Now that I've had my little detour into Scroogeville, back to the good-natured stuff. Which I swear I have a lot of.
As part of that ho-ho-ho spirit, I sent out cookie tins to some folks. But only so much ho-ho-ho spirit. I'm not Martha (i.e. don't have low-paid interns and assistants to do my bidding). So I limited the cookie tins to just family. And then further Grinched out by limiting it to close family. That I like. Rebounding from snark is hard, folks.
So on with the cookie collection that started with the peppermint bark shortbread. Last year I made about 5 varieties of cookies for the tins. That was a mistake. This year it became a much more manageable 3. In addition to the peppermint bark, I made molasses spice cookies and walnut shortbread. Both recipes are adapted from the lovely Dorie Greenspan.
What's nice about these cookies is that they are relatively hearty (good for travel), and both require some chilling time, so you can break up making them over a few days if you like.
Molasses Spice Cookies
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
- 1 large egg
- Granulated sugar, for rolling
FYI--this makes quite a crispy cookie (which may, ahem, may be due in part to some overbaking on my part). Perhaps this is a softer cookie if baked properly, but I figured its crispiness would help it stand up to the travel.
Combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.
Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the room temperature butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Mix in the brown butter and molasses and beat until well combined, about 1-2 minutes.
Add the egg and beat for about 1 more minute.
Add in the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.
Divide dough in half, and wrap each half in plastic wrap.
Looks like pile of dinosaur dung a la Jurassic Park. Don't worry, the poop references do not stop here.
Freeze for about 30 minutes before moving on to the rest of the recipe, or chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide each ball of dough into 12 pieces (if you want smaller cookies, that's fine, just remember to shorten the baking time).
Roll each piece into a ball.
Camel poop, anyone?
Place the sugar in a bowl. Roll each ball of dough until lightly coated.
Lay on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, about 2 inches apart...
Flatten each ball with the bottom of a glass (dipped in sugar to prevent sticking), until about 1/4" thick.
The original recipe says to bake for about 10 minutes. The original recipe also says the cookies are done until centers are just set--I'm not sure what that means, and it became clear that I didn't when the cookies became a bit more crisp than desirable. "Just set" does not mean firm. Just that it's not soupy any longer, which I think for my oven would have taken more around 7 minutes. So start checking at 7 minutes.
Remove cookies with a spatula and set on wire rack to cool.
Brown Butter Walnut Shortbread
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of ground cloves
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup finely ground walnuts or pecans (I should point out that the original recipe is called Brown Butter Pecan Shortbread--but I had extra walnuts lying around, so there you go)
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)
Mix flour, cornstarch, salt and cloves in medium bowl.
Beat together butter and brown sugar on medium speed until well combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
With mixer on low speed, gradually add in flour mixture until just combined.
Gather dough and place into gallon-size resealable plastic bag. It will be soft and sticky. That be okay.
Roll out into a rectangle about 1/4" thick and about 9" x 10 1/2". I probably spent about 20 minutes on this part because I am not adept at this sort of thing.
Refrigerate dough, in bag, for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut off plastic bag and discard.
Cut dough into 1 1/2" squares. I scored mine first.
After cutting the dough into squares, prick each piece with a fork two times, with the tines of the fork going all the way through the dough.
Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake 15-20 minutes, rotating sheets from top to bottom and front to back. Shortbread is done when they are just light golden brown. Again, as is my wont, I overshot it and they were pretty golden brown. It was not my night for baking.
To pack the cookies, I bought these cute tins from the Container Store.
I nestled the stacks of cookies in cupcake wrappers. For the peppermint bark shortbread, I separated the layers with more wrappers.