Cookie Traditions

I hope you’re enjoying all the’ recipes’, all the ways my special guests have for supplying holiday cookies! If I hadn’t already baked my cookies, I know I’d be making several of these recipes myself! Yes, I’d be baking because there just aren’t many bakeries here in Indianapolis where I could go to purchase a good cookie. I find that if I eat a really good, rich cookie I can be satisfied with just one or two, and not half the bag.

Today, my friend Sandy stopped by with cookies for me. Her visit made me remember that when I was in Taiwan, Sandy mailed me a package of her wonderful homemade cookies and they arrived exactly on Christmas!  I really needed that touch of Christmas and it arrived just in time! That’s a special memory for me.

Tanita Davis certainly knows how special cookies are when you’re in a foreign land! Tanita is the author of Mare’s War, A La Carte and the forthcoming Happy Families. If you’ve read A la Carte then you know Tanita is quite talented whether her recipe be for a good meal or fascinating story.  Today from across the pond, she shares her recipe for Faux Oreos. I love the idea of stamping cookies and am so glad Tanita shared this recipe. Thanks!

  • 1 1/4 cup plain/all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • scant 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar (Seriously? You can get away with 3/4 c.)
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened (Seriously: you can get away with less.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. milk

Sift together your dry ingredients, except for the sugar. In a small bowl cream sugar with your margarine, vanilla and milk, then add dry ingredients, a little at a time, until you have a dark, fragrant and smooth blend. This may give your hand mixer a run for its money; it’s quite a sticky dough.

We rolled out our dough between two layers of plastic wrap, then scored them so that we had four rows of nine squares. With moistened hands, we took each small square and rolled it, placing it about an inch and a half apart on the Silpat. (Parchment paper or a plain pan will do, too.) When our pan was filled with little balls of cookie dough, we lay a plastic wrap over the lot of them, and flattened them with a bench scraper. (If you want to flatten your cookies to an individual thickness, a guide like a pair of chopsticks comes in handy. We used these for the large cookies.)

Because Oreos are stamped (actually they’re probably baked in a pan with concave lettering so it stands out on the cookie when it’s baked) with words, we thought we’d make our own cookies specific and Christmas related. From my box of rubber stamps we located (and thoroughly washed) a star stamp, and used it to mark each cookie. The stamp must be one with a simple pattern and a lot of deep grooves to work.

We baked these cookies at 350°F/175°C for nine minutes per batch.

The filling of the cookies is easy enough — but recently I cheated. We had leftover cream cheese frosting from Tech Boy’s workplace going-away-party cinnamon buns, so we added icing sugar to that and a bit of mint extract. For a from-scratch cookie filling, we’d suggest

2/3 c. of butter,

about a cup and a half of powdered or icing sugar,

a scant teaspoon of mint, orange, or almond extract. Or a high quality vanilla, if you must.

Cream the butter and add the sugar a little at a time, on a low speed, until you have a fluffy frosting.

We used a parchment paper bag and piped a half-inch circular schmear of frosting on a single cookie, and twisting on the cookie caps. We ended up with far more frosting than we needed, and tried to open the cookies and add more — be careful! The cookies want to stay together, once the frosting is set. A gentle twisting motion will reopen them as necessary, but it’s better to err on the side of adding too much filling instead of too little. Too much will at least squish out!

We photographed the steps:

The memories that come with these cookies are fairly recent. For the last four years I have  been That Girl Who Brings the Cookies because now that we’re in the UK without family close at hand, there’s no ravenous eighteen-year-old brother and chocoholic sixteen year old sister to scarf down everything in sight. I have to take cookies to my fellow chorus members, strangers at the pharmacy, people at Tech Boy’s job, and the neighbors… because I must bake! Especially this time of year, the house simply smells friendlier with the scent of chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon in the air.

That’s all from me right now. I’m going to grab a cup of tea, another book, and hunt around my cookie jar.

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