Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Christmas (in July) Cookies!

Submitted by Linda
So after I began Camp Cleanup in my closet, I moved on to my entire kitchen.While I worked through the dusty cabinets I worried that the health department would give my kitchen a "D" rating. I replaced shelf paper as needed (after 14 years, it was definitely time!), purged all the expired and/or stale items in my pantry, got rid of a bunch of gadgets I never used, and rearranged the more frequently used items so that they can be easily accessed. I must warn you that if you stop by, I will insist that you "pick a cabinet, any cabinet" and admire the neatness and organization!

In my pantry I found a tuppie (Michelle-speak for "tupperware") with a measured amount of chopped pecans mixed with cornstarch. I had prepped it in December to try a new Christmas cookie recipe (clearly, I didn't try the recipe in December). While Michelle was in town for our man-free stamping extravaganza, I decided to give them a whirl.

Our family has some pretty specific "must have" Christmas cookie recipes, so I rarely try new ones. But this recipe was found in December 2009 Good Housekeeping, and are called "Best Linzer Cookies" (I figured it they're the best, I'd better give them a try).

I baked the cookie part, filled them with jam, and had Chef Michelle give them the taste test. Her response was a happy shout, and she insisted that we serve them as part of our dessert bar at our stamp club dinner.

Here are a few suggestions: Roll them out a bit thicker than the 1/8" thickness that the recipe suggests. They are very fragile and I had less breakage when they were a little thicker. Also, I thought they tasted better, and held up better when I baked them for only 15 minutes, rather than the 17-20 suggested by GH.
Pictured above is my "No Mess Dough Disc". This is one of my favorite baking tools, and Chef Michelle ended up using it to roll out her special rugelach cookies, and was wowed and impressed with how well it worked. (I was wowed and impressed that I had a kitchen tool that Michelle didn't have!)
I used Knott's Seedless Raspberry Jam for my filling.
I think they are pretty as stars, but would also be cute as a heart in February!
Here is the recipe:

Best Linzer Cookies
Good Housekeeping, December 2009

Active time: 2 hours plus chilling
Bake time: 17 minutes per batch
Makes about 96 cookies (I halved the recipe)

Tip: Freezing the dough helps cookies stay well defined while baking. Freeze for 10 minutes after rolling, and another 10 after baking (I did not do this, but may try it next time)

2 bags (8oz each) pecans
1 c. cornstarch
3 c. butter (6 sticks), softened, no substitutions
2 2/3 c. confectioners' sugar
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 lg. eggs
5 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. seedless raspberry jam

1. In food processor with knife blade attached, pulse pecans and cornstarch until pecans are finely ground.
2. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat butter and 2 cups confectioners' sugar until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping bowl with rubber spatula. At medium speed, beat in vanilla, salt, and eggs. On low speed, gradually beat in flour and pecan mixture just until blended, scraping bowl.
3. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces, flatten each piece into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until dough is firm enough to roll, 4-5 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 325. Remove 1 disk of dough from refrigerator; let stand 5 minutes for easier rolling. On floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll dough 1/8" thick (see my note above). With floured 2 1/4" fluted square cookie cutter, cut dough into as many cookies as possible. With floured 1 3/4" star cutter, cut out centers from half of cookies. With spatula, place cookies, 1 inch apart, on ungreased cookie sheets. Refrigerate trimmings.
5. Bake cookies until edges are golden, 17 - 20 minutes (see my note above). Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough and trimmings.
6. Sprinkle remaining 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar through sieve over cooled cookies with cut-out centers.
7. In small bowl, stir jam until smooth. Spread top of each whole cookie with scant teaspoon jam; place cut-out cookies on top. Store in tightly sealed container, with waxed paper between layers, at room temperature up to 1 week or in freezer up to 2 months. (If cookies are stored in freezer, re-sprinkle with confectioners' sugar before serving.)

Each cookie: About 115 Calories
1 g protein, 11 g carbohydrate,
8 g total fat, 1 g fiber, 17 mg cholesterol,
80 mg sodium

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