Friday, December 19, 2014

12 Days of Christmas... Sorta...

Shortbread 12 Ways

You know how crazy this time of year is.  I know you do.  Because you are in the middle of buying gifts, decorating, running around between events, and trying to please everyone in every way to make this dang holiday jolly even if it kills you.  I know you are because I am and if you aren't then my whole "vive la Pinterest" thing is a bad life decision.  I don't have time to make bad life decisions.  I'm too busy.  In lieu of the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies this year, I thought I'd try something a little different.  This year, it's one cookie 12 ways!  I have taken the humble shortbread, very simple and delicious on its own, and jazzed it up with lots of yummy, Christmas-time flavors!  Each portion will make 10-12 cookies, so when you're done, you'll end up with nearly 12 dozen cookies to share or hoard however you see fit.

Start with a basic shortbread recipe:
3 C butter
1 1/2 C sugar
7 C flour
Cream butter and sugar thoroughly.  Add flour gradually, 1 C at a time.  Mix until well blended; do not over mix.  Then, separate into sandwich bags, putting a heaping 2/3 C of dough into each one. Add desired ingredients and press to combine. Roll into one-inch balls, or desired shape, and place on un-greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 325° for 15-20 minutes.  Note that some have special baking or ingredient instructions.

Shortbread 12 Ways: Orange Spice Cookies 
1 tsp orange zest, 1/16 tsp ground cloves, dash ground nutmeg, 1/8 tsp cinnamon

1 Cookie Recipe 12 Ways: Vanilla Mint Cookies 
Vanilla Mint: 1/8 tsp peppermint extract, 1/8 tsp vanilla beans or 1 tsp vanilla extract

Peanutbutter Chocolate Chip Shortbread One Recipe 12 Ways 
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip: 1/2 oz chocolate chips (I used chopped semi-sweet baking chocolate), 1 tsp peanut butter, 1/16 tsp salt

Gingerbread Shortbread Cookies: One Cookie Recipe 12 Ways 
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/16 tsp ground cloves, 1 tsp molasses

One cookie recipe 12 ways: Maple Pecan Cookies 
1 heaping Tbs pecans, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon. When cookies come out of the oven, drizzle tops with maple syrup.

One cookie recipe 12 ways: lemon shortbread cookies 
1 tsp lemon zest

Mini Cheesecakes with a shortbread crust 
Makes 12 cups, Roll dough into balls, then press into a mini cupcake tin, using a spoon or your fingers to make the cup shape.  Bake 15 min, run knife around each cup immediately and pop out before they cool. Filling: 1/2 C cream cheese, 1 tsp sour cream, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 Tbs powdered sugar, 2 tsp lemon juice, place in a plastic bag, and cut the corner out, fill the cups with the mixture and serve, no additional baking required.

Figgy Pudding Jam Thumbprint Cookies: One Cookie 12 Ways 
1/4 tsp jam, Recipe found at The Kitchn

Oh Christmas Tree Shortbread Cookies: One cookie recipe 12 Ways 
1 tsp dried juniper berries, crushed, 1/16 smoked tea, crushed (Notes: These actually taste like a Christmas tree smells!  I love them.  Try them with a goodish hunk of mild goat cheese.  I used Wuyi Smoked Pine tea from Shen Zen Tea.  If you can't find something comparable in your area, you can omit it. I found the juniper berries in the bulk spices section at a local grocery store.)

Candy Bliss Cookies: One Recipe 12 Ways 
Roll into balls, then press 1/2 Seattle Chocolates HotButter Rum candies, or other favorite chocolate candy into the top

Christmas Cheer Shortbreads 
1 Tbs sprinkles, 1 tsp vanilla extract

Eggnog Shortbreads: One Christmas Cookie 12 Ways 
1 tsp vanilla, when cookies are done baking, sprinkle lightly with ground nutmeg

If you want to make a larger batch of one cookie, you can double the ingredients, but for larger batches than that, for the cookies where fluid is added, I would just add enough to make the cookie pliable, you don't want it to get too wet and gooey.

Wishing each and every one of you a very happy low-stress holiday season!

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2014...

Simple Animal Crackers Recipe

Last year I participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and I loved it.  The boys loved getting surprise cookies in the mail, heck, I loved getting surprise cookies in the mail.  Who wouldn't love surprise cookies?  So of course I signed up again this year!

This year I got cookies from:

and I sent these darling little Animal Crackers to:
Ann Marie from Let's Give Peas a Chance
Hannah from Fleur-de-Licious

 Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen with be co-hosting the round-up at the end of the week so you can see all the delicious cookies the fantastic bloggers who participated this year shared with each other!

And so, without further ado...

Animal Crackers

1 ½ Cups plus 2 Tbs unbleached all-purpose flour
½ C oat flour
¼ C packed light brown sugar
¼ C granulated sugar
2 tsp finely grated organic lemon zest, plus 1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp fine sea salt
4 Tbs chilled, unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
¼ C buttermilk
2 tsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

In the bowl of a food processor or a large bowl, pulse or whisk the all-purpose flour, oat flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, and salt to combine. Add the butter and pulse or use a pastry blender or your fingers to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. 15 pulses with a food processor.

In a measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, honey, and vanilla and stir until the honey has dissolved. Add to the flour mixture and pulse or sir with a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together. Remove the dough from the processor or bowl and knead gently on a lightly floured surface until smooth, 10 strokes. Flatten the dough into two equal-size disks, cover in plastic wrap, and chill them for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

Preheat the oven to 375. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Place one piece of the dough on a well-floured surface. Roll out the dough until it is 1/8 inch thick lifting the dough and rotating to make sure it's not sticking to the work surface and adding all-purpose flour as necessary.

Animal Crackers Recipe 
Use lightly floured cookie cutters to cut out animal shapes. Using a lightly floured bench scraper or offset spatula, transfer the cut-outs to one of the prepared baking sheets. Re-roll the scraps once and cut them out in the same way. Bake the animal crackers until light golden brown around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheet once from back to front while baking. Cool the crackers on the sheet until they firm up, 5 minutes, and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool. While the first batch of crackers is cooling, repeat the rolling, cutting, and baking process with the remaining dough and scraps.

Animal Crackers Recipe

Ms. Manning has an icing recipe in her book if you'd like these to be even more festive!  Happy Holidays to all my fellow bloggers!  Keep your eyes peeled for another batch of CotC cookie recipes coming soon!
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