Things are starting to get pretty festive around here. My home is finally starting to catch up with the general Christmas fever that lights up Europe, so it seems, starting in October. I’m hosting a small Christmas get-together tomorrow, and Christmas cookies will be the main edible feature, so I thought I’d showcase some of my new recipes. I have included one of my old favourites, a twist on one particular cookie I adored growing up, and something entirely new. I also made my favourites, which I’ve blogged about before, Davy Crocketts and Hello Dollies. Everything is delicious, and terrible for you. I’ve gone through untold amounts of butter, and can just be thankful for holiday pregnancy (meaning you can eat all your baking without an ounce of guilt. That weight’s supposed to be coming on, right? Right?)
Holiday Biscotti with Cranberries and Pistachios
This is a fantastic recipe I came across on Epicurious. It was so different from anything else I was making, and I’ve never actually made biscotti before. Soon to become a family favourite, as both Z and I really enjoy these dipped in our coffee.
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon whole aniseed
1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
3/4 cup shelled natural unsalted pistachios
6 ounces imported white chocolate, chopped
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift first 3 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl to blend well. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in lemon peel, vanilla, and aniseed. Beat in flour mixture just until blended. Stir in cranberries and pistachios (dough will be sticky). Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Gather dough together; divide in half. Roll each half into 15-inch-long log (about 1 1/4 inches wide). Carefully transfer logs to 1 prepared baking sheet, spacing 3 inches apart.
Bake logs until almost firm to touch but still pale, about 28 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet 10 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.
Carefully transfer logs still on parchment to cutting board. Using serrated knife and gentle sawing motion, cut logs crosswise into generous 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place slices, 1 cut side down, on remaining 2 prepared sheets. Bake until firm and pale golden, about 9 minutes per side. Transfer cookies to racks and cool.
Line another baking sheet with waxed paper. Stir white chocolate in top of double boiler over barely simmering water just until smooth. Remove from over water. Dip 1 end of each cookie into melted chocolate, tilting pan if necessary; shake off excess chocolate. Place cookies on prepared sheet. Chill until chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes.
Chocolate Pepper Stars
I love these because they are the solid embodiment of Mexican Hot Chocolate in cookie form. They are so good, and chocolatey, and dense, with just the right kick in them. I find it very difficult to eat just one. That’s why I like making really small stars, so you don’t feel so bad popping a bunch at once. Be warned, the recipe makes A LOT. I actually froze half of the dough to make some up later on.
1 ½ cups unsalted butter
1 ¾ cups sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp salt
1/3 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and beat until fluffy. Sift together the dry ingredients. Add to the butter mixture and beat until well mixed; if dough seems too soft, add up to ¼ cup flour more.
Shape into a flattened round, wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a well-floured board, roll out the dough until 1/8 inch thick. It’s best to divide and roll out a quarter of the dough at a time, leaving the rest in the fridge.
Cut the dough into shapes and set 1-2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or just until crisp; do not allow to darken. Cool on racks.
Now, I have always known this recipe as Bodicop, but I guess that’s the English bastardization of Boterkoek, or Dutch Butter Cake. There are a lot of different recipes for this classic cookie, but many of them call for almond extract, something I haven’t been able to find over here (seriously, the Swiss must not bake at all. They probably just waltz into one of the millions of patisseries found everywhere and order whatever they want … which is actually sounding pretty good.) Without all the ingredients, I had to seek out a recipe that didn’t include the almonds, which surprised me by being pretty much just as good. I found this recipe online at Kevin and Amanda.
2 cups all-purpose flour
8 ounces unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Sprinkle of flaked almonds (I just added this to give some kind of almond flavouring to these – it worked well)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 baking dish with foil.
Melt the butter and mix it with the flour, sugar, and salt until just combined. Don’t overmix. Press into the bottom of prepared pan. Sprinkle with flaked almonds
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes until the edges just start to turn golden. The middle will still VERY gooey, but the cake is definitely done at this point. Allow to cool completely before removing foil from pan and cutting into squares.