Sugared Shortbread

Cookies, Unfussy
I’ve been watching Ted Lasso lately and it has resulted in two things: saying “I appreciate you” with a little twang, and making sugared shortbread. Both are equally enjoyable.
  • 3/4 lb. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 TBSP granulated sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line an 8″ square baking pan with a parchment sling – cut one piece of parchment 8″ wide and about 14″ long so it lines the bottom exactly and extends over two of the sides so you can lift out the shortbread easily.

Melt butter and cool slightly.

Process powdered sugar, flour, almond flour and salt in the food processor until mixed well. Pour in melted butter and vanilla extract and pulse until a dough has formed.

Press the dough into the prepared pan – try to make it flat. Using a bench scraper or other straight edge, press the dough around the edges of the pan to even them out. Cut the dough down the middle of the pan so you have two 4″ halves. Now cut the dough perpendicular to that cut into 1″ strips. You will have sixteen 1″ bars.

Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes, until the shortbread is golden brown.

Sprinkle with granulated sugar and let cool completely.

Lift shortbread out of pan and cut again following the cuts you made before. Be appreciated.

Fruitcake Cookies

A little bit fussy, Cookies
These are actually a little more like Stollen cookies – almond flavored dough studded with fruit and toasted pecans. The texture is soft and chewy and total perfection in my book.

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dried fruit (apricots, figs, raisins, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup candied cherries (morello, maraschino, etc.)
  • 1 cup Brandy or Cognac
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 8 oz. almond paste
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBSP brandy or cognac
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Chop the dried fruit into small pieces- about the same size as your raisins. Halve the candied cherries. Place in a bowl and cover with Cognac or Brandy. Let sit overnight.

Drain the fruit and reserve 1 TBSP cognac/brandy.

Toast pecans in 350°F oven for 10 minutes. Let cool and chop coarsely.

Cream butter, almond paste and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add the tablespoon of brandy/cognac and mix. Scrape bowl and mix well.

Stir together flour, baking powder, cloves and salt. Add to the butter and mix until combined, scraping bowl if necessary. Add fruit and pecans and mix well.

Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a 15″ log and roll up in parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours and preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice the dough into 1/2″ slices using a sharp knife. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, about 2″ apart. Alternately, to get a more uniform cookie – you can do what Dorie Greenspan does and bake each round in the cup of a muffin tin.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until starting to brown around the edges.

Homebakers Collective August Challenge: Favorite Childhood Treat

Cookies, Fussy, Homebakers Collective Challenge

Fig Newtons

The Spencer house didn’t stock store-bought treats. At lunchtime I used to trade my mom’s homemade cookies for oatmeal creme pies. One time I asked for Pop-tarts for Christmas. But every so often Fig Newtons would appear and I thought it was a treat royale.


Fruit:

  • 1 cup (1/3 lb.) dried figs (Black Mission or Turkish will do fine)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 TBSP honey
  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

Cake:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Turbinado sugar and water

Put figs in a 1- or 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Pour boiling water over figs, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.

Prepare your work surface with a baking sheet and two pieces of parchment paper that are about 14″ long. Make sure your baking sheet can fit in your freezer. Cut a 1 1/2″-wide tip off the end of a pastry bag or ziplock bag that can fit your fig filling.

Combine butter and brown sugar in a mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat until light and fluffy. Add egg, honey and vanilla and beat to incorporate, scraping bowl and paddle when needed.

Stir together flour, salt and baking powder. Add to butter mixture and stir on low to combine. Increase speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds, until well incorporated.

Scrape dough onto a sheet of parchment paper about 14″ long. Sandwich with the second piece of parchment and roll out gently so your dough is 10″ wide by 14″ long. You can cut and paste the dough to fill in bare spots if needed. Slide the dough onto a baking sheet and put in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Pour the figs with their water, honey and graham cracker crumbs into the food processor. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape the bowl, and making sure there are no chunks. Scrape into prepared pastry bag or ziplock. Chill in the refrigerator until dough is ready (this can be done ahead of time).

After the dough has chilled, remove from freezer. Trim edges. Cut in half lengthwise so you have two 5″ by 14″ pieces. Separate the pieces- placing each on it’s own piece of parchment.

Pipe a 1 1/2″ thick line of fig filling down the center of each strip of dough. Carefully fold over one side of dough over the filling, then fold again- enveloping the filling in the center, with the seam on the bottom. Repeat with second piece of dough.

Use the parchment paper to lift the uncooked fig bars onto the baking sheet. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°.

After chilling, remove from freezer. Wet a pastry brush with water and moisten the tops of the bars. Sprinkle liberally with Turbinado sugar. Trim the ends of each log and slice each into 2″ bars. Place on lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until light brown on the bottom.

Whoopie Pies – a.k.a – Devil Dogs

A little bit fussy, Cookies

Devil Dogs are a favorite of my mother-in-law who grew up in Massachusetts. This is an adaptation of her mother’s recipe. The original recipe states that it is critical you use Marshmallow Fluff, not Marshmallow Creme. Even if it means driving east until you see it in the grocery store.

Cakes:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups milk

Marshmallow Cream:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups marshmallow fluff
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Make Cakes: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, cocoa, soda, powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs and mix to combine. Stir in dry ingredients, alternating with milk. Mix well.

For Whoopie Pies: Scoop with a tablespoon or cookie scoop onto prepared cookie sheets, leaving 2″ between cookies. For Devil Dogs: Fit a piping bag with a large round tip and pipe 3″ lines onto prepared cookie sheets, at least 2″ apart. You can also pipe rounds for whoopie pies instead of scooping if you want more uniform cakes.

Bake at 425 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until barely firm in the center.

Make Filling: Cream butter until light. Add powdered sugar and beat until very light and fluffy. Fold in marshmallow fluff and vanilla by hand with a rubber spatula until the color is uniform and there are no streaks.

Match up the cakes. Using either a spoon/cookie scoop, or a pastry bag fitted with a round tip, fill one half of the cookies with about 2 tablespoons of filling per cookie. Sandwich and press gently until the filling reaches the edges.

These are best eaten within a day or two at room temperature. Or refrigerate them and they will keep longer. It’s really hard to not eat 4 of these in one sitting.

Jammy Bars

Cookies, Unfussy

This is an excellent use of any tasty jam you have sitting in your fridge for a little too long. The peach rosemary jam I had from last year was lovely.

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Streusel:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 TBSP butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups jam

Make Crust: Place all ingredients in the food processor. Process in long pulses until the dough is just formed, stopping and scraping the bowl when necessary. Remove dough from bowl and pat into a rough square.

Place dough between layers of wax paper and roll out to approximately 9×13″ and 1/4″ thick. Lightly grease a quarter-sheet pan or 9×13″ pan. Place the dough in the pan – the dough is forgiving and you can press it around to make it as even as possible.

Place dough in freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Make Streusel: In a small bowl, stir together flour, sugars, salt and cinnamon. Cut the butter into tablespoons and work into the flour mixture with your fingers until clumps form. Toss with vanilla and set aside.

Assemble and Bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread 1 1/4 cups jam evenly over the dough in the prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with the streusel.

Bake for 35 minutes, until the streusel becomes light brown. Let cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars.