FRIDAY FIX................................SNOWY CROWNS.
Here I am in my kitchen wearing my new designer frock, classic pearls, and, although you can't see them, oh-so-cute high-heeled pumps. Trust me, they're there. This is my customary attire for baking holiday cookies, you know. OK, so I'm really wearing chewed slippers, ratty sweats stained with God-knows-what, and I haven't washed my hair in three days. Welcome to 2009!!!
Anyway.... if you want to take a break from reading about endocrine disruptors (thanks MaryAnn for a GREAT post) and get a jump on holiday baking, here's one of my favorite festive cookie recipes. It's an adaptation of a recipe from a vintage book, a little spiral-bound number published by the Wisconsin electric company, (in which I found this charming photo) sent to my mother by her mother, Catherine "Birdie" Knappe of Milwaukee. There's even a notation in Birdie's handwriting, on page 24, above a recipe entitled "Sour Cream Cashew Drops." It says "mailed to Lisa, Feb. '63." Of course I have no recollection of this. Rather an odd choice of cookie for a little kid, would you agree? Then again, maybe cashew drops are thoroughly yummy. I should make them sometime and find out.
But I digress.... here's the recipe. The finished product is similar to a Linzer tart, but without the nuts. The dough is like a shortbread and a lot simpler to make than the traditional Linzer tart dough.
1 cup butter
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Cream butter. Add sugar gradually. Cream until light. Blend in sifted dry ingredients. Roll in a ball and chill for about an hour. Roll out dough 1/4 inch thick on floured surface. Cut with linzer tart cutters*, making tops with half the dough and bottoms with half of the dough. (If you don't have Linzer tart cutters, use a 1 1/2 inch round cutter. The down-side of this is you'll have to figure out how to cut little holes, about the size of your thumbnail, in the centers of half the rounds. I've used the backs of icing decorating tips). Note: If the dough gets warm--and it will as you roll and cut repeatedly--it will get sticky so you will have to add more flour and/or chill it again.
Place tops and bottoms on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are very lightly brown on the edges. Remove bottoms and tops to separate plates. Spread about 1 teaspoon of seedless raspberry jelly on each hot bottom (that sounds funny!) I like jelly that has fruit and juice only, without added sugar. When the tops are completely cool, dust with confectioners sugar, and GENTLY place the tops on the bottoms, and push down very lightly. This is the tricky part, and no matter how careful I am I always crack one or two tops, so I always bake a couple of extras. Makes about two dozen--I think--I've never really counted! My advice? Double the recipe--you can even freeze half the dough if you don't have time to bake them all--or they'll be gone in a flash. These are delicate and tender and crumbly and fruity and simply irresistible. They were my mom's favorite cookies, and my in-laws love them, too. I hope you enjoy them as much as me and my relatives do!
*if you don't have a set of Linzer tart cutters, they're well worth purchaing. I think they're about $12. You can get them with a variety of themed center cutouts, and they also have pretty fluted edges. My set has stars, diamonds, and hearts, and I use the stars at this time of year. Garnish your serving plate with some festive greenery, and prepare to hear oohs and aahs. Gorgeous and delicious!!!