It's hard to believe that Christmas will be here in two weeks. Let's get baking! With all the hustle/bustle and Things-to-Do Lists a mile long, baking is a great stress reliever...not to mention the happiness that biting into a delicious, fresh cookie brings.
They have always been Santa's favorite also and when our daughters were little we would always leave some out for him on Christmas Eve along with carrots for his reindeer :) As you can see, Santa has a new holiday camper!
They are especially delicious with a cup of Candy Cane tea in a Candy Cane teacup/brewer. The candy canes on the tea cup turn to red from black when hot water is poured in! By David's Teas...So cute! Both Santa's camper and the tea cup/brewer were gifts from a very special friend. A friendship that has been ongoing for 16-17 years, although we've never met. A friendship that began with gardening in garden forums, continued with cooking and baking, painting and crafts. Fueled by many similarities in that we both have husband's who were both golfers and names start with the letter J, two daughters - one with light hair and one with dark, and years later, we were both blessed with adorable grandsons.
Hazelnut Thumbprint CookiesPrintable Recipe
Makes about 4 Dozen Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons water
1 cup toasted and finely chopped hazelnuts
2/3 cup seedless raspberry jam (you may substitute any jam or preserves you prefer, but red is pretty for Christmas)
Notes: Look for Eileen's brand of hazelnuts if you can find them. I found an 8-oz bag for just over $3.00.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.
Toast whole hazelnuts on a small baking pan for about 6 minutes. Remove to a large plate and allow to cool. Rub nuts between your hands to remove as much of the skins as possible, then place in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Be careful not to over process or you will make hazelnut butter ;) Remove to a bowl and set aside.
Combine flour and salt in a bowl and stir until blended.
Beat the butter in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and creamy. Add the sugar and egg yolks and mix well. Scrape down the bowl, once or twice with a spatula. Add the flour mixture with the mixer running at slow speed and beat until a soft dough is formed. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate all of the flour.
In a small bowl, beat the egg whites and water with a whisk or fork until frothy.
Take rounded teaspoons on dough and shape into balls. Dip the bottom half into the egg whites and then into the chopped nuts rolling slightly to cover the bottom and sides. Place on cookie sheet and press down slightly. Make an indentation in each one with your thumb or back of a small spoon. (I used a rounded cork that I saved from a bottle of wine).
Bake cookies for 10 minutes or, until the edges are light brown. Remove from oven and reshape indentation. Fill each cookie with 1/2 teaspoon of jam or preserves.
Continue baking for another 6-8 minutes or until the edges are browned. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for 1 to 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to completely cool.
Adapted from Scandinavian Baking by Pat Sinclair.
Candy Cane CookiesPrintable Recipe
Makes about 4 dozen
Note: I usually double this recipe because I like the canes a little larger. If making separate ropes is too time-consuming just take a about a teaspoon or so of each color dough and roll each into a short log. Then place the two colors together and roll them into a longer rope. While holding onto one end of the rope to keep it stationary, twist the other end to swirl the colors.
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
½ cup shortening
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1-1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp red food coloring
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Heat oven to 375 F. Mix thoroughly butter, shortening, confectioners’ sugar, egg, almond extract and vanilla; blend in flour and salt. Divide the dough in half and blend food color into one half.
For each candy cane, shape 1 tsp of dough from each half into a 4-inch rope (for smooth, even ropes, roll the dough back and forth on a lightly floured surface.) Place the ropes side by side and press together lightly; twist. Place on a Silipat or parchment-lined baking sheet and curve the top of each twist to form the handle of the cane.
Bake about 9 minutes or until set and very light brown. Mix candy and granulated sugar (food processor works best); sprinkle on the hot cookies when they come out of the oven. Allow to cool on sheet at least 5 minutes before trying to remove.
Adapted from Betty Crocker's All-Time Favorites