Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Almond Crescents

Growing up, Christmas time meant one thing: Almond Crescents. And not just any almond crescents, but my grandmother's Almond Crescents. 

These cookies were pure magic. Do you hear me? Magic. None of that phony stuff either. 
They melted in your mouth and fluttered across your taste buds. They left your lips and fingers coated in a fine dusting of cinnamon-infused snow, the delicate almond flavor of which lingered even after you'd finished--as if politely asking you to take another. 
Which I usually did. 
A lot. 
Even today I wait with heedless anticipation for my grandma's almond crescents (because even though I can make my own, grandma's are ALWAYS better). 
But don't just take it from me; make them and see for yourself. 

Almond Crescents 

Ingredients List:

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar 
2/3 cup ground blanched almond (or almond flour, sifted or fluffed thoroughly) 
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup powdered sugar 
2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Mix the butter and sugar until pale and creamy, then gradually add in the flour, ground almond and salt, being careful not to over mix. 

Wrap the dough in Saran Wrap or place in a ziplock bag and chill for at least and hour--though preferably longer. 

Working quickly, roll the chilled dough pencil thick and cut into 2 1/2 inch lengths. Transfer to a prepared baking sheet and shape into half moon crescents. 

Bake at 325 degrees for 12-16 minutes, removing when set. Do not allow them to brown. 

In a small bowl, mix together the powdered sugar and cinnamon. While the cookies are still warm, dust them heavily with the powdered sugar mixture and place in a festive cookie tin :) 

(The cookie tin is absolutely necessary, just in case you were curious). 



Sunday, December 15, 2013

Orange Ginger Shortbread

My father loves shortbread. It's uncanny, actually, his love of shortbread. He can't get enough of it. I was never a huge fan, mostly because the majority of the shortbread I tasted was crunchy or dry, and not at all how I pictured it in my head. My mother's side of the family is intensely Italian, and bakes as such. Shortbread is practically unheard of around the holidays, as it is replaced by much more important items like biscotti or florentines.
One day, I believe one particularly hot day in August, my Dad asked me to bake him some shortbread. You see, and the more I developed an interest in baking, the more he would ask me to make things for him: corn bread or caramels, biscuits or cookies--testing my abilities as a young chef. When he asked me to make him shortbread, I was somewhat at a loss. Why in the world would he want shortbread when our cookbook was chalk full of other brilliant cookies and desserts?

But just to make him happy, I dug out a recipe and tried it out.

And he has never left me alone since then.

Orange Ginger Shortbread

I truly enjoy this recipe. It's hassle free, and typically only requires one bowl (which is awesome because I hate washing dishes). Not to mention its amazing, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. Let me know what you all think!

List of Ingredients

1 cup butter
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tbsp. orange juice
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

3 tbsp candied ginger
1 tsp. orange juice
2 tsp orange zest

(If you'd like you can add some blanched almonds--It's quite lovely)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy.

3. Add in the flour, salt, confectioner's sugar, ground ginger and orange juice. Don't over mix, you just want the dough to stick together, so you can form it into a ball.

4. Chop the candied ginger and mix with the orange juice and zest in a small bowl. Set aside.

5. Grease a square baking dish and gently press the prepared shortbread dough into the pan. Prick it with a fork, and score cutting lines with a sharp knife. Sprinkle the top evenly with candied ginger mixture.

6. Bake for about 40 minutes, until golden. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies are a staple in nearly every home. They are our comfort food, our childhood memories, the round, chewy pieces of heaven that makes our lives just a little bit better. And if there is one quintessential cookie in the world, chocolate chip cookies are definitely it. Don't get me wrong, there are millions of other cookies that are infinitely more developed, especially around Christmas: Linzer cookies, shortbread, sugar cookies, ginger snaps--really, the list is endless. Yet no matter how old we get, we still find ourselves drifting back towards that old standby. 

These Chocolate Chip Cookies are my favorite out of any recipe I've ever tried, developed over several years of experimentation--much of which ended just short of disaster. Yet had I not persevered like the unrelenting badass I am, I would not be presenting you with this recipe today. 

And furthermore, these cookies happen to encompass every positive attribute I believe a good cookie should. They are crisp around the edges, chewy in the center, and have a kind of caramelized flavor that make my mouth water just thinking about them. 

I hope you all enjoy them as much as I do. 

Spectacular Chocolate Chip Cookies

List of Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups butter
1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar 
3 eggs 
1 tsp. Vanilla (or more, to taste) 
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. Baking Soda 
1/2 tsp. salt 
2 cups chocolate chips

The utterly fantastic part of this recipe, is that it's so versatile. You feel like adding nuts today? Go right ahead. I like toasted pecans in mine. More chocolate chips? Sure! Different kinds of chocolate chips? Be my guest! Whatever tickles your taste buds. I added a bit of cardamom to this batch. 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

2. Cream the butter until light and fluffy--Several minutes at least. Add the sugar and packed brown sugar, then the eggs, beating well between each addition. Stir in the vanilla. 

3. In a seperate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to the butter mixture until it reaches a thicker consistency. 

4. Fold in chocolate chips, stir well. 

5. For thinner cookies, scoop directly on to a prepared baking sheet, 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake in the oven for 7-9 minutes, turning once halfway through. 

6. For more structured cookies, chill them for an hour or so in the refrigerator, then scoop and bake as directed.