Friday, December 11, 2009

The Christmas Cookie Express

Okay, before we get started... WHOOO WAAANTS TO MAAAKE COOKIES??!!
On the count'a three, everyone who wants to, please indicate by raising your hands!
Well, since that's settled,we best get crack-a-lackin because we've got a lot a dough to crank out! 
So, it's all aboard the Christmas Cookie Express for Marmie and her little elves:  Mer, Harty, Bella-Becky and little Alden.  (I've got a feeling at some point the Diabolical Kitty may be joining in too.)  
The day is short and we've got a lot to do, but Marmie is at the ready.  And since it tiz the season, what could be more fun than cookie baking using 4 master cookie doughs, each with four twists on the dough, for a grand total of 16 different kinds of cookies?  Pretty clever, right? 
Well, before you think I'm such a genius consider thinking again.  Really, I'm just a great plagurizer relying on one of my fav magazines, Sunset Magazine (Living in the West).  I never throw 'em away.  And  to produce this varied, delectable smorgasboard of  Christmas cookies I turned to the December issue (natch!) 
Since I've got four little ones to care for, I'll post the first dough today and the other three batches tomorrow, so stay tuned....
Cookie Dough Recipe #1 Shortbread
2 C flour
1 C cold butter cubed
1/2 C sugar
1/4 t salt
2 T coarse sugar
1. Preheat oven to 325.  Mix flour, gran sugar and salt in the bowl of a mixer on low speed until just blended.  Increase speed to med and mis until dough is no longer crumbly and just comes together.
2.Press  dough evenly into a 9 in round cake pan.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar,.
3. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes.  Cut still-warm shortbread with fork, tines down, into 16 wedge-shaped pieces with shaggy edges.  Cool completely, then invert pan onto a work surface and carefully seperatate  cookies.
Make ahead:  Up to 5 days.  Store airtight up to 1 week.
3. Bake until  

and  here's the 4 twists...

Honey Caramel Nut Bars
Prepare shortbread.  Press dough evenly into the bottom of a greased 9 by 9 in baking pan.  Bake 10 mins.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan bring 3 T butter, 1/2 C honey, and 1/3 C sugar to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Stir in 3/4 C each toasted whole almonds, pecan halves, salted cahshews, and salted pistachios.  Carefully spoon mixture over shortbread and continue to bake untilnuts are toasted and liquid is bubbling, about 30 minutes.  Let cool.  Cut into 16 squares or cut diaganolly for 32 triangles.
Lemon Rosemary Buttons  (I'm going to make mine with Lavender!)
Prepare shortbread, adding finely shredded zest of 1 lemon and 1 t of chopped fresh rosemary in step 1.  Form dough into a disk; chill 30 minutes.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough 1/2 in thick.  Cut dough into circles with a  1 1/2 in cookie cutter.  Arrange cookies 1 in apart on baking sheets and chill 15 mins.  Bake until light golden brown, 12 to 15 mins.
Mix 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar with 2 T fresh lemon juice and the finely shredded zest of 1 lemon.  Spoon 1/2 t glaze over each cooled cookie, spreading with back of spoon, and press 1 rosemary sprig into glaze.  Makes 32
Apricot-Pecan Crumb Bars
Prepare Shortbread through step 1, reserving 1 C dough.  Press remaining dough into the bottom of a greased 9 x 9 baking pan.   Spread 1 C apricot preserves over dough.  In a bowl, combine reserved dough with 1/4 t cinnamon and 1/2 Cpecan halves and crumble mixture over preserves.  Bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 50 minutes. Let cool competely, then cut into 16 squares.
Raspberry Window Shortbreads
Prepare Shortbread through step 1, form into a disk, and chll 30 minutes.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough 1/3 in thick.  Use a selection of decorative cutters to cut as many shapes as you can, making sure you have an equal number of each shape to form a top and a bottom, and rerolling scraps as needed.  Arrange cookies 1 in apart on baking sheets.  use a variety of smaller cutters to remove center from half of cookie tops.  chill on sheets 15 minutes; than bake until light golden brown, 12 to 15 mins.  Let cool. Spread each whole cookie with about 1/1 t raspberry preserves.  Sprinkle powdered sugar over cut-out cookie tops, or glaze them with a mixture of 1 C powdered sugar and 2  1/2 t milk.  set tops on jam-topped bottoms.  Makes 26.
Since time is of the essence, I'm also going to make one batch of the dough and pat it into my shortbread mold, given to me by Jordan one Christmas.  The pan has gorgeous Celtic designs that, when cut, yields 8 lovely pie shaped wedges.

~the end!~

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