Pistachios give this savory cookie, flavored with lemon and anise, a nice crunch. This cookie is a hit with sophisticated palates. Adapted from eatwisconsincheese.com.
Fennel Pistachio Cookies
Make 36 cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons almond extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup pistachio nuts, chopped, plus extra for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Beat butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add sugar; mix well. Add egg; beat well. Add almond extract, lemon zest, and fennel seeds; mix to combine.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to butter mixture; beat well. Stir in pistachio nuts (dough will be stiff).
Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. If desired, flatten balls slightly and sprinkle with additional chopped pistachios. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Cool 5 minutes on baking sheets; remove to cooling racks and cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.Read More
The first place winner in the dense and rich category at our cookie smack down was Cristen’s goat cheese brownies. These delicious chocolate brownies with tangy goat cheese and caramel sauce are a unique dessert choice. Many thanks to Cristen for sharing her recipe.
Sticky Goat Cheese Brownies
Makes 16 brownies
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
Goat Cheese Filling
1 1/2 cups plain chevre
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk
4-6 ounces goat’s milk cajeta, canned or fresh*
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8×8 pan.
Melt butter and chopped up chocolate in a double broiler. Heat until melted and combined. Take off heat and add sugar and vanilla. Let cool slightly. Whisk in eggs, one at a time.
Whisk the dry ingredients together: flour, salt, and baking powder. Combine with wet ingredients until fully incorporated.
Make goat cheese filling by creaming together all the ingredients.
Pour half of the brownie batter into the bottom of the pan. Using a spoon, drop half of the goat cheese filling on top of the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the filling. Then drop the rest of the goat cheese on top and swirl with a knife. Drizzle the cajeta over the top.
Bake for 50-60 minutes. Cool, and enjoy!
2 quarts of goat’s milk, cow’s milk, or a mixture of the two
2 cups sugar
1 large, plump vanilla bean, preferably Mexican, split open (or substitute 1 tablespoon pure Mexican vanilla extract)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
In a large, heavy pot, combine the milk, sugar, and vanilla, and place over medium heat. Stir regularly until the milk comes to a simmer and sugar is dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat and add dissolved baking soda; it will bubble up. When the bubbles have subsided, return it to the heat. Adjust heat so that the mixture is simmering briskly but not boiling. Cook, stirring regularly, until the mixture turns pale golden, about one hour. You will now need to stir the milk regularly as it begins to thicken and turns a caramel-brown color. Don’t allow the milk to stick to the bottom of the pot. Drop a few drops into a small glass of water. If a soft ball forms, the cajeta is ready.
Take the pot off the heat and allow the cajeta to cool, it should be a medium-thick sauce. If it’s too thick, add hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time until it is the proper consistency. If it is too thin, return to the heat until it thickens.
When the cajeta is cool, remove the vanilla bean. Strain the cajeta through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl or wide-mouthed jar, then scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the cajeta. Refrigerate until ready to use. Cajeta is best served warm.Read More
The aroma of gingerbread or cardamom cookies, fresh from the oven, captures the essence of the Christmas holiday season. The spices in these fragrant cookies have their roots in the ancient spice trades of 2000 B.C. and were among the most demanded and expensive products available in Europe in the Middle Ages. But where do these spices come from today?
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum. Its flavor is due to an aromatic oil that makes up 0.5% to 1% of its composition. Cinnamon trees are native to South East Asia, where they have been cultivated from time immemorial. Sri Lanka produces 90% of the world’s cinnamon, followed by China, India, and Vietnam. Cinnamon is found in bark form (sticks) or ground, and is used in both sweet and savory foods.
Cloves are the aromatic dried flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae. They are native to Indonesia and used as a spice in cuisines all over the world. The English name derives from Latin clavus ‘nail’ as the buds vaguely resemble small irregular nails in shape. Cloves are harvested primarily in Indonesia, Madagascar, Zanzibar, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
Nutmeg The nutmeg tree is any of several species of trees in genus Myristica, an evergreen tree indigenous to Indonesia’s Spice Islands. Two spices come from the fruit of the nutmeg tree: nutmeg and mace. Nutmeg is the actual seed of the tree and mace is the dried “lacy” reddish covering or aril of the seed. Nutmeg has a slightly sweet flavor and mace a more delicate flavor. Nutmeg is always used in ground or grated form, and is best grated fresh.
Ground ginger is a dry, powdered form of a ginger root or tuber and is typically used as a flavoring for recipes such as gingerbread cookies. Ginger has many beneficial properties, including aiding digestion. Ginger cultivation began in South Asia and has spread to East Africa and the Caribbean.
Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic fragrance. It is often used for baking in Nordic countries. There are two forms of cardamom, green and black. Both are recognized by their small seed pod, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin papery outer shell and small seeds. Green cardamom is commonly used in cookies. Black cardamom is smoky with a coolness some similar to mint. Cardamom is native to India.Read More
These light, crisp almond cookies are among my favorite holiday cookies. I like them plain, but they are also delicious with a vanilla glaze and a few almond slices added as décor.
Luane’s Almond Cookies
Makes about 48 cookies
4 ounces blanched almonds, chopped very fine (3/4 cup chopped)
1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons boiling water (optional)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
1/2 cup almond slices (optional)
gold or silver dragees (optional)
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Whisk in finely chopped almonds. Set aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Set mixer speed on high and beat about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and almond extracts. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Gather dough together. Wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap. Chill for a minimum of 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 325F. Line cookie sheets with parchment.
Roll dough, between wax paper, to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a cookie or biscuit cutter, cut dough with 1-inch round shapes. Place cookies about 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake about 8 to 10 minutes, until edges are golden. Transfer cookies, still on the parchment, to wire racks to cool completely.
If glazing, mix powdered sugar, boiling water, and vanilla together in small bowl. Brush on cookies, and decorate with sliced almonds and dragees.
Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for 5 days.Read More
Madeleines are rich, dense sponge cake cookies with a distinct shell shape. Madeleines are perhaps most famous outside of France for their association with Marcel Proust’s novel “Remembrance of Things Past.” These delicious gluten-free cookies are adapted from Robyn Russell’s book Gluten-free and Easy.
Gluten-Free Chocolate Madeleines
Makes about 24 cookies
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1 1/2 tablespoons potato starch
2 1/2 teaspoons tapioca flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon plain yogurt
7 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
Powdered sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease madeleine pan lightly with oil.
Sift together brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, cocoa powder, ground almonds, xanthan gum, and salt.
Beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, and yogurt together until thick and pale.
Stir in dry ingredients. Add melted butter and beat until incorporated.
Pour mixture into prepared pan. File madeleine pan holes about halfway. Bake 7-8 minutes, until cooked through. Cool in tins a few minutes and remove from pan and cool on racks, shell side up.
Dust with powdered sugar and serve.Read More