Quick & Easy|
By Beverly Barbour
Cookies crown the holidays
Sometimes the cookies in the crown slip on down to the hips and spend the holidays resting there, waiting for the post-holiday famine to run them off. Cookies are worth wearing--for a while. And, why should we resist? There are not enough holidays in life; we should enjoy them to the last crumb any time they come around.
Here are some new delicious crumbs for your sweet tooth to cherish. If you need another rational for baking them, remember what nice gifts they make, particularly if you have single or non-baking friends. Every elder person I know has a well-developed and incredibly long sweet tooth. Why not feed it and make you both feel good? Life only holds so-many cookies, never enough.
Inspired by "turtle" candies these brownies are topped with a caramel-pecan layer and then drizzled with melted semisweet chocolate. If made ahead and kept uncut in the pan or cut and stored between layers of wax paper in an airtight container, the brownies will keep 2 weeks.
Brownies Caramel-pecan layer Garnish
Brownie layer: Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan, knocking out excess flour. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In a heavy saucepan over low heat melt chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth, then remove from heat and cool. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition until mixture is glossy and smooth. Add flour mixture and stir just until combined. Spread batter evenly in baking pan and bake 30 to 35 minutes, until tester comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a rack.
Caramel-pecan layer: Bring sugar, corn syrup, water and a pinch of salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil, without stirring, until mixture turns a golden caramel color, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully add cream and vanilla (mixture will bubble and steam). Stir in pecans and immediately pour over brownie layer, spreading evenly. Cool completely in pan on rack.
Garnish: Scrape chocolate into a small sealable plastic bag, force out excess air and seal. Press bag, forcing chocolate into one lower corner of bag. Cut a tiny slice off corner of bag to make a small hole. Squeeze chocolate out of the hole and onto the brownies in a criss-cross pattern, or in swirls. Chill brownies, loosely covered, until caramel and chocolate are firm, at least 4 hours. Just before serving, cut chilled brownies into (1-inch) squares and remove from pan while still cold. Bring to room temperature to serve. Makes 64.
Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies
To make dough an intense red, use either a liquid gel or paste form of food coloring. The red liquid will produce a light red. Red dough and regular vanilla cookie dough are rolled together and then cut (cinnamon roll fashion) to make colorful spiral cookies. Dough can be made as much as two months ahead.
2 cups unsifted cake flour
Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugars in a food processor. Process briefly to mix. Add butter in pieces, process with on/off bursts until the mixture has the consistency of cornmeal. (All of this can be done without a processor by proceeding as if you are making pie crust.) Add vanilla and process until mixture just forms a ball. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Return one of the portions to the food processor. Add peppermint extract, food coloring and the additional tablespoon of flour; process until just incorporated. Roll out each portion of the dough between sheets of waxed paper to make a rectangle about 11- by 8 1/2-inches by 1/8-inch thick. Leaving the doughs between their sheets of waxed paper, stack on a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days. Remove dough rectangles from refrigerator. Pour the nonpareil decors into a shallow rectangular dish (such as a 9- by 13-inch cake pan, set it nearby. Peel off the top sheet of waxed paper from both doughs. Brush the vanilla dough very lightly with water. Using the waxed paper, lift the red peppermint dough and invert it directly on top of the vanilla dough. Press with fingertips to seal the two doughs together. Remove top sheet of waxed paper and trim the edges even. When the dough is just pliable (but still cold), roll up the dough rectangles (beginning on the long side) like a jellyroll. As you begin to roll, gently curl the edge with your fingertips so no space appears in the center as you roll the dough into a log. As you roll, lift the waxed paper to help you roll the dough neatly and tightly. After forming the log, discard the waxed paper and roll the dough back and forth to slightly extend and evenly distribute the dough. Gently lift the log on top of the non-pareil decors in the pan and roll until the log is completely coated. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to slice (from 4 hours to a week, or freeze for up to 2 months; defrost in the refrigerator overnight before slicing. Adjust oven rack to lower third of oven and preheat to 325 F. To bake, slice the log into 1/8- to 1/4-inch cookies. Bake on parchment-lined baking sheets for 15 to 17 minutes, until cookies are no longer shiny on top and bottoms of the vanilla portion are golden. Makes about 3 dozen.
We must all do our gastronomic duty and keep the cookies rolling!