Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day 24: Cookie Finale - Pecan and Praline and Anise, oh my

Today in NOTL:  Cold with a high of only 26F/-3C and a dusting of snow expected over the afternoon.  It's looking like Christmas!

Well, today is the last of the 24 Days of Cookies.  As promised, here is a fitting end to this series:  a roundup of last-minute cookies and treats you can make in a flash!

A few cookie tips:
-Ovens bake differently.  When using a new recipe, always watch the first batch carefully, testing a few minutes before the shorter baking time given.  Don't be afraid to bake them as long as need be to achieve the result you want, but do remember that they will continue baking a bit after being removed from the oven. 
-Never store soft and crisp cookies together.
-Cookies which may stick should be stored in layers with waxed paper between each layer.
-Plain cookies may be 'dressed up' with drizzles of melted chocolate chips (or other flavoured candy coating), coconut, nuts, confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, crushed candy canes, etc. 
-Home-baked cookies are a wonderful gift!  Package them in holiday cello bags, pop a batch onto an inexpensive holiday paper plate or disposable tray with saran covering, or present them in a nice serving dish.  Keep a few holiday cello bags and glitzy bows in the kitchen, and you'll be prepared for unexpected gifts through the season!

Anise Cookies
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp anise extract

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Glaze (recipe follows)

Glaze Whisk 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 4 to 5 tsp milk and 1 tsp anise extract in a small bowl until smooth.

Oven:  325*  Sheets:  Nonstick cooking spray

1.  In large bowl of mixer, blend  first five ingredients.
2.  Using low speed, add the next three till blended well.
3.  Drop spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.
4.  Bake 8-10 minutes, till bottoms are golden.  Cool completely on wire rack.
5.  Dip cooled cookies in glaze and sprinkle with nonpareils.
When glaze is completely set, store in tightly covered tin.
Cookie dough (or baked cookies) may be frozen.

NOTE:  These are sturdy cookies, they last well, and they travel well.

Pecan Balls
1 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 cups pecans, broken into small pieces

1.  Mix butter, sugar, and vanilla, blending well.
2.  Add flour and salt, in several portions, mixing to form a smooth dough.
3.  Shape dough into one-inch rounds and bake 8-10 minutes till golden brown.
4.  Immediately roll baked cookies in confectioner's sugar(icing sugar) to coat.

Praline Cookies

1/2 cup margarine
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
pinch of salt

1.  Mix margarine, sugar, egg, and vanilla until creamy.
2.  Add remaining ingredients, mixing well, then place in fridge to chill an hour or so.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375*F.
3.  Roll dough into 1-inch balls, placing on cookie sheet 3 inches apart.
4.  Bake 8-10 minutes or till browned.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

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