Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Cookie Marathon

I started out the day  thinking that I had one or two more things left to bake and that would be it for this Christmas so that I could move on to finish up my gift wrapping, but one thing lead to another and the kitchen wasn't clean again until after dinner. Let me cast my mind back to early this seems like such a long time ago. Despite my recent cookie press experience I tried two more new recipes - Mexican Chocolate Bars, which were in the Holiday issue of LCBO's Food & Drink (sorry, no photo, my batteries in the camera died) - and, at long last, the Grand Marnier Glazed Pain d'Épice. Neither one caused me the grief that the Orange Creams did and both will look scrumptious on a plate.

The bars are described as 'an elegant dark cousin of the Nanaimo Bar, with smooth chocolate, chilis and spice in the middle layer. They are rich and candy-like - a little goes a long way'. Yum.

You'll remember that the Pain d'Épice recipe is from The Gourmet Cookie Cookbook that Stephanie gave me just over a year ago. These little beauties have been ogled off and on throughout the year and this week I decided to bite the bullet. Good choice. The recipe is beautifully complex in its flavours - allspice, ginger, cinnamon & nutmeg combines with sugards & honey - and the Grand Marnier glaze is wonderful.

I didn't have time to make the Candied Orange Peel from scratch so I bought it. I also didn't want a chunk of it sitting on the end of the cookies (wasn't sure they'd survive being stacked in a tin) so I diced the peel finely and sprinkled a bit in one corner. They look like jewellry, even without the gold lustre dust that they called for.

And they are a snap to cut out - you just mark off half-inch strips in the dough with a pastry wheel (I used a pizza cutter) and then cut the strips into fourths and - wa-la! - 80 cookies. There was lots of glaze left over so the last thing I did before I put KitchenAid away was mix up a second batch to bake tomorrow.

I also made a batch of Toblerone Shortbread because shortbread is the all-time of the Official Cookie Tester...

...and two more batches of Social Tea Squares. It was all topped off with a second batch of Hazelnut Thumbprints because much of what I had baked has already left the house in gift tins. So, other than baking the batch of Pain d'Épice that's in the fridge, pastry for the mince tarts and making a cream puff ring for Christmas Eve, I think my holiday baking is complete.

A few people have asked for the recipe for the pecan shortbreads that I made the other day, so here you go:

Pecan Shortbread Drizzle
1 c chopped pecans
2 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 c cold butter, cut into small squares
1/2 tsp vanilla
pecan halves for decorating
chocolate to drizzle

Bake 1 cup of pecans @ 350F for about 8 minutes until beginning to brown. Cool.

Place flour, sugar. cinnamon & cornstarch in food process with metal blade; add butter & vanilla; process with several on/off pulses until crumbly. Add nuts and process til combined but slightly crumbly - not a ball. Place dough on lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Knead til smooth. Divide dough in half; wrap & chill about 30 minutes. Roll out on lightly floured surface to 1/4" thickness; lay on ungreased cookie sheet & place pecan half in centre of each cookie. Bake at 350F for 12 minutes, until just beginning to turn golden. Remove from oven and leave on pan a few minutes; remove from pan & cool completely. Drizzle with your favourite chocolate.

These are a favourite of mine - if you try them I hope you like them too....M

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