Holiday season is the time for sharing and something edible is the perfect gift for that person who has everything or anyone for that matter. Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us. Our challenge is to make at least one celebration cookie, square or bar out of the following list:
1. Pear and Ginger Bites
2. Chocolate and Caramel Turtle Bars
3. French Chocolate Sables – The Food Networks Double Chocolate Sables
4. Chocolate Hazelnut Crinkle Cookies – Epicurious
5. Golden Rings or Piped Shortbread Rings
6. German Lebkuchen – The Pink Whisk
7. Layer Christmas Cookies – Smitten Kitchen
8. Foaming Milk Cookies – Family recipe from Peta’s mother in-law
9. Lady Fingers – Joy of Baking
10. Gingerbread Cookies – Art of Dessert
11. Brown Butter Shortbread
12. Drummers Chocolate Coconut Cookies – Baking Glory
It has been a while since I did cookies; I thought that it would be fun to try all twelve! After scaling them down to yield about a dozen or less, I had to make minor changes to make them egg-free. This worked quite well for most of the cookies except for the layer cookies and ladyfingers which I replaced with shortbread recipes from DivineTaste and MyDiverseKitchen respectively. I now have to figure out how to do away with all those cookies as there is no way I can possibly eat so many. Why don’t you come and help?
PEAR AND GINGER BITES
½ cup (90 gm) (3 oz) dried or glace pear
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (11gm) (1/3 oz) glace ginger
½ cup (120 ml) boiling water
½ teaspoon (2½ gm) bicarbonate soda (baking soda)
1 large egg, room temperature
½ cup (100 gm) (3½ oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup (115 gm) (4 oz) caster sugar
½ cup (115 gm) (4 oz) butter or margarine
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
½ cup (55 gm) (2 oz) slivered almonds
1½ cups (210 gm) (7½ oz) plain flour
½ teaspoon (2½ gm) mixed spice
1 teaspoon (3 gm) dried ginger
¼ teaspoon (1¼ gm) baking powder
For the Icing
1½ cups (360 ml) (190 gm) (6-2/3 oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar
3 tablespoons(45 ml) (45 gm) (1½ oz) softened butter or margarine
1 – 2 tablespoons (15-30 ml) lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/ 180°C/gas mark 4.
- Grease and flour (or line with baking paper) a 22.5cm x 22.5 cm (9” x 9”) square tin.
- Chop the fruit into a fine (1/10-inch) (2 -3 mm) dice. Transfer to a small heatproof jug or bowl.
- Add the boiling water and soda and stir. Leave it to soak for 5 minutes.
- Mix the egg, sugars, butter and vanilla in the large bowl until smooth. Pour in the fruit, soda and almonds.
- Mix until smooth. Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the wet mixture. Stir until just combined.
- Spread into the prepared tin or use the small ice cream scoop or a table spoon to fill the tins just below the top edge.
- Bake in a preheated moderate oven for 40-45 minutes for the large tin or 15 to 20 minutes for the bites.
- Let it stand in the pan on a wire rack until cooled. For the bites, turn the muffin tray upside down on the rack
- Leave for 5 minutes then remove from the tin and leave the bites to cool.
- For the icing, beat all the ingredients together in a heat proof jug until smooth.
- Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds or stand in some boiling water until the icing is a bit runny.
- Drizzle over the slice, cool completely, remove from the tin and then cut into 2½ cm (1-inch) squares.
- You can freeze this slice or store it in an airtight container in a cool spot or refrigerator for at least 2 weeks.
- Makes 121 1” squares or 30 mini muffin size bites.
CHOCOLATE & CARAMEL TURTLE BARS
For the Base
2 cups (280 gm) (10 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup (200 gm) (7 oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) mixed spice
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) melted butter
For the Caramel Layer
¾ cup (180 gm) (6-1/3 oz) butter
1 cup (200 gm) (7 oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
1½ cups (200 gm) (7 oz) pecans chopped into 1/4 -inch (2/3-cm) pieces
For the Top Layer
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (200 gm) (7 oz) dark eating chocolate
121 toasted pecans (1 for each piece after cutting)
or 1½ cups (200 gm) (7 oz) toasted pecans chopped into small chunks
- Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/ 180°C/gas mark 4.
- Grease or line with bake paper a 13”x 9” x 2” (33cm x 23 cm x 5 cm) baking tin.
- Mix the dry ingredients well in a medium size bowl and mix in the cup of melted butter.
- Press evenly into lined tin. Bake for 10 minutes. Scatter the chopped pecans over the base.
- Bake for another 5 minutes. While the base is baking melt butter in a small pot over low heat.
- Add the brown sugar and stir until smooth. Heat over a medium heat until the entire surface is bubbling.
- Pour over the base and spread evenly. Bake for 10 minutes or until the surface is covered with bubbles.
- While this step is baking break up the chocolate and chop or blitz in a food processor to 1 cm chunks.
- Spread evenly over slice as soon as it comes out of the oven. Let it sit for 2 or 3 minutes.
- Smooth the chocolate with a spoon. Roast the 121 pecans on a lower shelf for 5 minutes.
- Let them cool. Place the pecans evenly over the chocolate while it is still soft.
- When you cut the bake into pieces there should be a pecan on each square.
- Or sprinkle chopped roasted pecans over the top. Cool completely in the pan before cutting.
- Makes 117 1” size bites. Freeze or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
FRENCH CHOCOLATE SABLES
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, frozen for 10 minutes
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 1/4 ounces (11 tbs) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
- Grate the chilled chocolate with a fine grater or rasp and set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and sea salt.
- Beat the butter and sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until just combined.
- Mix in the yolk. Add dry ingredients to the butter. Beat lightly together until just combined but still crumbly.
- Fold in grated chocolate with a spatula. Bring the dough together by lightly squeezing in your hands.
- Divide the dough in half. Lay half the dough on a long sheet of waxed paper.
- Shape into a log along the width of the waxed paper, leaving some space at each end.
- Pull the paper over the top of the log. Grip the edge of the top piece of paper.
- Use a straight, firm edge to press gently against the edge of the dough to create a solid, firm round log.
- Repeat with remaining dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice logs into 1/2-inch thick rounds with a sharp, thin knife.
- Divide rounds onto the prepared sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Bake until cookies smell fragrant with a full cocoa aroma and set on the outside, about 12 to 14 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool on the pans, about 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool completely.
- Dough can be made and frozen for up to 2 weeks. Store baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Baked cookies can be wrapped in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil and frozen for up to 2 weeks.
CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT CRINKLE COOKIES
2/3 cup hazelnuts
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
- Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
- Toast hazelnuts in a shallow baking pan in oven until skins split and nuts are pale golden, about 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven (turn oven off), then wrap hazelnuts in a kitchen towel and rub to remove any loose skins.
- Cool nuts completely. Pulse nuts with granulated sugar in a food processor until finely chopped.
- Melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water or in top of a double boiler.
- Stir until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and set aside. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
- Beat butter and brown sugar in another bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until creamy, about 3 minutes.
- Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in melted chocolate until combined.
- Add milk and vanilla, beating to incorporate. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
- Stir in nut mixture. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill dough until firm, 2 to 3 hours.
- Form and bake cookies: Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.
- Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift confectioners sugar into a bowl. Halve dough.
- Chill 1 half, wrapped in plastic wrap. Roll remaining half into 1-inch balls, placing them on a sheet of wax paper as rolled.
- Roll balls, 3 or 4 at a time, in confectioners sugar to coat generously and arrange 2 inches apart on lined baking sheets.
- Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are puffed and cracked, 12 to 18 minutes total.
- Transfer cookies (still on parchment) to racks to cool completely. While first batch is baking, roll remaining dough into balls.
- Line cooled cookie sheets with fresh parchment, then coat balls with confectioners sugar and bake in same manner.
PIPED SHORTBREAD RINGS
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) softened butter
1¼ cups (175 gm) (6 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
½ cup (65 gm) (2- 2/3 oz) confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup (45 gm) (1½ oz) cornflour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla essence
Nuts, chocolate chips, maraschino cherries
- Preheat the oven to moderate 300°F/ 150°C/gas mark 2.
- Combine butter, flours, vanilla and confectioner’s sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle beater.
- Mix on low speed until combined and then change to the whisk beater.
- Beat for 10 minutes. If you overbeat the mixture it will not hold when it cooks.
- Pipe into rings. Decorate with maraschino cherry pieces to look like little wreaths or leave plain.
- Bake in preheated moderate oven for 15 to 18 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned.
- Cool completely and drizzle with melted chocolate or icing if you want to. Makes approx 120 cookies.
85 ml honey
115 g dark brown sugar
30 g butter
225 g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg, beaten
50 g ground almonds
For the Icing
25 g icing sugar, sifted
2 tsp water
- In a large pan place the honey, sugar and butter. Heat over a gentle flame until the butter and sugar have melted.
- Remove from the heat. Sift together the flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda. Beat the egg in a small dish.
- Add one half of the flour mixture and half of the egg to the pan and mix well. Repeat with the remaining flour and egg.
- Finally add in the ground almonds and mix till thoroughly combined. The dough now needs to be chilled.
- It is very sticky and will seem along way away from being a biscuit dough but do not worry. Place it in a plastic bag.
- Chill overnight in the fridge, in fact you can leave this dough to develop it’s flavours in the fridge for up to three days.
- The following day remove dough from the fridge. Roll it out between two sheets of greaseproof paper to approx 5mm thick.
- Preheat the oven to 160c Fan/180c/Gas Mark 4. Cut out your biscuits and lay them spaced well apart on a greased baking tray.
- Bake in the oven for 7-9 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool for five minutes on the tray to firm up a little.
- Then carefully transfer to a cooling rack. For the icing, combine icing sugar and water to form a runny paste.
- Using a pastry brush glaze the tops of the biscuits by brushing on a thin layer of icing. Apply a second coat and leave to dry.
- The biscuits will keep for up to three weeks in an airtight container. Makes 24 biscuits.
LAYER CHRISTMAS COOKIES
4 large eggs, separated
1-1/2 cups (350 gm) (12-1/3 oz) sugar, divided
1 cup (240 ml) (125 gm) (4-1/2 oz) almond meal
1-1/4 cups (300 gm) (10 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon (5 ml) almond extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract or brandy or rum extract
2 cups (280 gm) (10 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1/2 teaspoon (3 gm) salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) red food colouring
1 tablespoon (15 ml) green food colouring
1 cup (360 gm) (12 oz) apricot jam heated and strained
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (200 gm) (7 oz) fine-quality bittersweet chocolate
1 teaspoon (5 gm) butter
1 teaspoon (5 gm) sugar
- Put an oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to moderate 350°F/ 180°C/gas mark 4.
- Line a 13-inch by 9-inch (33cm x 23cm) baking pan baking paper, leaving a 2-inch (5 cm) overhang on 2 ends.
- Beat egg whites in mixer fitted with whisk attachment at medium-high speed until they just hold soft peaks.
- Add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating at high speed until whites hold just stiff, slightly glossy peaks.
- Put this in another bowl as you’ll need the mixer bowl for the next step.
- Switch to your paddle attachment, then beat together almonds, butter and the remaining sugar until its pale and fluffy.
- Add the egg yolks, vanilla and almond extract and beat until it is combined well. Turn off the mixer.
- Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined. I have to put a tea towel over the mixer to stop the flour flying everywhere.
- Beat 1/3 egg white mixture into almond mixture. Remove bowl from mixer; Fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
- Divide batter among 3 bowls. Stir red food colouring into one and green food colouring into another, leaving the third batch plain.
- Set the white batter aside. Put the green batter, covered into the refrigerator. Pour the red batter into the prepared pan.
- Spread evenly with an offset spatula to a layer of about 6mm or 1/4-inch thick.
- Bake in a preheated moderate oven 8 to 10 minutes, until just set. The cakes won’t look cooked but a tester does come out clean.
- Using the paper overhang, transfer the layers to a rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Clean the pan and re-line with parchment paper.
- Bake the white layer in prepared pan for 8 to 10 minutes, until just set. As white layer bakes, bring green batter to room temperature.
- Transfer the white layer to a rack. Prepare pan again and bake the green layer in the same manner . Transfer to a rack to cool.
- When all layers are cool, invert green onto a parchment lined large baking sheet. Discard paper from layer.
- Spread with half of the preserves. Invert white on top of green layer, discarding paper. Spread with the remaining preserve.
- Invert red layer on top of white layer and discard wax or parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap.
- Weigh down with a large baking pan and 6 tins of fruit or soup. Chill at least 8 hours. Remove weight and plastic wrap.
- Bring the layers to room temperature. Next, chop the chocolate into small bits.
- Put half the chocolate, 1 tsp butter and 1 tsp sugar in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.
- Once melted and smooth take the bowl off the pan of water and turn off the heat. Throw in the rest of the chocolate.
- Stir until it’s smooth. Put the bowl of chocolate back over the water you do not want it to start to set.
- Trim the edges of assembled layers with a long serrated knife. Quickly spread half of chocolate in a thin layer on top of cake.
- Chill, uncovered, until chocolate is firm for 15 mins. Cover with another sheet of wax paper and place another baking sheet on top.
- Invert cake onto sheet and remove paper. Quickly spread with remaining chocolate. Freeze until firm, at least 1 hour.
- You can freeze the whole thing like this until you want to use it. Do not thaw it before cutting.
- Cut into 1-inch (2-1/2 cm) squares or into 1-1/2 inches (4 cm) wide strips then cut strips crosswise into 3/4-inch (2 cm) cookies.
- Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, in an airtight container at room temperature 2 weeks.
FOAMING MILK COOKIES
1½ cups (340 gm) (12 oz) sugar
½ cup (120 ml) milk
4 cups (560 gm) (20 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) softened butter
1 teaspoon (5 gm) bi-carbonate soda
2 tablespoons (30 ml) hot water
- Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/ 180°C/gas mark 4. Lightly grease 2 baking trays.
- Rub the butter into flour until it looks like fine breadcrumbs or blitz together in a food processor.
- If you use your food processor tip the flour and butter into a metal bowl. Melt the milk and sugar together.
- Dissolve the bi-carbonate soda into the hot water. Add to the milk and sugar.
- Mix quickly into the flour/butter until well combined. The mixture will be runny but it will firm up as it cools.
- When the dough has cooled, roll it out to 1/5-inch (1/2-cm) thick and cut out with the cookie cutters.
- Freeze for ½ – 1 hour until firm. Place on trays and bake in a moderate oven for 10 to 15 minutes until golden.
- Cool on the tray before moving to rack. Freeze the iced cookies or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Undecorated cookies will keep indefinitely in an airtight container in the cupboard.
1/2 cup (65 grams) cake flour, sifted
3 large egg yolks, room temperature
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated white sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 tablespoons (36 grams) granulated white sugar
Powdered (icing or confectioners) sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- To make the piping easier, divide the parchment paper into three – 3″ (7.5 cm) rows, with about 1″ (2.54 cm) between rows.
- Have ready a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) round tip. Fit your electric mixer with the paddle attachment.
- Beat the egg yolks and 2 tbs white sugar on high speed for about 5 minutes until the mixture becomes thick and pale yellow.
- When you raise the beaters the batter should fall back into the bowl in a slow ribbon. Beat in the vanilla extract.
- Sift the cake flour over the batter but do not fold in. In a clean bowl, with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites until foamy.
- Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the 3 tablespoons (36 grams) white sugar.
- Whip until stiff peaks form and the whites are glossy. Fold the whites into the egg yolk and flour mixture in three additions.
- Mix only until incorporated. Transfer the batter to the pastry bag and hold the bag at about a 45 degree angle to the baking sheet.
- Pipe the batter into 3 inch (7.5 cm) long ladyfingers, using the lines drawn on the parchment paper as your guide.
- Pipe the batter leaving about a 1 inch (2.54 cm) space between the cookies. Lightly sift the sugar over the tops of the cookies.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the ladyfingers are firm but barely browned and are still spongy when pressed with a finger.
- Remove the baking sheets from the oven and slide the parchment paper from the baking sheets onto a wire rack.
- Let the ladyfingers cool for a few minutes and release them from the parchment paper, with a flat spatula, while still warm.
- If you left them completely cool before removing them from the parchment they stick and hard to remove without breaking.
- Finish cooling the ladyfingers on the wire rack before using or storing. If not using the ladyfingers right away, freeze them.
- To store, place in a plastic bag between layers of wax or parchment paper and freeze up to 2 weeks. Makes about 4 1/2 dozen.
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tbs ground cinnamon
2 tbs ground ginger
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
4 tbs corn syrup or honey
- In a saucepan, cook the butter, sugar, milk and corn syrup at low heat until sugar has dissolved.
- Remove from heat then pour into a mixing bowl and let it cool for a few minutes.
- Sift together flour, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and baking soda. Add to butter mixture and mix.
- Flatten dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 – 3 hours. Take out only a portion at a time as dough gets too soft at rtp.
- Keep the rest of the dough in the refrigerator. Roll the dough to about 1/8 inch thickness.
- Cut out shapes and transfer them onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake at 400 oF for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Makes 4 dozen 3.5″ x 3.5″ cookies.
BROWN BUTTER SHORTBREAD
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) unsalted butter
2/3 cup (130 gm) (4½ oz) dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla bean paste
1-2/3 cups (230 gm) (8 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (12 gm) table salt
- Cut the butter into smallish pieces and place in a saucepan over a low heat.
- Melt the butter and cook until it starts to brown and gives off a warm, nutty aroma.
- Stir from time to time to make sure it browns evenly. As it gets close to being browned enough it will foam up.
- You will see little brown bits in the foam. Remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof jug or bowl.
- Set aside to cool slightly and then refrigerate until it starts to set again but is not too firm.
- It should be the consistency of softened butter. Don’t strain out the little brown bits they taste great.
- Preheat the oven to moderate 300°F/ 150°C/gas mark 2. Line 2 large baking sheets with silicon baking paper.
- Add the sugar and vanilla to the browned butter and beat until very light and fluffy and the sugar is dissolved.
- Finally, add flour and salt. Mix for at least 2 to 4 minutes to form a soft dough. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Roll out the pastry to about 1/6-inch (4-mm) thickness and cut into cookies.
- Place cookies on the baking sheets and refrigerate for 30 minutes to help the cookies keep their shape as they bake.
- Bake the cookies in a preheated moderate oven for about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven.
- Leave cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- You may need to rotate the sheets half way through baking to ensure even browning. Makes about 48 cookies.
DRUMMERS CHOCOLATE COCONUT COOKIES
For the Coconut Filling
6oz / 175ml cream cheese, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk, room temperature
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 ¼ cup coconut flakes, unsweetened
For the Cookie Dough
1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
⅓ cup cocoa powder, sifted
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp table salt
1 ½ sticks butter, unsalted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, room temperature
- Beat the cream cheese with the ¾ cup of sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg yolk, and vanilla extract and continue mixing for another minute.
- Add the shredded coconut and continue beating until everything is well incorporated.
- Preheat oven to 375° F/190° C. In a medium size bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda.
- In the bowl of a mixer beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add egg and beat until smooth.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until the mixture is stiff but still pliable.
- Using a tablespoon, scoop some of the cookie dough into your hand.
- Flatten the dough into a circle that’s about 2″ to 3″ (5 cm to 7.5 cm) in diameter.
- Add about a tsp of coconut mixture in the middle. Fold the sides but do not seal it at the top.
- Repeat this with remaining cookie dough. Place the cookies on a greased cookie sheet.
- Bake the cookies at 375° F/190° C for about 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.