Super Easy, Last Minute Cookies

I made a batch of these the other day and noticed that the samplings by my husband ,as he strolled through the kitchen, was increasing, thus decreasing my cookie supply. So this afternoon I whipped up another batch. What are they? Coco-Almond Thumbprints.

Once again I have found some wonderful recipes in a cookbook my son gave me last Christmas, Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan. After I first received the book I made a couple of batches of savory cookies which turned out great. After that I tried one or two others but I really don’t get into a cookie mood till Christmastime. So last week I dug out Dorie and made her, “My Newest Chocolate Chip Cookies.” I always make Toll House so this was a big change for me. They were good, with a subtle flavor. A mixture of whole wheat and white flour spiced with nutmeg and coriander. But they took some time as this dough is typically stiff and you have to work it. The other cookies I decided to make were the star of the show, “Coco-Almond Thumbprints” because 1) I love coconut and 2) they were sooo easy.

Batch 1: Chocolate and Raspberry

These cookies are basically Macaroons so if you are familiar with making those, you will have no problems. Here goes:

In a food processor add 2 cups sliced or slivered almonds, 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut, 1/2 cup sugar.

Pulse until the nuts are ground but leave a few larger pieces for texture. Don’t make dust.

Pour two egg whites in a bowl and break them up with a fork. Add a bit of the whites to the nut mixture and pulse till incorporated. Keep doing this till you have a dough that holds together when you squeeze it. Whole process takes a minute, tops.

Remove the bowl from the machine and take out the blade. Then measure out a tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball. (Dorie does teaspoons…TOO SMALL)  Press an indentation into the ball with your thumb, your knuckle or the end of a wooden spoon. ( I used the latter). Steady the cookie when you do this so it doesn’t crack too much. You’ll get some cracks no matter what.

Bake for 14-16 minutes, turning pan half way through the time. Cookies won’t color much  except for golden brown on bottom, but should be firm to touch.

Now Dorie goes on to make a chocolate Ganache that she puts into the indentations. Frankly that is too fussy for me. I just took a chocolate chunk ( or a chocolate chip if you like) and dropped one or two into the indentation right after the cookies came out of the oven. They melt nicely.

These chocolate cuties taste like an Almond Joy! Yum. But you can fill the dent with peanut butter, nutella, raspberry jam…use your imagination. Add the other fillings after the cookies cool. I did some with raspberry jam and some with apricot jam.

Batch 2: Chocolate and Apricot

Now I just have to hide some from Curt so I can send a cookie care package to my son.

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Cookie Book Cookies: Savory

img_0014For Christmas my son gave me Dorie’s Cookies by Doris Greenspan. It is a cookie recipe book. It was an especially nice gift because he had heard about it while listening to a podcast on Public Radio. Yes! I knew I had raised him right. The book itself is quite beautiful, great cover, lots of pictures ( my kind of recipe book!) and it weighs a ton.

bookThat poundage is because there are 160 cookie recipes in this book. While my son was home he mentioned that he was interested in the savory cookies and sure enough Dorie has a section called Cocktail Cookies that looked pretty interesting. So since the weather outside for the last week or so has certainly been nasty I decided it was time to try two of the savory selections. Half for us and half to be mailed to Nathan.

 

My first choice was Cranberry Five Spice Cookies. Chinese five-spice powder is a blend that includes star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves and fennel. Dorie loves this spice and says it is equally good in sweet or savory dishes. She likes it best when paired with something tart or tangy so that’s why she has put cranberries into the mix. Here’s the recipe:

Makes about 50 cookies

5 Tbls sugar
1/2 C fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 3/4 C flour
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut in chunks, room temperature
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 large egg
1/2 C salted peanuts ,coarsely chopped

Coarsely chopped cranberries and nuts

Coarsely chopped cranberries and nuts

Mix 1 Tbls sugar and cranberries in a bowl, set aside.

Whisk flour and five-spice powder together.

In another large bowl with a mixer or by hand, beat the butter, remaining sugar and salt together till smooth and creamy. Add the egg and beat for one minute. (The mixture will look curdled, that’s ok.) Add flour mixture all at once and mix till it becomes a dough. Spoon the cranberries (drain off any liquid first) and the nuts into the dough and mix just to incorporate. You can do this with a spatula or with your hand. I found my hand worked great. Turn dough out onto counter and knead gently. Divide in half and pat each into a disk.

Put disks between parchment paper and roll to about 1/4 inch thickness. She says then freeze for about an hour. I found this too long. You need the dough firm to cut out cookies but if it is frozen you have to wait till it softens enough to get your cutter through it. Use your judgement.

Preheat oven, 350°, line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using approx. 1 1/2″ cookie cutter, cut and place cookies on sheet. Bake 12 -14 minutes, rotating sheet half way. Cookies should be lightly brown on edges and just firm to touch. Mine needed about 18 minutes.

Cutting out Cranberry Five-spice dough

Cutting out Cranberry Five-spice dough

Repeat with remaining dough and don’t forget to use the scraps as well.

Recipe #2 was Smoky, Cheesy Cookies.

Makes about 45 cookies.

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
4 ounces cold smoked Gouda, cut into tiny cubes
2 ounces shredded sharp cheddar
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly grd black pepper
pinch of cayenne
1 1/4 C all purpose flour

Put the cold butter, Gouda, Cheddar, salt, black pepper and cayenne in a food processor and pulse until butter is in bits and mixture forms small curds. Add the flour and with long pulses mix until dough is moist and forms large popcorn-like curds. (Should be noted, mine took forever to get large popcorn-like curds. They never really were large but the dough finally started to combine and it felt moist so I just turned it out and scrunched it together and then kneaded it.)

Shape into ball, divide in half and do the same rolling, freezing and cutting as above with the Cranberry Five-spice cookies. Put on parchment paper or silicone sheet.

Almost ready for oven

Almost ready for oven

Bake 350 degrees. Bake 16 -18 minutes, rotating half way through. Mine went a little longer here too.

The verdict?

In the Cranberry Five-Spice, I couldn’t detect the five-spice flavoring that Dorie gets all excited about but the nuts and cranberries come through nicely, especially the nuts. She suggested sprinkling salt on the tops before baking and I did this for half. Both are good but my husband prefers the ones with salt. I also think they were better on the second day.

Left: Smokey-Cheesy Right: Cranberry 5-Spice

Left: Smokey-Cheesy
Right: Cranberry 5-Spice

On his initial taste of the Smoky, Cheesy ones my husband said, Cheez-its. Oh no! I went to all this trouble and they taste like Cheez-its. But not really. Yes, they may give you that at first bite but then the smokiness of the gouda comes through. These are quite nice with a little sausage and a glass of red wine or with eggs and bacon for breakfast.

I will definitely be trying more of Dorie’s recipes.

My son’s share went into the mail today. Hope I packed well.