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Christmas Cookies – Senior Planet



Here is another favorite from Senior Planet archives. To enjoy!

Hanukkah, Christmas… time to think outside the cookie jar. For the holidays, baker Norma Saulino created some brand new treats by combining elements of worn recipe cards with her own take on new favorites from the internet.

Gingerbread + Rugelach = Gingerugelach

This idea came about while I was thinking about gingerbread ̵

1; the spices in the air, elaborate houses I’ve built over the years. But when I put my architectural ambitions aside, I looked for a gingerbread dough that’s softer than the crunchy, chunky kind used for building.

My sources of inspiration: a recipe for Asian Pear Gingerbread Newton that I found in the Washington Post’s Recipe Finder and a traditional Rugelach.

After tweaking the Newton dough and tweaking the Rugelach technique, I got a crunchy, chewy-inside Christmas cookie with a hint of raspberry and chocolate. Gingerugelach was born.

The recipe (makes 64 cookies)

3 cups of flour
2 ½ tsp. ginger
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup of molasses
1 large egg, beaten
¾ cup of mini chocolate chips
¼ cup seedless raspberry jam, melted
1 egg plus 1 teaspoon of water to wash the eggs, plus sugar for dusting

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients and set aside. Beat butter, sugar and molasses until fluffy, then add the egg and beat to combine. Pour in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until the dough contracts. Divide dough into 4 parts, beat into flat rounds about ½ “thick and 6-1 / 2” in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap and let cool for several hours or overnight. Take one round at a time from the refrigerator, and working on waxed paper or parchment dusted with flour, roll into a 20 cm circle about ¼ inch thick. Sprinkle with melted jam and sprinkle with mini chips. Cut into 16 wedges with a pizza cutter or sharp knife. Working quickly, roll each wedge from wide to narrow and place on a parchment-lined baking tray. (If at any point the dough becomes too soft to hold, place it in the fridge for a few minutes to set it – that’s why it’s helpful to work on greaseproof paper.) Brush cookies with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar . Place the dough in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes and then bake at 350 ° for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove warm and place on racks to cool. Store in an airtight container. Can be frozen.

Apple Crumb + Pecan Tarts =
Apple crumbs and apple pecans

 Senior-Planet- appelkruimelsFor years my husband and I let our son pick apples. With apples left, I’d make a dessert I found on Epicurious with a perfect balance of crunchy and sweet: Any Season Fruit Crumble. I recently baked my mom’s pecan recipe for a party and everyone raved about the “miniature pecans” with their flaky cream cheese crust. With these two desserts in mind, I started envisioning a mash-up: mini apple crumble tarts with that wickedly rich crust? Apple with pecans in small cakes? After some trial and error, the answers were “yes” and “yes”.

The recipe (makes 4 to 4-1 / 2 dozen)

Crust

2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
1 8oz. package of cream cheese
2 cups of flour
½ tsp. salt

Mix butter and cream cheese on medium speed. Add flour and salt and continue to mix until the mixture collects into a soft dough. Shape dough into even-sized balls and place in non-greased mini muffin tins or on wax paper to chill in the fridge until firm. (Test one to see how big you need to make the balls. They should press evenly into the bottom and sides of the cups and be less than ¼ ”thick.) Meanwhile, make the filling and topping (s).

Apple filling

2 large crispy apples, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
1 tsp. lemon juice
2-3 teaspoons. sugar, depending on the sourness of your apples
½ tsp. cinnamon
4 teaspoons. flour

Stir all ingredients in a medium bowl to combine.

Toppings

Make one or half recipe and make a few of each. Any recipe is enough to cover all cakes.

  1. Crumb: In a small bowl, stir ½ cup of flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, and ½ tsp. salt. Cut 5 tablespoons of very cold unsalted butter into 5 parts and process into the dry mixture with a pastry cutter, two knives or a fork to make small crumbs.
  2. Pecans: In a small bowl, stir ½ cup finely chopped pecans (alternatively substitute for walnuts) and combine ½ cup of light brown sugar.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator about a dozen balls at a time and press them into mini muffin tins to cover the bottom and sides. Fill each cup with apple mixture just to the top of the cup. Sprinkle a scant teaspoon of topping over each. Bake at 375 ° for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned on the topping and crust. Let cool slightly and remove them from the cups with a butter knife to loosen them. Store loosely packed at room temperature for a few days, or freeze and thaw for a few minutes at room temperature when ready to use.

Rum Balls + Thumbprints = Rum-Prints

 Senior-Planet-RumprintsWhen I was a kid, our neighbor used to make Rum Balls for the holidays. They were a personal favorite, and I don’t know if it was because of the deep chocolate flavor or because it was the closest thing to an adult cocktail. At our house, my mom and I baked Thumbprints, a buttery classic covered in walnuts and filled with jam. What happens when two nostalgic bites collide? Try it for yourself. I found a Rum Balls recipe that I liked on a blog called My Baking Addiction and changed it a bit to meet the needs of the Rumprints.

The recipe (for 4 dozen)

2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups of All-purpose Flour
½ tsp. salt
24 Rum Balls, chilled and halved (recipe below)
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Beat butter and sugar together into a mixture. Add egg and vanilla and beat again. Turn the mixer on low speed and mix in the flour and salt until the dough comes together. Form 2.5 cm balls on non-greased baking trays and push your thumb deep into them. Bake at 350 ° C for 10-12 minutes or until edges start to brown. Straight from the oven, firmly place half a Rum Ball, cut side down, into the print of each. Remove to wire racks to cool. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

For the Rum Balls (Make a day or two in advance, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

28 Nilla waffles, crushed (about 1 cup)
¼ cup of confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon plus 1 teaspoon. unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup of ground walnuts
½ tsp. vanilla
1 tablespoon of light corn syrup
2 ½ T rum

Beat the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. When mixing, gradually pour in the remaining ingredients with a large spoon to incorporate the wet with the dry. When fully combined, shape heaped teaspoons into even sized balls. Makes 2 dozen.

Photos: Lorraine Saulino


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