Monday, December 7, 2009

More Holiday Baking

Yesterday afternoon I continued my holiday baking. This time I stepped things up a notch and made Spritz Cookies, Snowball Cookies and Chocolate Bon Bon Drops! I had been planning to make Spritz Cookies for a while as they are my hubby's favorite Christmas cookie. I used a simple recipe from Betty Crocker because, in all honesty, my hubby likes plain and simple. Unfortunately I think we both agreed that these were too plain. I think next time I make Spritz Cookies I'll incorporate either some orange zest or some cinnamon in the batter to give them more depth.

I was pretty satisfied with the Snowball Cookie recipe I used. It had been a while since I had had these cookies and I honestly couldn't compare this recipe to others I've had before from memory. They had a great, pleasantly crumbly texture and a nice pecan shortbread flavor. I meant to add a teeny bit of cinnamon to my batter but didn't make a note on the recipe and totally forgot to add it in my following the recipe. I'll definitely try the cinnamon in these next time as I think the subtle hint would be a really lovely addition.

You probably know these cookies as Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Tea Cakes. Really, they go by so many names! All you need to know is that they are absolutely delicious. I called them Snowball Cookies because they certainly look like little snowballs and I find that name much more befitting to the season.

Next up was the star of the day, in my opinion. The Chocolate Bon Bon Drops from King Arthur Flour were incredible, as I expected they would be as I have yet to try a KAF recipe that disappointed. Seriously, folks, their Fudge Brownies are insane! The recipe suggested using a teaspoon cookie scoop for these. I only have a tablespoon and a half scoop in my collection at the moment. The result was a slightly bigger cookie (the recipe makes 24, I got 18). I baked mine a few minutes longer than the recipe and the result was a rich, decadent cookie! Still warm out of the oven these were incredibly soft and fudge-like. Seriously moan-inducing, folks. You make a simple vanilla glaze which is applied while the cookies are still warm which leads the glaze to run over the surface of the cookie. After these cool down they set up a bit but still retain their soft texture. If you are a fan of super soft brownies, you will love these cookies! I plan to make these again soon. I really love the fact that the recipe makes a manageable number of cookies and the portions in the recipe actually lend very well to being halved, if you want even fewer than two dozen. Trust me though, you won't want to halve this recipe. I most certainly will be making these again with my Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa once it arrives. I used some plain ol' Hershey's cocoa for mine as that was all I had in the pantry at the time. I imagine the flavor will be a thousand times better with a richer cocoa. King Arthur Flour, I love you and I will forever sing your praises.

Snowball Cookies
adapted slightly from Epicurious
makes about 4 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cups pecans, finely chopped

Using an electric mixer, beat butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until well blended. Beat in flour, then pecans. Divide dough in half, form each half into a ball, then flatten slightly. Wrap separately in plastic wrap; chill until cold, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar by sifting it into a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

Working with half of the chilled dough, roll dough by 2 teaspoonfuls between palms into balls. Arrange balls on a parchment lined baking sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 18 minutes. Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheet. Gently toss warm cookies in powdered sugar, coating completely. Transfer coated cookies to a rack to cool completely. Repeat procedure with remaining half of dough. After cookies are completely cooled, coat them a second time in the powdered sugar before storing them in an airtight container at room temperature.

Chocolate Bon Bon Drops
from King Arthur Flour
makes about 2 dozen

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Vanilla Glaze
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/4 cup heavy cream OR half and half OR milk (I used heavy cream)
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste OR vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste)

Place all the cookie dough ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until a soft, smooth dough is formed. Remove from the bowl, and shape into a 3/4" thick disk. Wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes or as long as overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Shape the dough into small balls, about the size of a a large gumball (a teaspoon cookie scoop is a huge help here). Space evenly on the cookie sheets, leaving about 2" between cookies. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes. Watch the cookies carefully to avoid scorching the bottoms.

Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool slightly on the pans while you prepare the glaze. For the glaze, blend the sifted confectioners' sugar with the heavy cream and vanilla bean paste. This glaze will be thick, almost icing consistency. If you use half and half (or milk) and vanilla extract, the glaze will be much thinner and not as rich.

Using a teaspoon, portion the glaze over the barely warm cookies. You can pipe the glaze from a piping bag or zip-top bag with a corner cut off as well (this is what I did). Top with chocolate pearls, slivers of maraschino cherry, or chocolate sprinkles (I skipped this step as I had none of these). Store any leftovers at room temperature for up to a week.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Amy,
    Thanks for the kind words about the Chocolate Bon-Bon Cookies, and KAF in general. Your cookies look fantastic, and I'm having a great time exploring your blog. I think the Cookies and Cream fudge is on my list for my next day off.
    p.s I'm a big fan of jewelry design too, your candy rose earrings are lovely.

    Take care, and Happy Baking!

    ~ MaryJane @ King Arthur Flour


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