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!

12 comments:

Zarah Maria said...

WOW, Cathy, you've outdone yourself! Those are GORGEOUS cookies! Great job! Wish I could have some...

veuveclicquot said...

Holy moly! Now that's what I call a cookie tray! Everything looks so delicious; but I'm especially fond of Mexican Wedding cookies... a must try!

Anonymous said...

That is a wonderful selection, nicely done.

chuckless said...

All I can say is "yum, yum and YUMMMMMM!" As one of the lucky recipients of Cathy's Christmas cookies for a number of years I can say that she went way over the top this year! Cathy, I agree with your two top picks but frankly each of these cookies is absolutely fantastically delicious (with the exception of the mahmoul which only gets two "yums"). Thank you and Merry Christmas!

mari said...

Cathy, I'm so amazed. I'm in awe. All those cookies! How did you choose this selection? They all look beautiful. From the photos alone, I think the Mexican Wedding cookies look the most interesting. Maybe that's because I've been wanting to try making some myself. Happy Holidays!

rowena said...

Well look at you! I've been missing out on your posts...the cookies look wonderful and I am so envious that you were able to make all of these. As you know, I'm stuck with those spicy boys.

Regarding your question: Everyone knows that I take pics for the blog, and that the ones at work will eventually end up on the info website that I'm working on for the bakery...that is, when I find some time!

Anonymous said...

All of them look very nice and delicious.Especially I want to try chocolate-Fiiled stars.thank you this feast.BENGİSU from TÜRKİYE.

Cathy said...

Hi Zarah - thanks!! I wish you could too!

Hi Veuveclicquot! thank you! Yes you must try them - sooo good with the cherries and pistachios!

Hi Anon - thanks so much!

Hi Chuck!! You're so sweet - believe me it is always a pleasure to send them to you and Bob. I couldn't ask for a more appreciative audience! Merry Christmas to you too!

Hi Mari! Thank you! I thinking deciding what to make is the best part! I look through books and magazines and these days on-line as well. I think about how they'll look together (but that's not an overriding concern) and I usually try to include some chocolate, some nuts and some spice. One year I should make just tried and true recipes, but for me what is most fun is trying new recipes. Happy Holidays to you as well Mari!

Hi Rowena! I'll bet by the time you get home, baking cookies is the last thing you want to do! :) Have a wonderful Christmas Rowena!

Hi Bengisu! Thanks so much. Those were good and I love the way they look. If I make them again I think I will try to get a bit more chocolate in there. The little bit that's in there now is barely enough to taste.

eliza said...

hi cathy,
i was browsing around & found your blog. you made such a wonderful array of cookies!

Cathy said...

Hi Eliza - thank you!

Meg in Nelson said...

Cathy, good thing you don't live around here. You would never get me out of your house. I especially like the Mexican Wedding Cake, which I've heard called Russian Tea Cakes, too.

Cathy said...

Hi Meg - I think I'd happily take that chance if you lived around here! I love those Mexican Wedding Cakes too.