Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Cookie Swap 2005

the spread
Originally uploaded by michelle1975.

The spread clockwise, starting from bottom; brown-butter thumbprints, bourbon-currant cookies, orange-hazelnut shortbread, chocolate sparkles, oatmeal raisin, rose petal tea sablées, ginger snaps, chocolate-fleur de sel cookies, more ginger snaps and more oatmeal, and from center; Moravian ginger stars, pfeffernusse, black pepper and chocolate macarons, and Mexican wedding cakes.

Some of you might remember last year's cookie swap... Okay, since there were only two of us, one person might remember last year's cookie swap. Let's just say that this year was a smash hit by comparison. Camillla hosted it at her house and 10 people participated, each bringing at least 4 dozen cookies. We set up the table and set up a round robin around it, each taking a few cookies from the stacks until they were gone. Mulled wine was served and Christmas music was on the stereo. Everyone went home with an assortment of cookies to share with their friends, families, co-workers, or bandmates.

Cookie favourites were established pretty quickly. Both the chocolate ones were hits, the sparkles coming from a recipe by Thomas Haas and the fleur de sel from a recipe by Pierre Hermé. I found the orange-hazelnut shortbread delicious, with both principal flavours shining through brightly. I made the Moravian ginger stars, following Nancy Silverton's instructions. The result: a perfect cut-out cookie. That being said, I highly recommend any of the following recipes for your holiday baking repertoire.

Korova Cookies by Pierre Hermé from Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweets

1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick + 3 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp.
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp fleur de sel or 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp vanilla
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small bits

-Preheat oven to 325°F.
-Sift flour, cocoa and soda together.
-Cream butter. Add both sugars, salt and vanilla and beat for a minute on medium. Add dry ingerdients on low. Don't over mix. Add chocolate.
-Divide into 2 logs 1-1/2” in diameter. Wrap and chill for 1 hr. Can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for up to one month.
-Slice logs in rounds 1/4” thick. Place on baking sheet with 1” space between. Bake one sheet at a time for 12 min. They will not look done, but that's ok.

makes 3 dozen

Orange-hazelnut Shortbread from Martha Stewart's Holiday Cookie Issue

1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted and skins removed
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sanding sugar, for dusting

-Preheat oven to 350°F.
-Grind nuts in a processor until finely chopped but not a paste. Transfer to a bowl and add flour, sugar, butter, zest, and salt. Mix until dough forms a ball.
-Halve the dough and form into two disks. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and shape into 7" rounds. Score 12 wedges into each disk. Sprinkle with sanding sugar.
-Bake until golden, 15-20 min. While still warm, cut through the scored lines to separate pieces. Let cool. Can be stored airtight for one week.

makes 2 dozen

Moravian Ginger Cookies from Nancy Silverton's Pastries From La Brea Bakery

4 oz. butter, at room temp.
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp ground ginger
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
2 Tbsp molasses
1 large egg white
1 cup + 4 Tbsp flour

-Preheat oven to 350°F.
-Cream butter with spices and baking soda. Add sugars and mix. Add molasses, mix. Add egg white, mix. Add flour in 3 batches, mixing after each addition. Form into a disk and chill 4-6 hours, or overnight.
-Roll out 1/8" thick, cut, chill, then bake 5-8 min., until edges are golden.

makes 3 dozen

Happy swapping (cookie swapping, that is).


the loot
Originally uploaded by michelle1975.

1 comment:

kelli ann said...

wow- wotta spread. i remember last year's 'rendez-vous manqué' (although the ginger cookies w piped royal icing were most memorable) and am green with envy. a hostess! that's what was missing! (& thanks for the recipes...)

happy, happy holidays