These particular cookies are Scottish in origin, named after Skibo Castle, which is in the Scottish Highlands. These cookies are a simple shortbread base topped with ginger fudge then cut into tiny pieces that melt in your mouth. They call for Lyle’s golden syrup, a liquid cane sugar syrup, which is widely available in the English/Irish section of many grocery and gourmet stores. Liquid cane sugar has the most amazing taste and creates melt in your mouth cookies. (I also use it in my 5-spice gingersnaps.)
You can add some crystallized ginger to the top, to up the bite, but they are good without it. This recipe was originally in Gourmet Magazine, December, 1999.
Skibo Castle Ginger Crunch
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
For shortbread base:
1 1/4 cups flour
3 T sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 pinch salt
1 stick cold salted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 stick salted butter
1 T Lyle’s Golden Syrup (liquid cane sugar syrup)
1 c powdered sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp vanilla
Optional – 3 T chopped crystallized ginger.
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 13- by 9-inch baking pan.
Make shortbread base:
Sift together dry ingredients and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles sand or meal. Press evenly into bottom of the pan — the base will be very thin. Bake in middle of oven until golden and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes.
Just before shortbread is done, melt the butter in a small saucepan and whisk in remaining ingredients until smooth. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring, 30 seconds.
Remove shortbread from oven while it is still warm; pour topping over the shortbread, tilting the pan to cover the shortbread evenly. If desired, sprinkle with crystallized ginger. Cool in the pan, then cut into small squares and remove with a spatula.Read More
Every festival has its own unique foods. Cookies are definitely a principal food of the “Festival of Christmas.”
Cakes of all shapes and sizes have been part of festive holiday rituals long before Christmas. Ancient cooks prepared sweet baked goods to mark significant occasions. Many of these recipes and ingredients (cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, almonds, dried fruits, etc.) were introduced to Europe in the Middle Ages. They were highly prized and quickly incorporated into European baked goods. Christmas cookies, as we know them today, trace their roots to these Medieval European recipes. Dutch and German settlers introduced cookie cutters, decorative molds, and festive holiday decorations to America. German lebkuchen (gingerbread) was probably the first cake/cookie traditionally associated with Christmas. (In an earlier post I referenced that gingerbread originated in Nuremberg Germany.) Sugar cookie recipes descended from English traditions.
By 1500, cookies spread all over Europe. Therefore every house made or baked cookies in great amounts, which were either gingerbread or buttery spritz cookies. The people of Sweden preferred Papparkakor (spicy ginger and black-pepper delights), while the Norwegians took to the liking of Krumkake (thin lemon and cardamom-scented wafers). The recipe books of the Renaissance period had abundant recipes dealing with cookies. And as I know firsthand from my German, Swedish, Polish and Czech grandmothers, the cookies of one region were different in form and shape from another.
Apparently, the Dutch are credited with the first “Christmas Cookies.” Thus began the art of making and sharing delicious cookies. Cookies comes from the Dutch word Koeptje [koekje], meaning small cake. The term cookies first appeared in print in 1703.Read More
After the cookie baking is done, I start to think about what artsy-craftsy baking projects might be possible in the week off between Christmas and New Years. This year I have lined up about four chocolate confection ideas and two cookie possibilities. Well that was until I saw the recipe below that David Leite published earlier this week. I thought it was worth reposting. Sounds like a great project for the day and something that could entertain mom and the kids. The original recipe is from Unforgettable Desserts by Dede Wilson
Makes 40 cookies
For the marshmallows
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup room temperature water
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the graham crackers
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons whole milk
For the chocolate topping
24 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, such as Ghirardelli (45%) or Valrhona Equitoriale (55%)
Make the marshmallows
Coat a 13-by-9-inch pan with nonstick spray, line the bottom with parchment cut to fit, and then spray the parchment.
Pour 1/2 cup of the water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and set aside for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
Put the sugar, corn syrup, the remaining 1/3 cup water, and the salt in a medium saucepan and stir to combine. Attach a candy thermometer and cook over medium heat until it reaches 240°F. Remove from the heat and whisk in the softened gelatin until dissolved. Cover the pot and leave on the stove with the burner turned off, to keep warm.
In the clean, grease-free bowl of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites on low speed using the wire whip attachment until frothy. Add the cream of tartar, turn the speed to medium-high, and whip until soft peaks form. Pour a thin, steady stream of the sugar syrup directly over the meringue with the mixer running. Do not pour any on the whip or the sides of the bowl. Whip the meringue until cool to the touch; this could take 5 minutes or more. Beat in the vanilla. The marshmallow should be thick and glossy and form medium-firm peaks.
Immediately spread the marshmallow in the prepared pan with an offset spatula, pressing down into the corners and smoothing the top. Lightly dust the top with a thin veneer of cornstarch. Let sit at room temperature for 6 hours or overnight. Sprinkle a piece of parchment with cornstarch, run an icing spatula around the edges of the marshmallow, and invert it on top of the parchment. Peel the parchment off of the marshmallow if it comes loose from the pan. Use a long, sharp, thin-bladed knife to cut into about forty 1 1/2-inch squares (8 x 5). The marshmallows may be used immediately, or they may be stored, in which case toss with some cornstarch to prevent them sticking to one another. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days before assembling the cookies.
Make the graham crackers
Line 2 jelly-roll pans with parchment paper; set aside.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl to aerate and combine; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter with the flat paddle attachment on medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and honey and continue to beat until creamy, about 3 minutes more. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in two additions, alternately with the milk. Begin and end with the flour mixture and beat until combined. Lightly flour your work surface. Roll the dough out to a 1/4-inch thickness and cut out crackers in 1 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the crackers to the prepared pans, spacing them 1 inch apart. Gently gather together the extra dough and cut out as many crackers as possible. Refrigerate while the oven preheats. Position racks in the upper and lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). While the oven preheats, make sure the marshmallows are ready to use. If they have been coated with cornstarch, shake them gently to remove any excess.
Bake the graham crackers for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the crackers are dry to the touch but still have a tiny bit of spring to them. Do not bake until crisp. Their color will barely change. Place the pans on racks and immediately, while the crackers are still warm, place a marshmallow on top of each. The heat of the cookie will seal the marshmallow to the cookie, which is very important for the following chocolate-dipping step. Cool completely on the pans set on racks.
Assemble the mallowmores
Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a microwave. Put in a narrow, deep bowl.
Pick up one cracker at a time and plunge it, marshmallow side down, into the chocolate. The chocolate should cover the marshmallow completely as well as the sides of the cookie. Lift out of the chocolate and shake gently back and forth to encourage excess chocolate to drip off. Place cookie side down back on the pan and repeat with the remaining cookies.
Refrigerate briefly to set the chocolate. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days in an airtight container in single layers separated by parchment paper. Alternatively, they may be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Tips: The physical beauty of these mallowmore will depend on how cleanly and neatly you cut the graham crackers and the marshmallows, so take care during those steps. Also, dipping the crackers can be tricky. If you do not place the marshmallows on the crackers immediately after they come out of the oven, the heat from the crackers will have dissipated and not be enough to semi-melt the bottoms of the marshmallows. There won’t be enough heat to affix them to the cracker. You will know whether this step worked or not when you try to dip the graham crackers because the marshmallows will fall off. An alternate method for dipping would be to place the marshmallow-topped crackers on a clean cooling rack set over a clean jelly-roll pan lined with aluminum foil. The melted chocolate can be poured over the cookies, and you can help it stick to the sides with a few swipes of a small offset spatula. Any excess chocolate that drips down onto the pan can be reused.Read More
The Cardamom Crescent was posted here on Dec 14. Here is the Chocolate Shortbread Hearts recipe.
Chocolate Shortbread Hearts
Makes 2 1/2-3 dozen cookies
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa
Sift flour and cocoa together into a bowl. Whisk sugar and flour together.
Cut in butter until it resembles flakes. Kneed with hands until gathered and pliable. Chill overnight or several hours.
Preheat oven to 350F. Roll 1/4” thick and cut with heart shapes. Sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles or chocolate shavings, if desired. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets about 12-15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
Cool completely. Store in airtight container.Read More
Here is another gluten-free holiday recipe. It is super simple to make and absolutely delicious. I use Giradelli double-dark chocolate disks as the “surprise” in my version.
Make about 2 dozen cookies
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup finely grated unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg white
2 teaspoons water
15-20 bittersweet chocolate squares
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350F.
Pulse coconuts, sugar and salt together in a food processor until coconut is finely chopped. Add egg white and water. Pulse until mixture is moistened and holds together when squeezed.
Roll 2 teaspoons of coconut mixture into ball, with wet hands. Make indent in center of ball and insert chocolate piece.
Arrange balls 1” apart on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in middle of oven until bottoms are golden and balls are puffed but still white, about 13-15 minutes.
Slide macaroons on parchment onto wire racks to cool. Dust lightly with powdered sugar, just before serving. Store in airtight container.Read More