The Mount Everest of Pastries

It’s time. I’ve put it off long enough! Yes, it’s time for me to try my hand at making homemade croissants. I have visions of flaky, golden brown, crispy layered, buttery croissants hot out of my oven. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try, but thought that I wouldn’t be able to master the technique. But my motto is “be fearless in the kitchen,” so it’s time to strap on an apron, heat up the oven, and give it a go! Armed with the recipe and directions used by Julia Child, I feel like I can climb and conquer this culinary mountain. I hope… I think… Okay, cross your fingers and jump in the kitchen with me!

A side note my friends. The most important part of making croissants is time and patience. You will need lots of time to let the dough rest and rise. The process took me two days. However, I promise it is totally worth it.

Croissants (from the cookbook Baking with Julia)

The Dough:

  • 1 oz. compressed (fresh) yeast
  • 3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (approximately) whole milk

Put the yeast, flour, sugar, salt, and one cup milk into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. With the machine on the lowest speed, mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until a soft, moist dough forms on the hook. If the dough is too dry, add more milk, one tablespoon at a time until you have the consistency you need. You shouldn’t need more 3 tablespoons of additional milk.

Once the hook has picked up all the flour, set the mixer to its highest speed and work the dough until it is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky, and close to the consistency of soft butter, about 4 minutes. Side note: Your mixer is going to get a workout so be prepared. A hand mixer is not going to have the power – you need a stand mixer.

Remove the dough from the mixer, wrap it in plastic, and put the packet in a plastic bag, leaving a little room for expansion. Keep the dough at room temperature for 30 minutes to give the gluten a chance to relax, then refrigerate the dough for 8 hours or overnight.

The dough after resting in the refrigerator overnight.

The dough after resting in the refrigerator overnight.

The Butter:

  • 4-1/2 sticks (1 pound 2 ounces) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 tbsp unbleached all purpose flour

Attach the paddle to your mixer and beat the butter and flour on the highest speed until smooth and the same consistency as the croissant dough, about 2 minutes. Scrape the butter mixture onto a large piece of plastic wrap and give it a few slaps to get the air out of it. Mold into an oval 5 to 6 inches long and 1 inch thick. Wrap tightly, and refrigerate until needed. At this point the dough and butter can be frozen; defrost overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding with the recipe.

Place the croissant dough on a generously floured large work surface (marble is ideal) and sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour. Using a long rolling-pin, roll the dough into an oval approximately 10 inches wide and 17 inches long. Brush the excess flour off of the dough. Center the oval of chilled butter across the oval of dough and fold the top and bottom of the dough over the butter to make a tidy package. Gently and evenly stretch the folded layers of dough out to the sides and press the edges down firmly with your fingertips to create a neatly sealed rectangle.

How about a big slab of butter to make everything better?

How about a big slab of butter to make everything better?

HERE COMES THE FUN PART! If you have a French rolling-pin (one without handles), now’s the time to use it. Hold one side of the dough steady with your hand and strike the other side gently but firmly with the rolling-pin to distribute the butter evenly. As you hit the dough you’ll see the butter moving out to the sides and into the crevices. Strike the other side of the dough in the same way. After pounding you should have a 1 inch thick rectangle about 14 inches long and 6 inches wide. Note: At this point I did cut off the ends to even up the rectangle.

Rolling pin at the ready!

Rolling pin at the ready!

Keeping the work surface and top of the dough well floured, roll out the dough. Make sure your dough is still well chilled. Roll the dough into a rectangle 24 to 26 inches long by 14 inches wide, with a long side facing you. You’ll want to be able to roll the dough from two directions – the length and width of the dough. Brush off the excess flour and working from the left to right sides, fold the dough in thirds, as you would a brochure, so that you have a package  that is about 8 inches wide by 14 inches long. Carefully transfer the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with plastic and chill for 2 hours.

Dough has been folded in thirds and is ready to return to the refrigerator.

Dough has been folded in thirds and is ready to return to the refrigerator.

The dough needs two more turns. For the second turn, repeat the directions above,  but place the dough so the 14 inch side runs from left to right. (You’ve given the dough a quarter turn.)

For the third turn, start again with a 14 inch side running from your left to your right. Roll the dough into the 24 to 26 inches long by 14 inches wide slab of dough. This time, fold the left and right sides of the dough into the center, leaving a little space in the center, and then fold one side over the other as though you were closing a book. This is the famous double turn, also known as “the wallet.”

The final turn and fold into "the wallet."

The final turn and fold into “the wallet.”

Brush off the excess flour, wrap the dough in plastic, and refrigerate for 2 hours. At this point you can roll and cut for croissants. The dough can be frozen at this point for up to one month. Thaw overnight, still wrapped, in the refrigerator.

Rolling and cutting the dough – Generously flour your work surface. Position the dough so that it resembles a book with the spine to your left and the opening to your right. For easy handling, cut the dough in half horizontally. Wrap and chill the other half, or freeze if you don’t plan to use all the dough.  Flour the dough and roll it to a rectangle 20 to 24 inches long and 15 to 18 inches wide.

Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife cut the rectangle of dough horizontally to make two long strips. Cut the triangles in the dough with a 3 to 4 inch base. This is done most easily by making a diagonal cut on the left hand side to get the pattern started; save the uneven pieces of dough. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Triangles of pastry dough ready to be shaped.

Triangles of pastry dough ready to be shaped.

I also made a few chocolate croissants - just because!

I also made a few chocolate croissants – just because!

Shaping the croissants – take a triangle and hold it at the base and pull the point of the triangle to stretch the dough until it’s almost twice the original length. Place the triangle, point towards you, at arm’s distance on the work surface. Pull off a little piece of the scrap dough and mold it into a small football shape. Center it on the wide top part of the triangle. This will help make the “belly” of the croissant plump. Fold about 1/2 inch of the wide end over itself and press the ends down once to secure. With your palms and fingers positioned over the flattened ends of the croissant and the heels of your hands flat on the work surface, roll the croissant towards you. The point of the croissant should end underneath the finished croissant. Place on the prepared cookie sheet and leaving space for the dough to triple in size.

Ready to roll into the perfect crescent shape.

Ready to roll into the perfect crescent shape.

Glaze the croissants with a beaten egg and brush on with a pastry brush. Leave the croissant at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours to rise.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the croissants again with the egg wash and bake for 12 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet and rotate it. Put it back in the oven for 4 to 6 minutes until the croissants are deeply bronzed. Cool on racks. Do not eat them right out of the oven – tempting as it is – since they have to set.

I am so darned proud of these! Not too shabby for a first run. They are flaky crisp, and oh so buttery.

I am so darned proud of these! Not too shabby for a first run. They are flaky, crisp, and oh so buttery.

Croissants are best eaten the day they are made. If you must keep them you can freeze them, wrapped air tight. Thaw the croissants overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature (still wrapped) and reheat in a 350 degree oven for about 8 minutes.

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Biscuits for Breakfast

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Looking for something fast and easy that will leave your guests thinking you slaved away for hours and are a culinary genius? Of course you do! And knowing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, this recipe will get you on your way to owning the title of Best Baker!

Homemade biscuits, hot out of the oven are one of my favorite, comforting breakfast foods. You can dress them up with homemade sausage gravy, or you can opt for simplicity and add butter and honey or jam. Add a cup of coffee and you are set for the morning. Best thing about this recipe, you will most likely have everything available in the pantry, so no early morning trips to the store with sleepy eyes and no make-up!

A couple of things to remember when making biscuits.

  • Your hands will get messy – but it’s totally worth it – trust me.
  • Don’t overwork the dough or you will end up with tough biscuits.
  • Keep a little extra flour on hand to make cleaning off your hands and keeping the dough malleable and easy to work with. But don’t overdo it on the extra flour or you’ll end up with…. tough biscuits!

Okay, let’s make biscuits.

Baking Powder Biscuits

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus a little extra for dusting work surfaces and cleaning sticky hands)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp  salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening (cold)
  • 1 cup milk (skim, whole, 2% – whatever is on hand)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt with a fork. Add the cold shortening to the flour mixture. With your fingers (use one hand to keep one clean for adding ingredients or scratching your nose), begin blending the flour and shortening mixture until you have crumbles of shortening in the flour. You aren’t looking for uniformity here. There will be some larger pieces of shortening – that’s okay. Just make sure you have blended the two elements together. Don’t overwork.

Add your milk to the flour/shortening mix. With a wooden spoon, mix the two together until the mix is incorporated. It will be sticky! Work the dough with your hand to make sure everything is incorporated and then dump the bowl on to a lightly floured work surface. If you have a piece of marble even better, but any clean floured surface will do.

Now that the dough is on your work surface, knead the dough with both hands. DO NOT KNEAD THE DOUGH MORE THAN 10-12 TIMES. Seriously, otherwise you will have tough biscuits.

Pat the dough out into a circle about 1/2 – 1 inch thick. Using a 2 inch or larger (depending on how hungry your guests are) biscuit cutter, cut out the dough and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Reform the left over dough and cut again until you’ve used all the dough. Make sure the biscuits are touching each other. You will end up with 6 – 12 biscuits depending on the size cutter you use.

Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden brown. Side note – your kitchen will smell like heaven and bring back a million memories of sitting in your grandma’s kitchen on an early fall morning. Bliss!

Serve hot with your favorite jams, jelly or honey. You’ll never get rid of your house guests when you serve these at breakfast or brunch.

 

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The Four P’s

I was bored today. I shouldn’t have been really. I worked on a quilt (it’s looking awesome and I’ll show it to you when I’ve finished), and I supervised The Dude tearing out our front porch. We’re replacing the porch and putting a new front door on the house too.

Anyway…. I was bored today and I wasn’t sure what I was going to put together from the kitchen. I found a ton of fresh peppers, pancetta, and I had a bag of potatoes. I also had some Grana Padano cheese too. Get where I’m going here? The Four P’s! I decided to put them all together in a casserole. It’s so yummy. The Dude says it’s in my top FIVE! Wow! Pancetta layered with sautéed sweet peppers in extra virgin olive oil, then topped with thinly sliced Yukon Gold potatoes, bread crumbs and Grana Padano cheese. The sweet peppers mixed with the savory pancetta, creamy potatoes and the hit of salty Grana Padano… ah, I’m in love! Join me for this delightfully easy, layered casserole. You can serve it with a grilled steak or do what we did. Just have the casserole!

Here’s the recipe.

Look at these awesome peppers!

Look at these awesome peppers!

Four Ps Casserole

  • 5 large peppers, sliced (I used a mix of red, yellow and orange peppers.)
  • 8 oz pancetta, sliced paper-thin
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced thin (I used a mandolin to get even slices)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1 cup shaved Grana Padano cheese (or parmesan)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large hot skillet, add olive oil. When the oil heats up, toss in the peppers and saute until they begin to soften and get a bit of golden brown around the edges. While the peppers are sauteing, add your garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer peppers to a bowl.

Using a 9 x 11 baking dish, line the bottom with a thin layer of the pancetta. Add a layer of the sautéed peppers. Add a layer of thinly sliced potatoes. Sprinkle half of the dried bread crumbs and half of the cheese. Repeat a layer of pancetta, peppers, potatoes, and finish with the rest of the bread crumbs and cheese.

Layer of pancetta.

Layer of pancetta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Layer of potatoes with bread crumbs and Grana Padano.

Layer of potatoes with bread crumbs and Grana Padano.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Turn on the broiler, uncover the dish, and place under the broiler until browned on top. Let rest for five minutes and serve.

Yum!!!! And that wine? So terrific with this dish. The slight fruitiness of the wine offsets the earthiness of the dish.

Yum!!!! And that wine? So terrific with this dish. The slight fruitiness of the wine offsets the earthiness of the dish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This dish is awesome with a great Zinfandel wine. I love, Bogle’s Old Vine Zinfandel.

Can you make this vegetarian? Sure can! Just leave out the pancetta and you are good to go.

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Shrimp Scampi

Two posts in one weekend – I am tearin’ it up in the kitchen! The Dude and I spent a rather quiet Memorial Day. We went to the garden center and brought home some more plants for our vegetable garden. So far we have several different varieties of tomatoes, some peppers, and eggplant. I’ve got to look for some bush beans and then we will be all set for the summer garden.

Since our gas grill is in need of propane, we decided not to grill out. Yesterday The Dude asked if I knew how to make shrimp scampi. I looked at him as if to say, “What are you, nuts? I’m Italian for God’s sake! Of course I know how to make scampi!” Duh!

This recipe comes from watching my dad make this dish ever since I was a little bambina. Don’t get me wrong, my mom is an awesome cook, but every once in a while my dad would get in the kitchen and turn out something awesome! His shrimp scampi was right up there in the top 10 hits of the family. So today, I make shrimp scampi in honor of my dad – a veteran who served in the Korean War. Love you, dad!

Shrimp Scampi

  • 1 pound raw shrimp, cleaned, peeled and de-veined
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 3 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 6-8 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound of the pasta of your choice – I use linguine with this dish. Be sure to hold back one cup of pasta water when you drain your pasta for the sauce.

This is a quick and delicious dish, but remember that timing is everything. The shrimp cooks fast and overcooking turns the shrimp to little rubbery erasers. So, have everything chopped, sliced and on hand when you start this dish.

Boil salted water for the pasta and cook according to directions. When you put the pasta on to cook, heat a large saute pan with the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Saute the garlic and be careful not to burn.

Add the shrimp to the saute pan and cook until done – about 2-3 minutes per side on medium heat. Lower the heat and squeeze lemon over the shrimp. Drain pasta. Add reserved pasta water to the shrimp along with the parsley. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the pasta to the pan over low heat and toss to coat. Garnish with parmesan and serve in bowls with lemon wedges if desired.

Serves 4.

 

Shrimp Scampi served with one of my favorite beverages, a Spanish style hard cider called Sidra de Nava by Virtue Cider. Wonderful dry, lemony cider that compliments the scampi. Buon Appetito!

Shrimp Scampi served with one of my favorite beverages, a Spanish style hard cider called Sidra de Nava by Virtue Cider. Wonderful dry, lemony cider that compliments the scampi. Buon Appetito!

 

 

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Caramel Coconut Cream Pie – Need I Say More?

I hope that everyone is enjoying their Memorial Day weekend. I know that The Dude and I are enjoying beautiful weather here in NW Indiana. I also hope that you can take a moment during this busy weekend of friends, family and food to remember our veterans and all they have done to serve our country.

I’ve missed being here to share some of my favorite recipes, but I’ve been just a bit busy. I decided towards the end of last year that I was going to return to school to finish my bachelors degree in English. So, this past semester I took three classes in addition to working full-time. Luckily, I only have four more semesters to finish, but that still translates to two years. So, unfortunately blogging – and cooking – have been on the back burner. Fortunately, The Dude has been awesome with taking over cooking duties, as well as cleaning and laundry too! How lucky am I? So, when he made the request for a coconut cream pie how could I say no?

My grandmother used to make coconut cream pies and I loved them. So, I did some digging and found the recipe that I think comes closest to her’s. Of course, I couldn’t just settle for a run of the mill coconut cream pie! I decided to add a layer of homemade caramel to the bottom of the crust and then garnish the pie with a drizzle of caramel with the toasted coconut. I really think you are going to like this one!

A quick note about pie crust. I make my own. I avoided making pies for the longest time because I didn’t want to make pie crust. The invention of pre-rolled crust in the dairy case is great, and if that works for you then by all means use it! For me, I needed to get over my fear of making and rolling out a pie crust. Now I make pie crust like a pro – well, almost like a pro! Here is a link to a earlier post with my favorite pie crust recipe: http://domesticdivaeileen.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/baking-on-a-budget/  Okay, let’s make an awesome pie!

Brace yourself - you are about to create this awesomely delicious pie.

Brace yourself – you are about to create this rich and delicious pie.

Caramel Coconut Cream Pie

This recipe can be done in phases, since you need to let all the elements cool before putting the pie together.

Pie crust for a deep dish pie  – Blind bake the crust (350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown). Be sure to poke the bottom of the pie crust with a fork to vent while baking. Pie crust must be completely cool before adding caramel, coconut filling, and whipped cream.

Easy Caramel Sauce

  • 1 c brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract

Put all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil for one minute. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Chill until ready to use. Note that the caramel sauce will thicken when it is chilled.

Coconut Custard Cream and Whipped Cream Topping

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Garnish: toasted coconut

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch in a heavy saucepan. Whisk together half-and-half and egg yolks. Gradually whisk egg mixture into sugar mixture; bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil 1 minute; remove from heat. Stir in butter, 1 cup coconut, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, placing plastic wrap directly on filling in the bowl. Chill at least 30 minutes or until chilled through.

In the cooled pie crust, spread a thick layer of the chilled caramel sauce on the bottom. Transfer the coconut cream on top of the caramel sauce.

Sweet, silky caramel sauce is a nice surprise at the bottom of the pie.

Sweet, silky caramel sauce is a nice surprise at the bottom of the pie.

Coconut cream on top of the caramel sauce.

Coconut cream on top of the caramel sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In an electric mixer take the two cups of whipping cream and beat on high. As it begins to thicken slowly add the sugar and vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form. Top the pie with the whipped cream. Drizzle additional caramel sauce on the whipped cream and sprinkle toasted coconut. Chill until read to serve.

Note: To make toasted coconut, scatter coconut on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally to brown evenly.

 

Grab a fork and a big glass of milk. Heaven!

Grab a fork and a big glass of milk. Heaven!

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Dreaming of Warmer Weather

The holidays are over and things are getting back to normal – whatever that means. It was a great holiday season for The Dude and I, spent with family and friends. We also had opportunities to visit some great microbreweries, which I’ll be telling you about in future posts.

Here in the Midwest we are facing a pretty awful winter. Cold? You bet! Quite a few sub-zero days have made going out a real chore. Just ask our dogs! Snow? Oh, we’ve got that too. The last big storm brought us around 20″ of snow. Of course, the snow came right when the sub-zero temps hit us. Win-win! Not….

On Facebook I’ve noticed that friends have taken off for warmer climates. The photos posted of Florida and Hawaii get pretty depressing when you are stuck in the Midwest all winter. Sounds like I’ve got cabin fever, right? So, when I went to the grocery store and found blood oranges – difficult to find in my neck of the woods – I immediately grabbed some, since they remind me of Italy and warmer weather.  If you’ve never had a blood orange I’ll try to describe them. Yes, they taste like oranges, but they also have a berry flavor as well. They are sweet but have a tart, slightly bitter note. And the color is amazing! You slice into it and find a deep red fruit. Gorgeous!

Now you see why they are called blood oranges.

Now you see why they are called blood oranges.

Blood oranges are often used in fish dishes and in a variety of vinaigrettes. I especially love blood oranges in an arugula salad. The sweet/tart/bitter fruit combined with the peppery greens – awesome! But if you’ve read this blog for any length of time you know I have a real sweet tooth and love to bake.  So, I did some research and found an incredible recipe on the Food Network website. It’s a Blood Orange Tart and the recipe is attributed to Emeril Lagasse. It’s really lovely, with a sweet crust and a light custard filling laced with mascarpone cheese – very, very tasty! So, thanks to Emeril for knocking this one out of the park! Here is the recipe.

Blood Orange Tart
Pastry:

  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon orange-flavored liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)

Filling:

  • 3/4 cup fresh blood orange juice (5 oranges yielded 3/4 cup of juice for me)
  • 1 orange, zested and zest finely grated
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier), optional
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish, optional
Butter an 11-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom with 2 teaspoons of butter and set aside.Make the pastry by combining the flour, salt, lemon zest, and confectioners’ sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and, using a pastry cutter, 2 knives, or your hands, work in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Combine the egg and orange liqueur in a small bowl and add to the flour mixture. Using a fork, stir until the mixture just comes together. Note: I used my food processor for making the pastry dough. Worked like a charm!Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead just until a dough is formed. Shape into a flattened disk, wrap in plastic, and transfer the dough to the freezer for 15 minutes.Place the dough on a floured surface and roll into a 13-inch round. Transfer dough to the prepared tart pan and ease dough into the edges and up the sides of the pan. Trim excess dough. Transfer to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator and prick it all over with the tines of a fork. Line the pastry with aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the crust until the edges just begin to turn golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the pie weights and aluminum foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the crust is light golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside on a wire rack to cool.Make the filling by combining the blood orange juice, orange zest, brown sugar, and mascarpone in a mixing bowl; whisk until smooth. Add the eggs and egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add the liqueur and stir until smooth. Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell. Bake until the filling is lightly browned in spots and the crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

Pretty in pink! This is so light and not too sweet. This would be a great dessert for a bridal or baby shower.

Pretty in pink! This is so light and not too sweet and the citrus is not overwhelming. This would be a perfect dessert for a bridal or baby shower.

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Christmas Cookies!

I love to bake if you haven’t guessed that already from all the dessert recipes that I post. So, you can understand why I enjoy the holidays so much.

Every year I make the usual Christmas cookies. Butter cookies, Russian Teacakes, Biscotti. But this year I wanted to make a cookie that I have never attempted before. While at the grocery store I came across a cookie cutter for Linzer cookies. You know, those sandwich cookies with a cut out on the top? I’ve always loved them but never had the right equipment. So, I bought the cutter and lucky for me, the recipe was on the back of the packaging. The recipe comes from Wilton Industries, that wonderful company that makes so many supplies for bakers.

Let me just say that this recipe doesn’t disappoint. Crisp cookies laced with almond and filled with a good quality (seedless) raspberry jam. Best of all, they are really very easy to make. One thing to remember when making these lovely little gems is that the dough tends to warm up fairly quickly when you work with it. Don’t be surprised if you have to return the dough to rest in the refrigerator as you are rolling out the dough. Other than that these shouldn’t give you any problems in the kitchen. Oh, a FYI, I doubled the recipe listed below. They’re just so darned good I wanted to make sure I had some for guests!

Enjoy these light, crisp and oh so pretty cookies after your holiday dinner.

Linzer Cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup finely ground almonds (about 2 oz)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (approx) best quality seedless raspberry jelly
  • confectioners sugar (optional)

In a small bowl, combine the flour, almonds and cinnamon and set aside. In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture only until just incorporated. Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or until firm enough to roll.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. On a floured surface roll out one of the disks of dough. Cut half the dough with the round (bottom) cutter. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. You may want to put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator while you are cutting out the rest of the dough. Roll out the other half of dough and cut out the cookies, this time adding the insert in the shape of your choice. I used a star for the holidays. Make sure you have an equal number of cookie bottoms and tops.

Bake 10-12 minutes until light golden brown. Cool on cookie sheet for two minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Invert bottom cookie and spread with a teaspoon of jam. Place the top cookie and press gently. Dust with confectioners sugar if desired.

Cookies 01

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