unreasonable amount of egg yolks in it and Mom would never have used rum. Also, Lois’ recipe contains Mace.

6 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon mace
2 to 2 ½ cups sifted flour (approximately)
Shortening for frying
Dust with confectionary sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat egg yolks with salt and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in cream and mace. Add enough flour to make a soft dough. Do not knead dough. Kneading will result in hard, tough cookies. Chill.
In a deep pot, heat shortening to 375F degrees.
Sprinkle confectionary sugar on pastry cloth. Using ¼ of the dough at a time, roll out dough as thin as possible. Cut into strips 1×3 inches. Make a slit down center of each strip (about 1 inch). Turn one end of strip in through slit. Fry a few strips at a time in preheated oil. Turning them at once. They are done when lightly brown on both sides.
Drain on paper towels. When cool dust with confectionary sugar or vanilla sugar.

Polish Chrusciki Version 2

2 cups flour
2 eggs
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 jigger rum

Add salt to eggs. Beat ill thick and lemon colored. Add sugar, butter and rum. Continue to beat. Fold in flour and knead on a well floured board until dough blisters.
Cut in half. Roll very thin. Cut in strips about 4” long. Slit each piece in center and pull on end through slit.

Fry in hot fat until lightly browned. Drain on absorbent paper.
Dust with powdered sugar when cool.

Italian Fried Crusty (Cenci)

These should be shaped into bow ties. Those directions are clearly missing below. Maybe one of my sisters will fill me in on how to shape them and I will adjust the recipe. Despite my family reputation as being a master of dough, I have never made Crusciki.

5 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
4 – 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. vanilla
Grated zest of lemon

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with a whisk until well blended. Whisk in the lemon zest and vanilla.

Sift the 4 cups of flour and baking powder together, add to egg mixture. Mix with your hands to form a ball of dough. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead it until it is soft, but no longer sticky. Add more flour if necessary.

Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Work with one piece at time, cover remaining pieces with a clean dishtowel.

Roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. (A pasta machine set to the finest setting, can also be sued for thinning the dough) Using a pastry wheel or sharp knife, cut into strips 5 1/2-inches long by 2 1/2-inches wide. Make two long slits, side by side, in the center of each strip. Here is where the twisting magic is missing Place on another towel, and continue rolling and cutting remaining pieces of dough.

In a deep pot, heat about 2-inches of vegetable oil to 375F. (Truthfully, you have to make up the temp here, I have two different recipes with 2 different temps.)

Fry the strips a few at a time until golden brown. Drain on paper towel (or brown paper bags, Mom’s favorite.) and let cool. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and serve.

These do not keep well. Store any leftovers in a tightly covered container. Other recipes on the internet say that they can be re-crisped by warming in the oven.

Georgetown Lime Cookies

Adapted from The Joy of Cookies by Sharon Tyler Herbst. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., 1987.

These cookies are a favorite in our house. Crispy and flavored with lime, nutmeg and cinnamon. Yummy.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
finely grated zest of 2 limes
3 Tbsp. lime juice
1/3 cup sugar mixed with 1/4 tsp. each of nutmeg and cinnamon for topping.

Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease 3-4 large baking pans.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and spices.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar and lime zest until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in lime juice. Stir in flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time.

Place sugar-spice mixture in a small bowl.

Roll rounded spoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls in the sugar-spice mixture. Arrange 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Use a decorative cookie stamp or bottom of a glass to flatten balls. (I use a meat tenderizer)

Bake 13-16 minutes, until deep golden brown on the bottom. Cool on racks. Store in an airtight container at room temp. for 1 week. May be frozen for longer storage.

Nut Struedel

This is straight from my sister Lois. I have no idea which cookbook she found this in.

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup margarine or butter
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/2 pound ground walnuts or pecans
Powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter in mixer bowl with electric mixer til well combined. Add flour, mix well. Shape into ball. Cover, chill 1 to 2 hours.

Cook sugar and milk in saucepan over medium heat till milk boils and sugar dissolves, stir occasionally. Add nuts. Remove from heat. Cool till spreadable.

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to form an 18 by 12 inch rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise. Spread each half with nut filling. Starting from long side, roll each strip jelly roll style.

Cut rolls crosswise in half. Place, seam side down on 1 greased cookie sheet. Cut into 1/2 inch thick slices, almost all the way through, without separating.

Bake in 350 oven 15 to 20 minutes or till done. Let cool slightly. Remove, cool on racks.

Dust with powdered sugar while warm. Cool. Separate slices into cookies. Dust again with powdered sugar when cool. Cover, refrigerate or freeze.

Makes about 60.

Orange Almond Biscotti

My daughter, Kelsey, found this recipe on the blog

3 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup sugar
7 Tbsp. butter
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly chopped
Zest of one orange, finely grated

Preheat oven to 350F, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour and baking powder.

In an electric mixer, cream sugar and butter. Add eggs, one at a time, beat until light and fluffy.

Add almonds and orange zest, mixing well.

Slowly add flour mixture, stirring until well combined.

Divide the dough in two. Shape into slightly flat logs about 3 inches wide. The width of the log will be the final length of the biscotti, so shape it to the desired size and adjust the baking time accordingly.

Bake approximately 15 minutes, until very lightly browned and the center is cooked through. Test with a toothpick. Bake longer if needed.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Using a serrated knife, slice the baked dough on a diagonal into 1-inch wide slices. Place back on baking sheets, on their sides, and bake 10 minutes.

Cream Filled Chocolate Cookies (oreos)

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

I stumbled across this recipe one night and  had to try it. I love the chocolate wafer cookies, they would be perfect rolled in coarse sugar and baked.

But I made the recipe as is and served them to a group of friends. Smiles all around.

Homemade oreos

Homemade oreos

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
1 egg

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375F. Line baking sheets (4 if you have them) with parchment paper.

In a food processor or mixer, mix/pulse flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar, until well combined. In the food processor add the butter while pulsing, then add the egg and process until the dough comes together. In a mixer, add the butter and mix on low speed, then add the egg.

Roll rounded teaspoons of dough into balls, place on baking sheet 2-3 inches apart. These cookies spread so give them space. Using your fingers, slight press down on the rounds.

Refrigerate the sheet for 10 minutes. Bake 6-8 minutes, just until the tops are cracking. Cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack. Cookies will crisp up some more after cooling.

To fill, cream the butter and shortening. Gradually add the sugar and stir slowly until combined. Beat at high speed 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.

Using a pastry bag/ziplock bag, pipe about a teaspoon of filling onto a cookie. Cover with same size cookie. Lightly press to work filling to outside edge of cookie. Repeat.

Shortbread Pumpkin Bars

Last week was Pi day, so for my math teacher daughter I made a pumpkin pie.  With the leftover pumpkin, I tried this recipe that I clipped this recipe from The Trenton Times last fall.  It was very good but the baking times, or perhaps my oven, were a bit short.

Preheat oven to 400F

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
Stir in:
1 cup four

Press dough into bottom of 13×9-inch greased baking pan. Bake 5 (10) minutes.
Remove from oven. Reduce temperate to 350F

In a small bowl, stir to combine:
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

In a medium bowl (or mixer bowl from crust), combine:
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp vanilla

Stir in flour mixture and
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Spread over partially baked crust.

1 cup flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Cut in, until coarse crumbs:
1/4 cup butter

Sprinkle over pumpkin layer

Bake 30 minutes. (I needed to bake these closer to 45 minutes)

Cool. Cut into bars. Yields 2 dozen 1 1/2-inch squares

Sand Tarts

My sister makes these for Christmas every year and they are my favorite Christmas cookie. I love all things almond.  Morgan is going to try and make a batch for our house this year.

Adapted from Better Homes and Garden Special Interest Publications Christmas Cookies 1991.

Sand Tarts
1 cup margarine or butter
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 beaten egg white
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
sliced almonds

Beat butter in a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 30 seconds until softened. Add half the flour, the 2 cups sugar, eggs, and lemon extract. Beat till mixture thoroughly combined, scrape sides as necessary. Stir in remaining flour.

Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 1-2 hours.

Roll dough on lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 2- or 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Brush tops with beaten egg white. Sprinkle with sugar mixture. Arrange 3 or 5 almond slices on each cookie. Place cookies on greased cookie sheets 1 inch apart.

Bake 375F for 8-9 minutes or till edges are lightly browned.

Make 5 1/2 to 6 dozen.

Walnut Crescents

Mom used to make these every year at Christmas. For some reason there wasn’t a copy of the recipe in her box or among the recipes she “typed” up for her grandchildren.  Today I was sorting through a file given to me by my aunt and found this recipe.  I think it is the same one.

2 cups finely chopped walnuts
1 cup sugar
4 cups flour
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt
1 pound butter, softened
Powdered sugar, for dusting

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients with your fingers. Form cookies by rolling a spoonful of dough into a little snake and from into a crescent. Given the pound of butter I am assuming ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Cool.

Dip into powdered sugar, let stand 5 minutes and dip again.