Welcome to the new and improved Carano's Cucina. I make a lot of kick ass food and go out to some amazing restaurants. Take a look around and make yourself at home :)
Friday, December 21, 2007
I never met a cookie I didn't like :)
This year, because of how busy I was with Carano's Cucina, I only made four varieties of cookies in addition to pizzelle. And I got them all done in one day. I don't care how busy I ever get, Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without some cookies. It is crucial that I make the Ritz cookie. If I didn't, there would be rioting in the streets! It kind of amuses me that everyones favorite cookie isn't even a cookie at all. To make them you take two Ritz crackers, spread peanut butter in between (smoothy or crunchy, it doesn't matter) and then take the whole Ritz sammitch and dip it in chocolate. You can buy the ready made Ritz peanut butter sandwiches too, but I never tried them so I'm not sure if they taste as good as buying your favorite peanut butter to do this with.
I also made Cranberry Noel Cookies. I started making these about 4 years ago and they quickly became my favorite. The are a shortbread style of cookie with dried cranberries and walnuts. I can't remember where I got the recipe, but I think they are from my gal Martha Stewart. There is very little sugar in them so they are not a real sweet cookie, which I like. You should definitely chop the dried cranberries some. I put them in the food processor for a few pulses.
Cranberry Noel Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (you can also use pecans)
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add milk, vanilla and salt. Beat until just combined. Gradually add flour, cranberries and nuts. Mix on low speed until fully combined. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into 8-inch logs, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (2 hours minimum, you can leave it in the fridge overnight).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Using a sharp knife, cut logs into 1/4 inch thick slices. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake until edges are golden, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.
Next up, Ricotta Cookies. These I started making a few years ago as well. I think I started because my Grandma cannot eat nuts and just about every Christmas cookie I know has nuts in it. They have turned into a crowd favorite with their super moist texture and mild sweet taste. They are easy as can be to make and the recipe makes tons!
Ricotta Cheese Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1 (15 oz) container of ricotta cheese
3 Tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar
milk or heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the cookie ingredients well until dough sticks together into a big ball. It will be sticky. Drop by teaspoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes or until the bottoms turn golden brown. Let cool for one minute and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. In a small saucepan, slowly stir milk or cream into powdered sugar until it creates a glaze thin enough to be spread over the cookies. Stir over low heat then spread over cooled cookies. Quickly top with sprinkles. (put sprinkles on as soon as cookies are glazed or the glaze will harden and the sprinkles will not stick!)
This year I wanted to try something new and had Rogelach on my mind. I wanted one with cinnamon, sugar and nuts, and my friend Elaine had the perfect recipe! Hey Elaine, I hope you don't mind that I'm posting it! lol
1/2 lb. cream cheese
1/2 lb. butter or margarine
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup finely chopped nuts (I used pecans)
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
Soften cream cheese and butter and then cream together until well blended.
Add flour a little at a time, using a fork until all is mixed together. (You can use a Kitchen Aid and pulse it until mixed. Do not turn it on to a constant speed.)
Form into a large ball and refrigerate at least two hours, preferably overnight.
Mix ingredients for filling.
Divide dough into 4 pieces. (Take out 1 at a time to keep rest chilled.) Roll one piece the size of a large dinner plate (the dough is rather hard, just keep working it). Spread 1/4 of filling over dough. Using a sharp knife (a pizza cutter works great!), cut into 16 pieces by first cutting in fourths; then each 1/4 into fourths. Roll up each piece starting at outer rim, working towards narrow center. If any filling falls out, use it to sprinkle on top. Repeat with other three pieces of refrigerated dough.
Bake end flap down at 350° for 20 minutes until delicately brown.
Nick LOVES them!
And last but certainly not least, Pizzelle! I use the late Jeff Smith's recipe from his book, The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Italian. The recipe is so huge though, that I have cut it in half. I'm posting the halved recipe. I bought my pizzelle iron, a very old one, at a flea market about 10 years ago. It's not non-stick so I use cooking spray each time I put batter in the iron.
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine, melted and slightly cooled
1 Tablespoon anise extract (you can use vanilla if you don't like anise)
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Beat the eggs and sugar together until thickened and pale. Add the cooled margarine and anise (or vanilla). Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix until smooth.
Place a heaping Tablespoon of batter into each side of the pizzelle iron. Close and cook until it starts to brown. Each iron is different so watch and time yours! Remove with a fork and lay flat to cool.
Now share your recipes with me in the comments section :)