Monday, December 21, 2009

Cookie Time is Here

Take a whole lotta this:



Stir in a pinch of this:




Add a dash of that:



And what you have, dear readers, is the perfect day for baking Christmas cookies.

So yeah. The Jersey Girl has been snowed in for days now. That’s because I live in the backstreets of a rural town and drive a Mustang, so girlfriend isn’t going very far. And, it snowed like 300 inches this weekend in my neck of the woods. I guess it’s kind of cool. I always thought snowfall at Christmas only happened in the movies or in places way up there like Chicago, Boston, Canada, the North Pole.

But alas, it really actually truly snowed in South Jersey just days before Christmas.

And now I’m stuck here. Forevas. Please, dear town, plow my road. Please!

Fortunately, I stocked up on milk, eggs and butter so my time has been well spent getting the Christmas baking done.

Although, I must admit this is getting ridonkulous. The stir-crazy feelings are settling in. I’m going to start doing something drastic like buying random shoes and sweaters on the Internets or calling psychic hotlines.

Last night, I watched “The Nanny” until 1 a.m.

Who am I?

(OK. I admit, I dig “The Nanny.”)

Anyhoo, Day 1 of my Cookie Baking Extravaganza included Pizzelles, Scotch Shortbread and Chocolate Chip Biscotti.

To properly bake Christmas cookies, the following things need to be in place:

1. The tunes. You must have good Christmas music going on. My faves are Elvis (natch), Harry Conick Jr. (Love him!) and the Rat Pack (Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin.)

2. The Christmas tree must be all aglow.

3. Your butter and eggs need to be room temp.

4. Warm, fuzzy slippers are the choice footwear of the day.

5. Don't rush things. Baking takes much patience.

My pizzelle recipe comes by way of my Mommom. But, her recipe is literally just a list of ingredients. So, I’m sharing it with you with my personal instructions.

I make the pizzelles with my Mom’s older-than-dirt pizzelle iron.



It seriously is at least 40 years old. You can purchase a shiny new pizzelle iron at Sur la Table.
I should probably do so as well, but I love this pizzelle iron. It reminds me of childhood and my dog Murry, who always sat patiently waiting for the reject pizzelles, that surely will form during your first couple rounds. I know when I make pizzelles for Christmas and Easter, Murry is looking down on me from Doggie Heaven begging for some crumbs.



Pizzelles
6 extra large eggs at room temperature
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) margarine, melted and cooled slightly
4 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. vanilla or anise

In a mixer, beat together melted margarine and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Beat on medium speed. Add vanilla. Beat for 30 more seconds.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, beating on medium-low speed after each addition. The batter should be runny.

To make pizzelles, preheat your pizzelle iron according to the package instructions.



Add a teaspoon of batter to each side of the iron and press down the top part of the iron, according to the package instructions. Timing of this varies. I hold mine down for about 30 seconds.



Carefully remove the cookies from the iron with a fork. Place flat on paper towels to cool. Cookies should be delicate and crispy.




The Scotch Shortbread straight out of the oven.


Scotch Shortbread
From the Williams-Sonoma book, “Cookies”

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup confectioners’ (icing) sugar aka powdered sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar, plus 1 Tbsp. for sprinkling the top
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ cup all-purpose plain flour
¼ tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Farenheit.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, cream the butter until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the confectioners’ sugar and the ¼ cup granulated sugar and continue beating until the mixture is no longer gritty when rubbed between your finger and thumb. Beat in the vanilla.

Sift the flour and salt together onto a sheet of waxed paper. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon just until blended.

Using floured fingertips, press the dough evenly into the pan. Sprinkle evenly with the 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar.

Bake the shortbread until the edges are golden, about 1 hour. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately use a thin sharp knife to cut the shortbread into strips 3 inches by 1 inch. Use a toothpick or the tines of a fork to decorate the shortbread with a pattern of dots. Let the strips cool lin the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes before transferring them to the rack to cool completely.

Makes 27 bars.



Chocolate Anise Biscotti are toasty and ready to be served.


Chocolate Anise Biscotti
“Giada’s Family Dinners”
Giada De Laurentiis

Makes about 2 dozen.

1 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. ground anise seed
2 large eggs
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Line a large, heavy baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter and anise seed in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Form the dough into a 16-inch-long, 3-inch-wide log. Transfer the log to the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 30 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 30 minutes.



After the log cools, slice into cookies.

Place the log on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut the log on the diagnol into ½- to ¾-inch-thick sliced.

Arrange biscotti cut side down on the lined baking sheet. Bake until pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely.

Please note: The Jersey Girl always uses extra large eggs.

2 comments:

  1. OMG the biscoti looks so so good, though I am partial to the Carpenter's Christmas tunes. That just makes Christmas for me. Speaking of which I should play it here so my baby believes it really is Christmas!

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  2. Well at least you've been productive while shut in. I love your baked goods. They look soooooo tasty!

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