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The Cookies of Christmas past

by on December 27, 2009
 

One recipe. Numerous sources of inspiration. 4 cookies.

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Take a basic shortbread recipe, make some dough and share it into 4 parts. Then flavour each part differently….roll out and cut into shapes.

IMG_6522Bake in the oven and then….done….for 3 of them. The 4th still needs a bit of work- some caramel, chocolate and a sprinkling of salt flakes. Refrigerate and the end is nigh! Fantastic…..

IMG_6469 Eat some, wrap some….gift away and enjoy the rest of your holidays…..Merry Christmas (again, in arrears).

Shortbread recipe

Ingredients

Makes about 40

Shortbread Base
250g softened butter
85g caster sugar
300g plain flour
2 Tablespoons ground almonds

Variations

Variation #1: Zest of 1 medium orange and 20g (hand-crushed) almond flakes
Variation #2: 15g Cranberries (about 1 tablespoon) and 15g Macadamias (about 6 whole nuts). White chocolate’s missing,inspired by Diva of the Sugar Bar
Variation #3: 10g Milk chocolate chips and 10g chopped pecans
Variation #4: 25g Milk/Dark chocolate, melted and 2 tablespoons Dulche de Leche or homemade caramel curd; sea salt to garnish – I used Maldon Salt flakes but any nice sea salt would do.

How to

Preheat the oven to 160 deg Centigrade (325 deg Fahrenheit)

Prepare the baking tray/sheet

Grease and ‘flour’ (with the ground almonds) a baking tray/sheet.

IMG_6207Make and roll biscuit dough

Mix the butter and sugar in a bowl till soft; and then slowly add the flour, 100g at a time.

If the dough becomes too stiff to stir, gently knead in the rest of the flour with your hands. You don’t want to overwork the dough.

Form a ball and divide it into 4 parts.

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Leave one part plain; add almond and orange mix to one part; chocolate chips and pecans to another and macadamias and cranberries to the fourth.

IMG_6225Place soft dough on floured surface and using floured rolling pin, roll out.

IMG_6235Cut/shape/roll as you will and place on the baking tray. I made regular shapes with cookie cutters, but I also made some snow balls, inspired by Jessica of Demetermade. Prick cookie tops with a fork.

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Bake

For 10 – 12 minutes in the centre of the preheated oven until light brown in colour.

Remove from oven and let cool on a rack.

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For the variations

Variation #1, 2 and 3 are ready.

Of these, I sprinkled some icing sugar over the snowballs before I wrapped them up! Ideally, you roll the snowballs in icing sugar twice. The 1st time is when they’re cool enough to handle, fresh out of the oven. This coats the cookies with a nice outer layer of sweetness. However, the sugar is absorbed and so the 2nd sprinkling of icing sugar is for aesthetics, giving the cookies a beautiful snowy white look.

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For Variation #4

Using a teaspoon, put some caramel on each cookie and spread that over with a small spatula.

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Then top with melted chocolate and layer that over caramel.

IMG_6578At this stage refrigerate for an hour or overnight so the chocolate can harden.

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Then before serving, sprinkle some sea salt on the top of the cookies.

IMG_6755Of course…tasting and checking  that it is worthy to be served up!

IMG_6787If gifting, wrap them up in transparent wrap,…

IMG_6804…or box up!

IMG_6501IMG_6590Also to be enjoyed with tea or coffee.

IMG_6608The next few days are fraught with excitement, especially in the Netherlands:

31st of December,2009 (and days before), loads of Olieballen will be eaten(#4 on the list of Top Dutch traditions). Hopefully, I should have my New Year’s resolutions all done….and shared…with YOU! Olieballen are almost the same as we make in Nigeria only we eat them all year round and they’re called Puff-puff! I’ll be making some for you!

1st of January, 2010 aka New Year’s day, Scheveningen beach will be packed out at noon and I’ll be there! Yes I’ll be at the beach…and not in a bikini unlike some others, about 10,000 others will be scantily clad, ready to take the ‘Nieuwjaar’s duik’ – The New Years dive, and all in sub-zero temperatures! Imagine that? They do get rewarded though with bright woolen hat and gloves from Unox. the sponsors as well as bowls of hot pea soup. What are some people like ?

Expect full reports!

So what festivities are happening in your neck of the woods?