Wednesday, 12 December 2012

12/12/12 - Daily Dozen

Today is the last repeating date of the century. I don't know how you intend to celebrate but that date says one thing to me: dozens! So I'll be getting my "daily dozen" with a workout in the kitchen.

After celebrating National Brownie Day this past Saturday with three varieties of brownies, I've decided to go in the opposite direction with Vanilla-Bean Butter Cookies. I've made these before and they are so delicate and flavorful that I'm determined to have some for Christmas to balance out all the chocolate selections I've already cranked out. Just because they're vanilla, they're in no way a dime a dozen, though. The three vanilla beans called for in this recipe don't come cheap anywhere but the taste delivers delicious dividends. (All that alliteration was for my pal, Greg!)

Most people aren't going to be able to make these cookies today without a trip to the shops but there are plenty of cookie recipes out there that are simple to make and boast a list of ingredients that you probably have in your cupboard on any given day.

No-Bake Cookies, for instance, are always a hit and they're so easy to make that, as kids, my sister and I were likely to whip up a batch at the drop of a silpat. They're very kid-friendly and quick, and you're bound to have everything on hand right now.

Or you can try Grandma Baker's Criss-Cross Cookies. I assume everyone always has peanut butter on hand for both of these cookies. I've used a "Joy of Cooking" Peanut Butter Cookies recipe too but this one is my favorite and I always have the ingredients in my pantry. But it's six of one and half a dozen of the other, no matter which recipe you choose.

Chocolate-y, crinkly therapy?
Another suggestion for cookies to make with ingredients you probably have at the ready are Grammy's Chocolate Cookies. They're a snap to make and you're rewarded with chocolate discs that are slightly crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. They were featured in Martha Stewart's "Cookies" cookbook and their aroma alone will make any day feel special.

Baking cookies can be therapeutic, which can be as good for your chakra as a string of repeating numbers. Anyway, there's always 12/21/12 for additional spiritual awakening. 

What's more, if you bake cookies, you'll have a delicious snack ready for the Concert for Sandy Relief, which will be broadcast worldwide at 7:30 p.m. EST. The star-studded benefit for victims of the massive storm that recently devastated the northeast United States. For more information on where you can watch and how you can contribute, visit the link above. 

So please join me in the kitchen today and mark this milestone date with a few dozen cookies!

Vanilla-Bean Butter Cookies
1 c butter, softened
1 1/3 c powdered sugar
3 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c flour, sifted
1/4 tsp salt
colored dragees (optional)
sanding sugar  (optional)

In bowl of stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar. Scrape in vanilla seeds. Beat on high until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; beat to combine. Add flour and salt, beat on low till incorporated. Divide dough in half and flatten into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill (at least 1 hour).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. On lightly floured surface, roll out disks to 1/4-inch thickness. Place dough on separate baking sheets and chill in freezer for 20 minutes.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using 2-inch star-shaped cutter, cut out stars. Place a dragee in center of each star; sprinkle generously with sanding sugar. Freeze until firm, 10 to 20 minutes.

Bake until golden brown, rotating sheets halfway through, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Grandma Baker's Criss-Cross Cookies

1 c peanut butter
1/2 c butter
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 c flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Cream together peanut butter and butter. Add sugars gradually and cream together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg and beat well. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add sifted ingredients to batter and mix thoroughly. Chill dough in refrigerator for at least one hour.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork in a criss-cross pattern. Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees Fahrenheit) for 10 to 12 minutes. Makes about 5 dozen.

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