Friday, December 01, 2006

A Cornucopia Of Cookies

As I mentioned in my last entry, I've started my Christmas baking, and to this end I'm trying out some new recipes and playing around with some old recipes this year. My co-workers and friends have been the biggest beneficiary of this, as I've been giving away dozens of cookies, and bringing some to work with me as well. The two kinds of cookies I've been concentrating on lately are Lime Macaroons and Christmas Cheer Cookies. The macaroons are pretty self-explanatory, and the Christmas Cheer cookies likely are so named because of the maraschino cherries on the top of each cookie which are so festive. Or, maybe it's the half cup of rum. I'll let you decide.

I've made the Christmas Cheer cookies several times before, and I'm starting to get the hang of them. I've found that they really benefit from chilling the cookie dough in the fridge for a few hours, even overnight.

This is a huge recipe, and will yield about eight dozen cookies, depending on how big you make each one. When I whipped up the batch of cookie dough, I baked a few dozen right away without refrigerating the dough. The results are pictured above. They turned out absolutely fine and tasted wonderful, but the next batch I made the following day, after chilling the dough overnight, had a certain je ne sais what that really made them spectactular. The cookies were almost flaky.Now, a few notes about the recipe.

First of all, I found the original recipe here at I took the liberty of making a couple of minor substitutions, replacing the 1/2 cup of whisky with rum. Not a big deal you would think, and I certainly don't have anything against whisky (see previous posts about my adventures with whisky here and here), but I found that the rum gave the cookies a fuller, richer taste. Also, the recipe calls for 'golden raisins'. I used sultanas, because they were on sale at the bulk food store for $.29/100g (about $1.30/lb). Another thing I tried, was to roll the dough into a log, then slice it into little puck-shaped cookies instead of the spoonful-drop method. I found it easier with this method to control the size of the cookies, and to figure out how many I would end up with when I ran out of dough.

So here's the recipe I used:

Christmas Cheer Cookies
makes 8 dozen cookies

1 C butter, softened
1½ C brown sugar
3 eggs
3 C un-sifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
500g (1 lb.) dates, chopped
500g (1 lb.) walnuts, chopped
250g (½ lb.) sultana raisins
½ C dark rum
about 250g (½ lb.) maraschino cherries, drained and cut in halves

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs. Beat until ingredients are combined. Mix flour and soda. Stir in dates, walnuts, raisins and rum. Batter will be stiff.
Refrigerate dough a few hours, or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
Drop by teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet, or roll dough into a log and slice cookies about 1/2 inch thick. Top each with cherry halves.
Bake 10-12 minutes. Store in airtight container.

Now, for the macaroons. This is THE simplest cookie recipe I have ever made. Four ingredients and minimal prep time make these cookies a breeze.I made a couple of batches of these, and I discovered that it's best to let these cool completely before trying to move them or lift them off the parchment paper. Otherwise they just fall apart on you. I like macaroons quite a bit, but I had never tried the lime-flavoured variety. The tartness of the lime zest really compliments the sweetness of the coconut and sugar. The taste is delicate, and they go really well with a cup of coffee (as I discovered this morning). 'Nuff said, here's the recipe.

Lime Macaroons
makes about 15 cookies

2 C desiccated coconut
½ C sugar
2 egg whites
2 tbsp shredded lime zest

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
Place the coconut, sugar, egg whites and lime zest in a bowl and mix to combine. Roll the mixture into balls. Place on a lined baking tray, flatten slightly and cook for 10-12 minutes or until light golden. Let cool completely.

I can't for the life of me remember where I found this recipe, but it's been sitting in my 'to do' pile for quite a while now. I'm glad that I finally got it, because this recipe is a keeper.

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