Lemon Tassies

Not my photo, but they looked exactly like this.

So the Christmas cookie vote of 2010 didn’t work well because I was planning to make so many of the traditional cookies that I could only make the winner of the vote for a new cookie. That turned out to be lemon tassies, cookies that didn’t really work for Christmas, but would be great for summer or spring.

I cheated and bought the Barefoot Contessa’s Lemon Curd, which is delicious [although I wasn’t satisfied with Stonewall Kitchen’s delivery practices… I ordered them on 12/17 with 2-3 day priority shipping and they didn’t arrive until the evening of 12/24! So I had to whip up a batch at the last minute on Christmas morning].

The dough was a little too plain for our taste. I used Paula Deen’s recipe for the dough. Next time I’ll try Martha Stewart’s recipe. I like the idea of a little zest in the dough, and perhaps a little thinner dough too.
The curd was out of this world. I’m hooked on it. I’ll just have to buy it elsewhere.

Dough for Tassie Cups:
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the Tassie Cups: Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

Form the pastry into 24 small balls; press with fingers into the bottom and up the sides of ungreased miniature muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from tray when cooled and fill with curd.

Butter Cookies

I wanted to make Spritz cookies but the dough was too soft and didn’t hold the shape of the press. They tasted yummy, just like Grandma’s favorite Danish butter cookies (remember that blue tin?).
I used a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. Next time I’ll chill the dough a bit or maybe cut the heavy cream.

 
Makes about 6 dozen 1 1/2-inch cookies.

Ingredients

1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened (about 70 degrees)
2/3 cup sugar (about 4-3/4 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)

Instructions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. In small bowl, beat yolk, cream, and vanilla with fork until combined; set aside.
  2. In standing mixer, cream butter, sugar, and salt at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. With mixer running at medium speed, add yolk/cream mixture and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl. With mixer running at low speed, gradually beat in flour until combined. Scrape down bowl and give final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain.
  3. If using cookie press to form cookies, follow manufacturer’s instructions to fill press; if using pastry bag, follow illustrations 1 through 3 below to fill bag. Press or pipe cookies onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing them about 1-1/2 inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are light golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time. Cool cookies on baking sheet until just warm, 10 to 15 minutes; using metal spatula, transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature.

    Tips from ATK: We had the best results baking these cookies one sheet at a time. When reusing a cookie sheet, make sure that it has completely cooled before forming more cookies on it. Unbaked dough can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days; to use, let it stand at room temperature until softened, about 45 minutes. Baked cookies will keep for more than a week if stored in an airtight container or zipper-lock bag. For longer storage, freeze unbaked cookies right on the baking sheet and transfer to zipper-lock bags for storage. When ready to bake, place them back on the baking sheet and follow the recipe, adding 2 to 4 minutes extra baking time.

Sugar Free Chocolate Pixies

Hot out of the oven (on a greased sheet).

Cakier texture than usual.

I decided to experiment with a classic to make a yummy sugar-free cookie for Pop for Christmas.
Mom’s chocolate pixies are a favorite and are so dark and chocolatey that I thought the unsweetened chocolate would be a perfect mask for the Splenda aftertaste.
They came out great. When they were first out of the oven they were a little cakier than the full-sugar version, but that’s probably a result of the use of Splenda and the extra baking powder and nonfat baker’s dry milk that I used to compensate for the lack of rise with Splenda.
The granualted Splenda box suggests that when baking with Splenda instead of sugar that you add 1/2 tsp of baking soda and 1/2 cup of nonfat dry milk powder for every cup of Splenda. You also need to bake it for a shorter time. I cut the baking time down by 5 minutes per tray.
An additional problem from baking with Splenda is that the cookies do not stay fresh for long. They should be eaten within 24 hours. The cookies became too moist after a day when stored in tupperware. These cookies are better for same day baking, but they tasted great according to Pop, and I liked them too. Not too diety at all. The rich chocolate makes a big difference.

Ingredients:

½ cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ cup butter
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate squares 
4 eggs
2 cups granulated Splenda

1 cup of nonfat dry milk powder
1 tsp of baking soda

½ cup walnuts, chopped [I left this out]
Preheat oven to 300˚
Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Melt butter, chocolate squares over low heat. Remove from heat and let cool. Blend in sugar and eggs (one at a time), beat for 1 minute. Add dry ingredients. Mix well. Chill for 30 minutes. Shape into balls, about 1tbsp each. Roll in confectioner’s sugar and place on greased baking sheet.
Bake for 13-15 minutes. Makes 36 cookies.

Mom’s Rugelach

Rolled out in cinnamon and sugar, waiting to be rolled.

Rolled and ready to bake.

Baked – use parchment underneath next time to avoid having to scrape off the baked-on sugar!

Rugelach is so popular now that Costco sells those gigantic bins of raspberry, apricot and chocolate. Their cookie is dense and cream cheese-based. Mom’s rugelach is nothing like that. It is light and flaky, with cinnamon, sugar, raisins and walnuts, and uses whipped/creamed cottage cheese (or small curd cottage cheese) instead.
It’s delicious and light. A single batch makes about 36 cookies (each ball of dough makes 12). I doubled it for Christmas and made 72 (too many!).

Mom’s Rugelach

Dough:
2 ¼ c flour                        1 c small curd [or whipped] cottage cheese
2 tsp baking powder         1 egg
1 tsp salt                           1 tsp vanilla
¼ c sugar
½ c butter softened
Filling:
¾ c sugar                                           (For each of the 3 balls of dough:
2 ¼ c cinnamon                                 ¼ c sugar,3/4 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp butter, melted                        1 Tbsp butter, melted)
chopped walnuts             
raisins

Directions:
  • In large mixer bowl combine all dough ingredients. For dough to blend well, chill at least 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Divide dough into 3 balls.
  • In separate cup, mix ¼ c sugar with ¾ tsp cinnamon and sprinkle on work surface
  • Roll out 1 portion of dough into a 12 inch circle on sugar/cinnamon surface. Keep turning dough to coat both sides.
  • Brush circle with 1 Tbsp melted butter.
  • Cut circle into 4 quarters using a pastry or pizza cutter. Then cut each quarter into 4 quarters, so that you end up with 16 pie-shaped wedges.
  • Place nuts and raisins on each wedge and roll them up, starting with the wide end.
  • Place on un-greased cookie sheet [USE PARCHMENT PAPER], and bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.
  • Let rugelach cool on rack for 10 min, then store covered. (freezes well).
  • Repeat procedure with other portions.

Christmas Cookies 2010

Pignoli cookies cooling.
Rainbow cookies- chilling the chocolate layer before cutting.

This year I swore I’d cut down on the number of cookies and then I panicked on Christmas Eve and made more.  🙂
As usual, there were too many of some, but not enough of others. I could have made more pignoli cookies, but that’s because I made them too big. Next year I’ll make them smaller.

I made:

  1. Seven Layer [AKA Rainbow] – doubled batch – KEEP for next year
  2. Pignoli – doubled batch – KEEP for next year
  3. Russian Tea – KEEP for next year (Chris, AM and Elaine love these)
  4. Chocolate Chip – doubled batch – KEEP for next year
  5. Butter Cookies – good, but too plain for Christmas
  6. Rugelach – I love this recipe, but it’s a lot of work. Doubled, but single is enough next time.
  7. Lemon Tassies – single batch, yummy, better for spring or summer – use zest in dough next time.
  8. Sugar Free Chocolate Pixies – yummy, must make w/i 24 hours of event because consistency changes with Splenda.

Lemon Tassies and Butter Cookies were new experiments, and the Chocolate Pixies were my Sugar Free modification of my Mom’s recipe. I’ll write them all up separately.

As usual, rugelach, pignoli, rainbow, chocolate chip and russian teas are hits every year. I think I’ll just stick to those five core cookies for Christmas in the future.

Thanks to Mom for her help in the kitchen on 12/23! We had a great time making pignoli cookies and chocolate pixies together.

Hash Brown Quiche

An early Christmas breakfast party led me to look for another one-dish breakfast. Paula Deen’s hash brown quiche (original recipe here) looked like a good option, once some of the fat was cut down. I also had to eliminate meat from the recipe.

The photo is from her recipe website… I forgot to take a picture of mine.

My version was as follows:

  • 3 cups frozen shredded has browns (I used Ore-Ida Potatoes O’Brien, thawed and drained- they had no shredded hash browns in the supermarket, these were diced and had onions and peppers mixed in the bag- I just chopped them up a little more)
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted.
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup diced scallions
  • 1 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 F.
Gently press the drained hash browns with paper towels to dry them.Mix them in large bowl with melted butter.
Spray a 9″ pie plate (deep) with Pam cooking spray. put potatoes in plate and use the bottom of a cup measure to press down and up the sides to create a crust.
Bake for 25-35 minutes until golden brown and starting to crisp (her recipe calls for 20-25 minutes, but mine toook 35).
Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. When crust is ready, pour the egg mixture over it and level it out.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 F and bake for about 35-45 minutes until the quiche is light golden brown on top and puffed in the center (PD says 30 min, but mine wasn’t ready until 40-45 minutes).

Yum! Her recipe calls for 3/4 cup diced ham too. I think that would be a perfect addition in future as long as you’re not cooking for vegetarians!