Monthly Archives: January 2009

Snow Day Baking

Ah, the beloved Snow Day. The only thing that makes winter worth living through. A free day off and the perfect excuse to stay at home in your pj’s all day long. Up until about 3 months ago, I was thinking those went out with those clunky (and ugly) Doc Martin Mary Janes everyone used to wear in high school. Snow Days don’t exist in the real world, right? Once you leave school, that’s it…you don’t get snow days from work.

Or do you? Well, you do if you work for a school…teachers do, obviously. And, all be damned, so do the measly office staff whose jobs really have nothing do at all with what goes on in the classroom. That’s where I come in! I got  a new job at community college in September and that means I get snow days! YESSSS!!! Not only do I appreciate a free day off, I’m pretty much the world’s wimpiest winter driver. I hate it. I’m the wide-eyed, white-knuckled, scardey cat doing 15 mph while all the brave folks go speeding around me like it ain’t no thing. So just knowing that I won’t have to worry about that when the weather is truly awful makes this whole winter thing a lot more bearable.

Well, we were blessed with our first snow day the Friday before our Christmas Break. One extra day of vacation! YAHOO! What else to do with a free day of work but get into the kitchen?? Now, I had to work with what I had on hand, as no trips to the store were in the cards that particular day. I had nothing related to chocolate in the house (how is that even possible??) No chips, no squares, no cocoa powder, no candy…NOTHING. So I went searching through my cookbooks for some chocolate-free desserts.

When I found these impressive looking filled cookies and realized I had everything I needed to make them, I quickly got to work. Don’t let the simple ingredient list and directions fool you…this recipe is a bit labor intensive…and frustrating (see my note below) but the results are fabulous. The cookie part is sweet and tender and the filling is a nice surprise. They taste just like little hand held pies. These disappeared ridiculously quick from the holiday dessert table on Christmas Day.

BLUEBERRY JEWELS (Recipe Source: Mrs. Fields Best Cookie Book Ever!)

**NOTE**: The dough gets dried out and crumbly really fast…I made the mistake of not working quickly enough and I ended up with less cookies total than I should have because I just couldn’t work with the last of the dough. To avoid this, I would divide the dough in half, and keep whatever you are not working with covered in the fridge until you are ready. Also, cut all your circles before you move on to assembling. Don’t cut a few, put them on a cookie sheet, fill them and then go back and try to cut more circles to put on top….not only will they crack, they will be hard to seal properly. Best to do all your cutting first. Or, better yet, get someone to help you! 🙂 Don’t let this deter you from trying these though….they are so so yummy. I made the mistake now you don’t have to! Wow, lucky you! 🙂

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 sticks salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup blueberry preserves (or change it up and use any flavor preserves/jam you like!)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. In a medium bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer set at medium speed. Add sugar and beat until smooth. Add egg yolks and vanilla, and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the flour and blend at low speed until thoroughly combined.
  3. Gather dough into a ball and flatten to a disk. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Using a floured rolling pin, roll dough on floured board to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut circles with a 2-inch diameter cookie  cutter or drinking glass, and place on ungreased cookie sheets, 1 inch apart. Continue using dough scraps, rerolling and cutting until all the dough is used.
  5. Drop 1/2 tsp. of fruit in the center of each cookie (do NOT overfill…they will leak. If it looks like too little, resist the urge to add more as it’s probably enough.) Top each with another cookie. Using the tines of a fork, seal edges of cookies as shown (press hard and really seal ’em up good!)
  6. Bake 15 to 17 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool on wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

This recipe is supposed to make about 2 dozen, but I only got 20 total due to the difficulties I noted above.  If you want more, double the dough recipe.

ENJOY! 🙂

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Sweet Simple Pleasures

It seems as if the holidays is the time to break out the big guns….the most extravagant main dishes, the most time-consuming sides, the richest desserts. I’m all for that  for sure, but there’s something undeniably Christmas-y about a simple, understated sweet treat. It kind of takes you back to being a kid at Christmas, when all you had to do was sit back, relax, and enjoy everything going on around you, instead of all the fussing and stressing that comes with the holidays as an adult. These cookies are just a sweet, simple pleasure…a nice change of pace for the busy holiday season.

These little babies are really simple to make, but totally pack a sweet, spicy punch. The outside is a bit crunchy from being rolled in cinnamon sugar, but the inside is tender and buttery with just the right amount of chew. They look like sinckerdoodles, but don’t be fooled…the taste is completely different and absolutely wonderful! I brought these to my in-laws house for the holidays and everyone loved them. These are a keeper for Christmas or anytime!

CINNAMON SUGAR BUTTER COOKIES (Recipe Source: Mrs. Fields Best Cookie Book Ever!)

TOPPING:

  • 3 tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 tbs. ground cinnamon

COOKIES:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsps. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon for topping. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, soda and salt. Mix well with a wire whisk and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl blend sugars with an electric mixer set at medium speed. Add the butter and mix to form a grainy paste. Scrape sides of bowl, then add the eggs and vanilla. Mix at medium speed until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the flour mixture and blend at low speed until just combined. Do not overmix. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll each ball in cinnamon-sugar topping.
  6. Place onto ungreased cookie sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes. Immediately transfer cookies with a spatula to a cool, flat surface.

ENJOY!

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Filed under cookies