Pillowcase Cookies

Happy New Year everyone. I hope 2018 is off to a good start for all of you, and that you’re feeling at least a little optimistic for the year.

Okay, so…I try to stick to a pattern in my posting schedule so that I’m not posting more sweet than savory or vice versa–variety being the spice of life and all. The 12 Days of Christmas series is usually enough of a sugar rush/overload for me where I need a break from making & eating sweets and for a while stick to savory and relatively healthy recipes on the blog.

Having said that, you all should know that I did intend to hold off on posting any sweets or baked goods for at least a few weeks, but well…here we are. Thing is, I’ve had this post sitting in my Drafts folder since August and I just couldn’t put off sharing it any longer.

You guys need to see (and make) these. You REALLY do.

If you know anything about my food preferences, you know that sugar cookies are in my Top 3 of favorite desserts. A good sugar cookie–one that is so good it doesn’t even need any embellishments from icing or glaze– just can’t be beat.

Some people like their sugar cookies crisp. Some like them chewy. Some like a combination of the two. Some like them to have a vanilla flavor. Others prefer almond.

I make my stance on this highly contested, divisive issue, loud and clear: I love and must have my sugar cookies thick and soft. I don’t mind almond extract in the dough, but the vanilla needs to be the star flavor for me.

The sugar cookies that I’ve posted on the blog thus far have met all of the above criteria. The first (and also, the most popular post on the blog to date) were these cut-outs. I’ve also shared two vanilla sugar cookies that are good for cookie stamps and molds, here and here.

As delicious as all of these recipes are, they do fall short in one area.

Although they’re all thick and soft, they’re still missing what I think of as the ‘cloud’ factor; where the texture of the cookie is SO light and soft that when you’re biting into it, you feel like you’re biting into a fluffy cloud of pure heaven. I’ve tried a lot of sugar cookie recipes that claim they deliver these goods, only to be disappointed because they just didn’t.

Guys. This recipe de-LIVERS.

I had my doubts before I made these just because the method is unlike any method I’ve ever done when putting together cookie dough. Rather than being creamed or melted, the butter actually gets cut into the dry ingredients just like it is when making biscuits and scones.  The eggs get beaten together with the vanilla and a little milk, then folded into the butter-flour mixture. I have no idea why this is. I have no idea how it works together with the rest of the ingredients. All I know is that it works. It works so well.

As a Southern recipe, this one supposedly gets its name from when the cookies would be given out to journeymen to store in their pillowcases by their families as they traveled around doing work. I’d certainly be a happy camper (or journeyman) if I had a pillowcase full of these to eat.

My favorite thing about the cookies is their texture. It’s just perfect. They rise with a perfect dome and have that thick, soft, fluffy center that practically melts in your mouth. And, no: they absolutely don’t need any help from icing or glaze. These are delicious enough to eat all on their own. This is THE sugar cookie of my dreams, the one I’ve been searching for–which is why I just had to share it with all of you now.

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #205, co-hosted this week by Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Petra @ Food Eat Love.

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Pillowcase Cookies

Recipe Adapted from LouisianaCookin.com

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Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking power
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk, plus more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the flour, 1 cup of sugar and baking powder and stir together with a fork.

Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. (If you don’t have a box grater that’s okay. Just cut the butter into small cubes and stir them evenly into the dry ingredients with a fork.)

Stir the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Use a rubber spatula to make a well in the center of the bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla extract with a fork, then pour into the well you made in the dry ingredients. Flour the rubber spatula and mix together, stirring until the liquid has been absorbed and it forms a slightly sticky dough. (You may need to add additional milk, 1 tablespoon at a time to make it all stick together; that’s fine.)

Generously sprinkle a clean work surface (like a pastry mat, a cutting board or wax paper you tape to your countertop) with flour. Dump the dough out onto the surface and knead together with your hands just until it forms a large ball. It will get messy, but that’s okay; just keep sprinkling with either flour or powdered sugar until it’s relatively easy to pick up in one mass.)

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at LEAST one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper or aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray, set aside. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough cookie dough out to about 1/4 inch thick, then use a 3 inch cookie cutter to cut out circles. Place the cut cookies on the sheet pans. Either refrigerate for about 45 minutes, or freeze for about 20 minutes.

Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with sugar, then bake in the oven for 12 minutes until golden brown on the bottom & slightly puffy on the tops. Allow to cool on the sheet pan for 1 minute, then remove to wire racks to allow 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.)

Biscochitos

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I’ve said it before, but I’m just gonna go ahead and say it again: I really, really REALLY would like to someday, somehow spend a Christmas season in New York City.

It’s one of the things that’s on my Bucket List of things to do before I die- actually living in New York City’s on that list too. But, Christmas in New York comes first. Even though I don’t live in one, I’m a huge fan of big cities. I love the energy and bustle of things always happening and going on- add to that the bustle of the Christmas season in general, and it’s my dream place.

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I want to go skating in Rockefeller Center and see the huge Christmas tree at night. I want to go to Macy’s and get completely and totally overwhelmed by the gigantic size of the store decked out in holiday gear. I want to walk the streets and see all of the skyscrapers and buildings lit up in decorations. I want to go see the American Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. Then I want to be able to be in Times Square for New Years Eve to see the ball drop and bring in the New Year. I want it all. It doesn’t have to be every year. I’m actually one of those people who prefer to stay home for Christmas mostly. But the New York Christmas experience is something I’d just like to make happen for me at least once in my lifetime.

Biscochitos3

So if any of your lovely people out there are residents of the Big Apple, then maybe you can be a Good Samaritan and invite yours truly over for a few weeks or so around Christmas time. Don’t worry, I’m no free loader; I’ll earn my keep through cooking you food and treats. That seems like a pretty fair trade off to me, right?

Biscochitos4

My inspiration for my St. Lucia Buns post came from a memory I had of the American Girl doll character Kirsten, who made St. Lucia Buns for her family at Christmas. My inspiration for making Biscochitos also came from another of the American Girl characters- a young girl named Josefina living in New Mexico with her family shortly after her mother dies. As Kirsten’s ‘holiday treat’ in the American Girl catalog were the St. Lucia Buns, the holiday treat for Josefina’s story were Biscochito cookies. And yes: I’m still thinking about those Biscochito cookies I saw in the catalog over fifteen years later. Don’t judge me.

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Biscochitos are really just anise-flavored sugar cookies that are rolled in cinnamon sugar and typically served around Christmastime. But don’t let their simple ingredients fool you-this cookie is still a pretty big deal. It’s such a big deal that New Mexico has made the Biscochito it’s official ‘state cookie’. I didn’t even know that states had their own official cookies. A quick Google search revealed that the ‘Michigan Treasure’ is the Michigan state cookie. I’ve never heard of it. But whatever it is, it’s s still probably not as cool as the Biscochito- or yummy for that matter.

12 Days of Christmas Banner

Day 1: Cranberry-Clementine Toaster Tarts

Day 2: Honey Roasted Peanut Popcorn Balls

Day 3: Mexican Chocolate Popcorn Balls

Day 4: Giant Molasses Cookies

Day 5: Crustless Cranberry Pie

Day 6: St. Lucia Buns

Day 7: Brown Sugar Cookies

Day 8: Raspberry Linzer Cookies

Day 9: Biscochitos

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Biscochitos


Recipe Courtesy of Food Network Kitchen

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Ingredients

  • 6 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound lard (a must, no substitutes)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons anise seed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sweet table wine
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Directions

1. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt.

2. Cream the lard with sugar and anise seed on medium speed. In a separate bowl, beat eggs until light and fluffy.

3. Add beaten eggs to creamed mixture. Mix together well, adding wine to form a stiff-like dough, add more wine, if necessary. Refrigerate dough overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove dough from refrigerator and let stand for a while, until dough is soft enough to roll.

5. Divide dough in quarters and roll to about 1/16 to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutter and place on cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until bottom of cookie is golden brown.

6. Meanwhile, mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Drop the baked cookies into sugar and cinnamon mixture and set aside to cool.

Sugar Cookie Torte

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12 Days of Christmas {Treats}

Three days til Christmas! Can you guys believe it? I don’t know where this entire year went, much less December. I swear it was just yesterday that I was sharing my Thanksgiving recipes with you guys. Only six more random Christmas facts to share, here’s three of them for now:

  1. 1 in 10 – The number of the presents received that will be broken by the New Year. (To be honest I would have thought that number would be higher.)
  2. Coca Cola was the first beverage company to use Santa for a winter promotion. (Anyone remember the old Coca Cola commercials with Santa and the polar bear from the 90s? I miss those.)
  3. 7 in 10 – The number of dogs that get Christmas gifts from their owner. (I’m not surprised at this one at all. I don’t have a dog -or a pet, period- but from what I hear it’s just like having another pet.)

Source

Sugar Cookie Torte4

This is another recipe that I’ve been curious about since I was little. The cookbook I got it from is my mom’s and was first released in 1997- just to give you an idea of how old it is. Sugar cookies are my all time favorite cookie to eat. This recipe uses them when crushed up as a large substitute for flour. I thought it sounded good then, and I still thought it sounded good now. But unlike in 1997, I’m now old enough to actually use a stove on my own, so I thought that I would make it this year and put it in the series of Christmas Treats.

All of my fellow foodies out there are probably wondering why this is called a torte and not just a cake. Maybe some of you out there are wondering what the difference is supposed to be between them in the first place. Then maybe some of you just don’t care. Whichever group you’re in, I’ll give an explanation anyway.

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If you want to be general about it, tortes are a kind of cake. The word ‘torte’ is German for the word ‘cake’ in fact. So if you’re a fan of cake, then chances are you’ll like tortes too. Now if you want to be technical about it, tortes do usually have a few significant changes in the ingredients. The flour is usually replaced by some kind of ground up nuts or breadcrumbs, which gives it a heavier texture. There’s no baking soda or baking powder in the dry ingredients, so they usually don’t rise very high either. They’re also typically decorated with some kind of fruit, cream or custard filling that helps to balance out the heaviness of the torte.

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This torte turned out somewhat different from the ‘conventional’ way. In the first place, even though there aren’t any baking soda or baking powder and very little flour, it still rose pretty high. My only guess would be that it was the 6 eggs that gave it an extra ‘lift’. There’s also no filling in it, though I don’t think that it’s necessary in this case. This torte is more than yummy enough to stand on its own. Although I do think this would taste pretty good warmed up and topped with some whipped cream or cool whip and strawberries with a Vanilla latte on the side. I think this recipe was well worth the wait- give it a shot, and I’m pretty sure you will too.

Christmas Carol Movies

Rather than try to give a recommendation for each of these movies, I thought I’d just throw them all together in one post and suggest you just set aside a few hours in the next 3 days to just try and watch them all together in A Christmas Carol marathon…Like I’m doing today.

So let’s recap: you guys have now got Mickey Mouse, the Muppets, Jim Carrey and Vanessa Williams giving you their version of Charles Dicken’s classic, as well as this recipe for a sugar cookie torte. Thank me later: for now, just get baking and watching.

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Sugar Cookie Torte

Recipe Courtesy of Christmas with Southern Living (1997)

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 cups slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 (5 1/4 ounce) packages of sugar cookies, finely crushed (3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar (optional)

 Directions

1. Draw a 10’ circle on a piece of wax paper, using a 10” tube pan as a guide. Cut out a circle. Set tube pan insert in center of circle. Grease bottom of pan, and line with wax paper cutout; heavily grease and flour wax paper and sides of pan. Set aside.

2. Position knife blade in food processor bowl; add almonds. Pulse 4-6 times or until almonds are coarsely ground. (Be careful not to overprocess, as this releases oil from the almonds).

3. Beat butter at medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy;; gradually add 2 cups sugar, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

4. Combine cookie crumbs and flour; add to butter mixture alternately with half-and-half, beginning and ending with crumb mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in almonds and vanilla.

5. Spoon batter into prepared pan. (Batter will fill pan only half full). Bake at 300° for 1 hour and 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (Torte only rises slightly). Let cool completely in pan on a wire pack.

6. Run a sharp knife around edge of pan to loosen torte. Carefully invert torte onto a serving plate; peel off wax paper. Invert torte again. Sift powdered sugar over torte, if desired.

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