Today was the bake sale at church to raise money for White Cottage at Glade Run, so I spent the day yesterday baking (recipes follow). Of course, first it took an hour and a half to get the kitchen cleaned up after a week of not really having time to both cook dinner and clean up after it. Then I had to heat up some lunch for 2. Then of course the molasses cookies require a cup of cold coffee, which means I had to make some more coffee and sit down with the extra cup and some leftover butternut/apple bake Al made on Friday, and read my mystery book for a while (currently a German translation of an American author’s series about an Italian detective…). Then I made each of the doughs.
They both had to chill, so I went grocery shopping, including 3 stops to try to find Fall-themed paper plates to sell baked goods on, with no success (since apparently Christmas is the only upcoming season at this point), so I ended up with white, just as well since they were recycled and pretty printed ones probably wouldn’t have been. By the time I got home, it was 4:30, so I figured I’d better make dinner before getting started on cutting and babysitting batches of cookies. I had seen a pretty photo of beet soup here, and I have a lot of beets from the farm right now, so I made up a recipe that turned out really quite good! …so good that the two of us ate it all and I have no leftovers 😦
After eating the beet soup & an Italian platter (bread, proscuitto, fresh mozzarella, kalamata olives, arugula, mmm), I finally got started rolling, cutting, and baking, first the Goldsternchen, then the molasses cookies, whilst running downstairs intermittently to watch the Penguins game. Everything was baked by the middle of the 3rd period, so I watched the end of the game, which went into OT, and then at 10:30 finally started filling and icing.
To bed around midnight, pretty well exhausted after a full day in the kitchen. As I recall, mom used to bake all her Christmas cookies in one mad day – I have no idea how she did this!
Here’s what I woke up to this morning, but it was worth it.
My two favorite holiday cookies:
Goldsternchen (This is from a German cook-booklet called Weihnachts-Plätzchen [Christmas cookies]. Of course over the years I’ve adapted the recipe, so herewith is the current version. The original recipe is called Goldmonde [golden moons], but I don’t have a moon cookie cutter, so I’ve always made Sternchen [little stars]. Also the recipe calls for sprinkling chopped almonds on half of them before baking, but since I don’t “do” nuts, I’ve never done this. On this occasion I hadn’t gone to the store to buy cream, so I tried substituting plain yogurt + extra light olive oil, which worked fine.)
250g flour [about 2 cups]
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g softened butter [just shy of 1 stick = just under 1/4 lb]
100g powdered sugar [about 1 cup]
1 pack Vanilla sugar [this is much more commonly available in the US than it used to be]
1/2 tsp ground coriander [the recipe calls for cardamom, but I’ve never had it around to use; coriander works] [Dec11 edit: I’ve been making more curries lately, so I did have cardamom in the cupboard… really makes the cookies much more interesting!]
2 egg yolks
5 Tbsp cream
2 egg yolks for glazing
5 Tbsp apricot preserves for filling [the recipe calls for orange preserves + rum, but I normally use apricot + water to make them more universally appealing for bake sales and such]
Mix flour and baking powder in a bowl. Cream butter, powdered sugar, vanilla sugar, and coriander. Mix in 2 egg yolks, flour mixture, and cream. Knead well and chill for about 2 hours. (This makes a dry dough, more like a pie crust than like most cookie doughs.)
Preheat oven to 400F. Roll out dough about 3mm thick [this is very thin, less than 1/8″; try as hard as you can to get it even – otherwise you end up with some much browner than others] [Dec11 edit: Had a brainstorm and used the thickest setting on my pasta roller… had to roll more times, but super easy and made the thickness perfectly consistent!]. Cut out star shapes (or whatever, really), lay on baking sheets (I use baking stones for all my cookies, they brown so much more evenly, especially on something like this which otherwise is apt to burn). Whisk 2 egg yolks in a bowl [I like the German word for stirring up the eggs: verquirlen]; brush lightly on each cookie. Bake for 7-10 minutes; you have to be really careful here because they’re so thin and delicate – I usually set my timer to 7 minutes, and then peek often – you want the egg to turn golden, and the edges of the cookies to be a lovely golden brown. If any get too brown, you’ll have to eat them yourself – that’s my favorite part 🙂
Allow to cool completely before filling. To make the filling, stir the preserves and the water together. Put a little bit on the bottom of a cookie, then place another one on top, so the two un-egged sides are pressed together. With my stars, I turn the top cookie, so the star points are offset (I just think it’s prettier that way) – see the photo. Allow the filling to set for a couple hours before putting the cookies away.
Makes all the cookies you see here: about 3 dozen 2-layer cookies.
[Another recipe to follow – sorry, it’s time for Steelers v Jets]
[Well, that didn’t turn out as expected…]
Molasses Cookies (This recipe is from my grandma – apparently, because that’s what I wrote on the index card when I copied it from Mom’s recipes – but now that I think about it I can’t recall Grandma ever making these cookies, it was always Mom making them; maybe Grandma handed over that torch at some point… Anyway, unlike pretty much every other recipe, I have not messed with this one – um, well, except I’ve always substituted butter for the “shortening” the original calls for.)
1-1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 cup cold coffee [the secret ingredient – this is the part where you make yourself another cup to relax with]
6 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
[it’s true that there are no eggs in these cookies – kind of unusual]
Cream butter & sugar. Add molasses & coffee. Sift together remaining ingredients, and mix in. [Don’t forget to lick the beaters!] Chill.
Roll dough thick (about 1/4″). Cut in any shapes (I used leaves & turkeys this time, but I normally use this recipe for Christmas shapes). Bake 15 minutes @ 350F.
Cool completely before icing generously with….
Confectioners Sugar Icing (this icing hardens after spreading; this recipe makes enough for about a dozen cookies – you have to make a bowl of icing for each color you want)
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt (I sift this with the sugar to mix completely)
Add: 1/2 tsp vanilla extract & about 1 Tbsp water. Mix thoroughly to saturate the powdered sugar. Add water a very little bit at a time, till it’s the right consistency to spread. Tint with food color – a drop or two will usually do.