Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cookies, Cookies Everywhere!

 The weekend before Christmas has always meant cookies in my mind. Flurries of flour and powdered sugar, colorful decorating sugar crunching underneath your feet, the smell of vanilla and ginger....As a little girl some of my best memories are working in the kitchen with my mother making piles of Christmas Sugar Cookies which were delivered to friends, family, teachers and the mail man. Those shapes we made are ever familiar - I still use my mother's cutters - the pony,  Santa Claus, bell, and Christmas tree from the 1950s in my cookies today.

The gingerbread people, snowman, snowflakes and mini holly leaves are my own addition to the family tradition. This year I replaced my time honored recipe with one published as one of the 50 Best cookies by the Los Angeles Times Food Section. Thanks Russ Parsons! This recipe with the fresh grated ginger is a keeper!

The almond crescents at upper right in the second photo are also a homage to my Mom, though I lost her recipe and had to find a replacement. I think the recipe I use now is Nancy Silverton's from one of her early books. The Bourbon Balls are another family recipe - yes, bourbon, never rum! They were eventually rolled in powdered sugar and are almost entirely gone already!

The Toffee Macadamia Nut cookies are my own addition to the yearly buffet. These were found about five years ago in a Martha Stewart Cookie Contest and are simply the best cookie ever! Everyone I've ever offered them to says so...... So here's the recipe as my present to you this year.

 Makes 36 big cookies 
    1 1/2  cups unsalted butter -- softened
   1  cup granulated sugar
   2/3  cup  light brown sugar -- packed
   2  large eggs
   1 teaspoon vanilla extract
   2 cups all-purpose flour
   2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
   2 teaspoons baking soda
   1 teaspoon salt
   3 cups  toffee chips
   2 1/2  cups  macadamia nuts -- coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper and set aside.(I like the parchment better for these - the bottoms get crunchier)

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugars. beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add eggs and vanilla extract, and beat to combine. In a medium bowl whisk the flours, baling soda and salt until combined. Mix in toffee chips and macadamia nuts.

Scoop dough out onto prepared baking sheets using a 2 ounce ice-cream scoop, placing them 2 inches apart. Flatten the cookies slightly with the palm of your hand. Bake until golden and just set, rotating the sheets between the oven racks halfway through to ensure even browning, about 15 minutes. Transfer the sheets to a wire rack to cool, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies from the sheet to rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. 

Note: ( I make these with a smaller scoop than the recipe says - better for the waistline - and bake them 12 minutes) 

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