I (Alaina) was beginning to think we would never get this post up! It's been just a little crazy but here it is! We decided to do a cookie theme magazine review and so we each chose a cookie recipe from a few of the December issues. Really most of them had some great ideas for baking and entertaining with the exception of Cooking Light - sadly, it was a disappointing December issue. It lacked the festive inspiration that the other magazines achieved.
Food Network Magazine (Stephanie): This month's Food Network Magazine is filled with lots of tasty looking recipes! There were several cookie recipes I hope to try like Cappuccino Pinwheels, Double Chocolate Crackles, and Golden Sesame Roll-ups. But I decided to try the Thumbprints. I adapted them very successfully to be gluten-free by using my favorite gf all-purpose flour mix and adding 1/2 tsp xanthan gum. They are like tiny butter cookies with a jam center.
(from Food Network Magazine, Dec. 2010)
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2 c. all-purpose flour (for gf: use scant 2 c. gf all-purpose mix + 1/2 tsp xanthan gum)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Assorted jams (orange, raspberry, strawberry, apricot), for filling
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add half the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Knead a few times by hand to bring the dough together.
Roll teaspoonfuls of dough into balls and place about 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Make an indentation in the center of each ball with a small measuring spoon or the back of a pen. Fill each indentation with jam (a scant 1/8 tsp).
Bake until the edges of the cookies are goldent, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioner's sugar, if desired. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.
Saveur (Stephanie): These naturally gluten-free cookies, with the intriguing name of Basler Brunsli, are delicious! A specialty Christmas cookie from Northern Switzerland that apparently date from as far back as the Medieval times. They reminded me of chocolate gingerbread or chocolate molasses cookies, though they have neither ginger nor molasses. I imagine these might become a Christmas tradition at our house!
BASLER BRUNSLI (Chocolate Almond Spice)
(from Saveur Magazine, Dec. 2010)
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8 oz whole blanched almonds
1 1/2 c. sugar, plus more for rolling
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
Combine almonds and sugar in food processor and pulse to grind. Add chocolate and pulse. Add spices and egg whites and pulse to form a dough.
Place dough between two pieces of parchment paper sprinkled with sugar. Roll to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out into desired shape. Place 1-inch apart on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Dry for 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 300°F. Bake for 12-15 minutes until slightly puffed.
Everday Food (Alaina) - This is just such a great little magazine and the December issue is no exception. They had many tasty recipes and on the cookie recipe, I would love to try the Gingerbread Trees w/Lemon Icing (I was out of molasses and thus didn't get them made!). Spiced Cupcakes w/Citrus Glaze, Moroccan Chicken and Rice w/Chickpeas, Baked Tortellini w/Bacon, Grapefruit-White Wine Sparkler and Antipasti Pizza are a few of the other recipes that looked delicious!
I finally settled on the Holiday Shortbread Cookies - the chocolate variety. They were quite good and a little different. The coarse salt definitely goes with the popular salted chocolate (and caramel) flavors. Personally, I would have decreased the salt by 1/2 tsp. and added 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract. That aside, these were buttery, chocolatey, and addictive. They were perfectly crisp and looked pretty - I dusted them with powdered sugar for serving.
HOLIDAY SHORTBREAD COOKIES - Everyday Food, December 2010
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1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
2 c. flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder
6 oz. finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/3 c. coarse or sanding sugar (optional), for decorating
In food processor, combine butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt. Process until smooth. Add flour and cocoa and pulse just until combined. Add chocolate and process until combined. From dough into an 8-inch round or square log; wrap tightly in plastic and freeze until firm, 30 minutes (or up to 1 month).
Preheat oven to 350 with racks in upper and lower thirds. Cut dough into 1/4 inch thick slices. Dip edges in sugar if desired and transfer to two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are golden brown around edges. 15-18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cookies cool 5 minutes on sheets. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Wrap cookies tightly with plastic and keep at room temperature up to 1 week.
Bon Appetit (Alaina) - It should come as no suprise that I really like this issue. I recently renewed by subscription to Bon Appetit for the next three years - it was a great deal and I have loved pretty much all of the recipes we've tried! I would love to tell you that I made the cake on the cover (it's gorgeous!) but alas, it has not made it's way into my kitchen yet. :) I did try the Curried Lentil Soup which will post about next week - yum!
This issue has some great looking recipes like Beet & Tangerine Salad w/Cranberry Dressing, Spinach Parmesan Souffle, Spicy Shrimp Quesadilla, Lamb Pita Sandwiches w/Kiwi Yogurt, & Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies. I made the Lemon Sugar Cookies and they are super easy, pretty, and absolutely delicious! They will definitely be made again. I was impressed with the simplicity of the ingredients and yet each ingredient adds so much flavor and texture. If you like lemon, you will really enjoy these!
LEMON SUGAR COOKIES - Bon Appetit, December 2010
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3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Colored sugar crystals or nonpareils
Using electric mixer, beat first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Beat in flour. Cover; chill dough until firm but not hard, about 2 hours (I actually made them right away and they worked just fine!).
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 2 large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray. Pour sugars or nonpareils into separate bowls. Working with moistened hands and 1 level tablespoon at a time, shape dough into balls. Roll balls in colored sugars to coat; arrange on sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Using bottom of glass or measuring cup, flatten each cookie to 2-inch round.
Bake cookies until golden on bottom, about 14 minutes. Cool on rack. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight.