This week has been the week of baking lots of Christmas cookies - this year I've been doing the cookie baking (Floyd's still in charge of supplying our dinner breads ;) Im nowhere near making those pretty sourdoughs myself!)
Yesterday I made a big batch of Sour Cream Sugar Cookies. I didn't have any lemons on hand to add the rind so I substituted some lemon juice (and only after dropping it in did it occur to me that with the baking soda in there I might have been producing a volcano, but luckily nothing of the sort occurred and the cookies turned out delicious) and I separated the icing into different bowls and added some color and let the kids paint the cookies with little paintbrushes so they were nice and festive. I'd forgotten that the cookies grew a little bit, so they held their shape but did spread out a little.
The exciting new thing I tried this year came about after an accidental purchase of too much Nutella. I'd not seen the double-jars I had hidden in the back of the pantry and had purchased yet another jar - well with all that Nutella something has to be done!
Someone sent me a link to this recipe and I decided to try it. The recipe there was a bit more uptight than my patience allows, so here is the slightly simplified version of what I made:
Start with roasting the hazelnuts: I got a bag of shelled hazelnuts in the bulk section and spread them on a pan and broiled them until they were toasted. I used about 1 1/2 cups. Next, put them in a little food processor to chop them into little crumbs. (As it turns out, I'm hearing that most folks peel the skin off the nuts when they roast them - I didnt do this and think they taste fine, particularly with such a sweet cookie. I'm also finding that the skins are actually better for you - does anyone know why the norm is to peel them?)
Next, the dough:
Into the bowl of a mixer, beat until creamy a stick of butter and ½ cup sugar until it starts to get fluffy (I skipped the step of waiting to bring it to room temperature, but it didn't seem to matter - this helped too with not having to wait to chill the dough later)
Separate out 2 egg yolks, saving the whites in a smaller bowl for later use, and add the yolks in.
Add 1 tsp. vanilla
Then add 1¼ cups all-purpose flour,
1/8 tsp. coarse salt
and ¼ tsp. baking soda slowly until combined
Preheat oven to 325° F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a shallow bowl, mix the chopped hazelnuts with about 2-3 Tablespoons of sugar (to taste)
Roll the dough into small balls and then dip in the whites and then roll them in the nut mixture before placing them on the parchment with about an inch of space between them.
Squish a little hole in the center of each dough-ball to make a depression with a finger or little spoon, then bake for 10 minutes at 325° F
Remove and using a small spoon, squish the hole again, as it will grow a little bit puffy, before returning to the oven for another 10 minutes.
Allow them to cool a few minutes then move them to a rack, fill with a spoonful of Nutella. (Microwave at 30 seconds to get the chocolate stuff melty and runny)
Throw them in the fridge for a bit to let them set a bit, but these are going to be goopy even cooled.