Cranberry Butterscotch Soft-Baked Cookies

I love to bake and I can follow directions but I DO NOT GO OFF COURSE.  There's no experimenting in my kitchen.  My brain just doesn't think that way.....until this past Thanksgiving.  I love cookies but rarely make them because I end up eating way to many.  Self-control wasn't passed down in my genes.  So Thanksgiving was going to be my pass to bake a batch - a room full of people I could force to save me from myself & all those calories.  

I found some cranberries on the baking aisle, figured they were festive enough and I started looking for a recipe.  Everything Pinterest brought my way looked yummy.  Cranberry white chocolate seemed to be a fan favorite.  But I had no chocolate. Sigh.  But I did have butterscotch chips.....and the desire to "create my own" welled up so high it was a shock to me too.  Since the family wasn't expecting cookies I figured if they flopped no harm, no foul.  But excuse me.  THEY. ARE. DELICIOUS.  I almost kept them all at home.  Doubts are high that I'll be this adventurous & successful again, but fingers crossed!  

*Disclaimer: I don't love cranberries.  I don't even really like them - they are too bitter.  But the butterscotch is a perfect pairing - sweetened up the cookie without overpowering the cranberries.  If you aren't a cranberry fan, I would only use 3/4 cup cranberries in your batch*

cranberry butterscotch cookie

This recipe was adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

Pepparkakor (Swedish Thin Ginger Cookies)

Christmas Cookies from Around the World....round three!  These get 5 of 5 stars!!

SWEDEN

photo.JPG

Yes - they really do have pepper in them!  The closest thing I can compare these cookies to are ginger snaps.  You know, the really hard kind your Grama used to buy that came in that boring brown bag.  Except these are way better.  I used a drinking glass to cut out my cookies, but the next time I make these (and there will be a next time) I'll make them smaller (2 bite instead of 4 bite cookies).  These were a hit all around, with my mom even claiming to like them better than our traditional gingerbread we've made since I was a teeny babe.  The cookie that birthed decades of homemade gingerbread houses.  Sacrilege.  Tradition people!  But seriously, these cookies are most definitely going to be a part of my annual Christmas baking for years to come {though they will never replace my beloved gingerbread...keep your eye out for that recipe!}.

These cookies are traditionally eaten on St. Lucia day.   And all I know about that is Kiersten (aka the American Girl doll) celebrated it. And they wore white dresses & a crown of candles on their heads.  Sounds festive enough to me, but that's beyond today's post.  Tradition says you should make a wish & that then place a Pepparkakor cookie in your palm and then use your other thumb to press in the center.  If it breaks into three pieces then your wish comes true.  If not, well, you get to eat a broken cookie.  

Pepparkakor Cookies (Swedish Ginger Thins) 
===========================================

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks of butter
4 TB ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 large egg & 1 large egg yolk

  1. Preheat oven to 300*F.
  2. Mix the flour, baking soda, & salt together.  Set that aside.
  3. Measure out the spices, sugar, and molasses in preparation for step 5.
  4. Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until its melted, then lower heat to medium-low and continue cooking while stirring frequently until the foaming stops and the butter begins to brown.  Remove from the heat
  5. Whisk in all the spices, then add the brown sugar & molasses to the butter mixture.  Keeping whisking until all of the sugar is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  6. Add the egg & extra yolk and whisk again to combine.  The final result is a dark, smooth, and glossy mixture.
  7. Pour the butter mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients. 
  8. Mix with a spatula until all flour is combined - don't over mix!
  9. Cover the dough & refrigerate for at least an hour (up to 2 days is ok too - that's what I did!), allowing the butter to firm.
  10. Line cookies sheets with a silpat or other non-stick liner. 
  11. Break off a chunk of the dough & slowly roll it out pretty thin. I made mine about 1/4cm thick which made for a perfectly crisp thin cookie.
  12. Use a circle cookie cutter or drinking glass to cut out cookies.  Repeat this process until all the dough has been rolled & all the cookies cut.  Continue combining all the leftover dough after rolling out each set of cookies until all the dough has been used.
  13. Bake each tray for 15 - 20 minutes.  The cookies will puff up a bit in the oven, but aren't ready until they have thinned back out & begin to darken at the edges. (My gas oven was an exact 20 minutes)

Adapted from The Cutlery Chronicles

Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies (mine were ~2 inch circles - a smaller circle cookie cutter would certainly produce more, though a shorter cook time may be necessary)

Kourabiedes (Greek Butter Cookies)

Christmas Cookies Around The World continues!  Next up is.......

GREECE

Kourabiedes cookies are a staple at Christmas in Greece.  These white crescent shaped cookies get adorned with a single clove on top at the holidays to represent the frankincense & myrrh that the Magi brought to Jesus at his birth.  The shape of the cookie began as a bit of defiance when the Ottoman empire overtook Greece, and it's stuck over the years.  Apparently different areas of Greece differ on what type of butter they use, since that is the foundation of the whole thing.  Goat vs cow vs buffalo.  Yes buffalo.  Never would have guessed that, but there it is! 

This cookie sounded so easy to make I couldn't help but try it.  It pairs perfectly with coffee - the final product is so rich & buttery with just a hint of sweetness from the powdered sugar coating.  A few hints, don't make your cookies too big or they won't cook through.  I read lots of different recipes before settling on this one.  And the time spent creaming the butter sold me.  I felt like I was prepping to make icing, and there's nothing that can go wrong starting a recipe that way.  It becomes white & fluffy - the perfect base for, well, butter cookies.  

image.jpg

Kourabiedes (Greek Butter Cookies)
=========

1 pound of butter, room temperature
1 large egg
2 1/2 tsp almond extract
8 TB powdered sugar, plus more to coat cookies
1/8 tsp baking soda
5 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt (Note: I left this out - whoops!)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat butter in a stand mixer at medium speed for 20 minutes.
  3. Add egg and almond extract to the butter. 
  4. Sift powdered sugar and baking soda together then add to the butter mixture.
  5. Beat for another 10 minutes on medium speed.
  6. Sift 5 cups of flour and salt together in a large bowl. (Disclaimer: I didn't sift my flour, though this would likely had made even lighter cookies).
  7. With the mixer speed on low, add flour a little bit at a time until it is completely mixed.  If the dough is sticky, add 1/2 cup more flour.   (Mine required about 6 cups)
  8. Roll about a tablespoon of dough into a ball and then shape into crescents.  Place them on a lined baking sheet (my Silpat worked great).  You can place them right next to each other because the cookies don't spread.  ***The original recipe said to use 2 TB of dough to form the crescents and they were HUGE, and wouldn't cook through.  And I certainly wouldn't have gotten 5 dozen!  Smaller is better.**
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they turn a pale brown and are cooked through.
  10. Once the cookies cool, coat in powdered sugar.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Adapted from Cooking for Keeps.