It is always a special treat to pass along family traditions to the next generation and in my case, that often involves spending time in the kitchen with my grandchildren. I decided to teach my granddaughters how to make some of the Christmas cookies that my mother used to bake. They are each at an ideal age to learn about baking, because in our family, they are never too young to learn.
Almond Horn Cookies
These delicious cookies are always a delightful treat. You may want to double the recipe if you’re having guests over for the holidays!
10 oz almond paste
4 oz whole almonds
1 cup sliced almonds
1 tsp almond extract
1 egg white
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375°F. Process whole almonds until finely ground in a food processor. Place the sliced almonds in a bowl and crush coarsely by hand. Break up the almond paste with your hands and add to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the processed almonds, mix and then add the egg white and almond extract. Mix until the dough binds together. Separate the dough into 14 equal pieces. Each should weigh 1 ounce.
Roll each piece into a ball and roll in the sliced almonds. As you roll each piece, shape them into logs and form the U.
Once you have formed all 14 cookies, place each piece on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until the almonds begin to turn golden. Cool completely.
Over a double boiler melt the chocolate chips and dip the blunt ends of each cooled cookie. Place in refrigerator to set the chocolate for five minutes. Serve at room temperature.
Espresso and Lemon Biscotti
Biscotti translates as twice-baked, but what it means to most people is a delicious cookie, perfect with espresso in the afternoon, evening or anytime. I use a sprinkling of sanding sugar, which is very coarse and stands up best for baking. It is also available in Christmas colors, which adds an additional festive touch.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup espresso powder
1 tsp coarse salt
1-1/2 cups almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup diced candied lemon peel
3 large eggs, plus 1 more, beaten, for brushing
sanding sugar for sprinkling (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, espresso powder, salt, lemon peel and the nuts. Transfer to mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add eggs and beat until a stiff dough comes together, about 3 minutes.
Divide the dough in half. Form each half into a 12-inch log. The dough will be sticky, so dampen your hands for easier handling. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and flatten so each log is 12 inches long, 2 1/4 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick.
Brush each of the logs with beaten egg and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake until firm and a very pale golden, about 35 minutes. Let cool on pans on a wire rack, 40 minutes. Meanwhile, reduce oven temperature to 300°F.
Using a serrated knife with a sawing motion, cut logs into slices slightly thicker than 1/4 inch. Arrange, cut-side up on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until dry to the touch, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely in pans on racks, 30 minutes.
I prepared these cookies with my granddaughters this past weekend. We all had a wonderful time, especially when it came to eating them later with my special hot cocoa.
For the cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1-3/4 cups sugar
15 oz ricotta cheese
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 cups flour
For the glaze
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract or like my Mom did with anisette
3-4 tbsp milk
1/4 cup sprinkles (personally, I leave some plain and some just red and the rest just green. I don’t like multi-colors)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, ricotta, vanilla, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix for an additional minute until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Turn the mixer to low and add the flour, mixing until a dough forms. Portion out the dough using a medium (2 tablespoon) cookie scoop. Roll into balls and place on the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges are lightly golden. Allow to bake for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack, while you prepare the glaze.
In a medium bowl, whisk the powdered sugar, almond extract and 3 tablespoons of milk together until smooth. Add a bit more milk if necessary to ensure a very smooth glaze. Spoon the glaze over warm cookies or alternately, dip the cookies into the gaze and sprinkle with colored candy sprinkles before the glaze dries. Allow to completely cool and for the glazing to harden before serving.
Italian Powder Puff Cookies
This is the second recipe that I prepared with my granddaughters, Lilliana and Alli, which is an old family favorite.
1 lb butter
8 Tablespoons of sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped Walnuts
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 325°F. In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla with the flour. When a soft dough is formed, add the chopped nuts.
Roll into small balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2” apart. Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges cookies are golden. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before rolling in the confectioner’s sugar. Spread enough confectioners’ sugar into a bowl and roll the cookies in the sugar to coat. Remove and arrange on a platter for serving.