Back to the Kitchen: A Collection of Cookie Recipes

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gwen-upper110x110BY GWEN KENNEALLY

This time of year my email box gets full with people requesting cookie recipes. The rich tradition of some of these recipes really brings me close to my Grandmothers and great aunts. I so love sharing them with you to create traditions of your own. I enjoy giving cookie platters as holiday gifts and I enjoy baking with my daughter and her friends.  I am often asked for tips on baking. When I talk about how easy it can be people look at me like a reindeer caught in the headlights. This time of year gives us a great opportunity to do the one thing that will make us better. Practice!  These are super easy and very consistent favorites. Double or triple the recipes and you can have plenty for your gift list. I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as my friends and family.

Rum Balls

cookierumballs3001 cup butter

1/2 cup powder sugar

2 1/4 cup flour

1-teaspoon rum extract

1-tablespoon dark rum

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2-teaspoon salt

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in rums and vanilla.

Add flour and salt. Mix in nuts. Roll in teaspoon size balls. Bake at 325 for 14- 17 minutes. Roll warm balls in powder sugar.

Snickerdoodles

cokiessnickerdoodles2751 cup butter

1 1/2 cups Sugar

2 eggs

2  3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping

1     teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375. Beat butter and sugar together untill creamy. Mix in eggs. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Mix well. Shape into balls about one inch in diameter. Chill one hour.  Combine topping ingredients in small bowl. Drop dough balls into topping mixture. Coat well. Place on greased baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks and let cool.

Basic Sugar Cookies

cookiessugar2 1/2 sticks Butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

31/4 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a  time beating well after each addition. Add the vanilia. Graudually add the flour mixture until well blended and smooth. Divide dough in two. Place each half in between large sheets of wax or parchmment paper. Roll out to a quarter inch thick watching for creases. Layer the dough on a cookie sheet and refriderate for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 375 and grease two cookie sheets.Remove 1 porton and leave the other until you are ready. Remove one sheet of wax paper and replace with a new one. (An old bakers trick to keep the dough from sticing when using cookie cutters. Throw away the second sheet and cut out the cookies using holiday cookie cutters. Gently place  the cookies about one inch apart on the cookie sheet. Roll out the dough scraps and place bak in the fridge and mix with the second half scraps. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes; rotate half way through for even cooking. Place on a rack until they firm upand then transfeer to a wire rackand cool completely before using royal icing.

*Note- If you are working with kids, I like to do the baking a few days befor the decorating. The older kids can help and then all the cookies are done so you can just set out the icing and sprinkles and let the kids go to town.

Royal Icing

2 large egg whites

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

Combine the ingredients in a bowl. It really is handy to have a kitchen aide or standing mixer for this, but not essential. Beat together until stiff about 10 minutes. You don’t want it dry, but it has to be really stiff or else it does not harden. This makes over 2 cups so you can put in small bowls and add food coloring. Make as many colors as you like and use whatever sprinkles and or candy you like to decorate.

Spritz Cookies

cookiessprit3003 sticks, softened

4 cups flour

1-cup sugar

1-teaspoon baking powder

1-teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy;

Add almond and vanilla egg, and milk and beat until well mixed.

Whisk flour and baking powder together, and then add to dough

Mix with hands if necessary. (Dough will be very stiff).

Push dough into spritzer gun and press shapes onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 6 minutes. Then let cool on cookie sheets for 10 minutes and then remove and cool completely on rack.

ITALIAN COOKIES

cookiebiscottiNoni’s Biscotti

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

3 cups flour

3 teaspoon baking powder

1/2-teaspoon salt

1-teaspoon vanilla

1/2 to 1 cup chopped nuts

Or

1-teaspoon anise extract

1-tablespoon anise seeds

Cream butter and sugar add the eggs one at a time then the rest of the ingredients. Form 2 “ by 1/2” loaves (makes 2 or 3 long loaves) Bake 20 minutes at 350. Slice diagonally 1/2 inch. Bake 10 or 15 minutes more.

Also from my Noni… …Really chocolatey, but not to sweet!!!

Chocolate Chip Biscotti

10 ounces unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

6 eggs

6 cups all purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1teaspopn salt

2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

3 cups chocolate chips (I prefer the mini, but all work well, after all, chocolate is chocolate!!!)

Preheat oven to 350.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Mix the flour and baking soda together. Alternately add the eggs and dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar. By hand, mix in the chocolate chips and pecans.

Shape the dough into 2” by 1/2” loaves on a greased cookie sheet and bake for approximately 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool until you can comfortably cut them crosswise in 3/4-inch peaces. Lay the cookies down on a greased cookie sheet and bake again at 350 for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in tins.

Cranberry Shortbread

You can also replace the cranberries with a half-cup of mini chocolate chips or a half-cup of finely chopped nuts.

cookiescranberry2 1/2 cups flour

1/2-cup sugar

1/4-teaspoon salt

2 sticks butter, cut in 1/4-inch pieces

1/2 cup finely chopped dried cranberries

(Either by hand or in the food processor with 1-teaspoon flour on high for 1 minute.)

In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blade or two knifes cut in butter until mixture looks like fine crumbs. Stir in cranberries. Pour out onto a floured board and knead until smooth. Divide in half. Roll each half into 1/2-inch thick square. Cut each into 24 2×1 inch strips. Place one inch apart on a ungreesed cookie sheet. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes or until bottoms just start to brown

Blueberry Lemon Crumbles

cookiesblueberry1 cup sliced almonds

1 ¾ cup flour

1-cup dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1-teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ sticks butter

2 egg yolks

1-teaspoon vanilla

Juice of one lemon

1 cup dried blueberries

½ cup blueberry preserves

Preheat oven to 375.Place almonds on cookie sheet and toast stirring once until golden. Cool completely and leave oven on. In food processor pulse flour, brown sugar, 1-teaspoon lemon zest, cinnamon, and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles a course meal. Add yolks and vanilla and process until mixture comes together in clumps. Transfer 11/2 cups dough to a bowl and stir in almonds for the crumble topping. Gather remaining dough into a ball. Spray 2 mini muffin tins (24 minis all together) with bakers joy. Press 1 tablespoon of into the bottom and up the sides of each muffin cup. Chill for 15 minutes. Meanwhile stir remaining zest lemon juice, blueberries and preserves in a small bowl. Spoon 1-teaspoon blueberry mixture into each muffin cup. Crumble 1 teaspoon almond mixture evenly into each cup. Bake until top is golden and filling is bubbling, about 20 minutes. When completely cool loosen edges with a sharp paring knife and carefully remove from pan.

Apple, cranberry, pear version

Follow the same recipe for the crust and crumble.

Peel and core 2 apples and a pear. Dice finely and in a mixing bowl toss with 6 ounces of dried cranberries, ½ teaspoon Chinese five spice, 1-teaspoon cinnamon, ½ cup sugar. Proceed as in the blueberry version.

Chocolate Dipped Hazelnut Sticks

2 sticks (1 cup) butter

1-cup sugar

2 egg yolks

2-teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour

2 cups chopped hazelnuts

2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl be at butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in yolks one at a time. Add vanillas and mix until smooth. Gradually add flour and mix well. By hand add the hazelnuts. Half the dough and place into two pieces of wax paper and shape into a 11x2inch loaf. Chill the dough for about 1 half hour. Cut the dough into 1/4-inch slices. Arrange on cookie sheet about one inch apart on cookie sheet. Half each slice lengthwise to form sticks and separate them. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for about 10 minutes until pale golden. Carefully remove sticks and cool completely. In a double broiler or a small saucepan over a larger saucepan of boiling water melt chocolate. Gently dip each stick into the chocolate covering half of the stick. Remove excess chocolate and place on wax paper for chocolate to harden.

Gwen Kenneally is the owner of Back to the Kitchen, Full Service Catering and Party Planning. Check out her website and blog www.Backtothekitchen.net and www.gwenkenneally.blogspot.com

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.