- Author and New York Times
Dining Out food columnistMelissa Clark has chosen three of her favorite Christmas cookie recipes (with a twist) - taken from her new book "In the Kitchen: with a Good Appetite." They are the perfect countdown to Christmas, or Christmas Eve activity to partake in. Also, Santa loves freshly baked cookies. All three recipes below!
Fresh Gingerroot and orange zest sets these crisp and highly spiced cookies above all gingerbread. You can cut them into any shape you like. Makes about a dozen cookies.
• 4 cups all purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
• 1/4 cup finely ground nuts, such as almonds or hazelnuts
• 1 tablespoon ground ginger
• 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 cup dark brown sugar
• 2/3 cup molasses
• 1 large egg
• 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger root
• 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
• Royal Icing, colored sugar, or what have you, for decorating, if desired
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, ground nuts, ground ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, and cardamom. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the molasses, egg, vanilla, orange zest, and fresh ginger. Mix until thoroughly combined, about two minutes. Add the flour mixture and mix on a slow speed until incorporated. Divide dough into four disks. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for one hour or up to three days. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350° F and line several baking sheets with parchment. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out 3/16-inch thick. Dipping the cutter in four as needed, cut out the cookies and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Re-roll out the scraps of dough one time only, and cut more cookies. Bake until the cookies are firm and the edges are golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. If you like, decorate to your hearts' content.
Lemon Curd Squares With Rosemary
A thick and buttery shortbread laced with piney fresh rosemary, topped with a bracing curd that's just sweet enough.
For the shortbread
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
• 1 tablespoon chopped
• 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
For the lemon curd
• 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
• 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
• 1 pinch kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 325° F and lightly grease a 9 by 13-inch baking pan. To make the shortbread base, combine the flour, butter, granulated sugar, confectioners' sugar, rosemary, and lemon zest in a food processor. Pulse until crumbly dough forms. Press the dough into the prepared pan and bake until the shortbread is golden around the edges, about 40 minutes. While the shortbread is baking, prepare the lemon curd. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon juice, flour, lemon zest, and salt. When the shortbread is ready, take it out of the oven and increase the temperature to 350° F. Carefully pour the lemon curd onto the shortbread base and return the pan to the oven. Bake until the topping is just set, about 20 minutes more. Allow to cool to room temperature before cutting into two-inch squares. Cover and refrigerate the bars up to three days. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar before serving.
Fudgy Bourban Balls
These get better after sitting for a few days, so prepare three or four days before the Christmas madness, they'll be better for it and you can enjoy on Christmas Eve. Perhaps you can leave a few for Santa (if there are any left). Makes about four dozen cookies.
• 2 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (Nabisco Famous wafers are the best if you can find them; you can also use chocolate graham cracker crumbs)
• 1 1/4 cups pecans
• 1/2 cup good bourbon or rum
• 1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus additional for rolling
• 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the cookie crumbs and pecans until the nuts are finely ground. In a separate bowl, stir together the bourbon, 1 cup confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, and honey. Add the mixture to food processor and pulse until just combined. Let the dough rest, uncovered, at room temperature for four hours or overnight. This will dry it out a little (it will seem quite moist, and that's okay). Use your fingers to roll the dough into balls about one-inch in diameter. Roll the balls in confectioners' sugar. Store the balls airtight if you like them moist, or uncovered if you like them to develop a crunchy sugar crust on the outside (I like the crust, but it's a matter of taste). Sprinkle with (or roll the balls in) additional confectioners' sugar just before serving.