Sunday, December 18, 2011

Practicing for Santa!

   It's only one week left until Christmas and you know what that means! Yes, Santa Claus is coming to town! I am really excited for Santa's visit, but all I can think of is if I was naughty or nice and I came to the conclusion that I better bake a lot of cookies for him because I might not get anything otherwise. And they better be perfect and delicious! I hope I didn't start practicing too late and that I will be able to optimize my cookie protocol by next Sunday, otherwise I will have to ask my mother-in-law for some help (she is Xmas cookies extraordinaire). Many cookie recipes are very similar to each other and you can use one dough, modify it, and get few different cookies. I made three or four different variations using only two different doughs. First was thumbprint cookies, and the recipe calls for:

1 stick unsalted butter (room temp)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 and 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup of finely chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon almond extract
pinch of salt

   Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk, vanilla, almond extract, salt, and walnuts, reduce mixer speed to low, and beat in flour. Continue mixing on low until dough comes together. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, transfer to baking sheet, and using your finger, make a hole in center of each ball. Well, I used a small measuring spoon to make a hole and it worked just fine. Fill it with your choice of a fruit jam (I used the black cherry jam) and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350F.

The second recipe I used was for butter cookies and what you need is:
3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 sticks of unsalted butter
3/4 cup of white suggar
1 cup of sour cream
orange zest

   In a large bowl, cut butter into flour as you would for a pie dough. Add sugar, sour cream, and orange zest, and bring it all together. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for about 2 hours. After the dough is chilled, roll it thinly, and cut out different shapes with cookie cutters, sprinkle with white or colored sugar, and bake for 10-15 minutes in 425F (until they start to brown).

   Those are your regular, not too exciting cookies, and I decided to spruce them up a little bit. I cut out two different types of circles (full and empty), baked them as before, and after they cool down I made a cookie sandwiches using different fruit jams. You know how they say that necessity is the mother of invention? Well, I needed round cutters in different sizes and I got really inventive... I used the top of the cooking spray as a big circle and a Dr. Pepper bottle cup as a second. Worked better then fancy and expensive cookie cutters!

   I think that fruit jam makes everything taste much better so I definitely like these cookies better that the previous ones, even though its the same recipe. Try it and find out for yourself which one you prefer. 
Everybody loves Christmas cookies. If you have no idea what to get for some of your friends, put the cookies in a nice box and you have a great gift.

   In my case I have to make sure that I put a huge box of them in front of our Christmas tree so that Santa will forget about all the naughty things I did last year. Do you think it will work?

   Well, we will see... I will let you know next week if Santa liked my cookies and if he left me something in return!

I hope everybody was nice this year.

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