Monday, December 17, 2012

A Few of My Favorite things

Ah yes, tis that time of year. The time of year when we do a LOT of baking. I don't know why we tend to do more of our baking to share and enjoy ourselves at this time of year, but we do.
It's a good time of year to share a little bit of goodness with family and friends. I don't know about you, but my friends and coworkers look forward to me bringing in goodies for them to enjoy, even when they themselves are not gluten-free. All they know is that they taste good and disappear fast!

So, I thought I'd share some of my favorite holiday cookie pics and recipes..... These are the easy ones to make and they're good and do tend to disappear quickly. It always makes me feel good to know folks enjoy my efforts.

This one is a traditional favorite in my family, the recipe was handed down from my grandmother and I've always loved them. I've adapted it Gluten-free, and I think I personally prefer Pistachios for the nuts in them, but they're usually made with chopped pecans.

Nuggets (also known as Russian Tea Cakes)

1/2 cup + 1 Tbl of butter
1 cup (140g) flour mix of your choice
2 Tbl of sugar
1/8 tsp of salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans (or nuts of your choice)
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (for rolling)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together butter, sugar, salt and vanilla till combined, add flour and mix well. Add nuts. Let it sit for a few minutes. Using a Tablespoon, roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet, 1/2 to 1 inch apart.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. While cookies are hot roll them in the confectioner's sugar and place on a wire rack to cool.

Oh yeah, by the way, they positively melt in your mouth!

Butter Cookies/Thumbprint Cookies

These could be made using coconut oil in lieu of butter, but you would use about 1/4 to 1/3 less the amount called for. And you could use a dairy free greek style yogurt in lieu of the cream cheese or a dairy free cream cheese. If you use the yogurt, you may probably need to adjust the flour quantity a little.

1/2 cup + 1Tbl butter
4oz. (1/2 cup) cream cheese
1 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cups minute 3 tbl (approx. 415g) flour mix
Jam or jelly of your choice.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sift the dry ingredients together except sugar, and set aside. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Cream the butter and cream cheese together. Add the sugar slowly and beat well. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary, mix until well incorporated.

Let the dough sit for about 15 minutes. Using a spoon, make 1 inch balls of the dough and set on the lined baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Using your thumb, make a well in the center of each cookie. Fill the wells with a bit of jam or jelly, (I used my homemade Rhubarb Strawberry Jam this time) About 1/4 tsp or so.

Bake for 30 minutes, until bottom edges are just turning golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

This recipe is from King Arthur Flours, it is one of their gluten free recipes, however, I did modify it a little. Still very good!

Orange-Vanilla Shortbread
As I didn't have an orange for this attempt, I used Tangerines, which are still just as good. And I used the juice of one, about 1 Tbl.

1 1/2 cup (24Tbl) softened butter
3/4 cup cane sugar
1-2 Tbl grated orange rind
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbl orange juice
3 large egg yolks
3 cups (420g) flour mix
1/2 tsp gum
1/2 tsp salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x12 or 13 baking dish with parchment paper, or grease the pan (you will find it easier to line it in the long run) and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the zest, juice and vanilla beating until incorporated. Add the yolks one at a time beating well after each.

Sift the flour, gum and salt together and slowly beat into the butter mixture. Mix until combined.

Spoon in the mixture to the lined dish and press and smooth it into the dish. Press down a little to firm it up a touch.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the edges are becoming golden. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes. then using the paper, lift out the shortbread and cut into 1 inch squares. Let them finish cooling fully before serving.

They were very good, and although the original recipe did not call for pressing it into the dish, if you don't they'll crumble and you'll have lots of shortbread crumbs for a crust.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, enjoy your family and friends, hug them while you can, and never forget to tell them you love them and appreciate them.

What are you all making this year for goodies?

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