12 Weeks of Christmas Treats ~ Week 6 ~ Baci di Dama

baci di dama by bakewell junction

Baci di Dama via Bakewell Junction

It’s the sixth week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop hosted by Brenda Thompson from MealPlanningMagic.com.  If you’d like to join us, please fill out the form on Brenda’s blog.

This week was a little nerve wracking with the storm coming through.  We were lucky and didn’t experience any damage.  It was a little odd that there were people to the east and west without power (and of course to the south), but we were so lucky.  Not complaining – just sayin’.  Hopefully everyone who was adversely affected gets the help they need.

What does the this recipe’s name translate as?  Answer, Lady Kisses.  I don’t know if anyone else makes these cookies for Christmas but they’ve been on my Christmas cookie platter for several years.  The cookies are sweet, crunchy and crumbly – totally delicious.

Enjoy.

Baci di Dama

Yield:  18 – 36 sandwich cookies                  Cook Time:  10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced blanched almonds
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

Directions:

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Step 2:  Add the almonds, sugar, flour and butter to the bowl of a food processor or mini chopper.  Pulse to grind the almonds and ensure the mixture is homogeneous.  The mixture almost looks like a pie crust dough when the butter is cut in.

Step 3:  Using a tablespoon or a round spoon, take small scoops of the mixture and press it into the spoon shape.  If the spoon you’re using is very deep, don’t make the cookie too thick or compress the mixture too much, since this will make the cookies hard and harder to bite into.

Step 4:  Invert the spoon and gently slide the cookie out onto the lined cookie sheet with the tip of your thumb.  Repeat with the reminder of the cookie mixture but leave about an inch space between cookies on all sides.  Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until the edges are barely golden.  Let cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet.  Remove from cookie sheet and let cool to room temperature.

Step 5:  After the cookies have cooled, heat the chocolate in a double boiler or just place a bowl over simmering water to melt it.  Pair together similar sized and shaped cookies.  Spoon some melted chocolate on the flat side of one cookie and cover with another cookie (flat side towards the middle).  Gently press the cookies together so they stick together.  Let cool completely.  Try to refrain from eating them all.

Tips:  Do not compress the cookie mixture too much or make it too thick when shaping the cookie.

Storing:  Store cookies in a sealed plastic container.  The cookies are fine for several days when stored this way.

Enjoy!!!

Adapted from Mario Batali’s recipe on Food Network.

Have a look at the other great cookies in the blog hop by clicking on the Linky Tools link below.  Sorry my blog doesn’t support the blog hop participant icons directly.

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats Blog Hop

Week 6, November 1, 2012

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12 Weeks of Christmas Treats ~ Week 5 ~ Italian Almond Crescents

It’s the fifth week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop hosted by Brenda Thompson from MealPlanningMagic.com.  If you’d like to join us, please fill out the form on Brenda’s blog.

Whew!  It’s been a busy week at work and at home.  Glad to able to share this easy cookie recipe with you.  My sister-in-law gave me this recipe and it’s been in my husband’s family forever.  The cookies are similar to Italian Wedding Cookies or Mexican Wedding Cookies.  These cookies contain nuts whereas the my earlier post for Almond Crescents contained almond flavoring.

This recipe is a staple during the Christmas season.  I hope it becomes a staple for your family too.  The cookies are buttery but they aren’t very sweet, so the powdered sugar coating makes the sweetness just right.

Enjoy.

Italian Almond Crescents

Yield:  5 dozen cookies                  Cook Time:  15 – 17 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 pound (2 cups) blanched slivered or sliced almonds, then finely chopped
  • 1 pound of butter, softened
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.  Place the powdered sugar in a medium bowl and set aside.

Step 2:  Mix flour, corn starch, sugar and almonds in a large bowl.

Step 3:  Using a fork or spatula mix the butter and vanilla into the flour mix until just combined.  Form crescents with about a tablespoon of dough.  Place on lined cookie sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough, placing about 1 1/2 inches apart.  The cookies will spread a bit.

Step 4:  Bake in the preheated oven for 15 – 17 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden.  Let cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet.  If you remove the cookies from the cookie sheet too soon the cookies may break as they are fragile when they’re warm.

Step 5:  After the cookies have cooled, dredge each one in the bowl of powdered sugar.  Be sure there’s a nice thick coating of powdered sugar on the cookies.

Tips:  Do not bake cookies too long.

Storing:  Store cookies in a sealed plastic container.  The cookies are fine for several days when stored this way.

Enjoy!!!

Barely adapted from my husband’s family recipe.

Have a look at the other great cookies in the blog hop by clicking on the Linky Tools link below.  Sorry my blog doesn’t support the blog hop participant icons directly.

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats Blog Hop

Week 5, October 25, 2012

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12 Weeks of Christmas Treats ~ Week 4 ~ Giant Ginger Cookies

It’s the fourth week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop hosted by Brenda Thompson from MealPlanningMagic.com.  If you’d like to join us, please fill out the form on Brenda’s blog.

Most of my Christmas treats are cookies.  Hopefully you don’t mind this.  This week I’d like to share a recipe that I got from a magazine that a friend of mine gave me a couple of years ago – Better Homes and Gardens Ultimate Cookies & Bars magazine.  I added the Giant Ginger Cookies to my Christmas cookie list and made them last year.  They were a hit.  My husband has always hated gingerbread cookies but even he said that these are really good.

Now I wouldn’t really consider these cookies giant – I reserve that for the cookies that are the size of a dinner plate – but they are larger than the average cookie (about the size of a coaster) and pretty thick too.  The demerara sugar coating gives the cookies great added texture.  Ginger cookies always remind me of the holidays and they are a staple for most everyone.

Enjoy.

Giant Ginger Cookies

Yield:  24 cookies                  Cook Time:  11 – 13 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups shortening (I used Crisco Baking Sticks)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cups Demerara, turbinado or granulated sugar

Directions:

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Step 2:  Combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a separate bowl and set aside.

Step 3:  Using an electric mixer on medium to high speed beat shortening in a large bowl for 30 seconds.  Scrape the sides of the bowl as you go when necessary.  Beat in the 2 cups of sugar.  Combine eggs and molasses into the mixture.  Beat in as much of the flour mixture as possible.  Finish combining the remaining flour using a spatula.

Step 4:  Add the demerara sugar into a small bowl.  Roll dough into 2 inch balls using a 1/4 cup measure or ice cream scoop.  Coat with coarse sugar by rolling in the small bowl.  Place 2 1/2 inches apart on the parchment lined cookie sheet (or ungreased cookie sheet).

Step 5:  Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned and tops are puffed slightly.  Cool cookie on racks for 2 minutes.  Remove the cookies from the pans and let cool completely on cooling racks.

Tips:  Do not bake cookies too long.  Sometimes it’s a bit annoying to measure shortening using the water displacement method, so this time I used Crisco Baking Sticks which are softer than regular shortening and are as easy to use as butter, since they are shaped like a stick and have the measurements similar to the way they are on a stick of butter.

Storing:  Store cookies in a sealed plastic container.  The cookies are fine for several days when stored this way.  Freeze up to three months.  Do not store with cookies that aren’t spiced as the other cookies will take on the flavors of these cookies.

Enjoy!!!

Barely adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Ultimate Cookies and Bars magazine.

Have a look at the other great cookies in the blog hop by clicking on the Linky Tools link below.  Sorry my blog doesn’t support the blog hop participant icons directly.

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats Blog Hop

Week 4, October 18, 2012

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12 Weeks of Christmas Treats ~ Week 3 ~ Phil’s Grandmother’s Italian Cookies

It’s the third week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop hosted by Brenda Thompson from MealPlanningMagic.com.  If you’d like to join us, please fill out the form on Brenda’s blog.

Last week I wrote about the Pizzelle cookie which is a Christmas a tradition in my family.  This week I’m making a cookie that has been a tradition in my brother-in-law’s family.  My sister’s husband’s family makes this cookie during Christmas and other holidays all year long.  When my sister began making them and bringing them to family gatherings, we found that we loved them and then added them to our Christmas cookie list.  Once I began making these cookies regularly, I’ve developed a method for forming and baking the cookies.

These cookies have a melt-in-your-mouth quality.  They are light and slightly sweet which is a perfect foil for the sweet frosting.  Being small and bite-size makes them easy to pop in your mouth and, trust me, you won’t be able to stop at just one.  Small cookies don’t really have any calories do they?

One recipe makes a lot of cookies but since they’re small, I don’t see this as a problem.  I give these away to friends and family.  If I’m visiting, I bring along a variety of cookies and these are always included.

Enjoy.

The dough is pretty easy to mix but handling the dough is needs some show and tell.  After the dough is chilled, cut the dough into quarters.

Cut thin slices from the dough currently being used, similar to french fries.

Rounding the edges with your fingertips.

Cut the dough into three inch strips.

Begin creating the vertical cork screw.

Bring the dough around.

Finish the cork screw.

Ready for the oven.

Hot out of the oven.

Barely golden on the bottom.

Frosted deliciousness.

Phil’s Grandmother’s Italian Cookies

Yield:  190 – 200 cookies                  Cook Time:  10 minutes

Ingredients

Cookie Dough:

  • 1/2 pound or 2 sticks butter (softened or melted – I melt the butter)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 large eggs
  • 8 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 cups flour plus some additional for dusting while forming the cookies

Icing:

  • 1/4 pound or 1 stick butter melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 2 pound box or 3 1/3 – 4 cups of confectioners sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk (after adding 1 1/2 tablespoons, add remaining milk in small increments)
  • Red and green food coloring, optional

Directions:

Step 1:  For the cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Step 2:  With an electric mixer cream butter, sugar and vanilla together.  Stir in the baking powder and 4 cups of flour until combined.  Place dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for easier handling; at least 4 1/2 hours (I usually chill overnight).

Step 3:  Once the dough has chilled long enough, remove it from the refrigerator and cut it in quarters with three parallel cuts.  Remove a quarter of the dough out of the refrigerator at a time to form the cookies, so the dough doesn’t get too soft and sticky.  Place the remaining dough into the refrigerator until ready to shape the next quarter batch.

Step 4:  Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour.  Place the quarter of dough removed from the refrigerator on the work surface and cut a thin slice (about 1/4 inch thick); then cut the slice into french fry shapes.  Break the pieces of dough into about three inch lengths and round the edges longways with your fingertips so the three inch lengths look like they were rolled.  Twist the dough into a vertical corkscrew curl and place on the baking sheet.  Place each cookie about a half inch apart.  Repeat until all the dough is finished from the quarter batch removed from the refrigerator.

Step 5:  Repeat step 4 for the remaining three quarters of dough until all the dough has been shaped into cookies.  Bake cookies for 10 minutes, one cookie sheet at a time.  When done, the cookies should be set and the bottoms should show barely a hint of golden color.  Let cool completely.

Step 6:  For the frosting, mix the butter, sugar, vanilla and 1 tablespoon milk together in a medium bowl.  Add the remaining tablespoon of milk in small increments as necessary to reach a creamy but not runny consistency.

Step 7:  For festive colors divide frosting into batches.  Stir in drops of red food coloring into one batch until the desired shade is reached.  Place a dollop of frosting on each cookie.  Repeat with green food coloring.

Step 8:  Let frosting dry for several hours or overnight and then store in an airtight container.

Tips:  If the entire recipe yields too many cookies for you the recipe can easily be cut in half.  Handling the dough to much can make the cookies tough.  Cooking them too long can make them dry.  If some of the cookies are stuck together during baking, this will just make it easier to frost – they can be broken apart after the frosting dries.

Storing:  Store cookies in a sealed plastic container.  The cookies are fine for several days when stored this way.

Variations:  After chilling, you can roll the dough and use cookie cutters to shape the cookies.

Enjoy!!!

Adapted from my brother-in-law’s family recipe.

Have a look at the other great cookies in the blog hop by clicking on the Linky Tools link below.

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats Blog Hop

Week 3, October 11, 2012

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12 Weeks of Christmas Treats ~ Week 2 ~ Pizzelle

It’s the second week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop hosted by Brenda Thompson from MealPlanningMagic.com.  If you’d like to join us, please fill out the form on Brenda’s blog.

A staple of my Christmas cookies is the Pizzelle.  Pizzelle means small pizzas.  Although these cookies don’t resemble the savory pizzas we are accustomed to, they are flat and they usually have a diamond pattern.  You may have seen them shaped as circles and in different flavors.  Growing up we only had one shape (rectangular) and one flavor (vanilla), so for me this all I need.  You may also be more familiar with the electric Pizzelle irons which make the cooking part much quicker but they don’t always give me the taste and tradition that I grew up with.  We only had the iron that was heated on the stove.  It makes one cookie at a time, one side at a time.  I still use my grandmother’s iron which is probably about 70 years old by now and it makes the best cookies.

Pizzelle cookies are light, crisp and slightly sweet.  You don’t get overwhelmed with decadence, sweetness or richness – not that there’s anything wrong with those things, as many of my recipes are decadent, sweet and rich – but when you’re in the kitchen chatting with your family or friends and there’s a stack of Pizzelle nearby, you’ll find that you’ve eaten one, then two, then before you notice ten or twelve.

One recipe makes a ton of cookies and that’s definitely a good thing.  I give these away to friends and family.  One of my friend’s young adult sons have fought over these cookies.  Every year my sisters demand to get their fair share of the Pizzelle for Christmas.  Last year I brought Pizzelle to my cousin’s open house party and her father said that my Pizzelle tasted just like my grandmother’s did fifty years ago when she brought him some.

Our favorite way to eat Pizzelle is to nibble on the ends first before eating the rest.  As you can see from the cookies in the pictures we don’t fill the entire rectangle with dough for a couple of reasons.  First, you get more cookies when you use less dough and second, they’re more fun to eat when you’re able to nibble on the ends.

You can still purchase a Pizzelle iron similar to mine.  My youngest sister purchased one online from Fante’s at http://www.fantes.com/pizzelle.html.  The iron is made in the US and is inexpensive.  When I showed my sister how to make Pizzelle, I found that the iron was little different, in that, the handles were a little more lightweight than my iron but made no difference to the quality of the cookies made with it.

I realize this is a lot of discussion around one cookie but it’s just that this recipe has been such an integral part of our Christmas tradition for so long (since before I was born) that I felt it needed to be shared.

Enjoy – it’s worth it.

My sister’s brand new Pizzelle iron.

The dough for this recipe is different than most cookies.  The dough is much thicker and you’ll need to mix it as far as you can with your stand mixer.

A closer look.

The dough after additional manual mixing of additional flour.  Note that I use an Ice Cream Spade to mix in additional flour until the dough is about the consistency of Play Dough.

Shape the dough into finger-like portions to get ready for cooking.

After cooking the dough you have delicious Pizzelle cookies.

Pizzelle

Yield:  175 – 200 cookies                  Cook Time:  3 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 dozen large eggs (only 11 eggs if using extra-large)
  • 1 1/4 cup oil (I use olive oil)
  • 6 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons vanilla or to taste (I usually pour directly out of the bottle until I see the mixture change to the correct color)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 5 pounds flour, approximately
  • Cooking spray as needed

1/4 Recipe

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2.5 ounces oil (75 ml – just below 1/3 cup)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla or to taste
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups flour, approximately

 Directions:

Step 1:  With a stand mixer beat eggs on medium until frothy.  Blend in oil, baking powder and vanilla.

Step 2:  Lower the mixer speed so the dry ingredients aren’t splashed out of the bowl.  Slowly add sugar, waiting for each cup to be blended before adding the next until all the sugar is incorporated.  Begin adding flour in small increments, about 1/2 cup at a time.  Wait for each addition to blend with the remaining ingredients.

Step 3:  Once the dough becomes too thick for the mixer to continue, divide the dough in half and transfer each half into ceramic or glass bowls.  The reason I separate the dough is to mix it to an even consistency throughout when the dough is halved.

Step 4:  Using a very heavy and very strong spoon like an Ice Cream Spade, continue blending the flour in small increments into one of the bowls of dough.  You will not be able stir the dough but you can fold it over itself and use the back of the spade to drag the flour across the dough (it’s easiest if your dragging motion starts from the point of the dough farthest from you and drag the spade towards you) and thereby incorporating it.  Be aware that you should not use your hands to mix the dough as it changes the flavor of the cookie.

Step 5:  When the dough no longer sticks to the spoon (very thick), turn it over in the bowl to ensure the consistency is equal throughout.  If there are parts of the dough that aren’t as thick or are sticky, then continue incorporating flour until it is the same consistency throughout.  Repeat from Step 4 with the second bowl of dough.

Step 6:  Begin forming the dough into finger-like portions about 1/2 inch thick and 3 inches long.  After forming many of the dough portions, spray both sides of the pizzelle iron with cooking spray.  On a gas stove turn the heat to medium.  Heat the iron for 10 minutes alternating sides every minute.  Have a large tray nearby to stack the finished cookies.

Step 7:  Open the iron while it sits on the gas burner and place one dough portion in the center of the iron with the long portion of the dough matching the long portion of the iron.  Close the iron so the dough will squeeze into the crevices of the iron.  Cook on one side for a count of 10 or 12 seconds and then turn over and cook the other side for 10 or 12 seconds.  Check the cookie it should barely have a golden blush.  The first cookie may be too dark or too raw.  If it’s too raw, cook it on the side(s) that need it a little longer.  Once the cookie is done, use a fork to lift one end and quickly pick it up and place it on the tray to cool.  You’ll need to adjust the heat setting so you can get into a groove with making the cookies.  Repeat cooking until all the dough has been cooked.  You may need to spray the Pizzelle Iron with cooking spray periodically as you cook (maybe after half the dough is cooked).  As the cookies are made you will be making stacks by creating a row of cookies across a tray and then repeating to make a second row, a third row and so on.  The cookies will crisp up as they cool.

Tips:  These cookies need to be made on cool dry days because warmth and humidity change the dough and you’ll use more flour than needed and the dough becomes difficult to work with.  If the entire recipe yields too many cookies for you the recipe can easily be cut in half or a quarter.  While cooking it’s helpful if you have someone else forming the cookies, so you constantly have dough portions ready to cook.

Storing:  Store cookies on a tray and cover the top so they don’t get dust on them.  The cookies are fine for quite a long time (several weeks).

Variations:  Sprinkle with powdered sugar (don’t breath in while eating or you’ll start coughing).  Drizzle with melted chocolate (my husband loves this).  Shape into a cone while still warm and fill with ice cream or make an ice cream sandwich.  Alternatively top with cannoli cream.

Enjoy!!!

My family recipe adapted about fifty years ago from a friends recipe.

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats Blog Hop

Week 2, October 4, 2012

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