Cookies for Abby
I've just gotten my Bake It Forward box to the post office, on its way to Gabby Abby before the next winter storm breaks over our heads. She's supposed to get them by Tuesday. I don't know Abby in person, but I hope she claps her hands and laughs when she opens the box. I can imagine her making a fine cup of tea or pouring a mug of coffee to have with them as she peruses the cards and materials packed in with them. Or maybe she's the milk-and-cookie type, like Barbara Jordan. Whatever makes her heart happy is great with me.
For me one of the best parts of being a recipient—aside from the obvious—was reading the cards from the previous participants. I got to hear from Lucy Mercer, (instigator-in-chief of the Bake It Forward project on Open Salon,) Lisa Kuebler, Grace Hwang Lynch and Linda Shui. Abby tells me she's got Bellwether Vance in mind for the next mailing. I hope that works out.
My own Bake It Forward box from Linda came wrapped in a gold bow with samples of Linda's baking tucked inside. They looked tasty but I made the mistake of leaving the tin in open view when I was out the same day they arrived. I did get a nibble or two and I'm not pointing any fingers, mind you. Enough said.
Whoever thought of this came up with a winner. I've had great fun with this project. First I checked out the website to see where the cookies have been and register my receipt. I've also had the joy of thinking about what to pass along, which recipes to use. I picked a variety of favorites—some old standbys, some recent developments. Lots of choices.
Next, who would get my cookies? I am a big fan of enthusiasm. It had to be someone happy to play. Abby, my choice for a recipient, was eager to pass along her sour cream pound cake. She already knew what she wanted to bake. Gotta love it.
Here's what's going to Abby: Chocolate Chewies, Rum Balls, Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies and Salty Pistachio and Orange Cream Cheese Cookies
I learned to make Rum Balls at the elbow of my inimitable grandmother, Miss Alice—only she made them with Southern Comfort and called them "Whiskey Balls." They've been a holiday standby for me ever since. This batch is made with Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder to replace regular for extra chocolate-y goodness.
The next two cookies, Salty Pistachio and Orange Cream Cheese Cookies and Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies, show the versatility of a good basic recipe. Make the master cream cheese cookie dough and divide it in half before flavoring and forming. You get two entirely different cookies in taste and appearance for the price of one. The orange and pistachio flavors balance beautifully with the shortbread and the tiny raspberry jam cookie is a flirty,fun-to-make little heartbreaker everyone loves.
Chocolate Chewies have been a favorite for years. I first had them at the bakery in Atlanta's Rich's Department Store. They are the easiest cookie I know how to make and give a super bang for the buck. Besides all that, they are fat-free (well, except for a sackful of pecans) and gluten-free. Not that you'll miss either one.
- 2-1/2 cups finely crushed vanilla wafer cookies
- 3 cups pecans, finely chopped
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup rum
Pour crushed cookies, pecans, powdered sugar and cocoa powder into a large bowl and stir until combined.
Add the corn syrup and rum and mix well. Mixture will be very thick.
Shape into 1 inch balls and roll in confectioners’ sugar.
Store 24 hours to allow flavors to ripen. Keep in an airtight container and keep well dusted with powdered sugar.
Basic Cream Cheese Cookie Dough
- 8 ounces unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 3 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 2-¼ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- Food coloring, sparkling sugars or other decorations for sprinkling (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter & cream cheese in mixing bowl, add sugar, and beat until light and fluffy.
2. Beat in egg and add almond extract and food coloring (if using). Blend in flour gradually.
3. Line a baking pan with parchment. Formshapes by hand or use cookie press.Use colored sugars to decorate if desired.
4. Bake for 8-12 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
Prepare Basic Cream Cheese Cookie Dough to Step 3. Form into marble-sized balls. Indent each cookie to make a hole big enough to hold the jam. Dust with powdered sugar.
Fill each cookie with approximately 1/4 teaspoon of seedless raspberry jelly. Bake 5-8 minutes. Cool on rack.
Salty Pistachio and Orange Cookies
Place 1 cup finely chopped salted pistachios on a flat surface and roll the log in the nuts until well coated. Press nuts firmly into the surface.
Slice into cookies about 3/16 inch thick. Place on parchment covered cookie sheets and sprinkle the top of each cookie with chopped pistachios. Press the top of each cookie to set the nuts.
Bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on rack.
- 1 pound powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup egg whites (4 eggs)
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 4 cups pecan pieces
1. Mix sugar, eggs and cocoa by hand with a spoon.
2. Add pecans.
3. Drop by teaspoonfuls on parchment line cookie sheets and bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cookies are done when they can be easily lifted from parchment. Do not over bake!
Time to bring in the expert.
Video courtesy of YouTube
All other text and images © 2011 Theresa Rice