Tag Archives: cookies

Click Here to Start Launch and Power Button Start Cookies

  
This past week, we celebrated the release of my husband, Denis’, debut novel, Click Here to Start.

Click-Here-to-Start-High-Res
This awesome book cover was illustrated by Octavi Navarro.

The book chronicles twelve year old Ted, who is a whiz at Escape the Room Games, and his two friends, as they cleverly figure out what is behind the clues left by Ted’s great uncle – a WWII veteran of the Nisei Brigade from Hawaii. Ted is sure there is something valuable to be found in his late uncle’s apartment, and he has to use his gaming knowledge to do it. Along the way, the trio realizes there are other people searching for the same “treasure”, and they may not be so “friendly”. Ted and his friends have to use their wits and brains to solve the mystery – and ultimately, themselves, in this fact-paced, kid friendly novel.

The audio book, produced by Listening Library, was released at the same time, which was very exciting! It’s narrated by Greg Watanabe, an actor and comic. He does a wonderful job! I love how he’s able to do the different voices of all of the characters, whether they are male or female, young or old, from Hawaii or from the mainland… He gives each of them a distinct personality.

So far, the book has gotten such positive reviews from School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, kidlit bloggers, teachers, librarians, kids. It was named a School Library Guild Section and an Amazon Best Books of the Month Selection.

“As addictive as your favorite video game. I couldn’t put it down.”-Adam Gidwitz, New York Times bestselling author of A Tale Dark and Grimm

“Humor, believable characters, and adventure…keeps readers in suspense to the end. A winner for mystery enthusiasts.”-Kirkus Reviews

“In this clever debut, Markell takes readers on a clue-filled adventure…[and] maintains an energetic, entertaining balance of character-driven narrative and tricky challenges.”-Publishers Weekly

“Markell’s highly entertaining debut novel…is a well-paced read with fully realized and likable characters,…[and] should have strong appeal to gamers, fans of video game-based stories, and reluctant readers.”-School Library Journal

And today from Jean Westmore of the Buffalo News:

“Markell offers plenty of scary suspense, thrilling action, references to literature and movies and lots of humor in his cleverly constructed puzzle. The book is dedicated to “the valiant men of the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat team, who fought so bravely for the U.S. at a time when their Japanese-American relatives back at home were being treated so dishonorably.’ His wife’s uncle was among them.”

click-cookies_Melissa-Iwai
For the Click Here to Start book launch at BookCourt this past weekend, I made Power Button Start Cookies. Jamie, our son, was a great help with frosting and packaging. He’s so proud of his dad! 🙂

jamie-_Click-Here-_-Bookcourt

me-icing_Click  

For the cookies, I used my tried and true sugar cookie and royal icing recipe I’ve used for holiday cookies in the past. This time, I used powdered egg white merengue for the frosting, and I think it really made a difference. The exterior piped frosting was perfectly hard. I am just not so great at piping! I dyed the frosting a bright green to match the Start button on the cover of the book. We frosted them green, then later, I piped the Start symbol on top in white. It is an extra step to do the piping and then the fill with diluted frosting, but the results are much better. You get a crisp outline and a very smooth interior with no ridges.

The event was wonderful. Fun to see old friends and new ones. Denis spoke about how he came to write the story, which is inspired by my uncle, Nicholas, Nakabayashi, who fought with the 100th Battalion during WWII. Denis also had fun playing Escape the Room Games with Jamie as research. 🙂

 Denis-and-Aubry-at-Book-COurt
I was surprised that almost all of my 38 cookies were eaten at the event! Only two remained, which we enjoyed after the big event. 🙂 

  

6 Comments

Filed under Art Related, Books, Cookies, Desserts, Uncategorized

Holiday Butter Cookies Three Ways

stack 2

Every year I make a ton of holiday cookies to pass out to friends and family.  I have been collecting recipes since 2000.  Here are some of the every year standards:

Hidden Surprise Snowball Cookies

snowball

Turtle Browniesturtle

Chocolate Crinkles

chocolate-crinkle

Brown Sugar Ginger Crisps

brown-sugar-ginger

Pistachio Orange Lace Cookies

These are usually more tan, rather than green!

These are usually more tan, rather than green!

Stained Glass Trees

stained-glass

Gingerbread

Our gingerbread castle

Our gingerbread castle

Favorites tend to appear over and over because people request them, but I also try to test a couple of news ones every season as well.

Jamie has been imploring me to bake cookies for a special “snack” for his class, so I decided to try out three variations on a theme in one pop!

This basic cookie dough recipe is from an old 2003 issue of Gourmet (he wasn’t even born yet!)  that I’ve used for cut-out cookie holiday cookies, which we then frost.  The cookie dough is versatile, and you can add different flavors to it, creating a whole new cookie.

I decided to try out three that are school-friendly (i.e. containing no nuts):  A lemon one, a chocolate one, and one drizzled with melted chocolate and white chocolate.

lemon

Lemon Butter Cookie

Chocolate Butter Cookies with sanding sugar

Chocolate Butter Cookies with sanding sugar

Butter Cookies Drizzled with Melted Chocolate and White Chocolate

Butter Cookies Drizzled with Melted Chocolate and White Chocolate

Instead of making three batches of dough, I made one batch, divided it into three parts, and then flavored one with lemon and one with chocolate.  I drizzled the last third with melted semi-sweet and white chocolate.

Here is the link to the original recipe, and here is my version of three different cookies in one batch. 🙂

Packed for school!

Packed for school!

Holiday Butter Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For Lemon Cookie batch:

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

For Chocolate Cookie batch:

1/3 cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder

a little less than 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3.5 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Demerara sugar for sanding (optional)

For Chocolate Drizzle Batch:

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

1/4 cup white chocolate chips, melted

1.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

2.  Beat together butter and sugar in bowl of a standing mixer for 3 minutes until pale and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Reduce speed to low, then add flour mixture and mix until just combined.

3.  Divide dough into thirds and remove from bowl.  Wrap one of the thirds in saran in the shape of a 4-inch log.  Return one third back to mixing bowl and add lemon juice and zest.  Mix until combined.  Wrap this lemon dough in saran in the shape of a 4-inch log.

4. Return last third of dough back to mixing bowl and add cocoa powder, baking soda, and melted chocolate to dough.  Mix until combined.  Wrap chocolate dough in saran and shape into a 4-inch log.  Chill all logs for at least 4 hours or overnight.

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven.  Cut each chilled dough log into 1/4-inch slices and place on baking sheet 1 -inch apart.  For chocolate slices, roll in Demerara sugar if desired.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway.  Cool cookies on sheets for 3 minutes.  Then remove to cool completely on racks.

6.  Decorate plain batch of butter cookies with melted chocolates by transferring melted chocolate to a sandwich bag and  snipping a small hole in one corner.  Squeeze bag and drizzle chocolate over cookies in a Jackson Pollack fashion. 🙂  Repeat with white chocolate.  Chill to set chocolate for about an hour.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

in box

18 Comments

Filed under Cookies, Desserts

Monster Cookies

Our book was released by Simon and Schuster yesterday!

back of postcard info

It’s written by my husband, Denis, and inspired by our son, Jamie.

Jamie and Denis recreating the cover of the book

We got a starred review in Publishers Weekly. 🙂

To celebrate, Jamie helped me make Monster Cookies, inspired by the Mommy Monster’s snacks in the book.

Copyright Melissa Iwai 2012

Another example of life imitating art…

I definitely wanted “worms” in them so I decided on gummy worms which I cut in half and pressed into the cookies right after they came out of the oven (obviously I wasn’t going to bake them, as they would have turned into a puddle of goo).

Instead of sticks, we used broken up pretzels. We also threw in some chips for the saltiness and crazy monster factor.

For sweet add-ins we used chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, and dried coconut.

half-way full

This recipe was based on Everything But the Kitchen Sink Cookies found in The Cookiepedia by Stacy Adimando. It’s pretty straightforward and easy to make with kids. Coming up with the salty and sweet add-ins is part of the fun.  I reduced the amounts by 1/3 because I didn’t want to make a huge amount of cookies.  This version makes a cool one dozen large cookies.

Sweet and savory additions in the mixing bowl

I was surprised at how much they spread and got so huge! But they are monster cookies, after all… so the size is appropriate.

They taste really great. You can’t perceive the potato chips, but the saltiness surely adds to the overall flavor.  The pretzels give it good crunch.

The gummy worm addition actually works with the flavors! But I think next time we make these, we’ll add old fashioned oats for more texture.

If you get a chance, please check out Hush Little Monster! It is a perfect book for a monster loving child– or a little monster of your own. 🙂

Monster Cookies

adapted from Everything But the Kitchen Sink Cookies from The Cookiepedia

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1/2 egg white (I used 3/4 tablespoon liquid whites)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used a combination of white and whole wheat)

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup mixture of peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and dried coconut

1 cup potato chips and pretzels broken into pieces

6 gummy worms cut in half

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Cream butter and sugars until fluffy.  Add vanilla and eggs. Mix to incorporate, scraping down sides of bowl.

3.  Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in another bowl.

Slowly add to butter and sugar mixture while mixer is running.

4.  Add sweet and salty mixtures to batter and stir together.

5.  Spoon twelve round dough mounds  2-inches apart onto two baking sheets covered with parchment paper or Silpat mats.

6.  Bake for about 16-18 minutes, rotating pans halfway.

7.  When cookies are golden, remove from oven and press 2 halves of gummy worms onto each cookie.  Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.

Makes 1 dozen very large cookies.

29 Comments

Filed under Art Related, Books, Children, Cookies, Desserts

Boys Can Bake Too (and Create Candy Sushi)!

Do you remember Easy Bake Ovens?  They still make them, though I don’t know if they still are pink or have pink trim (they probably do).  My son wanted one for Christmas/Hannukah last year, and I said, “No, Hon.” But not because it is marketed as a “girl toy”.  It’s because we have a really great Cuisinart toaster oven with convection feature and “we don’t need no stinkin’ Easy Bake Oven” that probably has a light bulb to bake miniature cakes!

Instead we gave him this bake set I got a long time ago at FAO Schwarz when he was a baby and had completely forgotten about.  I always dreamed of baking with him even before he could talk.  Lucky for me, seven years later, he loves to bake!   So I was really happy when I rediscovered this set buried in Denis’ closet.

Glad J didn't notice the gender stereotyping on package!

It irritated me that it was marketed only to girls, but luckily, Jamie didn’t seem to notice or care. At least the packaging wasn’t all pink and magenta…  We quickly dumped the box, and I put the utensils in a bag to be stored in my baking cabinet.

The Boutique Bakery set includes a spatula, a whisk, a rolling pin, mixing bowls, a wooden spoon, a muffin tin, three bread pans, cookie cutters, toothpicks (for testing) and muffin liners — all mini sized!

To test out the set, we first made a Mini Chocolate Loaf.  I used Anna’s recipe from Cookie Madness and halved it.  Instead of ganache, we just covered the loaves with chocolate chips.  We baked it in the Cuisinart and I let him press the buttons to set the temperature.

The Mini Chocolate Loaf came out out beautifully.  The crumb was moist, the flavor great, and because it was so small, it was the perfect size for all three of us.

Then, the last week,  I discovered a half batch of  cookie dough buried not in our closet (yikes!) but in our freezer from the holidays!  Do you see a pattern here…?  I thawed it in the refrigerator, and when Jamie had a play date with his friend, Lucas (who also loves to bake) we used it to make cookies.  The child sized rolling pin was perfect for rolling out their doughs.  I had them working on parchment paper and covered the dough with saran wrap to keep it from sticking.  Then they cut out shapes using the mini cookie cutters from the bake set.  I chilled the dough for awhile, then baked them.

Sprinkles decorating station

For decorating, I was too lazy to make frosting, and I was planning to use Nutella instead, when I discovered someone had been eating it late at night so we didn’t have enough… So we improvised and used raspberry preserves instead.  It actually tasted quite delicious in place of frosting or Nutella!

Some of the boys' decorated cookies

Though it isn’t really baking per se, Jamie requested that I share his most recent sweet creation on my blog.  I aspire to avoid being one of those parents who think everything their kid does is amazing, so I don’t put everything up that he wants me to, believe me!  But this one was kind of cute and it ties into this theme of cooking not being a girls only activity. And he came up with the whole thing independently of me (I was otherwise occupied with my daily Ken Ken!)

I present to you — Jamie’s Candy Sushi:


Follow Me on Pinterest
I guess it says something about our household that we have a ton of random candy lying around — mostly due to Denis who has a wicked sweet tooth!  We keep it in a container with the marshmallows.  So the other night, Jamie asked if he could have a marshmallow, an orange jelly candy, one Lindt truffle, and two chocolate sticks.  Typing it all out, it sounds like an outrageous amount of sugar, but they were all pretty small! The next thing I knew, he was cutting the marshmallow, truffle, and orange candy into pieces  and making a “tableau” as he called it.  It turned out to be dessert sushi.

chopsticks are edible!

I’m so glad I have a little baker who shares my passion for creating yummy things in the kitchen!

Chocolate Mini Loaf

Adapted from Cookie Madness

I halved the recipe, used milk in place of buttermilk and omitted chocolate ganache.

nonstick spray
1.4 cup cake flour (2 oz.)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (2.25 oz.)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon lightly beaten egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons brewed coffee, cooled
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
 
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Spray one 3×5 inch mini loaf pan nonstick spray (I also lined the bottom with parchment paper).
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in small yet deep mixing bowl and stir very well. Add the soft butter and mix with the flour mixture. Stir in the milk. Stir mixture vigorouslyfor about two minutes, scraping sides of bowl, until smooth.
  3. Mix the lightly beaten egg, vanilla and cooled coffee together in a small bowl or measuring cup. Add to the batter in three parts, stirring gently with a spoon until mixed. Stir in half of the chocolate chips. Then sprinkle remaining chips on top.  Bake on center rack at 325 F for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan set on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then carefully turn from pan.

Dessert Sushi

Adapted from Jamie

1 Marshmallow

1 Lindt White Chocolate Truffle

1 Orange jelly candy or other soft candy, cut into pieces

2 chocolate sticks (Pocky would work too)

1.  Cut marshmallow and truffle in half.
2.  Scoop out some of the filling from the truffle and  set aside.

3.  Top marshmallow with candy pieces.  Then top with filling from truffle.

4.  Eat with chocolate sticks

11 Comments

Filed under Children, Cookies, Desserts

Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Big Bad Wolf

Today was my last class visit at P.S. 142.  As a tradition, I always bring a treat for the kids on the last day.  This time, I made chocolate chip cookies because I figured:  Who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies!?  Alas, there were a few non-chocolate eaters, but the cookies were devoured by the the rest of the students.  I guess you can’t please everyone!

These chocolate chip cookies are really delicious and more importantly, EASY, to make.  I was happy to give them away because it makes a huge batch (I made about 4 1/2 dozen) but we three could have easily eaten them all — they are that tasty.

For my class visit, I read an old favorite — Big Bad Wolf by Clare Masurel which I illustrated many years ago.

It is a dye-cut book with holes cut out on the pages to reveal something coming next:

The hole on this page shows the wolf's pointy ears and shiny eyes, and when you turn the page, you see him in his entirety, serenely having a picnic by a lake.

Since the book’s cover is similar to a mask (the wolf’s eyes are holes which reveal the eyes of two frightened children when you open the book), I  did a wolf mask project using paper plates with the children during my visit.

Here is a pattern I made up of the mask:

Using the pattern as a guide, you can draw the red lines on the paper plates.  Cut out holes for eyes.  Then cut out the ears and the side face fur.  Punch a hole using a hole puncher on each side and tie a piece of string or yarn in each hole. Decorate the mask any way you like!

Of course, you could have fun doing various different animal faces using a similar template.

Here I am with a pack of little wolves!

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Martha Stewart’s Cookies, Clarkson Potter/Publishers

Original recipe

2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups (about 12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper.  Set aside.

2.  Measure flour and baking soda in a bowl, stir with a whisk and set aside.

3.  Cream butter and sugars in the bowl of a mixer with paddle attachment for two minutes until light and fluffy.  On low speed, add one egg at a time, mixing to incorporate.  Add salt and vanilla.  Stir in chocolate chips by hand.

4.  Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of dough onto parchment, spacing about two inches between cookies.  Bake for about 10 minutes, rotating sheets and alternating them on racks in oven halfway through.  Cool for a couple of minutes on baking sheets on cooling racks.  Then remove cookies onto racks to cool.

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies.

************************

Update:  Snuggle Mountain now available for iphone for $1.99!

7 Comments

Filed under Art Related, Children, Cookies, Desserts

Holiday Cookies

Every holiday season I tell my husband, “I’m not baking cookies this year.  I don’t have time.  It’s too much work.”  He indulgently says nothing and basically accepts the plan.  Then December rolls along and there is a get- together or some such event, and I find myself making a batch, and then another.  And then another… you get the picture.

You see, I have this enormous collection of cookie recipes that I’ve been compiling over more than ten years.  There are some favorites I keep making year after year.  They are so easy to make, the ingredient lists are basic, and people enjoy them – and let’s face it:  I love to bake.  For some people de-stressing is a mani and pedi and a Cosmo. For me, it’s baking.

During the holidays I usually go a bit overboard and make about ten to twelve different varieties to give away and send to my family.  It’s hard to cut down because I have my annual favorites and I usually try a few new recipes as well.  Plus it’s an excuse to bake!

An illustrated snowball cookie recipe. Printable one below!

This year, I cut it down to six different kinds, which is a record for me.  Most of the recipes are originally from the December Gourmet issues over the years.  I’ve altered some of them and noted where I did so.

Do you have a favorite cookie you make year after year?

Hope everyone has a Happy Holiday Season!

Hidden Surprise Snowball Cookies

From Gourmet December 2002

4 oz. sweetened coconut

3 oz. unsweetened coconut

1/2  cup sugar (the original recipe calls for 2/3 cups sugar)

pinch of salt

5 tablespoons egg whites (the original recipe calls for two egg whites)

2 teaspoons water

large chocolate chips or chunk (the original recipe calls for 30 1/2” pieces of fine quality bittersweet chocolate)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

2.  Process  coconuts  with sugar and salt until sandy. Add egg whites

and water and pulse until mixture is moist.

3.  Take a teaspoon of mixture in your hand.  Put chocolate on top.

Cover with another teaspoon of mixture and form into a ball.

Repeat until coconut mixture is used up.

4.  Bake for 15-18 minutes on parchment lined baking sheet.

Remove parchment and cookies from sheet and let cool.

Peel off cookies when completely cooled.

(The original recipe has a last step of dusting snowballs with confectioner’s sugar — I think mainly to hide any browning from baking, but I think it is too sweet, so I don’t do this.)

Turtle Brownies

From Gourmet December 2001

Brownie Layer:

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped (I use chocolate chips)

1 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 cup packed brown sugar (I don’t pack it in and maybe use a little less — this   is a rich cookie!)

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

For the caramel-pecan layer:

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup light corn syrup

3 tablespoons water

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups pecans (6 oz) (I always toast first to bring out the flavor)

Garnish:  Melted semisweet chocolate

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a 9-inch square metal baking pan by lining it with two sheets of foil laid vertically and horizontally with excess foil hanging over edges.

2.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.

3.  Melt  chocolates and butter in a double boiler (or 2-quart heavy sauce pan over low heat), stirring until smooth, then remove from heat.  Cool to luke warm, then stir in brown sugar and vanilla.  Add eggs one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition until mixture is glossy and smooth.

4.  Add flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Spread batter evenly in baking pan and bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Cool completely in pan on rack.

5.  Bring sugar, corn syrup, water, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil, without stirring, until mixture turns a golden caramel, about 7 minutes (the original recipe says 10 minutes, but I have burned the caramel at this length!  Watch it very closely!)

6.  Remove from heat and carefully add cream and vanilla (mixture will bubble and steam).  Stir in pecans and immediately pour over brownie layer, spreading evenly.  Cool completely in pan on rack.

7.  Melt semisweet chocolate and spoon into a ziploc bag.  Squeeze chocolate into 1 corner, then cut a tiny slice off corner to form a small hole.  Squeeze chocolate decoratively over brownies.

8. Chill brownies, loosely covered, until caramel and chocolate are firm, at least 4 hours.

9.  Remove whole thing from pan by lifting foil edges.  Cut into 64 squares.

(The original calls for buttering and dusting pan with flour, but I find it really difficult to remove and cut brownies this way!  Removing the whole thing with the foil and cutting it on a cutting board is so much easier.   I have also made these with roasted almonds instead of pecans, and it is delicious.  I used about 2 cups or so, which is more than what is called for with pecans.)

Chocolate Crackles

From Martha Stewart’s Cookies

(I halved the original recipe– it makes a ton of cookies!)

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), softened to room temperature

3/4 cups packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons milk

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

1.  Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring.  Set aside and let cool.   Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

2.  With an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.  Mix in eggs and vanilla, and then the melted chocolate.  Reduce speed to low; mix in flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the milk.  Divide dough into two equal pieces.  Wrap each in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

3.  Preheat oven to 350  F.  Divide each piece into sixteen 1-inch balls.  Roll in granulated sugar to coat, then in confectioners’ sugar to coat.  Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper (I used a Silpat mat).
4.  Bake until surfaces crack, about 14 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.  Let cool on sheets on wire racks.  Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

Brown Sugar Ginger Crisps

From Gourmet December 2001

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (3 oz)

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at moderate speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

3. Beat in yolk, vanilla, and gingers.  Add flour mixture nad mix at low speed until just combined.

4.  Drop heaping teaspoons of dough about 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets (I use Silpat mats) and bake in batches in middle of oven until golden, 13 to 14 minutes.  Cool cookies on sheets on racks 5 minutes, then transfer with a metal spatula to racks to cool completely.

Pistachio Orange Lace Cookies

From Gourmet December 2002

(I halved the original recipe.)

2 3/4 oz salted shelled pistachios (about 3/4 cups)

1/3 cup sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 1/2 tablespoons melted butter, cooled slightly

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur

1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

1.  Pulse pistachios and sugar together in a food processor until nuts are finely chopped but not ground (I think you have more control if you chop the nuts by hand.  This year, my cookies had a more greenish tinge because I accidentally got to the ground stage with my pistachios!)

2.  Stir together with remaining ingredients in a bowl.  Spread dough in a 6-inch long strip on large sheet of plastic wrap and, starting with a long side, roll up dough in plastic wrap (dough will be very soft).  Chill dough on a baking sheet until firm but still malleable, about 1 hour.

3.  Roll dough into a 8-inch by 1-inch log, using plastic wrap as an aid.  Chill wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 3 hours. (I’ve also just thrown the dough into the freezer and cut and baked later, without thawing.)

4.  Preheat oven to 325 F.

5.  Cut log crosswise into 1/8-inch thick slices with a serrated knife and arrange about 2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Flatten each cookie into a 1 1/2 – inch round with the back of a spoon, dipping in water and shaking off excess for each cookie.

6.  Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes total.  Cool cookies on sheets 5 minutes. then transfer with a metal spatula to racks to cook completely.  Make more cookies with remaining dough on cooled baking sheets lined with parchment.

These are usually more tan, rather than green!

Stained Glass Trees (Originally called Stained-Glass Teardrops)

From Gourmet December 2002

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 – 8 oz individually wrapped assorted  fruit-flavored hard candies (I always use Jolly Ranchers.)

1.  Whisk together flour and salt in a small bowl.

2.  Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a standing mixer (preferably fitted with a paddle attachment) or 6 minutes with a handheld, then beat in egg and vanilla.  Add flour mixture and mix at low speed until just combined.

3.  Form dough into 3 (5-inch) disks and chill, each disk wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 2 hours.

4.  While dough chills, unwrap candies and separate by color in small heavy-duty sealable plastic bags.  Seal bags, forcing out air, then coarsely crush candies by wrapping each bag in a kitchen towel and pounding bags with a rolling pin (I also use a meat pounder.)

5.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

6.  Roll out 1 piece of dough into a 9-inch round (1/8 inch thick) on a well floured surface with floured rolling pin (keep remaining dough chilled).  Cut out as many cookies as possible from dough with a large cutter and transfer to a Silpat-lined baking sheet, arranging about 1 inch apart (you could also use parchment).

7.  Cut out centers from cookies with a small cutter and add to scraps (I just save these as small cookies and sprinkle with leftover hard candy dust in the bags.) Spoon 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed candy (depending on size of cutout) in center of each cookie.  (If you want to use these cookies as tree ornaments, make a hole with a drinking straw in each for hanging.)

8.  Bake in middle of oven until edges are golden, 10 to 12 minutes, then cool cookies completely on baking sheet on a rack, about 10 minutes.  Transfer with a metal spatula to a plate or an airtight container.  Gather scraps and chill until firm enough to reroll, 10 to 15 minutes.  Make more cookies with remaining dough scraps (reroll once) in same manner on cooled baking sheet.

We used this technique for the windows in our Haunted Gingerbread House.


16 Comments

Filed under Cookies, Desserts