Sunday, November 27, 2011

Surviving Christmas

Would you ever survive the holidays if it weren’t for your grandmother?
Like my Scandinavian grandmother and grandmothers like her, she puts Christmas in perspective because according to her it’s all about the food.
Forget counting calories, everything has a stick or two of butter in it and if it doesn’t now, wait until she modifies the recipe. She's always good about doing that.
Here are a few of my childhood can’t –do- withouts that take ordinary cookies to a whole new level.

1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup half and half
1 cup all purpose flour
Deep frying: vegetable oil
Garnish: sugar

Combine all ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour into a bowl that is wider than the rosette iron. Heat the oil to 360 degrees. Use a thermometer or do the "bread test"*.
Heat the rosette iron in the oil at the same time. Remove the iron and let excess oil drip off. Dip in the batter. Hold over the deep fryer to set the batter a little. Deep-fry until golden, around 1 minute.

Loosen from the iron with a fork. Drain on paper towels. Reheat the iron before frying the next rosette. Dip the rosettes in sugar.

* Place a cube of white bread in the hot oil. If it turns golden brown after around one minute, the temperature is correct. I relied on the bread test for years until I finally broke down and bought a thermometer this year.
These are one of my favorite Christmas cookies and you can use them to serve homemade ice cream in. Double Delicious!

½ c sugar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
½ c lard
½ c butter
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp salt
2 cups plus flour

Mix together sugars, lard and butter. Add egg, vanilla, salt and stir. Add flour and stir. Bake at 375 for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.
In the years I have tried to create my grandmother’s memorable butter cookies, I have found a few recipes that are pretty good.
I continue this next weekend with Butter cookie recipe #51. All of the close but not quite grandma’s.
Glazed Butter Cookies

Butter Cookie Dough

2 ½ cups (12.5 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
¾ cup (5.5 ounces) of superfine sugar (process regular sugar for 20 seconds in Cuisinart)
¼ tsp table salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces, cool room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs cream cheese

1 Tbs cream cheese room temperature
3 Tbs milk
1 ½ cups (6 ounces) confectioners’ sugar

In bowl of standing mixer fitted with flat beater, mix flour, sugar and salt on low speed until combined. With mixer running on low, add butter 1 piece at a time; continue to mix until mixture looks crumbly and slightly wet, about 1 minute longer. Add vanilla and cream cheese and mix on low until dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds.

Remove bowl from mixer and knead dough by hand in bowl for 2 to 3 turns to form large cohesive mass. Divide dough in half, pat into two disks, wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate until they begin to firm up, 20-30 minutes. Dough can be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 2 weeks).

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 F. Roll out 1 dough disk to even 1/8 inch thickness between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Slide rolled dough onto baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes. Work on second dough disk.

Working with first dough portion. Cut into desired shapes on the parchment. {I find that it is easier to very lightly flour the dough then flip over and cut on the other side. It makes the dough between the cookies come out easier without drying out the cookies by adding too much flour}. Cut into desired shapes. Space 1 ½ inches apart. Bake until light golden brown {I wait until the edges brown slightly}. Bake about 10 minutes. Dough scraps can be re-rolled once {I push for 2}. Cool on wire racks.

Glaze- Whisk cream cheese and 3 Tbs milk in medium bowl until combined and no lumps remain. Whisk in confectioners’ sugar until smooth, adding milk until glaze is thin enough to spread easily. {I add almond extract} Spread glaze by scant teaspoon or drizzle over cookie as desired.
Rolled Sugar Cookies
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
Cut into shapes with favorite cookie cutter.
Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Optional: Sprinkle with colored sugar.
Bake 6 to 8 minutes. Cool completely before storing.
An afterthought:
Now, if I didn’t have to suffer through Lutefisk as the main course and just skipped to the dessert I would have been the perfect Scandinavian grandchild… swear to God and hope to die with sugar on it…or something like that.