Christmas baking has begun and I start with cookies. What are your favorite cookies to make for the holidays? Here are some of mine.
Christmas Sugar Cookies
Yield: about 4 dozen cookies
1 cup sugar
2 cups butter ( 4 sticks)
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups flour
Powdered sugar icing (see below) and red and green colored sprinkles for decoration
In a large electric mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and smooth.
Separate 3 of the eggs; Beat the 3 egg yolks and the remaining whole egg into the butter-sugar mixture.
Set aside the eggs whites and use for another recipe, such as the Pignoli cookies below.
Beat in the vanilla. Gradually add the flour and mix well. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cover the baking sheets with parchment paper.
Divide the dough into four equal parts. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one-fourth of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out shapes with floured cookie cutters.
Transfer cookies to baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough and re-roll scraps until all the dough is used.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned. Cool.
Frost the cookies lightly with the icing and sprinkle with colored sprinkles.
Store in tightly covered containers for up to one month in a cool place, or freeze for up to 6 months.
Powdered Sugar Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
Mix together to make a thin icing.
Italian Pine-nut (Pignoli) Cookies
Use only almond paste, not marzipan or canned almond filling.
Makes 2 dozen. I usually double the recipe.
8-ounces almond paste, cut in small pieces
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg whites, from 2 large eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
Pine nuts (pignoli)
Heat the oven to 325°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In mixer bowl beat almond paste, sugar, egg whites and almond extract with an electric mixer until smooth. Drop a heaping teaspoonful of dough 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets.
Sprinkle with pine nuts to cover, then press them gently to adhere.
Bake 20 minutes or until the tops feel firm and dry when lightly pressed. Cool completely on cookie sheet on wire rack. Store airtight at room temperature.
(Cookies are best eaten within 2 weeks, or they can be frozen.)
Chocolate Chip Biscotti
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange rind
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Place the first 4 ingredients in the large bowl of an electric mixer and beat at high-speed for 2 minutes until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the flour to the sugar mixture, stirring until blended. Stir in chips and pecans (dough will be sticky). Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. With floured hands, shape the dough into a 9 x 4 inch log; pat to 1/2-inch thickness. Place the log on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the log from the pan and cool 20 minutes on a wire rack.
Cut the log on the diagonal into 1/2 inch-thick slices. Place the slices, cut sides down, on the baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes, turn the biscotti over and bake for 10 minutes more. Cool completely on a wire rack.