Thursday, December 17, 2009
An old recipe with some new tricks
Better Homes And Garders Special Interest Publications Christmas Cookies 1992
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
5 to 7 tablespoons ice water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cut in butter till mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon water and vanilla over part of the flour mixture. Gently toss with a fork; push to side of bowl. Repeat with remaining water, a tablespoon at a time, till all is moistened. Form into a ball. Cover and chill 30 minutes or till easy to handle.
Divide dough into quarters. On a lightly floured surface, roll two of the quarters into 12x4 inch rectangles. Spread each rectangle with jam. Roll remaining quarters of dough into 12x4-inch rectangles. Carefully place a plain rectangle over each rectangle spread with jam. Trim edges even. Cut each rectangle into twenty-four 4x1/2-inch strips. Twist each strip twice.
Shape each strip into a cane on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degrees oven for 10 to 12 minutes or till edges are firm and bottoms are light brown. Cool on wire rack. Place Powdered-Sugar Frosting in decorating bag fitted with writing tip. Pipe frosting on light portions of each cane.
Powdered-Sugar Frosting: Stir together 1 cup sifted powdered sugar and enough hot water (1 to 2 tablespoons) to make of frosting consistency.
I started Christmas baking (on my own) in 1991. I can date that event by my oldest Better Homes and Gardens annual Christmas Cookie magazine. That is what started the madness. I didn't even own a hand mixer that year. I had a wooden spoon and that was all that I needed.
This recipe came out in the 1992 edition of the BH&G Christmas cookie magazine, and was added to my line-up my second year of baking. I made it for several years but it was a major pain-in-the-behind to be honest. I wasn't talented with pastry dough. It was hard to cut the strips right. The jam would melt onto the cookie sheet. I had to use a little baggie to pipe on the frosting and I would always end up with a hand full of frosting.
But I loved the final result. They were cute and delicious and they were sort of my signature cookie for a while. My boss, who was also a good friend to me, even asked me to come to her home and show her how to make them. I was happy and honored to be invited to spend time with her family but I remember not being thrilled about having to make these cookies since they always vexed me so much.
Eventually, I was baking for more people and I just couldn't make enough of these for everyone so I retired this recipe.
I decided to revisit it this year since I now know a few more tricks.
First of all, I made the dough in a flash in the food processor. I rolled it out between parchment paper. I used my Pampered Chef pizza cutter to cut the dough into strips. I baked some on parchment paper and some on silpat (both work well). I even used a bit of Wilson cookie frosting to easily frost these but then decided the vanilla taste was a bit strong for these so I pulled out a small Pampered Chef decorating bottle and easily finished the job with the simple powdered sugar frosting.
These isn't the easiest recipe in the world but I didn't struggle with it nearly as much as I used to. I guess I have learned something over the years.
And no, I wouldn't really hang these on a Christmas tree - I was just trying to liven up the photographs a bit.