Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday Favorites 2011 Edition - Part 1

So first and foremost,  I would like to extend an apology to my loyal readers for my prolonged absence.  Since my last posting, James and I have moved into our new house and with end-of-the-year chaos at work, my poor little blog took a beating.  Also contributing to that would be the fact that for the month leading up to our move, we ate out 6 nights a week and believe me, it was nothing noteworthy.  Now that I'm in a kitchen that I'm proud to call my own and we've survived the craziness of the holidays, it only seems appropriate that I share some of the fabulous creations that have emerged over the past few weeks.

In lieu of going crazy buying everyone we know presents this year, we decided to do two things... we sponsored an underprivileged family to help them have a great holiday and we baked our tails off to put together some homemade treat boxes for our loved ones.  After a long debate and toiling over how our first (hopefully annual) holiday cookie box should be filled, we decided on a fabulous list of eight scrumptious treats that we felt represented some of the things we love:
Salted Caramel Bars
Black & White Truffle Popcorn
Cranberry-Hibiscus Shortbread
Saltine Toffee Brittle
Lemon Creme Polenta Sandwiches
Cocoa Dusted Saffron-Cashew Truffles
Dark Chocolate Bacon Bonbons
Almond-Oat Florentines

Per a handful of requests, I wanted to share a few of these recipes with you all so that hopefully, they can continue to be enjoyed throughout the year as well.  

Cranberry Hibiscus Shortbread Cookies
3 sticks of unsalted butter
2/3 cup of granulated sugar
2 ¾ cups of all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon of kosher salt
1 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup of dried hibiscus flours
1/3 cup of warm water

- Soak hibiscus flours in the warm water for 15 minutes, strain and reserve the liquid
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and hibiscus water together for 2 minutes
- Sift flour and salt together and slowly add into the creamed mixture on low speed
- Gently fold in cranberries
- The dough will have a soft consistency
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour
- Shape dough into balls 1 inch in diameter and gently press to flatten
- Be sure to place one inch apart on a cookie sheet as the cookies will spread as they bake
- Bake for 7-9 minutes or until the edges are golden brown
- Cook on wire racks

Polenta Sandwich Cookies with Meyer Lemon Crème
For the Cookies:
2 sticks of unsalted butter
2/3 cup of granulated sugar
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup polenta
2 tablespoons of Meyer lemon zest
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Line cookie sheets with parchment paper
- In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar for 2 minutes
- Mix flour, polenta, cocoa, zest, salt and baking powder together and slowly incorporate into the creamed mixture on low speed
- Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes
- Roll dough in 1 inch diameter balls and gently press flat onto the lined cookie sheet
- Bake for 10 minutes
- Allow cookies to cool and create sandwiches with lemon crème filling
**Modification: for chocolate-orange cookies, substitute ½ cup all purpose flour for ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder and Meyer lemon zest for orange zest

For the Filling:
1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest
¼ cup Meyer lemon juice

- Cream all ingredients together in a stand mixer with a  paddle attachment until smooth and fluffy
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set
- Sandwich in between cookies
**Modification: for chocolate-orange cookies, substitute Meyer lemon juice and zest for equal amounts of orange zest

I'd be happy to post any other recipes from our holiday cookie assortment upon request!  Please enjoy and I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!

1 comment:

  1. The treats were fantastic. We loved them. Thank you so much.