Friday, August 27, 2010

My Best Cookies


I'm a cookie baker. Love to bake cookies, love to serve cookies, love to eat cookies.
I have a few recipes that are considered "specialties of the house." And since I've had a few requests for these lately, I thought I'd share them. Here's the first in a series:
_____________ Cookies
It's funny that I don't really have a name for these.  I'd love to hear some suggestions.  People usually call them "you know those really good cookies with the filling in them and the sort of slight, sweet crunch on top? In shapes? Two layers?"

I start with my basic sugar cookie recipe.  If you like to bake with butter and want a "buttery" flavor, use half butter for the shortening. I wouldn't recommend using all butter. You can argue with me if you want, but it is my recipe.


¾ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ½ cup all- purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
mix shortening, sugar, eggs and beat until lemony colored
mix dry ingredients and stir to egg mixture until smooth
chill for 3 hours or up to 3 days (chilling helps blend the flavors)
Using a dusting of flour, roll out the dough until it is ¼ inch thick or maybe a bit less
Cut into shapes
Transfer to an ungreased cookie sheet
Bake at 400 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes. Don’t let them get brown!
Cool on a wire rack

Double:
1 ½ cup shortening
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
5 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt

Triple:
2 ¼ cups shortening
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla
7 ½ cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon salt
Triple batch is hard to mix in the electric stand mixer.  Most often I make two double batches for a big event.

Mix the cookies by 
1. beating the shortening, sugar until fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time. Beat until lemon-y colored. Add the vanilla
Sift together the remaining dry ingredients.
Add the dry to the egg mixture; mix well but do not over mix.

Chill for 3 hours or for up to 3 days. Letting the dough chill not only mixes the flavor, but it makes it easier to handle.

To roll out the dough, lightly dust your workspace with flour.  (You can also use a mixture of flour, cornstarch and confectioner's sugar if you want a more delicate cookie or you want to work harder). 
Smooth flour also on your rolling pin. Roll out the dough until it is about 1/4 of an inch thick. Choose a shape to go with your event. Hearts for bridal showers or Valentine's day, wreaths for Christmas. A friend recently gave a baby shower with "cute as a button" for the theme. She made these cookies to look like buttons!  
Karlene's artistic version! Aren't they gorgeous?

Bake the same number of tops and bottoms. This part is hard for me because it means that I have to count. 

When the cookies are cooled:

Ice the tops with a confectioner’s sugar glaze (1 cup conf. sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and drops of rice milk or regular milk if you can tolerate dairy) Let dry. 

While the tops are drying, spread seedless jam (your choice but I like either raspberry or currant) leaving a clear edge around the cookie about 1/16th  inch.
Assemble cookies (one bottom to one top) and let stand overnight or for a few hours.

These freeze well!  Just place them in a plastic container, with a layer of wax or freezer paper dividing the stacks. Close tightly and if you want, wrap the container in plastic wrap also. To defrost, remove from the freezer, but bring the cookies to room temperature before you take them out of their containers. Enjoy!

Variation:
Lime Sandies:
This is the only time I use butter in the recipe. 
Substitute unsalted butter for half of the shortening. Soften before using
Add 1 teaspoon grated lime peel to the egg/butter mixture
Reduce vanilla to 1/2 teaspoon and add 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
Use  Lime curd (recipe below) for the filling, but when I do this, 
When I make these, I use a small leaf cookie cutter for the top layer. The green lime curd shows through and looks pretty!

Variation Apple Cinnamon
2. If you plan to use apple jelly or apple butter for your filling, substitute ½ teaspoon Calvados (apple) brandy) for half the vanilla.

Lime Curd:
You can purchase lime curd, but it is easy to make:
1 cup sugar
6 T butter*
3 to 4 tsp lime zest
6 T lime juice (freshly squeezed
3 eggs beaten:
In the top of a bain marie (double boiler) combine sugar, butter, zest and juice. over simmering, not boiling water, stir mixture until butter has melted and sugar has dissolved. Stirring constantly, spoon a little of the hot butter mixture into the eggs. Pour egg mixture into hot butter mixture stirring constantly with a wire whisk to blend.  Cook over simmering water until thickened -- about 20 minutes.
Remove from heat, cool and refrigerate.  Keeps 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. 

*I have made this recipe without butter, using shortening/ coconut oil.  It tastes less buttery and it does not thicken as well, but it is still yummy and dairy free. 

For shower or wedding favors pretty packaging makes it even better!



4 comments:

  1. Lintzer cookies aren't they? German origin I belive.

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  2. I once heard them called "Three Kings" cookies, but those were made with three circles cut out of the top cookie.

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  3. Oooo! I Have a great idea for these I will see if it works. They sound wonderful!

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