I promised a post yesterday to share the recipes for the last two holiday cookies I made this year, but I got distracted by the goodies Santa brought and never got around to it. Santa was very generous this year and we had a wonderful time with our families! Hope you all enjoyed your holidays as well! I mentioned the other day that I helped Shane pick out my gift this year and now that Christmas has passed I can share what the gift was - a digital SLR camera! I've wanted to upgrade for quite a while now so I'm thrilled we were able to do it this year. I'm so excited to start shooting with it but I've got a heck of a learning curve ahead of me so I'll probably continue to take my pictures for the blog with my point-and-shoot for a little longer.
The first of the recipes I want to share is for cranberry orange drop cookies from Bon Appetit. I saw them on Di's site during her 12 Days of Cookies originally and since I think cranberry and orange are a great combination, I gave them a try. The cookies also include fresh ginger (as well as ground) and I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about the fresh ginger. I thought it might overpower the other flavors and dominate the cookies. I included it nonetheless since the reviews were generally positive over at Epicurious. Finally, the recipe calls for pistachios, but I used walnuts since that's what I had on hand.
These cookies were some of the most fragrant I've ever baked! The house smelled fantastic after they were in the oven for a few minutes. They're colorful too as you can see specks of red from the fresh and dried cranberries as well as specks of orange from the orange zest. My fears about the fresh ginger were put to rest when I tried a cookie. It was great! The cookies are moist and the combination of the cranberries, orange and ginger was surprisingly delicious. I had chopped the nuts fairly fine which worked perfectly for me since I don't like walnuts - the bits of nut added texture but not much flavor. These are definitely a keeper for me. If you'd like to try them, you can find the recipe here.
I included these pecan crescents in some of the cookie trays I made this year and also left some out for Santa on Christmas Eve. These cookies can be made with almost any kind of nuts so you could substitute if you're not a pecan fan. Even though I don't like pecans much, I still enjoyed these cookies. They're buttery, crumbly and a lot of fun with their powdered sugar coating. They also keep for quite a few days so they'd be great for shipping to family or friends.
from Cook's Illustrated
2 cups whole pecans, finely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 lb) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup superfine sugar (if you don't have superfine, you can process granulated sugar in a food processor for 30 seconds to make it)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar for rolling cookies
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Mix 1 cup chopped pecans, flour, and salt in medium bowl; set aside. Process the remaining chopped nuts in a food processor (or by hand with a rolling pin) until their texture resembles coarse cornmeal, 10 to 15 seconds. Add these nuts to the flour mixture, stir and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar at medium speed until light, about 1 1/2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula then add the flour mixture and beat at low speed until dough just begins to come together but still looks scrappy, about 15 seconds. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl again with rubber spatula; continue beating at low speed until dough is cohesive, 6 to 9 seconds longer. Do not overbeat.
Working with about one tablespoon dough at a time, roll and shape cookies into the shapes you want - you could do balls, crescents, rings, etc. For the balls, just roll the dough between your palms to form balls. For the crescents, roll the dough into a 3 1/2-inch rope then shape it into a half circle shape. Finally, for the rings, shape the dough into about 4-inch ropes then curve the ropes to attach the ends. Bake the cookies until tops are pale golden and bottoms are just beginning to brown, about 17 to 19 minutes.
Cool cookies on the baking sheet for about 2 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Roll the cooled cookies in confectioners' sugar to coat. Shake off excess sugar then store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies