The Days of Christmas Cookies
This is our cookie blog from last year’s Holiday Season and what we will be featuring this year. Plus some new ones! ——
Day 1: The Orange Kiss. A very popular orange shortbread style sandwich cookie here at the cafe. I picked up this recipe while working in Melbourne, Australia. They are a lot like potato chips in that it is really hard to just eat one!
Day 2 – The Sugar Cookie In light of tonight being Celebrate the Season here in Hanover today’s feature cookie has to be the sugar cookie. What can one say about this ubiquitous cookie made by virtually every baker on the planet? Well, for one thing it is versatile – the sugar cookie has the unique ability of being able to be rolled and cut into just about any shape imaginable. That comes in handy when baking cookies for Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s. Just use red or green sanding sugar on the hearts and shamrocks and you’re good to go! The other thing it is a cookie with a great crunch. One thing that I learned from one pastry chef I worked for many years ago is that every great dessert needs some kind of crunch component for it to be successful. Well this cookie has got it. The last thing I’ll say about this cookie is that it just a lot of fun. It’s a great cookie to make with your kids or main squeeze or in the dorm room with your toaster oven.
Day 3 – The Russian Tea Cake Yet another Holiday Classic, the Russian Tea Cake, or Mexican Wedding Cookie can be spotted a mile away on any cookie platter. It’s the ball shaped one coated in 10x sugar!
The recipe consists of only butter, 10x sugar, almond flour, all purpose flour, salt and vanilla extract. They are a year round huge seller here at the bakery.
Day 4 – The Chocolate Chip Cookie Okay, so this cookie really doesn’t say the Holidays but since today is National Cookie Day I thought what better way to celebrate than with the quintessential American Cookie. Legend has it that the origin of the cookie comes the Toll House Inn when in 1930 Ruth Graves Wakefield was making a batch of cookies and ran out of the chocolate she usually used for them. Thinking they would melt she substituted another kind of chocolate at the end of the mixing and then baked them off. Well the chocolate didn’t melt but stayed imbedded in the cookie and the Chocolate Chip Cookie was born!
We get compliments on our chocolate chippers all the time and I’ll tell you why they are so good – they are made with real good quality ingredients. We use Cabot unsalted butter, King Arthur “special” flour and a very fine quality chocolate. I can’t say which chocolate because if Slugworth or Ficklegruber read this and found out, then they would copy the idea for their own cookies.
As the Cookie Monster would say – “C is for cookie and that’s good enough for me”
Day 5 – The Raspberry Thumbprint The Holiday tray of cookies wouldn’t be complete without this festive treat. Belonging in the drop cookie category we make this with the basic building blocks of baking – Flour, butter, sugar, salt and vanilla. We don’t add nuts in deference to our customers with allergies but instead add a dollop of raspberry preserves in the center. The result is a satisfyingly rich cookie that has a splash of Christmas color.
Day 6 The Coconut Macaroon We leave the flour in the barrel and the butter in the fridge for this cookie. Made with only egg whites, coconut, sugar and vanilla this cookie is made for the gluten intolerat people. And you know what else? It contains minimal fat so you can eat a few and not feel the slightest bit guilty. And you know what else? They taste great! And they are easy to make! So this cookie has a lot going for it. Which is nice.
Day 7 The Peanut Butter Here is another cookie that arguably isn’t Christmas-y. However, what I like about it is that it brings a unique flavor and look to the cookie tray. One look at those cross hatch marks on the top and you know it is a PB (as a personal preference I like using a 3- prong fork over a 4 pronger)
And for the peanut butter lovers out there this is the best cookie to have for the season. Sandwich two of them together with some more peanut butter and you get that huge Girl Scout cookie seller – the savannah. Coming tomorrow – the return of the prodigal cookie…..
Day 8 The Chocolate Dipped Shortbread After a long hiatus we welcome back this favorite for the Holiday Season. The secret to the delicate crunch of this amazing cookie is that the recipe calls for some rice flour as well as AP flour. To those who don’t know what AP stands for – if you see it in front of flour it means “all purpose”. As opposed to standing for Associated Press or Advanced Placement or Audio Precision or Alternative Press or …. you get the idea.
Another great thing is that we dip them in some very fine chocolate. And nothing says Christmas like dipping stuff in chocolate. Remember the macaroons from day 6 ? Dip those in chocolate and you have your self another completely new cookie. ( I’m not going to cheat though and slip that cookie in the 24 day count) Another great thing about this cookie is its shape. It’s piped with a star tip giving it the nice match- stick-look. And that’s great when you want a diversified cookie platter. Who wants a tray of just round cookies or ball shaped cookies? You need a few trylons to go with all those perispheres.
Day 9 Orange Hazelnut Crescent We continue our exploration of non-round/ non-ball cookies with another shape – the crescent. Speaking of crescents, do you know the origin of the croissant and why it is shaped the way it is? Well, it originated in Budapest in 1686 when the Turks were besieging the city. Damn those Turks! To reach the centre of the town, they dug underground passages. Bakers, working during the night, heard the noise made by the Turks and gave the alarm. The assailants were repulsed and the bakers who had saved the city were granted the honor of making a special pastry made in the form of a crescent in memory of the emblem on the Ottoman flag. That means this year the croissant is celebrating the 325th anniversary of its origin. Happy Birthday Croissant! I’ve enjoyed making you for the past 12 years.
But now back to today’s cookie. We welcome back nuts to the recipe, this time ground hazelnuts. Add some orange zest, give it that venerable crescent shape and finally decorate with some mighty fine chocolate. What a tasty cookie!
Day 10 The Chocolate Truffle I could be accused of cheating a little bit by including the truffle as one of the Holiday cookies since I guess it really isn’t a cookie. But it is close – it has the same size and shape as a cookie and it certainly has the flavor side covered. It doesn’t have flour or butter (at least ours don’t) but then neither does the macaroon as we learned on day 6. And these things scream ‘Christmas Season’ so on the list they go!
We use Belgian Chocolate and Heavy Cream from McNamara Dairy to make these little shots of chocolate Nirvana. Currently we have for flavors chocolate, espresso and hazelnut. But we will be adding more as the season progresses. Bon Noel!
Day 11 The Plum Almond Drop Unlike a plum pudding this almond drop cookie actually contains plum in the form of preserves spooned in the middle. When I baked them they flattened out a bit more than I would have preferred. I think the reason is I got impatient and added a bit more butter than the recipe called in order for the dough to come together more quickly. So what this prototype cookie lacks for in aesthetics it makes up for in richness of flavor.
Day 12 The Chocolate Crinkle As you probably expected, there are going to be a fair number of chocolate based cookies in the 24 day count. Today’s Holiday classic is no exception. They are made with the basic baking building blocks plus the chocolate element of Valrhona cocoa powder. It is now worth mentioning one ingredient you’ll see a lot of during the Christmas baking season is 10x sugar. It can act as “snow” if you dust it on top of a cookie. You can coat a cookie completely like the Tea Cakes or in the case of the crinkle you roll the cookie in the 10x and then bake it in the oven.
As the cookie expands it creates the crinkle effect which looks pretty cool. The best way to achieve this is to get them in the oven as soon as you get them covered. If you wait too long the sugar will start dissolving in the cookie and the effect won’t be as striking. Because of the high quality cocoa powder we use, this cookie has chocolate flavor coming out of its ears. One final note on this cookie – you can under-bake it a little to get a chewy cookie or a bit longer for a crunchy one.
Day 13 The Pecan Thumbprint All of you who have been following the 24 days of Christmas Cookies probably noticed that we didn’t feature a cookie yesterday. I simply ran out of time to make a new one. Yesterday we had the pleasure to host the 7th grade class from the Quechee Waldorf School who came by to make Saint Lucia Buns. It’s an annual celebration that they observe at the school and since my wife is on the festivals committee there I offered our bakehouse to make the buns for this year. A splendid time was guaranteed for all! Unfortunately, as a result I couldn’t get a Christmas Cookie out that day in time. So as a remedy we will feature two cookies in the near future.
Today we have the good fortune to spotlight the Pecan Thumbprint. The basic baking building blocks are at it again with the addition of ground pecans on the inside and a whole pecan on the outside. And to finish, yes you guessed it, 10x snow on top.
Day 14 The Hazelnut Linzer The Return of the King. This cookie is so good that is has its own entry on our Holiday Menu. It’s a shortbread drop cookie that contains ground hazelnuts and then rolled in a ball and covered in more hazelnuts and then for good measure baked with raspberry preserves in the center. And don’t forget the 10x snow on top! This cookie has it all – the great hazelnut flavor, the great cookie crunch from the nuts, plus the color element from the preserves.