December 22, 2007

Holiday Cookies I make each year....

These are some of the cookies I make each year. The gingerbread recipe is a newer one I wanted to has some black pepper in it and was delicious. I didn't taste pepper at all but the flavor was very mellow. The Biscotti I make each year but I always add the other ingredients. I did bake them twice this year but next year I wont. I really do like them a bit chewy and not so hard when twice baked like usual. The Pignoli cookies needed to sit in a container a day or two to have the best flavor too but they are wonderful old Italian cookies.

Biscotti di prato ( tuscan almond biscotti)
3 3/4 c  Flour; all purpose   
2 1/2  c  Sugar
4    Eggs; rm. temp.2 egg yolks,rm. temp.
1 tsp. b. powder
Pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 2/3 c  Almonds, whole, blanched , toasted and roughly chopped
----my version........grated rind of 1 orange Plus 1/4c. candied orange peel

Pour the flour into a mound on a work surface or in a big bowl. Make a well in the center and place the sugar, 3 of the eggs, the egg yolks, b. powder, salt, and vanilla ( grated and candied peel if your using) in the well. Gradually work the flour into the ingredients in the well and mix with your hands till smooth. Knead in the almonds with additional flour if needed, 4-5 min. in all.

Shaping: Butter and flour 2 baking sheets that are at least 15in. long. Divide the dough into quarters. Roll each piece of dough on a floured surface into a 2-21/2in. wide log and place the logs at least 2 in. apart on the prepared baking sheets.Beat the remaining egg and brush it over the tops of the dough logs.

Baking: Heat the oven to 350 degreesF. Bake for 35min. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F. Cut the logs diagonally into 3/4-1in. slices and lay them cut side up on the sheets. Return to oven for another

15min. Cool on racks.

*** I don't bake these twice. When I make them after the egg wash I sprinkle on lg. crystals of sugar....the kind you can use for decorating ...sometimes called coffee crystals. The ones for coffee are pastel and multi colored. I ran out of those and found lavender and white this yr so Ill use that. Then I bake. I find we like them baked only once, they are a bit chewy then, not so hard you have to dunk them to eat.

Pignoli cookies

  • 1/2 pound almond paste
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

  1. Use a pastry chopper (or food processor) to break up the almond paste into a granulated form. Put in mixing bowl and gradually add the sugar.
  2. In another small bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold the egg whites into the sugar/almond paste mixture gently.
  3. On a greased and floured cookie sheet, drop a spoonful of the mixture. Press pine nuts into the top of the cookie (you want tocover the top with nuts).
  4. Bake at 325 degrees F (170 degrees C) for 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Gingerbread Man Cookies
  • 3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature, softened)

  • 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed

  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  • Optional raisins, chocolate chips, candy pieces, frosting
Royal Icing
  • 1 egg white

  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 3/4 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
1 In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.

2 In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses. Gradually add the flour mixture; combine on low speed. (You may need to work it with your hands to
incorporate the last bit of flour.) Divide dough in thirds; wrap each third in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight. Before rolling out, let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. If after refrigerating the dough feels too soft to roll-out, work in a little more flour.

3 Heat oven to 350°. Place a dough third on a large piece of lightly floured parchment paper or wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate again for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to cut out the cookies. Use either a cookie cutter or place a stencil over the dough and use a knife to cut into desired shapes. Press raisins, chocolate chips, or candy pieces in the center of each cookie if desired for "buttons".
4 Transfer to ungreased baking sheets. Bake until crisp but not darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let sit a few minutes and then use a metal
spatula to transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired.

Makes 16 5-inch long cookies.

Royal Icing

The traditional way to make Royal Icing is to beat egg whites and lemon juice together, adding the powdered sugar until the mixture holds stiff peaks.With modern concerns about salmonella from raw eggs, you can either use powdered egg whites or heat the egg whites first to kill any bacteria. With the heating method, mix the egg white and lemon juice with a third of the sugar, heat in a microwave until the mixture's temperature is 160°F. Then remove from microwave, and beat in the remaining sugar until stiff peaks form. Using the powdered egg whites method, combine 1 Tbsp egg white powder with 2 Tbsp
water. Proceed as you would otherwise. (Raw egg white alternatives from the 2006 Joy of Cooking)

If the icing is too runny, add more powdered sugar until you get the desired consistency. Fill a piping bag with the icing to pipe out into different shapes. (Or use a plastic sandwich bag, with the tip of one corner of the bag cut off.) Keep the icing covered while you work with it or it will dry out.

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