Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cookie Insanity

These.  Took.  All.  Day.

Seriously - the fun started around 9:15, and nine hours later I iced the very last chocolate mint mitten and laid it out to dry.

Iced cutout cookies take an eternity if you do everything from start to finish in one go.  Even with the efficiency measures I took (make one batch of cookie dough, stick it in the fridge, make the next batch and so forth until there were three, then roll them out and bake them in the same order), I didn't even get around to icing them until after 2 p.m.  And lemme tell ya - you know you've made a lot of cookies when you don't even want to sample them anymore.

For these cookies, I stuck with the recipe from the other day and made flavor adjustments with each.

Red cinnamon hats and mittens

For the cinnamon cookies, I simply added a teaspoon of cinnamon before the flour.  Most of these came out about 1/8" thick, which made them smaller and crisper than the cookies I usually make, but they also went farther than the chocolate mint cookies (below).  The biggest challenge with these cookies was the icing: it took about 70 drops of food coloring added to this icing recipe to turn it red!  I kept adding two drops at a time, then four drops at a time...until I reached 70, I was wondering if I'd have to settle for pink Santa hats. 

Almond snowflakes
This is loosely based on various recipes I found for Zimtsterne cookies, which are German almond star cookies enjoyed during the holidays.  At least one of the recipes I found called for ground almonds in place of flour, and all the recipes had rather complicated directions both for the baking and the icing (with meringue, not regular icing).  I decided not to use any of them because, with all the other cookies on my to-do list, I didn't think I had time for a learning curve.  The flavor adjustment I did make was to replace 1/2 cup of flour with ground almonds.  These were also pretty thin and waferlike, and the detail on the snowflake cutter made icing them a bit more of a challenge: I had to run a knife or the side of a fork around each of them to scrape off the excess icing so they wouldn't look misshapen.  For the icing, I replaced the vanilla with almond extract (this was also used on the white parts of the red Santa hats).  Delish!

Chocolate mint hats and mittens
In this cookie dough recipe, I used a teaspoon of peppermint extract instead of vanilla and replaced 1/2 cup of the flour with plain cocoa.  I also used 2/3 stick of butter, because that's all I had left, and I knew from previous experience making chocolate cookies that the 1:3 ratio of cocoa to flour would also soften the cookies.  I only rolled these until they were 1/4" thick, so I got just over two dozen, whereas the other recipes, rolled thinner, each yielded three dozen and change.  For the icing, I replaced the vanilla with peppermint extract and added two drops (I think) of green food coloring.

One discovery I was glad to make with the orange star cookies is that the icing does eventually dry, as stated in the directions - just give 'em a few hours.  So, I made a point of leaving these out until a little after 9:00 p.m., then packed them up and managed to put them away without disfiguring any.

Except for loving the flavor of the almond icing (which I knew I would), I'm going to reserve comments and let my relatives tell me what they think when I give them out this Friday at our extended family Christmas Eve gathering.  I still have plenty of ingredients, so hopefully I'll have time and energy to make more (simple) cookies before I hit the road!

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