Sunday, January 06, 2008

Stained Glass Cookies

One of our gifts to you this holiday season is our very favorite cookie dough. Why do we love it? Let us count the ways...

It rolls beautifully, with no fuss. A generous sprinkling of flour here and there, and you couldn't ask for a better behaved dough.

It tastes good. These cookies aren't just for show; the hint of spice and subtle tang of cream cheese make them good enough to eat with no further adornment. You can do lots of different things with it, and we'll do better than tell you: we'll show you. The recipe makes a big batch, so you can split it in two if you like. Or make a double batch and freeze some of the dough, so you have some on hand whenever the mood strikes. Sealed in a freezer bag and flattened, the dough will keep up to 3 months.

The dough
1/2 cup (3 1/4 ounces) vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
4 cups (17 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Candy centers
You can make your own sugar syrup (see the King Arthur Cookie Companion, page 347), but we find the easiest thing to do is buy hard candies (Jolly Ranchers work well), crush them up, and place them in the cutouts we make.

To make the dough: In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the cream cheese, vanilla, and egg. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, spices, baking soda and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, beating until well combined. The dough will be soft; cover and refrigerate it overnight.

The next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it into quarters. Refrigerate three of the pieces until needed.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two or three baking sheets.

Place different colors of candy inside heavy plastic storage bags; lightly tap them with the bottom of a saucepan or your rolling pin to crunch them up into 1/4 to 1/8-inch pieces.

If you have a small spoon, such as a baby spoon or a demitasse spoon, it will come in handy for placing the candy inside the cookies.

Roll each piece of dough to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured work surface.

Use a 3 1/2 to 4-inch cutter to cut the dough, and transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch of space between them. Bake the cookies for 4 to 5 minutes; they'll just begin to get puffy looking. Remove the cookies from the oven, and using a smaller cutter (about 1 inch) in any shape you like, cut centers for the candy filling.

Spoon the crunched up candy into the hole you've made, and return the cookies to the oven for another 4 minutes; just until the edges are light golden brown. Remove the cookies from the oven and cool completely on a rack before moving. Yield: 4 dozen cookies.

Nutrition information per serving (1 cookie with unflavored center, 43g): 157 cal, 5g fat, 1g protein, 7g complex carbohydrates, 20g sugar, 14mg cholesterol, 53mg sodium, 16mg potassium, 30RE vitamin A, 18mg vitamin C, 18mg calcium, 13mg phosphorus.

from King Arthur Flour, Inc.


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