Monday, December 22, 2008

Something for Santa

In my silly little mind you can't have Christmas without cookies and other goodies that you deprive yourself of all year long. Determined to make it feel like Christmas down here, I spent a few days selecting and adapting my favorite recipes. In addition to classic Nestle Toll House and Quaker Oatmeal cookies, I whipped up a sugar cookie recipe passed down from my great-grandmother, a Paula Deen inspiration with an Argentine twist, and I attempted fudge for the first time ever.

Buttermilk Drop Cookies

These are classified by my family as sugar cookies, but they are cakey and taste very much like madelines.
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 227 g. margarine (grandma's recipe called for oleo), softened
  • 1 egg
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. buttermilk or 1 T. vinegar (or lemon juice) into 1 c. milk
Mix together flour, bs, bp and salt and set aside. Cream together the sugar and margarine, add egg, vanilla, and buttermilk. Slowly add flour mix and chill the dough for several hours. Bake at 190 C. on the top rack for 8-10 minutes. I used parchment paper to get that madeline-like edge but butter and flour a sheet pan if you want a thicker edge.

I made icing out of powdered sugar (available at Royal or cake supply stores) and warm milk and butter. In a small pot, I melted together probably 1 T of milk and 5 g. of butter, then added powdered sugar (stirring constantly) until I got the consistency I wanted and immediately smoothed it onto the cooled cookies.

The green sprinkles were a challenge. Colored sugar sprinkles aren't anywhere to be found so I decided to make my own to give the cookies Grandma's Christmas touch. I bought green paste at a cake store and was told to make dye by mixing equal parts of water and alcohol. I used a tiny amount of water and vodka to mix with an even tinier amount of paste. Then I dripped it over my sugar and meshed it together with my plastic wrapped fingers, and spread it out to let it dry. After it dried out and was all clumped together, I smashed it back into little crystals. Quite a process for a small detail!

Fudge with Walnuts
  • 350 g. Aguila chocolate (or any bittersweet/semi-sweet type), chopped
  • 1 can (395 g.) sweetened condensed milk
  • 30 g. butter
  • 140 g. walnuts, chopped

Place butter, condensed milk, and chocolate in a double-boiler or your makeshift version -- I placed a glass casserole bowl (with handles) in a heavy pot with about an inch of boiling water on low heat (don't let the water touch the bowl) -- allow the butter and milk to warm up and begin to stir the chocolate into the mix.

Continue stirring until completely mixed and smooth. Add nuts and pour into a 9x9 inch pan, allow to cool and refrigerate until completely set. I poured on a little melted peanut butter as soon as I poured it into the pan for just a touch of extra flavor.

I lined the pan with plastic wrap but it was still tricky to cut the fudge out. Next time I'll try parchment paper. I would also add a dash of salt and try a dark chocolate version as suggested by Nigella Lawson.

Paula's Pistachio Linzertorte Cookies
from Food Network

Oh. My. God. I love this woman. and her butter. These cookies were perfect for combining with membrillo for that Argentine twist. Her recipe is listed below but I made a half batch with some egg finagling and listed this alongside:
  • 3/4 c. butter, softened (or 85 g. if you're making half of the batch)
  • 1 c. powdered sugar (1/2 c.)
  • 3 egg yolks (1 1/2)
  • 1 1/2 c. flour (5 oz. for half)
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg (1/8)
  • 1/4 t. cardamom (I omitted)
  • 1 1/2 c. ground roasted and salted pistachios (3/4 c.)
  • Cherry Jam (I replaced with membrillo)
I found pistachios at a dietica, peeled about 175 grams, and ground them up in a food processor until the consistency was like crumbs. These were the priciest cookies out of the bunch.

Combine flour and spices and set aside. Beat butter and sugar on medium and add in yolks, followed by flour mixture. Stir in the nuts, cover and chill for a few hours. My dough was too dry so I added a little water to bring it together. Roll out dough 1/4 inch thick and cut out into desired shapes.

The bottom cookie should be full size, while the top cookie should have a hole. Bake at 160C on parchment paper for about 10-12 minutes. Spread the membrillo on the bottom cookie (I warmed it in the microwave to make it spreadable) and sandwich with the top cookie. Bake another 2 minutes.

Unfortunately, the holiday season is also swimsuit season here on the flip side of the world so I'm feeling really guilty about these indulgences as I pack for our trip to the beach. Fortunately, Christmas cookies are easy to give away.


Julia (Color Me Green) said...

wow that is some hardcord xmas baking! the homemade sprinkles are genius. i have made but two cookie batches, should be blogging about them shortly. thanks for the holiday e-card! i hope you and guille have a great holiday!!

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