27 December 2009

Christmas Cookies


I mentioned in my last post that this Christmas has been rather unusual. Ever since I got started on throwing dinner parties for friends (read: using friends as guinea pigs for new recipes), I have had a Christmas party every year for my close group of girlfriends - the ones with voracious appetites. Except this year.

Perhaps it is because this year we decided to run away to Phuket for a quick weekend trip instead. Perhaps it is because I got lazy. Whatever it is, I didn't throw any party. I did however, help out with the raclette party I mentioned in my last post.

You would have thought I'd have become more proficient over the years, having thrown a fair number of parties (brunches, teas, dinners). I thought so too myself! But alas, from the raclette party, it seems I have not.

The plan was to have the party at my friend's new home in the east. However, her home was so new it did not have a refrigerator. Some of the preparation therefore had to be done in the day at my place. My friend, G, came over in the morning and we settled on the Linzer sandwich cookie and pecan pie recipes we wanted to use before doing some grocery shopping.

Somehow, the massivity of the project did not occur to me (even as I was trying to cream 1.36kg of butter in my kitchenaid) until I had to sieve and mix 12 cups of flour with all the other dry ingredients. Yes, you read right. 12 full cups of flour. G and I had multiplied the recipe, thinking we could bake a couple more for our colleagues, and had to whip out our muscles and mix the ingredients together in the biggest pot I had. By 3pm, we had only managed to roll them into balls of dough to rest in the refrigerator.

At that point, we had to make a call. We had to do another round of grocery shopping for the actual raclette party and quickly chop and saute the accompaniments. And we were far away from where we had planned to be at 3pm. We decided to split up - I'd stay to finish up the cookies, he'd leave for the party venue and start the preparations on that end.

To cut the long story short, I only finished baking at 630pm; the dough was given too little time to firm up and became tricky to handle. I rushed to Holland Village to pick up the cheese and raclette grill before heading to the east for the party. Somehow, thankfully, we made it and the party was a success. I'm glad to report, so were the cookies.

Even though we had to substitute the hazelnuts with almonds, they turned out very well. Incredibly crumbly and just the right amount of sweetness, they were well received. I had half the dough i.e. 6 round discs of dough left and decided to bake a few more for my mum's guests this afternoon. Here's the recipe for those who might be planning belated Christmas parties and are thinking of edible gifts for guests to doggie bag home.


Linzer Sandwiches
Makes 16
1 cup (or 150g) roasted, unpeeled almonds, ground
2 sticks (or 226g) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups plus 2 tbpsn flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp table salt
icing sugar (optional)
raspberry/cherry jam
With an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy for about 2 minutes.
Add egg and beat until smooth for about 3 minutes, then beat in vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, whisk together almonds, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
Add to butter mixture, beat on low until just combined - takes about 2 minutes.
Separate dough into 3 portions, rolling each between 2 pieces of plastic (I usually slice open an ordinary sandwich bag for one reasonably big piece of plastic. This also helps with mess management later on since it negates the need for a floured surface.) until 0.5cm thick.
Freeze each disc for at least an hour, or overnight, ensuring they are kept flat in the freezer.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
Have 2 baking sheets lined with baking paper ready.
Using a 5cm round fluted cookie cutter, cut out cookies from one disc and transfer to baking sheets.
Using a 2 or 3cm round fluted cookie cutter, cut the centers out of half the cookies. Repeat for the other two discs.
Bake cookies for 10 minutes or until edges are golden, rotating halfway through if the heat distribution in the oven is not even. In the meantime, combine the scraps from the discs, reroll, freeze until reasonably hardened and cut for subsequent batches.
Remove from oven and place on wire racks until completely cool.
Lightly sift the icing sugar over the decorative tops (optional); set aside.
Spread a scant teaspoon of jam on the bottoms of each cookie and sandwich with their punched out tops.

1 comment:

shan said...

This cake is not only for the christmas. Cake is not only the refreshment for the eater it can be a nice collection, when we have a lot of things.