New Castle News

November 24, 2012

Culinary Conversation: What are your Christmas cookie recipes?

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — I recently read about a staggering figure.

There are more than 25,000 restaurants in Manhattan alone.

So I venture that trying to find a place to eat on any given night for the next 50 years or so shouldn’t be a problem.

In terms of numbers, I imagine the types of Christmas cookies also exceeds five figures, especially when variations are included.

For some, baking starts right after Thanksgiving. It does for me. And when a few people gather together, the fun faction increases, as do the amounts. That’s especially great if your friends and relatives are planning a cookie exchange this year.

What about you? What are your baking plans for this holiday season?

Culinary Conversation wants to know about your favorite Christmas cookie recipe and any other traditional food served this time of year.

Each holiday season, I like to try something new mixed in with the old.

For Part one of Christmas cookies — Culinary Conversation style — there are some gems from other countries including the cocoa butter sticks or balls, a Swedish specialty.

Next time, we’ll explore some other favorites including popular all-American choices.

Don’t forget to submit your favorite Christmas cookie recipes.

Wish I could sample them all.

Greek Butter Ball Cookies

Mix flour, baking soda and almonds; set aside.

Heat butter slowly in a small, deep saucepan. Cool. Carefully spoon off into a large bowl the clarified butter from top so cloudy solids which have settled at bottom of pan remain.

Add sugar, brandy, lemon juice, extract, oil and egg yolk to butter; beat well. Add flour-nut mixture in fourths, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, line a jelly roll pan with absorbent paper and generously sift powdered sugar over paper. Remove cookies carefully to the sugar and roll gently to coat.

Chocolate Vienna Cookies

Cream the butter and sugar and add the beaten egg yolks. Sift flour and baking powder together and add sifted ingredients to butter/sugar mixture. Then add the melted chocolate and fold in the beaten egg whites. Fill small, greased muffin tins two thirds full of the batter. Bake at 450 for about 15 minutes. Split and fill with apricot jam. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Hungarian Butter Cookies

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together into a bowl. Cut in butter until particles are the size of rice kernels.

Add a mixture of egg yolks, sour cream and sugar, mixing until blended.

Knead until a smooth dough is formed. Roll dough 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured surface; cut with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter.

With a sharp knife, make a crisscross pattern on top of each; brush with egg white and sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 400 for 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake about 14 minutes.

Swedish Cocoa Butter Sticks

Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together; set aside.

Cream butter; add 3/4 cup sugar gradually, beating until fluffy. Reserve 1 tbsp. egg; blend remainder into butter mixture, beating thoroughly.

Add dry ingredients in fourths, mixing until blended after each addition. Chill dough thoroughly.

Divide dough into four portions; shape each into a roll 3/4-inch in diameter. Place rolls 4 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets; flatten each until 1/4-inch thick with a fork dipped in flour; smooth dough at edges.

Combine water with reserved egg; brush top of dough slightly. Sprinkle a mixture of almonds and 2 tbsps. sugar over dough.

Bake at 400 for  8 to 10 minutes. Cool 1 minute; cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces and remove to wire racks.

*For additional chocolate flavor, increase cocoa to 1/4 cup and decrease salt to 1/4 tsp.

*For cocoa butter balls, follow recipe but shape dough into 3/4-inch balls; place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets and flatten each with a fork. Brush tops with egg; sprinkle with almond-sugar mixture.