Rolled Sugar Cookies

It’s become a tradition in our family to get all the kids together before Christmas Eve to decorate cookies for Santa. They love smearing the royal icing on the cookies and getting creative. Not gonna lie…the kids eat most of the royal icing before it gets to the cookies, they almost always use way too many sprinkles and it’s a huge mess. But, they have a blast and then I send them home to their parents to deal with the sugar rush.

I have been making these rolled sugar cookies for years. I like my sugar cookies to be thick and slightly soft, but if you like a crunchier cookie just roll your dough out thinner. It’s important to chill the dough before rolling it out and after cutting the cookie shapes.  This will help the cookies retain their shape during baking.  

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups salted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Method:

  1. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until fully combined. 
  2. Add the eggs and almond extract.
  3. Reduce mixer speed to low and add in the flour and baking powder, one cup at a time, until fully incorporated.
  4. Wrap cookie dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight. The dough can also be frozen at this point for later use.
  5. Preheat oven to 400F and line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. 
  6. Once dough has chilled, roll out to 1/4  to 1/2 inch thickness and use cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes.
  7. Place cookie cut-outs on prepared baking sheets and put the entire baking sheet in the freezer for about 10 minutes to chill. 
  8.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.

*Yield: Approximately 30 cookies

IMG_1443

 

Advertisements

Croccante Americano (aka Peanut Brittle)

Croccante is Italy’s version of nut brittle. It’s a holiday treat many of our mothers, nonnas and zias typically made with almonds. A few years back, I discovered a recipe for croccante americano — aka peanut brittle — that is highly addictive and made even more delicious by a light sprinkling of sea salt as a final touch. This recipe has become a favourite in our family and was featured in Panoram Italia magazine.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  •  1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups roasted salted peanuts
  • Fleur de Sel or Maldon salt for sprinkling
  • Candy thermometer

Method:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. In a stainless steel saucepan, combine the sugar, water, butter and corn syrup. Bring to a boil.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture turns a light brown colour and registers 300F on a candy thermometer. This should take about 10 to 15 minutes. It is essential to use a candy thermometer here. The caramel must reach 300F — the hard crack stage — to set properly and achieve that perfect, crunchy texture.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble.
  5. Stir in the nuts, then quickly pour the brittle onto the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Spread the brittle into an even layer using a lightly-oiled spatula.
  7. Lightly sprinkle with Fleur de Sel or Maldon salt.
  8. Let the brittle cool completely (about 25 minutes) and break into large shards. The brittle should be stored in an airtight container and kept in a cool, dry place. Use parchment paper to separate layers of brittle to prevent them from sticking together.

Almond Biscotti

Biscotti are the ideal holiday cookies because they can be made well-ahead of time and freeze beautifully. I have been making these almond biscotti for years; they are crunchy, filled with roasted almonds and not too sweet. What’s great about this recipe is that you can easily change-up the flavour by replacing the almonds with your own preferred add-ins. Pistachios and grated orange rind as well as hazelnuts and mini chocolate chips are two of my favourites.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted almonds, chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, olive oil and sugar.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, until fully combined. Add vanilla.
  5. Reduce mixer to low and slowly add the flour mixture. Mix until fully combined.
  6. Mix in the chopped almonds.
  7.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a log, approximately 12 inches long and 4 inches wide.
  8. Place log on prepared baking sheet.
  9. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the edges are golden.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least ten minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300F.
  11. Once the loaf is cool enough to handle, use a sharp knife to slice into 1/2 inch thick slices.
  12. Transfer biscotti back to the baking sheet and bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning over once.
  13. The cooled biscotti can be stored in an air tight container at room temperature. These biscotti also freeze extremely well. They can be stored in the freezer for up to three months.

*Yield: Approximately 15 biscotti


Cranberry, Orange & White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cranberries are one of my favourite ingredients to bake with during the holidays because of the tart flavour and festive pop of colour they add to baked goodies. These drop cookies are a great make-ahead holiday treat because you can freeze the unbaked balls of dough and just pop them into the oven when you need them. I store my cookie dough in plastic freezer bags for up to three months. Frozen cookie dough needs about one or two extra minutes of baking time, depending on your oven. I used white chocolate chips in this recipe, but milk or dark chocolate chips are just as delicious. Pecans taste great in this cookie too!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp grated orange zest
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and coat baking sheets with nonstick spray.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar.
  3. Add the egg and mix until combined.
  4. Next, add the orange zest and vanilla extract.
  5. Turn mixer to low and slowly add the flour, baking soda and salt.
  6. Fold in the cranberries and white chocolate chips.
  7. Form dough into balls and place on prepared baking sheets.
  8. Bake for 12 minutes. Do not overbake if you want cookies to stay chewy!

Yield: Approximately 30 cookies