Almond Stamped Cookies

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It was around this time last year that I really started getting into making stamped/imprinted cookies. My first try was with the Cardamom Wafers I made for the series two years ago. I liked the results and knew I wanted to keep experimenting with the method. It’s a far less laborious alternative to making your Christmas cookies pretty, especially for someone who isn’t that artfully inclined like yours truly. I’m so totally not the type that can take a tube of colored gel or icing and pipe on elaborate designs. Not at all. The extent of my cookie decorating skills is to spread icing on top, then drop some sprinkles on top and call it a day. With cookie stamps, all you do is press a tool into the dough, and the work is practically done for you.

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Probably the best, most extreme form of stamp/imprint cookies is the Springerle cookie. It’s a thick German-based cookie dough that is imprinted using VERY intricate, beautiful wood molds, then left out for the dough to be able to ‘dry’ for hours before being baked. I first heard about them last fall and after hunting down two springerle molds of my own, made my first attempt in the first post of the 12 Days of Christmas series for 2015. The results blew me away. If you treat that dough right, give it enough time to dry out and bake gently, it’ll result in a cookie that impresses everyone.

Thing about Springerle is, the hand-carved wood molds used to make them don’t come cheap. I’d love to get my hands on some more but at $40-$60 a pop (and depending on the size and intricacy of the mold, possibly even more than that), buying more has taken a far back seat to my financial priorities.

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The good news is, making beautiful stamped/imprinted cookies doesn’t have to be a pricey process. There are plenty of molds that although made out of plastic, still feature intricate designs. The Cardamom print wafers and these Speculaas cookies were both made with a set of plastic cookie stamps from my grandmother’s 30+ year old Christmas baking collection and they made some of the prettiest cookies to come out of my kitchen. After multiple recipes, different doughs and using different kinds of molds, I think I can say pretty confidently that the real secret to making printed cookies lies in how you treat the dough, not so much the mold itself.

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The most important tip I can give with imprinted cookies is this: you’ve gotta chill the dough. THOROUGHLY. I mean, to the point where they’re almost rock solid. With the exception of Springerle that become rock hard by themselves in the regular open air, I’ve put every other standard cookie dough I’m stamping/imprinting not in the refrigerator but in the actual freezer for a minimum of half an hour before I bake it. It does sometimes result in me needing to bake them a tad bit longer than the recipe states, (although not that much), but it’s the coldness of the dough when it goes in that will preserve the intricacy of the design from the stamp or mold, regardless of what kind you’re using. If the butter or other fat in the dough is too warm, it expands during baking, causing the cookies to spread, which will blur the design. If the butter is frozen when it goes into the hot oven, it has less time to expand: got it?

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These cookies from today’s recipe are my latest attempt at imprinting. Aren’t they pretty? As I said, you don’t have to go expensive to get pretty cookies. The stamps I used for these came from Target and they came in a set of three for $20.00. (See here if you’re interested). They’re *really* nice, quality stamps too. Like most bakeware, they came with a recipe with which to try them out and since it looked like the dough came together in a matter of minutes, I figured what the heck and tried it out for myself.

These have a no frills, simple flavor profile which I think is appropriate for a print cookie: think along the lines of that trademark almond flavor that reminds you of the thick cookies you can get from bakeries. Because the dough uses powdered sugar rather than regular white, the crumb of the cookies is much finer and delicate. It melts in your mouth, and it’s just divine. As I said, the making of the dough is really simple, the most crucial step is how you treat the dough after stamping/imprinting.

Just remember: freezer, not fridge. Long time. Solid dough. Less spreading. Sharper design. You can do this. What’s more you *should*.

12 Days of Christmas Banner

Day 1: Stuffing Bread

Day 2: Pumpkin Crunch Tart

Day 3: Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Day 4: Dulce de Leche Hot Chocolate

Day 5: Almond Stamped Cookies

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Almond Stamped Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of Nordic Ware

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 1/2 cups flour, plus more for flouring
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Special Equipment: Nordic Ware Cookie Stamps, or any other cookie stamps, cutters you want to use

 

Directions

In a small bowl, use a fork to mix together the flour and salt.

In a large bowl, use the whisk attachment or a handheld mixer to cream together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the egg and almond extract. Gradually add in the flour in about 1/2 cup increments until the dough comes together.

Shape dough into balls, using about 1/8 cup or 2 tablespoons for each cookie. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using your hand, press each dough ball to form a disk about 1/4 inch thick.

Dip your cookie stamps into flour, then lightly tap them to free excess. Firmly press the stamp into the cookie disk until dough reaches the edges of the stamp. Remove carefully and repeat with the remaining dough balls, flouring stamps before each use to prevent them from sticking to the dough.

Freeze the cookies for about 35-40 minutes to allow to firm up. (This will help protect the design and keep them from spreading in the oven)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove cookies from freezer and bake for 12-14 minutes, until just beginning to brown on edges. Allow to set for about 1-2 minutes on baking sheet before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

 Note: No one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

S’mores Sandwich Cookies

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There are suffice to say, more than a few people in the US who enjoy camping. During the summer and even into the late autumn they love packing up their RVs and/or trailers and making long drives to remote campsites or cabins in towns located on lakes or rivers and spending weekends or even long weeks just chilling in the great outdoors. They love swimming, fishing, kayaking, water skiing, hiking and all those other outdoorsy activities.

Let me just state one thing right up front:

I’m not one of them.

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Have I ever been camping before?

No. And that’s exactly how I would like to keep it, thanks.

Why? A lot of reasons. First, I hate extreme heat. The idea of having to stay in the outdoors where it’s probably going to be extremely hot or muggy or humid or even all the above is pure torture. I need my a/c or I’m going to get grouchy. My hair just wouldn’t make it through that trauma, fam. Can’t even do it.

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I can’t swim a stroke. I hate bugs. I’ll eat a cornmeal crusted crappy or bluegill, but don’t ask me to fish for one. Not having Wi-fi anywhere makes me anxious (I wish this weren’t true, but it is).  I’m perfectly willing to go on a hike or jog through the woods for the exercise; just as long as *after* the hike is over, I can go to a place with a/c and shower and be back in my comfy space. If I just have to go back to a non-air conditioned tent or RV, well…you get the point.

I’m pretty much like Wicked Stepmother Vicky from “The Parent Trap”. Don’t try and take me camping.

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It’s actually kinda ironic that despite my aversion to it, my sweet tooth is captive to one of the more iconic “camping desserts” out there: the S’more.

I absolutely love any food, ANY-FOOD, that is S’mores flavored. The combination of chocolate, graham cracker and marshmallow is my kryptonite. God knows it’s no good for me, but I just can’t say no.

I’ve already shared recipes on this blog that feature that Holy Trinity of ingredients: (S’mores Brownies and S’mores Popcorn), and today I’m glad to announce that I’ve found yet another dessert featuring the irresistible S’more: the sandwich cookie.

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My idea for this recipe came with a recipe on The Kitchn website for a “Graham Cookie”, where the ‘flour’ element for the dough actually comes from very fine and pulverized graham cracker crumbs. I thought that was very clever and my instincts got me to thinking on what more could be done with that cookie to….elevate it. At first I considered just frosting them with a marshmallow creme icing, but then I thought I could take it a step further.

If you’ve got an elevated graham cracker ‘base’ already, why not just make an elevated s’more out of it, right?

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So what I essentially ended up with, is an elevated version of the almighty S’more, guys. I swapped out the recipe’s regular honey graham crackers for Cinnamon-flavored ones because I thought the flavors were hold up more after baking. Then after the cookies were done, I smeared the insides with semisweet chocolate and crafted a VERY simple marshmallow filling from marshmallow creme/fluff to sandwich them between. More chocolate no top because, why the heck not?

Do these taste good at room temp and even cold? You bet your ass they do.

But listen. Listen:

Love yourself and heat these up for about 10-15 seconds in the microwave. That’s all it’ll take. 15 seconds. Take a bite. Let that gooey marshmallow and chocolate greet your tongue/tastebuds the way they actually want to.

OMGAAAAAAWD.

Long live S’mores. Amen.

(As always, I’m linking my post to the week’s Fiesta Friday #137, co-hosted this week by Loretta @ Safari of the Mind and Natalie @ Kitchen, Uncorked.)

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S'mores Sandwich Cookies

Recipe Adapted from The Kitchn

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Ingredients

For the Cookies:

  • 28 sheets cinnamon-flavored graham crackers (Honey flavored will work fine too)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Marshmallow/Chocolate Filling:

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup marshmallow crème, such as Marshmallow Fluff
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

 

Directions

Process the graham crackers in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment until they are completely broken down into crumbs and have a sandy texture. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add the sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt and whisk to combine. Add the butter, egg, and vanilla, then stir together with a rubber spatula until just combined into a soft dough. Refrigerate dough for at least one hour, or up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange rack in the middle of the oven and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using a spoon or cookie scoop, measure 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough from the bowl. Roll between the palms of your hands to form a ball, then place on the baking sheet. Repeat with forming the remaining dough, spacing the dough balls about 2 inches apart.

Bake until the cookies have spread and the edges are lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a flat spatula to transfer to them to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, place the chocolate chips in a glass measuring cup or other microwave-safe bowl. Microwa1 tsp ve and heat through until chocolate is smooth and melted, in about 25 second intervals and stirring in between. Using a small spoon or spatula, spread about  1 to 1 1/2 tsp of melted chocolate on the flat bottom inside of each cookie, spreading all the way to the ends and turning upside down and allowing to set on wire racks until chocolate hardens. (You can speed this process up by popping them into the refrigerator or freezer as well). You’re also going to have extra chocolate left over; set it aside, you’ll use it later.

While chocolate on cookies is setting, make the marshmallow filling: In a medium bowl, beat butter and marshmallow crème at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until fluffy, approximately 3 minutes.

Once chocolate on inside of cookies has set, take the cookies and pair them up in twos. Using a tablespoon as your scoop, portion out a generous spoonful of the marshmallow creme and place in the center of your bottom cookie. Take the top on and gently press it down so that the filling distributes itself evenly between the two. Place the cookie sandwich on  wire rack. Repeat until all of your cookies are filled.

Taking a small spoon or fork, dip it into the reserved melted chocolate and drizzle it on the tops of your cookie sandwiches into decorative designs and/or scribbles. Allow the chocolate on top to set before serving.  Note: these cookies are best kept refrigerated when not being eaten.   

My Favorite Thick, Soft Cut Out Cookies

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I’m the kind of person who likes to learn to run before she learns to walk. I like trying the complicated way before trying the simpler way. I like doing more rather than doing less.

It’s a character flaw. But it’s just the way I am.

I remember before cooking became my sport, when just the effort of scrambling eggs and browning breakfast sausage in a skillet was a HUGE accomplishment for me, and I made the decision to begin to try to improve my cooking skills. There were a number of reasons why I wanted to give it a go and get better at the whole thing.

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One of the main ones was that I actually wanted to be able to bake my own desserts. I was under the HUGELY incorrect assumption that cooking was akin to baking. Cnce I figured out one, I would of course have the other one on lock as well. Tomato-Tomahto, right?

Heh.

Oh Jess. Sweet, simple, untried Jess. I had SO much to learn about the world and its ways. But honestly, that really was it. My mom had a pretty lit cookbook collection and I would peruse through them bookmarking a whole bunch of different dessert recipes that I would fantasize about being able to bake for and all by myself.

This was before I figured out that baking is a science and beginners in the kitchen should prooooobably try to become decent cooks before they dip heir toes in the baking pool. I actually know several outstanding cooks who are pretty “challenged” as bakers.

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But anyways, I started practicing my baking around the same time as I started cooking. It was a difficult learning curve with a LOT of trial and error but through it all I knew right from the beginning that if it was the last thing I did, there was if nothing else, one thing I was absolutely going to force myself to learn how to knock out of the park:

A bakery-style cut out cookie.

The cut out cookie is right at the top of my Favorite Foods of All Time. I mean, it’s even right up there with pizza, ice cream and pancakes (which are pretty much my Holy Trinity). Now when I say a cut out cookie, I’m NOT talking about something akin to the ones in clear plastic containers you can buy at Walmart with the pink frosting that tastes like sugary wax. Those are blegh and you deserve better things in your life. I’m talking about a real cut out cookie with a soft and tender crumb, a faint flavor of vanilla/almond and a smooth glossy icing on top that rounds out the mild sweetness of the cookie dough.

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Y’know…these.

Cookie baking is a learning process in and of itself that I’m totally willing to admit I’m still getting the hang of. You gotta practice. You gotta let your dough chill in the fridge. You MUST test-bake one cookie before the entire batch. And then, you can’t be afraid of sometimes just screwing up.  Because sooner or later you just will.

There is one recipe that I’ve become pretty awesome at though, and it’s this one.  I make absolutely DELICIOUS cut out cookies. These are probably some of the best cookies I’ve ever made/had, in general.

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These are a necessity for me and familiy now every year at Christmas but recently I also went ahead and made a huge batch to take to a baby shower, which is why they’re pretty in pink. The cookie itself is thick, soft and with a tender crumb on the inside. It’s versatile enough to where if you wanted these to have a different flavor than standard vanilla, you could easily swap in lemon, orange, lime or even cherry extract instead with wonderful results. I will strongly advise that you don’t swap out or exclude the almond extract; it’s the almond that gives the cookies that trademark “bakery-style” flavor in cut outs that you love but can’t ever quite pinpoint where it comes from.

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These would be just FANTASTIC for a kid’s birthday party where you have the cookies pre-baked and allow the kids to decorate them however they want. They’re also pretty thick and sturdy so they’ll travel VERY well. This recipe does bake a pretty huge batch, so if you’re wanting a smaller one you can feel free to cut it in half. But, I never do. Somehow, for some reason…the ones I make always end up being put to “good use”.

I’ll be taking my cookies to Fiesta Friday #125, co-hosted this week by Quinn @ dadwhats4dinner and Elaine @ Foodbod.

My Favorite Thick, Soft Cut Out Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Allrecipes.com

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Ingredients

For Cookies

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/8 cups white sugar
  • 7 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking power
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract

For Icing

  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • About 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon hot water, or more as needed
  • Food coloring, optional
  • Sprinkles, optional

Directions

For Cookies:

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs yolks, then the whole eggs, one at a time and mixing well after each.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Cover dough and chill for at least one hour. I usually let this dough sit overnight for best results.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thick and cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters. Place 2 inches apart on to the prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate the cut out cookies on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. (My ‘magic’ number is 8 minutes, 35 seconds.) Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

For Icing

Mix together the confectioners’ sugar, oil, vanilla and corn syrup until smooth. Add a few drops of food coloring to your desired hue. Gradually add enough hot water to achieve a spreadable consistency, but keep it thick enough so that it sticks on the spoon. Spread icing over tops of cookies, then decorate with sprinkles.

Allow cookies to remain uncovered on wire racks until icing it completely set and dried.

Alfajores

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So at the beginning of this week I was full of all these plans of how I was going to post a series of recipes dedicated to Cinco de Mayo. Some of you guys have been posting up some DELICIOUS looking taco recipes and Lord knows I love me a good taco.

But the truth is, I should’ve been more realistic with myself about what I would and wouldn’t have time to do. It’s been a busy past couple of days, and what with all the activity going on, I feel kinda surprised I was able to carve out time to get this post up at all.

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What’s the buzz all about? Oh well, you know…my older sister Ashley successfully defended her dissertation and earned her Ph.D yesterday.

Guys.

I am SO proud of her. Earning a doctorate is probably one of THE most difficult things I’ve ever witnessed someone take on, but if there was anyone who was up to the task, it’s my sister. She’s brilliant, hardworking, flexible, resilient– pretty much everything I want to be when I “grow up”. And brilliant; did I mention that she’s pretty brilliant?

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The “Defense” part of the process involves the candidate giving a brief presentation of their dissertation to their committee as well as any guests that attend, the committee conducting a questioning of the candidate regarding their research, briefly deliberating, then approving the dissertation itself.

It’s also an event where serving food is generally encouraged.

So, I ‘m sure you guys can guess where I came into this whole process. I ended up putting together a few dishes to serve to the guests at my sister’s defense, as well as at one of her best friend’s defenses the previous day who was also defending her dissertation. I was glad and even honored to be asked to do it, but it also meant that my plan for a Cinco de Mayo recipe series wasn’t gonna happen.

Today’s post is really all I got for ya.

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But trust and believe: it’s still enough.

More than enough.

Alfajores are a traditionally South/Latin American sandwich cookie that I’ve wanted to make for a while. I took a looksie at several recipes and figured that they didn’t look very hard to pull off at all. In fact, the most ‘challenging’ part of making an Alfajor is really only going to come down to the ‘star’ ingredient of the filling: Dulce de leche. You can make it from scratch using multiple methods….or, you can do what EYE did in a pinch, and buy a can of it at the grocery store.

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Look guys, don’t judge me.

It’s not like I don’t know how. If I had say, the 2-3 hours it takes to cook the condensed milk in the oven, then I would’ve. But this week was just too hectic for making caramel so I settled for just baking the cookies from scratch and letting Nestle do the rest.

I regret nothing.

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So I’ll be perfectly honest, I think that the cookies themselves can stand alone even without the Dulce de Leche. They’re light, slightly crisp and oh-so buttery. Think of the perfect tea biscuit and that’s what you’ve got here.

But listen: once you DO add the caramel on the inside and sprinkle the sandwiches with the powdered sugar…NIRVANA.

First of all, Dulche de Leche is yummy enough to eat all by itself on a spoon. Try and resist that urge…at least until you fill all of the cookies. The sweetness of the smooth, rich caramel complements the subtle flavor of the butter cookies perfectly. If you’re in need of a sugar fix alongside a cup of coffee or tea, or hot chocolate then I gotta say this is it.

Happy (Belated) Cinco de Mayo AND happy Fiesta Friday #118   co-hosted this week by Kaila @ GF Life 24/7 and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

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Alfajores

Recipe Courtesy of Chowhound

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon pisco or brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dulce de leche, at room temperature
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions

Place the cornstarch, measured flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk briefly to combine; set aside.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl once with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks, pisco or brandy, and vanilla and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, gradually add the reserved flour mixture and mix until just incorporated with no visible white pockets, about 30 seconds.

Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape it into a smooth disk, and wrap it tightly. Place in the refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough. Roll to 1/4-inch thickness (the dough will crack but can be easily patched back together). Stamp out 24 rounds using a plain or fluted 2-inch round cutter, rerolling the dough as necessary until all of it is gone.

Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, 12 per sheet and at least 1/2 inch apart. Bake 1 sheet at a time until the cookies are firm and pale golden on the bottom, about 12 to 14 minutes. (The cookies will remain pale on top.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Flip half of the cookies upside down and gently spread about 2 teaspoons of the dulce de leche on each. Place a second cookie on top and gently press to create a sandwich. Dust generously with powdered sugar before serving.

 

Sugar Cookie Cake

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You know the only thing I love more than Christmas?

The build up to the actual day.

I love the period from November 1st to December 24th MUCH more than I love December 25th.

It’s not because I don’t love Christmas. I do. It’s just something about the anticipation to Christmas that I actually love a lot more.

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During that period of roughly 50 or so days, I get to listen to all the Christmas music, watch all the Christmas movies and do all the Christmas baking I want. I get to walk through bustling malls and department stores that are decorated in holiday apparel and shop or just soak up the commercial atmosphere (I am into that kind of thing sometimes, guilty)

I can stretch it out  and milk it for all it’s worth.

And I DO milk it for all it’s worth.

Christmas Day itself is often to me, too busy and sometimes chaotic to really be able to “stop and enjoy”.

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You wake up (sometimes early, but sometimes late). You open presents. You congregate and socialize with family. You cook. You eat Christmas dinner. You clean up the kitchen You go to a movie (or watch football). You come home. You go to bed.

Boom. It’s over. Just like that.

And then, THEN you have nothing but the long, dreary doom and gloom of January/February/March to look forward to until Spring starts to creep back around.

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Every year without fail, I always wake up on Christmas morning wishing that it was November 1st all over again. With-out-fail.

It comes too fast. It leaves too fast. That’s my feeling about Christmas…and, about this series.

Because guess what?

We made it to the end. This post marks the 12 recipe in our 12 Days of Christmas series on Cooking is My Sport. We made it to the end.

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Just as it has been for the past two years, when the series is over I really do get a strong sense of nostalgia to go right when it first started. As much work as I have to put into it, I really do enjoy baking. And baking at Christmas for me just somehow feels even better and is even more enjoyable. Yes, even when I have to do it in these great big spurts where I churn out three or four recipes at a time then scramble to photograph/edit/and write posts for them.

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Am I saying that I’m gunning to crank out another twelve of these babies anytime soon? Nahhhhh, I wouldn’t go that far. I’m DEFINITELY going to enjoy a break from the constant baking/photographing grind. As will my feet, I can assure you.

But I do miss the experience already. It’s a blast, and I honestly can’t wait until I get to start it all over again next year.

I thought I make our last recipe go out with a bang.

As you guys already know about me, sugar cookies are my favorite type of cookie to eat, no matter what the season. Give me a sugar cookie over anything. Amen.

And for all the rest of you sugar cookie lovers out there, I think you ought to give this baby a try.

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It’s like, the sugar cookie of our dreams. It’s stupid easy. There’s no chilling or rolling out or cutting out of any dough. It’s thick. It’s soft. It’s chewy.

AND IT’S FRIGGIN’ ICED.

For a simple holiday dessert that looks every bit as good as she tastes, do try a Sugar Cookie Cake.

I’d like to once again thank everybody who followed along, liked or commented on the posts for this years’ 12 Days of Christmas series on the blog. You guys really are the best. Don’t worry: I AM going to reply to every single comment left on the posts. It’s just something that with the hectic process of baking/posting AND our move to a new place that I haven’t gotten to be as diligent at as I want to be. But I’ll get to it. Pinky Promise.

 

12 Days of Christmas Banner Second

Day 1: Springerle Cookies

Day 2: Speculaas Cookies

Day 3: Gingerbread Caramel Crunch

Day 4: Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

Day 5: Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka

Day 6: Speculoos Truffle Cookies

Day 7: Aniseed Cookies

Day 8: Magical, Memorable, Marvelous Cookies

Day 9: Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

Day 10: Café Coffee Cookies

Day 11: Snickerdoodle Biscottti

Day 12: Sugar Cookie Cake

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Sugar Cookie Cake

Recipe Courtesy of The Kitchn

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Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for an hour
  • 2 ounces cream cheese (1/4 of a standard cream cheese package)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 cups (14 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the frosting:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Green food coloring (I used Wilton Juniper Green)
  • Red & Green festive nonpareils

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Combine the butter, cream cheese, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or use an electric hand mixer) and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and mix until incorporated. Then add the flour mixture, bit by bit, to the butter mixture until fully incorporated.

Press the dough evenly into the prepared cake pan, using your fingers to smooth the surface. Bake the cake until the edges just begin to turn golden, 26 to 28 minutes. (The center should still be soft.) Allow to cool completely. Run a knife along the edges of the pan before turning out and frosting. Store the cookie cake in an airtight container until ready to frost and serve; the cake is best served within 2 to 3 days.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese, sugar, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with an electric hand mixer), and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy. Scoop out half of the frosting and set aside. Add a dollop of green food coloring to the remaining frosting and continue beating, adding more color as necessary, until desired shade of green is reached.

Using a small offset spatula, spread the white frosting over the top of the cookie cake. Transfer the green frosting to a piping bag fitted with a leaf tip. Hold the piping bag so the points of the tip are horizontal, like a bird’s beak, and position just over the edge of the cake. Squeeze hard to create the base against the cake, then quickly raise the tip, releasing pressure at the same time.

Pipe a row of leaves around the perimeter of the cake, then sprinkle nonpareils around the border. Refrigerate cake for about 15-30 minutes, just to let the icing set.

Magical, Marvelous, Memorable Cookies

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My favorite cookie in general is still the thick and soft sugar cookie, but I still do have a special place for a good chocolate chip one.

Whether just you’re baking it, just eating it, or baking it AND eating it, I  think all of us are more are less on the search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I know I am. And as a result, I’ve made a lot of different recipes, many of them claiming to be ‘THE’ one. Some of them actually are VERY good. Some of them…need work.

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I decided that the 12 Days of Christmas was as good a time as any to try out a new chocolate chip cookie recipe that I’ve had pinned for a while. Food 52 is almost always a good source for great recipes in my experience and the name alone was attention-grabbing enough. I had to see what all the ‘hype’ was about.

Now that all is said and done, I guess I can now give my own honest review.

I can honestly say I’ve never made cookies like this before.

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Don’t get me wrong: I actually mean that in a VERY good way.

In a nutshell, the cookies are good. They are however, VERY different than what I had initially expected, and what I think most of us are expecting when we first bite into a chocolate chip cookie.

Should you choose to make this recipe for yourself (and I recommend that you do), I’ll try to give a brief description of how mine turned out just so that you don’t think you somehow did something wrong when these cookies don’t puff up thick and chewy in the oven….because they won’t. At all.

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A florentine is typically thought of as a French biscuit/cookie made with either/and nuts, candied fruit, butter and honey. There’s a very low flour ratio to the recipe, as the cookie is meant to be made quite crisp by the crystallizing of the high sugar content in the cookie as it bakes. They come out VERY thin, either to the point of chewiness, or crispness depending on how long you bake them.

Interestingly enough, florentines have been a recipe I’ve been thus far, too intimidated to try out yet. I’m concerned that because they do bake up so thin, and there is such a high sugar content in the biscuit, I’ll end up burning them or they won’t be the right consistency, etc. So, I’ve stayed away from florentine-making.

Then I made these cookies.

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I wasn’t super worried when I saw that this dough spread a lot in the oven, as the recipe tells you ahead of time that they will, even after chilling. But I was a little surprised that they spread to the extent that they did although when you consider the flour to sugar ratio in the recipe, it should kinda be a given. I finally threw up my hands and said that they’d turn out how they turned out and that was all there was to it.

I took the first batch out of the oven, let them cool a little bit, then broke off a piece of one to sample.

Then I had to laugh and literally say out loud to myself, “It’s a chocolate chip florentine.”

That seriously is the best way I can describe these cookies, guys. If all the flavors of a chocolate chip cookie wanted to cram themselves into a florentine biscuit, that’s what this would taste like.

And I do have to say, it’s very good.

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You don’t miss the amount of flour or the typical ‘cakeyness’ you normally expect in a chocolate chip cookie recipe here at all. All the various other ingredients do more than enough to give contrast textures in the dough. I used chocolate chunks, crushed pretzels and Kashi Go Lean Crunch as my combo, but the recipe does encourage you to experiment with other fill-ins if that trio isn’t to your liking.

The sugar in the cookie thins, and subsequently almost caramelizes the dough so that it has an initial snap at first bite that gives way to a pleasant chewiness that still retains a sugary crunch.

If you like thin and/or chewy cookies as a rule, you will absolutely LOVE these cookies. And even if you’re like me and tend to think that you don’t like thin and crispy/chewy chocolate chip cookies…chances are you’re still gonna go for these. You just will.

Maybe that’s what makes them Magical, Memorable and Marvelous.

Cheers to us all at the Fiesta Friday #99 Christmas bash, cohosted this week by  Caroline @ Caroline’s Cooking and Linda @ La Petite Paniere.

12 Days of Christmas Banner Second

Day 1: Springerle Cookies

Day 2: Speculaas Cookies

Day 3: Gingerbread Caramel Crunch

Day 4: Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

Day 5: Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka

Day 6: Speculoos Truffle Cookies

Day 7: Aniseed Cookies

Day 8: Magical, Memorable, Marvelous Cookies

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Magical, Memorable, Marvelous Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of Food52.com

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 3/4 sticks (7 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • egg
  • teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granola (or other cereal; I actually used Kashi Go Lean Crunch)
  • 1/2 cup crushed salted pretzel pieces (or other salty snack food)
  • cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.

In another bowl, beat butter and sugars at medium-low speed until just combined, about 20 seconds. Increase speed to medium and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute longer. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. Add egg and vanilla and beat on medium-low until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl again.

(For this step you can use a wooden spoon or your mixer on slow speed.) Add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated and smooth. Gradually add granola, pretzels, chocolate and nuts, and mix until well incorporated, ensuring that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed. Restrain yourself from eating the raw cookie dough.

Scoop dough into balls, each about 1 1/2 tablespoons, then roll between palms into balls. Place cookies on prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 1/2 inches apart, 8-12 per sheet. Freeze at least 20 minutes, or refrigerate at least one hour before baking. (They will still spread a lot.)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are deep golden brown, 13 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Let cool completely before gently moving cookies to wire rack. They will be fragile, especially on the edges.

Aniseed Cookies

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Am I the only one that will buy a particular, somewhat rare, yet hardly-ever-usable spice for ONE recipe…then just let it sit in the cabinet indefinitely because I literally don’t know what else to do with it?

I HATE THAT.

But I’m still guilty of it.

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I bought saffron once. It’s main use was to make St. Lucia Buns, but I told myself I’d use it to make paella later. Did I make the paella? No. But the St. Lucia Buns turned out fantastic, and I have made them again since that first time.

The first time I brined a turkey, I bought a small bottle of whole juniper berries that were supposed to go in the brine. Prior to that, I wasn’t even sure of what a juniper berry was supposed to even taste like. The turkey turned out fine, but I still haven’t touched them since then, which was…November of 2014.

I buy vials of whole star anise to make my favorite Cranberry Clementine sauce. Do I know anything else to do with whole star anise? Heck no. But it gives an irreplaceable flavor to the cranberry sauce, so I buy it anyway.

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When I looked over the recipe to make my Springerle cookies, I saw that I would need something called Baker’s Ammonia. Had I EVER used Baker’s Ammonia before? Nope. But for the sake of my cookies, I bought some. I used 1 tsp for the entire batch. I still have just about the entire 2.7 ounce bottle left….and no idea what else to do with it.

I bought orange blossom water to make my very first batch of Baklawa. I put 2 tbsp worth in the syrup. The problem is that it was from a 10 ounce bottle….and sadly, I still have not touched it since then.

Whole cloves. Whole peppercorns. White pepper. Whole cinnamon sticks. Pomegranate molasses. Sumac. Fennel seeds.

Those are just a few of the spices I currently have in my cabinets that I purchased for maybe 1 or 2 recipes, and have yet to find other uses for.

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Another one I should add to that list would be whole aniseeds.

Why would I buy whole aniseeds?

I bought them for last year’s 12 Days of Christmas series where I made Biscochito cookies…and to my shame, I have not found another use for them since then.

Or should I say, since now– today’s recipe for Day 7 of our series.

Anise is a flavor that people typically either love or hate. If I had to describe it, I would say that it’s mildly reminiscent of licorice. But even if you THINK you don’t really like the flavor of anise, I still think you should give this recipe a chance. These cookies are that good.

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Also, if you’re like me and you have a 2 oz. bottle of aniseed sitting in your cabinet, then allow me to give you just the recipe to put those suckers to good use. It’s well worth the two whopping tablespoons that goes in this dough. I already knew when I rolled it out that I would love these cookies; the dough just ‘felt’ good to me. It’s very smooth and pliable without being too sticky.

The cookie isn’t chewy, but it does have a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth texture that I just loved. The citrus zest that you choose to include (whether it’s lemon or orange) also gives a very pleasant balance to the flavor of the aniseed. These really remind me of the type of cookies you would serve at a tea party alongside some tea, coffee or hot chocolate.

Or, of course: alongside some milk for Santa.

12 Days of Christmas Banner Second

Day 1: Springerle Cookies

Day 2: Speculaas Cookies

Day 3: Gingerbread Caramel Crunch

Day 4: Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

Day 5: Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka

Day 6: Speculoos Truffle Cookies

Day 7: Aniseed Cookies

Aniseed Cookies


Recipe Courtesy of Anne Burrell

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Ingredients

  • 3 sticks (12 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temp.
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar,plus more for rolling
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest (I did use orange, but that’s just my preference)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. aniseed, toasted
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • About 6tbsp. raw sugar

Directions

In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the first two ingredients on medium high, occasionally scraping down side of bowl until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the egg and next four ingredients; beat until smooth. Add the aniseed and half the flour, beat on medium low until just blended. Repeat with the remaining flour.

Turn the dough onto a work surface dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Knead until it just comes together, two or three turns. Shape into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (I let it sit overnight in the fridge).

Preheat oven to 35o degrees Fahrenheit. Let the dough soften until slightly at room temperature, about 10 minutes. Place onto a work surface dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Dust dough with more sugar; roll to 1/4 inch thick. Using 2 1/2 inch cookies cutters, cut out shapes. Gather up the scraps; roll again, refrigerating if dough is too soft. Arrange on parchment lined baking sheets, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart. Refrigerate cookies on baking sheets for about 30 minutes.

Sprinkle each cookie with about 1/2 tsp raw sugar. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden around the edges, 10 to 13 minutes. Transfer on the parchment to racks and let cool.