Saturday, December 18, 2010

Xmas cookies 2010


This year I made eight kinds of cookies, though again I didn't start in time to make Aachener Printen or my previous favorite lebkuchen (I have a new favorite, which I'll tell you about below).

Starting at the top and working around clockwise I made:

  • Cinnamon Roll Cookies from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, Rachael's favorites. She thought maybe we should eat them all ourselves, but they were easy and fun to make so I'll be happy to make them again just for her.

  • My new favorite lebkuchen, Mabel's Lebkuchen from the Christmas Cookie Book. My old favorites, Mrs. Schmidt's Lebkuchen are also from this excellent book.

  • Clove hearts from Fine Cooking's 2008 Cookie magazine.

  • Bourbon Balls from The Gourmet Cookie Book--they were the editors' pick for the best cookie recipe from Gourmet magazine in 1980.

  • Better 'n Biscoff, from Baked Explorations. They weren't actually quite as good as real Biscoff--they tasted really good, but their texture wasn't quite right. I think I rolled them out too thin in an attempt to make more cookies out of not very much dough.

  • Dutch Caramel Cashew Cookies, Gourmet's best cookie of 1972. These were very tasty, even though they melted and spread out unattractively. I had the same problem with a similar cookie a couple of years ago, and my theory is that it's because I baked them on a Silpat. I'll have to try them again with parchment paper and see if they turn out prettier.

  • Candy Cane Cookies from The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion These are fun to make and pretty festive looking.

  • And finally, in the center, Pfeffernüsse. Last year I made them with this icing, which looked pretty good but never got as hard as real royal icing with real egg whites. I heard that this icing from the BBC would get harder, so I tried it this year. It was a failure! It's less opaque when dry than last year's icing, and it got even less hard! Plus it had a funny, grainy texture and somehow tasted too sweet.

And here, at Lori's request, is the recipe for the best Lebkuchen ever. These don't need to cure or soften up with a slice of apple or anything, so you still have time to make them before Christmas!

Mabel's Lebkuchen

makes about 20 big cookies, more if you make them smaller

1C honey
3/4C grown sugar
1 egg or its equivalent
1T lemon juice
1t lemon zest
2 1/2C flour (310g)
1/2t baking soda
1/2t allspice
1/2t grated nutmeg
1t cinnamon
1/2t cloves
1/3C finely chopped candied peel (I used grapefruit)
1/3C finely chopped almonds

2/3C sugar and 1/3C water for the glaze
halved blanched almonds and halved glacée cherries and/or
finely chopped pistachios

Bring the honey to a simmer in a big pan, then let col and add the sugar, egg, juice, and zest. Whisk the flour, soda and spices together (sifting the soda first), and stir into the honey mixture. Mix in the almonds and peel, then stick the whole thing in the refrigerator to rest overnight.

The next day, heat your oven to 375ºF. Roll the dough out to about 1/2" thickness and cut into flowers. circles, or rectangles. For the flowers or circles, decorate with almonds arranged as daisy petals with a cherry half for the middle. Leave the rectangles alone for now. Bake for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze by bringing the sugar and water to the boil in a little pan and cooking till it spins a thread. As soon as the cookies are out of the oven, brush with this glaze. If you've made rectangles, sprinkle them with pistachios as soon as you've glazed them.

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