After years of experimentation, our standard Cookie Day repertory includes Michelle Nelson’s miniature black bottoms, Chocolate-Dipped Almond Cookies (see Martha Stewart’s Christmas, 1989, p. 49), and these coconut macaroons.
1 7-ounce bag of sweetened coconut
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix all ingredients, then drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees until golden.
Rebecca Corbett always brings her old-fashioned cut-out sugar cookies (which the kids may or may not help decorate); Cookie Press Cookies (see Martha Stewart’s Christmas, 1989, p. 44), which Rebecca dyes green; and these gingersnaps, for which she purchases the candied ginger at Jeppi Nut Co., 312 N. High Street.
For candied ginger sugar:
1 cup coarsely chopped candied (or crystallized) ginger
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup candied ginger sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Chop candied ginger coarsely with a knife, then measure to 1 cup. Process in food processor, along with 1 cup sugar, until finely ground. (If ginger sticks together, add more sugar.)
In mixer, cream butter, then add sugar and 1/4 cup of the candied ginger sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and molasses and beat well. Sift flour, soda and spices and add to mixture, beating until smooth. Chill for at least two hours.
Spread remaining candied ginger sugar on a large plate. Shape dough into 1/2 inch balls and roll in the ginger sugar. Bake for 13 minutes (cookies will puff up, then flatten). Remove immediately with sharp spatula to wire racks. (If cookies are left to cool on sheets, the candied ginger will harden and stick.) Yield: about four dozen.
Gay Peterson has perfected the small Peanut Butter Kiss (a standard peanut butter cookie, with a Hershey’s Kiss dropped into the center about 3 minutes prior to the completed baking time; a Pignoli Nut Cookie (which she found on http://www.cookierecipe.com) and this Sugar Plum, from Saveur Magazine.
(Hint: Sugar Plums tend to absorb the powdered sugar, so re-dust just before eating, if you like.)
2 cups whole almonds
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1 cup finely chopped pitted dates
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast in oven for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool, then finely chop.
Meanwhile, combine honey, orange zest, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg in a medium mixing bowl. Add almonds, apricots, and dates and mix well.
Pinch off rounded teaspoon-size pieces of the mixture and roll into balls. (Rinse your hands often, as mixture is very sticky.) Roll balls in sugar, then refrigerate in single layers between sheets of waxed paper in airtight containers for up to 1 month. Their favor improves after ripening for several days. Makes 75.
I make my mother’s fragile butter cookies, studded with chips of red and green candied cherries and chopped pecans, and Pecan Crescents (see Martha Stewart’s Christmas, 1989, p. 45). I also make these Chewy Coconut-Chocolate Pinwheels (from Martha Stewart Living ), and the Spritz Christmas Wreath Cookies, published in the December, 1993, Gourmet Magazine.
Chewy Coconut-Chocolate Pinwheels
I looked high and low for years to find a pinwheel cookie that tastes as good as it looks. Leave it to Martha to come up with it.
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded desiccated coconut (available at Whole Food Market)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 8 tablespoons butter and the sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, and beat on low speed until combined. Add coconut, and beat until combined. Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper into a 7- to 8-inch-by-15 1/2 – inch rectangle, a very scant 1/4 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, trim to form neat rectangle. Transfer dough to a baking sheet, and place in refrigerator to chill (but make sure it is still pliable when you are ready to use it!)
Melt the chocolate and the remaining tablespoon butter in the microwave (in 30 second blasts; don’t burn). Stir and let stand until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Peel off the top piece of parchment. Using an offset spatula, spread the melted chocolate mixture over the dough. Using the bottom piece of parchment for support, roll the dough into a log. Wrap the log in parchment, and chill overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the parchment from the log, and cut log into 1/4-inch rounds. Place the rounds on a parchment covered cookie sheet and bake until light golden brown on edges, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating half way through. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Store the cookies in an airtight container up to two weeks. Makes about 3 dozen.
Spritz Christmas Wreath Cookies
I’ve found that this dough cannot be made ahead and refrigerated; it needs to be mixed just before loading into the cookie press. Also, when I double or triple the batch, I mix each batch separately. Over the years, I’ve dispensed with the egg white wash, cutting down on at least one of the tedious steps.
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large egg yolks
3 3/4 all-purpose flour
an egg wash made by beating 1 egg white lightly with 2 teaspoons water
green decorating sugar
candied cherries, sliced thin
Preheat over to 350 degrees. In a bowl with an electric mixer cream the butter with sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the salt, the vanilla, and the egg yolks, and beat the mixture until it is smooth. Add the flour and beat the dough until it is just combined. Pack the dough into a cookie press fitted with the wreath disk and press cookies about 1 inch apart onto cool, ungreased baking sheets. Brush the cookies lightly with the egg wash, sprinkle them with the decorating sugar, and arrange two cherry slices decoratively on the them to approximate a bow. Bake the cookies in batches in the middle of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are pale golden. Transfer the cookies to racks and let them cool. (Do not let the cookies cool on the sheets.) The cookies may be made 2 months in advance and kept frozen in airtight containers. Makes about 120 cookies.