Monday, December 18, 2006
My Christmas Cookies - 2006
This year's Christmas cookies are all out of the house now, but here's my little round-up of what I made and what I thought of them. Usually there are three or more cookies that I repeat from year to year, but this year I decided to try all new recipes.
Maamoul from the Food Network - these were very good, but didn't quite live up to my expectations. The recipe includes three different fillings. I made both the date-orange filling and the apricot-golden raisin-nut filling. My complaint with both is that they needed to be a little tarter - perhaps more orange in the first and a little lemon in the second would have helped. Also, both called for a pinch of salt, and I think I'd eliminate that another time. I remembered having seen a recipe for maamoul on a food blog, but didn't remember which one. Now I do - it was Indira's. Next time, I think I'll try her recipe. I'll have to find one of those gorgeous molds first though!
Spice Balls from Sara Moulton - I thought these were great, but maybe not the sort of thing I'd normally make for Christmas. They're chewy and taste of molasses and spices - delicious! They start as a ball rolled in sugar (hence the name), but they spread in cooking and flatten once removed from the oven. They're very easy and very good.
Chocolate-Filled Stars from Nick Malgieri's Cookies Unlimited - I always have trouble piping cookies, whether I use a bag and tip or a cookie press. Half the time it seems like the dough just doesn't want to "let go". Even so, I love making spritz cookies. This particular cookie is a brown sugar cookie and is topped with a dollop of chocolate filling, which makes it even more appealing. They were very good, but hard rather than tender and sandy as you might normally expect a spritz cookie to be. My only gripe with the recipe is that the filling (you're given the option of using either a sugar-based chocolate glaze, which I used, or ganache) makes a far more than you need for these cookies. If I'd planned better, I could have made the ganache and used it for both these cookies and the turtles (see below).
Pistachio and Cherry Mexican Wedding Cakes from the December, 2006 issue of Bon Appetit - my absolute favorite this year. These are delicious - so buttery and sweet and the addition of dried cherries and pistachios to this classic is just perfect. They're also easy to make and the recipe makes a big batch. I will definitely make these again - hopefully I can hold out until next Christmas!
Caramel Turtle Bars from the December, 2006 issue of Fine Cooking - this would probably be my first runner-up to the Mexican Wedding Cakes above. These cookies have a brown sugar shortbread base and are topped with caramel, pecans and chocolate ganache. I should have waited for the ganache to cool a little more so that I could drizzle it in a pretty pattern as shown in the magazine. Instead, mine ran into a nearly solid layer, but that's OK - they still look pretty and no one ever complains that there's too much chocolate! These are a little bit of work, but well worth it. A couple comments on the recipe - it took much longer than the 6 minutes stated for the caramel mixture to reach 240 F, but it finally did. Also, the ganache took longer to set than indicated in the recipe.
Swedish Christmas Cookies from the Food Network - these were probably the least interesting of the bunch, but still quite good. They're buttery icebox cookies that are flavored with cardamom and rolled in either colored sugar or chopped pecans.
That's all. Did you notice what's missing? I took a week off from rolled cookies!