Well, I figure since I am not going to be magically discovering the space in real life to bake this year, I ought to do the annual cookie exchange electronically. Over the years, we have amassed some seriously tasty recipes for sweets of all kinds that go perfectly in the cookie exchange pile. So, here are a few of our favorites to share.
If you make them, save a few for me.;)
It may not be cookies, but who can resist Baklava in the mix.
* INGREDIENTS *
* 1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
* 1 pound chopped pecans (we found that an extra half cup is useful)
* 1 cup butter
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 cup water
* 1 cup organic sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup honey
* DIRECTIONS *
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F(175 degrees C). Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9×13 inch pan.
2. Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 – 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 – 8 sheets deep.
3. Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
4. Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
5. Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Serve in cupcake papers. This freezes well. Leave it uncovered as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.
Of course, who can resist sugar cookies?
3 1⁄2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1⁄4 tsp salt
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
1⁄2 cup butter
1⁄2 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla
Spoon or pour flour into dry measuring cup. Level off and pour onto waxed paper. Add baking powder and salt; stir well to blend.
Cream sugar, butter, shortening, eggs and vanilla thoroughly.
Add flour mixture to creamed mixture. Mix well.
Chill several hours until firm.
Roll out small portions of dough on lightly floured surface to 1/8” thickness. Cut with floured 3” cookie cutter. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle with sugar if desired.
Bake at 375° F. for 8-10 minutes.
Try this tasty Tahini candy:
1/4 cup almonds
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp carob powder
1/4 cup grated coconut
Preheat oven to 425F.
Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 5 minutes. In a small mixing bowl, blend the tahini, maple syrup & almond extract, beating vigorously for 3 minutes until a stiff ball forms and the oil begins to separate; stir in the carob powder. As the mixture stiffens, press the dough against the sides of the bowl with a spoon to express the oil, then pour off. Allow the dough to sit for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the almonds from the oven. Press and drain dough again and place in a napkin or paper towel; squeeze to absorb excess oil. Chop the almonds and add to the mixture. Place the mixture on a piece of wax paper (so it won’t stick to the chopping board) and roll into a cylinder shape. Slice the roll into bite-sized pieces and cover with grated coconut.
I am minus a photo for this one, but how about some Coconut Macaroons:
* 2 egg whites
* A dribble of vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup of brown sugar
* A small spoonful of nutmeg
* 1 1/2 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk the egg white, vanilla, sugar and nutmeg together. Stir in the coconut and mix until it’s well coated with the egg white mixture.
2. Moisten your hands. Form a large heaping spoonful of the mixture into a loose stack on a lightly oiled baking sheet. You may leave it craggy and irregular or pat it a bit to even it out. Repeat with the remaining mixture leaving an inch or so between each pile.
3. Bake until golden brown, about fifteen minutes. When they’re done they’ll be firm to the touch but still a bit soft in the middle. When they first come from the oven they’ll be a bit crumbly but after twenty minutes or so of cooling they’ll firm up nicely.