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Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Day of Cookies

So far I am not very good at keeping up with this blog on daily/weekly basis but I am trying.  Here is what happened two weekends ago.   For the last couple years my friend Heather and I get together for a day of baking.  We pick about 4-5 cookie recipes and spend the day baking and enjoying the day together.   The goal is to try and pick cookies we wouldn't always think to make on a regular basis or that may be a little different.  We decided on the 5 cookies below.

1. Martha Stewart's Candy Stripe Cookie Sticks
2. Martha Stewart's Honeyed Almond Cherry Shortbread
3. Coconut Macaroons
4. Chocolate Thumbprints
5. Sugar Cookies

I will tell you now we never completed them all but it was close.   First step was to make the sugar cookie dough so that it could chill for rolling.  While I was making the dough Heather started on the Coconut Macaroons.  We decided to mix it up a little by putting a chocolate covered almond inside, putting our own spin on an Almond Joy.   I also discovered in this process of preparing for baking day that I own A LOT of Christmas cookie magazines, which only means A LOT of untapped recipes. A very exciting finding indeed.   The coconut macaroon recipe came from one of these magazines, 2009 Holiday Baking by Cuisine at Home.

COCONUT MACAROONS

INGREDIENTS :
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded Coconut (7 oz)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp minced orange zest
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 3 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped. 

INSTRUCTIONS:
1) Preheat oven to 350, line baking sheet with parchment or silpat.
2) Whisk together coconut, sugar, flour, zest and salt in a bowl.  Stir in egg whites, butter and almond extract.   Fold in chocolate.
3) Drop tablespoon sizes balls of cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets.
Bake macaroons (one sheet at a time) until macaroons are firm to touch and lightly brown on the bottoms, 20 minutes.   Let macaroons cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.

OUR VARIATION :  Instead of putting in the chopped chocolate, we wrapped the coconut dough around a chocolate covered almond.  We also skipped the orange zest, mostly because we didn't have any.

We did find the batter spread a bit more than the picture but we did double the recipe so it was maybe a bit more runny than it was supposed.    There were quite tasty though.    I would attempt to make these again on other forms and make sure the dough was a bit drier to prevent spreading.

MEG'S RATING: D-EE-LICIOUS!


COOKIE STRIP COOKIES




We decided to move on to the hardest recipe next, which according to Martha this was her hardest recipe in her 12 days of Cookies.   Sadly we found this out and the video on how to complete them after we were all done.   Go figure!  We did not double this batch and thank goodness.  Although the batter looks small you use a tiny amount for each cookie as you need to spread the cookie into a very thin rectangle with offset spatula.   We went through several iterations of thickness and size and in the end, I will give the kudos to Heather who mastered it.  I seem to be useful when they were hot out of the oven and you had to roll them immediately into sticks.    My advice is to watch her video so you can really get a feel for how they look and how to much batter to use.
Recipe and video link :  http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/candy-stripe-cookie-sticks

Martha suggests actually creating a rectangular template to ensure each piece is uniform but we didn't.   Depending on how many you choose to make using a template could take a long time.
It is also tricky to not have a portion of the cookie brown which can make it difficult to roll.  These cookies were cool but time consuming.  Not an everyday cookie but great for the holidays.

MEG's RATING: D-EE-LICIOUS!











HONEYED ALMOND CHERRY SHORTBREAD


While Heather was busy making thin rectangles, I started to put together the dough for the shortbread.


IINGREDIENTS:  
  • 1 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 2 tbsp of sherry   (Heather and I used Vanilla)
  • 1 tbsp of orange zest
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 2 tbsp of unsalted butter
  • 2 cups lightly toasted sliced almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 8 oz of unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups of  AP flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
INSTRUCTIONS: 
1) Combine the first three ingredients, toss and let stand for 1 hour
2) Make the honeyed almonds : Cook honey and butter in a medium sauce pan on medium heat stirring constantly until fragrant and deep amber about 5 minutes.  Add almonds, salt and vanilla.  Stir to coat completely.  Remove from heat and spread on parchment to cool.  Let cool and coarsely chop. 
3) Make the dough: Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy.  Add cherries and mix until combined.  Add flour and salt and mix until dough just comes together, about 1 minute.  Add almonds and mix until combined. 
4) Turn the dough onto a piece of parchment and form into a 2 1/2 by 16 inch long, pressing edges to shape flat.   Wrap in parchment.   Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.  (Dough can be frozen for up to 3 months) Cut dough into 1/4 inch thick slices and arrange on parchment lined baking sheet.  Chill again for 1 hour.



This is another great recipe by Martha.   We ended up doubling the cherries without doubling the rest of the batch.  I think that only made these cookies better but you need to love dried cherries.  We both do.  
This recipe is also an easy shortbread to put together for those who may have had trouble in the past with shortbread. 





MEG's RATING: D-EEEE-LICIOUS!!!!



We never made it to the sugar cookies so we both left with dough to make them later.  You will also notice chocolate thumb prints in the picture,  they actually didn't really turn out the way they were supposed.  Another batter that spread and flattened more than planned so we didn't really have a good place to put the filling.   I managed to salvage a few cookies for the picture.   Overall it was a GREAT day.   Lots of great cookies, lots of leanings and we had a blast together. 

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