Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Christmas (cookies) in May

Who says the winter holidays have a lock on sugar cookie cut-outs? Sliced into flowers, butterflies or other "summery" shapes, they're just as delightful in the warmer months as they are in the colder ones.

The other two recipes below are similarly adaptable for use in spring and summer. You don't have to change a thing for my mom's skillet cookies, and the meringues can be made sans candy canes and chocolate chips--just replace them with citrus zest or extract for a light, chewy cookie that will be welcome any time of year.

Frosted Sugar Cookies

Nearly every Saturday from May to October, my husband (David) and I go to the local farmer's market. We rarely pick up any of the wonderful fresh produce, though, or any of the other home-grown goodies (meats, cheeses, honey, etc.) either. Instead, David grabs a cup of coffee and an apple fritter, while I make a bee line for a bakery that sells the most wonderful frosted sugar cookies.

This recipe isn't the one used by that bakery (as far as I know), but the resulting soft and chewy cookies taste just as good.

½ pound (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt

Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and extracts and beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the creamed mixture and mix until combined.

Form dough into a disk and wrap tightly. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours or more.

Let dough come to room to room temperature while preheating oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out dough to 1/4 of an inch and cut into desired shapes. Place on prepared baking sheet a few inches apart and bake for about 10 minutes for soft cookies, 12-14 minutes for crunchier cookies.

Place on a rack to cool and then frost.

Powdered sugar frosting:
1 pound box powdered sugar
4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour sugar into a medium-sized bowl. Place water, corn syrup and butter into a separate, small bowl and microwave on high power until butter has melted.

Pour over powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add vanilla extract and stir until combined. If frosting to too thick to spread, add a bit more water or milk; if it's too thin, add more powdered sugar.

Skillet Cookies
My mom has made these buttery, date-filled gems during the holidays for as long as I can remember. I'm not sure why I rarely make them the rest of the year; I'm guessing it's because I enjoy looking forward to them for 11 months and then fully relishing them for the month I have them (as if they last that long).

They're certainly easy--the only step that's at all complicated is when you add the eggs. Stir ferociously when you add the eggs to the (hopefully cooled) butter-date mixture; if the mixture is too hot, you'll scramble the eggs instead of incorporating them into the dough!

1 cup butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
4 cups Rice Krispies cereal
2 cups finely chopped dates
1 cup chopped nuts, shredded coconut or powdered sugar

In heavy saucepan, melt butter and sugar over low heat. Add dates and continue to cook until mixture comes to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Add milk to well-beaten eggs; stir into hot mixture. Return to low heat and boil for two minutes. Cool completely.

Stir in rice krispies and nuts. Roll into small balls and then in coconut or sugar.

Peppermint Fluffs
This recipe has been pulled from my mom's recipe box so many times it should have a permanent spot on her counter. Seriously, these "cookies" are that good--it's hard to eat just one.

The great thing about them is that they're so adaptable. Leave out the chips, replace the crushed candy with zest or extract, add nuts--let your imagination run wild.

3 egg whites
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
½-1 cup chocolate chips
2-4 tablespoons crushed peppermint candies

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

Beat egg whites and salt until foamy; add sugar and beat until stiff. Lightly fold in vanilla, chocolate chips and candy (being careful not to deflate the whipped whites).

Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I’m on the lookout for a different variation of this great new christmas sugar cookie recipe. I heard someone talking about it on a forum and it sounded so delicious! She said she used low fat butter and replaced the sugar for Splenda, and it still turned out just great. Have you seen this lowfat christmas sugar cookie recipe?