Tags

,

I used INDIA TREE Sparkling Sugar–Confetti “color.”

I have a group of favorite Christmas cookies and I make most of them every year.  Not all.  Some years there’s just no time for the cranberry bars and the candy canes do only make it into the round up every so often.  I’m not sure what gives one cookie a spot at the top of the favorites’ team or what makes another a relief pitcher, but I’m thinking it’s which little crispy piece of sweetness draws the most desirable oooos and ahhs from family and friends versus those that are still in the freezer at Easter.

To say I love my grandson’s help in the Christmas kitchen is not an understatement.

That I love to make cookies is undeniable.  That I must, absolutely must, make a new recipe or two every year is something I know.  If only there were more days for baking, more mouths for chewing, more mugs of cocoa that needed a sidecar, more glasses of Vin Santo calling out for biscotti.

In fact, since my kids have left home, I schedule a  cookie party of some kind so that I have a reason to bake.  And bake.

 
An ornament I bought in Taos–it stays in my front window year-round.
 
Early in the season, I often place a cookie book or two next to my reading chair.   I put sticky notes at the recipes that appear promising and assure myself I’ll try this one or the other — and sometimes I do. Sometimes I’ll see something online or in the newspaper that will call me.  My sister will send a recipe and those are treasures to tempt and attempt.
 
This uses the add the sugar to the dough method. (See *)
 

Inevitably, I drag out the old recipe box and find the tried and true blue friends of years past, and make those first, second, third….  Ginger Cookies, Chocolate Snowballs, 7-Layer Bars, Shortbread, Sugar Cookies, Pecan Bars, Date Bars…  (The list goes on.)

This is the add-the-sugar-to-the-top-of-the-hearts method described in the recipe.

And the new cookie may wait its turn patiently.  Might even have to wait until next year.

Cookies at left have sugar added at top.  At right, sugar added to the dough. (Same in next photo)

But sometime its turn at bat will arrive.

 

The music will start….
I bake to Peter, Paul, and Mary’s Holiday Celebration  —  at least to begin with.

Double hearts.  This one just came out like this.  Ah. Sigh.

The counters are cleared of the coffee pots, salt and pepper, olive oil, crushed red pepper….

so that there’s room for  a standing mixer, 3 or 4 favorite cookie sheets, and some cooling racks.

 

It takes a clear counter to bake a cookie.

This year’s new cookie not exactly new, but it’s a new version of my favorite shortbread.  And I think it’s a perfect newbie.  Tender, but crisp all the way through.  Bright in affect.  Tiny.  Also a bit time-consuming, but worth it.  These meltable mouthfuls are just an inch long and hence are perfect for those who want a cookie, but don’t want a cookie — if you know what I mean.  An inch long cookie? What harm could that do?  (None if you stop at one.)  Here’s how:

stained-glass window shortbread hearts

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter–soft
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups white, unbleached flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • sparkling sugar (confetti)*
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
With an electric mixer or very strong hands, beat together the butter and sugar; add the vanilla.
 
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and the salt.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing slowly at first to avoid a flour shower.  When dough begins to hold together, stop mixer and remove dough.
 
Shape first into a ball and then flatten into a disc.  Wrap with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate 30 minutes.  (If you refrigerate the dough longer, you may have to let it warm up a bit.  I’ve left it overnight or longer; it has no eggs, so keeps a bit more than most doughs.)
 
Divide dough into approximately 1-cup portions and, using a rolling pin,** roll out to 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured board or counter.
 
Cut out using 1-inch heart cookie cutters and press sparkling sugar into each.*  Place on baking sheets.  Bake 6-9 minutes or until set and just beginning to color at edges. Remove to cooling racks.  Store in tightly covered containers for up to a month.
 
*Alternately, add sugar to dough as you roll and then cut out the hearts; the cookies will look a bit differently, but will be just as good.
 
**No rolling pin?  Watch this little video.  A wine bottle might work just as well!
 
Provenance and Truth in Lending:  The ingredients (except for the sparkling sugar) for this recipe are from Eli Zabar via Ina Garten with great appreciation.

Around the ‘Hood

This year’s twins munching in my front yard. (above)

Their vigilant mom. (above)

 

The family out back. (above)

 
On a clear day, you can see forever.  Well, you definitely can see Pike’s Peak from my front door.
 
Click here for my Ginger Cookie recipe.  It’s a keeper.

Our cookie party — “Cookies, Carols, and Champagne,” is Monday night. I am, uh, a bit behind.  Think of me.

Happy December…as you sing a new song,
Alyce