What a whirlwind it’s been in the OtherWorldly Kitchen. Flour, flour everywhere–along with nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, cookie cutters, baking sheets, and cooling racks. And of course the ever ready digital camera. I’m not quite ready to end the madness, so I’ve actually started developing cookies for next year. Two down, ten to go
To my palate, coconut and lime are a pairing made in heaven. Coconut on its own is subtle and seductive, like a lazy summer afternoon. Add lime, and it’s party time.
I admit I may be biased on this, as I love lime with almost everything. It is definitely my favorite citrus fruit and our frig is always well stocked. Not a panic if I run out of lemon, but let the lime stash dwindle to almost zero, and it’s Costco-run time. (Thank God for Costco, by the way, as limes are often super expensive elsewhere.)
Have you ever been in a kitchenware store and upon spying a new piece of equipment, baking pan, or whatever, think, “Ohhh, I really NEED that?” But then if the person with you asks what you need it FOR, you mumble something incomprehensible under your breath. Because the truth is you have no idea what you need it for, but you need it nonetheless.
This cookie started out innocently enough. I have never put peanut butter in a Christmas cookie and the thought occurred, “Why not?’ But I definitely didn’t want a chewy peanut butter cookie, even though I love them to distraction. To my way of thinking, Christmas cookies must keep for weeks, and that means they need to be nearly moisture-free after baking. Chewy cookies are almost always best on the day they are baked.
The flavor of these intensely buttery cookies is definitely exotic. It conjures up scenes of ancient ruins, mysterious night, and distant moon. With a generous dose of fragrant spices—sweet paprika, black pepper, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg—these cookies are likely to be like none you have ever experienced.
The idea for this cookie popped into my head after seeing a picture of that classic combination, gingerbread with lemon icing. Could I get those flavors into a cookie?
On the first attempt, I under baked the shortbread and put too much molasses in the caramel. It wasn’t that the caramel was bad per se, but it definitely overwhelmed the more delicate flavor of the shortbread. So I cut the molasses by half, but then for some ungodly reason decided to double the ginger. Wrong move; way too much ginger.
Just as no Christmas cookie collection is complete without at least one ginger spice cookie, there must also be at least one chocolate cookie in the mix. For this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Silver Bells collection, there are two chocolate cookies. They are similar in construction (at least for the shortbread component) but the spicing and shaping is different for each. For the Chocolate Toasted Coconut Bars, the shortbread dough is spread into a baking pan and the depth is close to ½-inch. For these cookies, you want to roll the dough very thinly and cut with a simple cookie cutter of your choice.
Long ago, in a far away world called the University of Washington School of Art, there was a lone fiber artist who unapologetically extolled the power and deep meaning of color to her comrades who believed with all their hearts that any color other than gray was an indication of naiveté and gross pandering to the unenlightened masses, for whom beauty was—GASP—a virtue.
Just because a cookie contains what I call Gingerbread Spice, a blend of ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves, with perhaps a little cardamom thrown in for good measure, that doesn’t mean it has to taste like every other gingerbread cookie you’ve ever eaten. There’s a long history behind this the gingerbread cookie, but there is also a lot of latitude and surely many new approaches that have yet to be tried.
I’ve never seen a recipe for SWEET parmesan cookies. Recipes for SAVORY parmesan cookies abound, as any Bing Search will reveal. But why not a sweet parmesan cookie?
The inspiration for this unusual cookie comes from executive chef, Gregory Denton, of Portland, Oregon’s Metrovino restaurant. Chef Denton recently shared with me his recipe for MetroVino’s Parmesan Pound Cake, which I fell in love with at the restaurant and will share with you in the very near future.
This Swedish cookie is just enough different from all other Scandinavian “gingersnaps” to make it definitely special: delicate, spicy, and hot!
These candy-cane shaped cookies have gone through a lot of hemming, hawing, and testing over the years. I love the idea, but the final result is never quite perfection. Last year, the texture was not tender enough and the peppermint flavor not pronounced enough. They looked pretty, but well…
There are many versions of this particular cookie, but none quite so tender and rich as this one. The addition of orange and lemon juice ensures a tender dough and adds a flavor nuance that is very appealing.
This is a delicious rolled cookie, tender, buttery, and not too sweet—which is tinted and shaped to look like a pink poinsettia. No matter how many types of beautiful cookies festoon a holiday gathering, this one always causes the most buzz. It also disappears first.
These delicious cookies are very short and tender, and barely sweet. They literally melt in your mouth and the flavor says toasted almonds all the way.
These distinctively flavored cookies can be decorated with sanding sugar or sprinkles before baking, or with a simple buttercream or royal icing after baking. Either embellishment adds just the right amount of sweetness. However, these cookies are also delicious unadorned with afternoon tea.
I developed the prototype for these cookies last year as part of the product line for LunaCafe OtherWorldly Artisan Cookies, which will hopefully launch in the not too distant future. Although I can’t share that top secret formula with you (more than 10 years in testing), here is essentially the same flavoring in a traditional and utterly delicious (light, crisp, buttery) shortbread cookie.
You might be tempted to think that this is just another ho-hum rolled chocolate cookie recipe. But I assure you, this is not the case. When you open a tin of these cookies, your nose will tell you that there is something special going on here. Aromatic spices combined with chocolate, espresso, orange, ancho chile, and cayenne make these cookies highly addictive and a good choice for afternoon tea, even well beyond the holiday season.
During one of my Christmas cookie baking lunacy periods, I got the idea for a super-lemony Mexican Wedding Cake cookie. I tried a number of versions, increasing the lemon aspect each time, but could not get the OVER-THE-TOP lemony flavor I was after. Then inspiration hit! The flavor I was trying to achieve is actually contained in a little packet of, can you guess?
A wonderful Christmas sugar cookie with the heady aroma of orange and vanilla, plus a crisp, light texture and only moderate sweetness. As perfect on the holiday cookie platter as with solitary afternoon tea by the fireplace.
I had long been searching for the perfect, tender, melt-in-the-mouth pressed cookie recipe when I encountered this one in the home of my Finnish mother-in-law, Ellen Hill Bradley. Ellen got it from her English mother-in-law, Lily Hawkinson Bradley—a lady of some distinction in the culinary arts. Where Lily got it, only heaven knows, but perhaps it was from a Swedish friend, as the Swedish reference has traveled with the recipe for many decades.
LunaCafe OtherWorldly Kitchen presents a holiday cookie extravaganza, one time-tested, delectable cookie a day for each of the twelve days of Christmas. The twelfth day debuts Ellen’s Swedish Pepparkakor, the best cookie in the known universe.