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December 7, 2009

Holiday Cookie Exchange

Here's the haul I took home from a My People Connection/Meetup Cookie Exchange over the weekend.

The best part? The cookies came with the recipes! My favorites are in the front: on the left, topped with an almond are Caela's Curry Cookies; on the right, with crunchy pralines on top, are Dutch Caramel Cashew Cookies. Scroll down for these two recipes. The Curry Cookies had just enough punch to make them flavorful, without being overly spicy (I don't like hot foods). And the Cashew Cookies: who doesn't love cashews, especially pralines, especially atop a cookie?

I brought the marbled banana-chocolate bars that I posted on the blog yesterday, and they stood out as unique.

Caela's Curry Cookies

2 tsp mild curry powder
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus about 50 whole almonds, toasted
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp grated orange zest
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped sweetened flaked coconut

Heat the curry powder in a small heavy skillet over low heat until fragrant. Set aside to cool.

Place flour, 1 c. almonds, curry powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a food processor bowl fitted with a metal blade. Pulse 10-12 times, then process for a minute or so until mixture is finely chopped.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, mix butter and orange zest until creamy. Add granulated sugar in a steady stream, then add brown sugar, and mix for about one minute. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each, then add the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, mixing just until blended after each addition. Using a large wooden spoon, fold in the coconut. Chill the dough 20-30 minutes, until firm enough to handle.

Heat the oven to 375. Grease baking pans with butter or use parchment. Roll the dough in the palms of your hands to form one inch balls and place on the cookie sheets about two inches apart. Gently press a whole almond into the center of each cookie. Using the heel of your hand, flatten the cookie.

Bake 10-12 minutes until the edges are golden brown, rotating baking sheets half-way through. Let stand 2 minutes before tranferring to cooling racks. Store in an airtight container between strips of wax paper for up to three weeks. These cookies may be frozen.

Yield: about 50 2-inch cookies.

Dutch Caramel Cashew Cookies

1/2 Cup Butter
1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Egg Yolk
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1 Cup Flour

1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Tbsp. Water
Pinch Cream of Tartar
1/2 Cup Roasted & Salted Cashews, Chopped
Prepared Buttered Foil & Spatula

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For Praline: In a heavy skillet, cook 1/2 c. sugar with 2 Tbsp. water and pinch cream of tartar over moderate heat. Scrape sides of pan to make sure all sugar is melting. Stir until the mixture is a light caramel color, but be careful not to burn. Stir in the cashews.

Pour the praline mixture onto a buttered piece of foil, using a buttered spatula to spread it thin. Allow praline to cool and harden. Then break it into chunks for topping cookies & mixing into dough.

For Dough: Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in the egg yolk, vanilla, and flour. Stir in 2/3 of the chopped praline mixture (reserve 1/3 pralines for topping).

Roll about 1 1/2 tsp. of dough into a ball. Place on buttered cookie sheet. Flatten each ball slightly and then top with a bit of the reserved praline mixture. Place balls about two inches apart on baking sheet.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden. Cool for about five minutes on baking sheet, for a chewy texture. Then transfer to wire cooling rack. Store airtight.

Yield: about 18 cookies.

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