Monday, December 15, 2014

Walnut Reindeer Cookies, AKA Walnut Acorn Cookies

     These cute little reindeer were originally supposed to be elegant little acorn shaped cookies.  Buttery walnut shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate and more walnuts to make them look like acorns. But somewhere along the way they ended up looking like mischievous reindeer. These little cuties would be a perfect addition to a Christmas cookie tray or to leave out for the jolly man in the red suit.

     If you're looking for something a little more traditional, or are inclined to make these at any other time of year where reindeer are not as appropriate, I assure you that they're just as delectable without the antlers and noses!

     This recipe was featured in the Gourmet Cookie Book as the best cookie recipe from the year 2000. It was originally submitted to Gourmet magazine by a college friend of mine, who says that it has long been her family's favorite.

Walnut Acorn Cookies
recipe from Suzanne and Gourmet

Ingredients for cookies
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup finely chopped walnuts (4 oz.)

Ingredients for decorating
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
If you're making reindeer, you'll also need candy eyes, red candy for noses, and pretzels for antlers.

Directions for making cookies
  • Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Beat together butter, brown sugar and vanilla with electric mixer until pale and fluffy.
  • Add flour mixture, and blend together at low speed.
  • Stir in walnuts with wooden spoon.
  • The original recipe does not call for chilling the dough, but I found that my cookies did not spread as much if I chilled the dough for a couple of hours. You may want to try some both ways to see what works best for you!
  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • Form 2 teaspoons dough (I used a small cookie scoop full) into egg shape. I pressed the dough ball into the bowl of a spoon to get uniform shapes.
  • Arrange "acorns" 1 inch apart on parchment covered baking sheets. Bake on middle rack of oven for 10 minutes, or until bottoms are light brown.
  • Remove cookies to rack to cool.
Dip half of each cookie into melted chocolate, and then into chopped nuts. Place on waxed paper or silicone lined baking sheet to set. (about 15 min.- it depends on the temperature of your kitchen!)
If you're making reindeer, dip half of your cookie into melted chocolate, but only coat the front with walnuts. Press two pretzels onto the back of the cookie into the chocolate. Use melted chocolate to affix the eyes and nose.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Thumbprints

     This cookie needs few words. Buttery tender almond shortbread that practically melts in your mouth. Bright sweet-tart raspberry jam filling the center, contributing a bit of contrast in taste and texture. These are first to disappear from the cookie tray. Most requested at my house. Needs few ingredients and easy to prepare. Make some for a friend. Make some for yourself. You'll both be happy. Need I say more?

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Thumbprints
Recipe from Land O Lakes

Cookie Ingredients
1 cup butter (2 sticks) softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam (or your favorite flavor)

Glaze Ingredients
1 cup confectioners sugar
2-3 tsp. water (more if needed to get desired consistency)
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract

  • Combine butter, sugar and 1/2 tsp. almond extract in mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy.
  • Add flour, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.
  • Cover, and refrigerate until firm- at least one hour. (Cookies will spread more if dough is not chilled.)
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on parchment covered baking sheets.
  • Make indentation in the center of each cookie with your thumb. (I used the handle of a wooden spoon.)
  • Fill each indentation with 1/4 tsp. of jam.
  • Bake 14-18 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Let stand 1 minute on cookie sheet and then transfer to racks to cool completely.
  • Whisk together glaze ingredients until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cookies.

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