This month's combined IMBB and SHF event is the Cookie Swap, perfectly apt for the holidays. Jennifer, the Domestic Goddess, and Il Forno's Alberto, the founders of Sugar High Friday and Is My Blog Burning respectively, are co-hosting the event.
I've mentioned before that I'm not particularly fond of cookies; having said that, I wonder if it's not because I'm bored of the usual chocolate chip and sugar varietals? Seeing as it's the high season for baking, and Jennifer and Alberto have wisely given us a cool reason to bake, I decided to make an effort and find recipes that would excite me enough to want to spend the weekend baking.
The month's food magazines were chock full of cookie recipes, but nothing really caught my eye. The new Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies issue, however, has a mind-bending showcase of cookies. The table of contents consists of four pages of pictures of each featured cookie. Several were stand outs, like the Earl Grey Tea Cookies and Candy Stripe Cookie Sticks, but ultimately, there were three that begged to be made immediately. I took some liberties with the recipes (as always), substituting maple syrup when one recipe called for honey and another for molasses (I'm still really obsessed with this New England maple syrup that Alan and Vanessa gave us), and changed the shape of another cookie, but here are my Holiday Cookies-inspired offerings for the Cookie Swap: Maple Lace Cookies, Gingerbread Snowflakes and Stained Glass Flowers.
I loved making the stained glass cookies -- simply a butter cookie with a cut-out filled by crushed hard candies, like Jolly Ranchers. I'm seriously considering making a stained glass window cookie as a holiday present for my friends Jennifer and Sam, both of whom are connoisseurs. The lace cookie took me by surprise -- talk about a fast and easy cookie! Contrary to the recipe, I used salted butter because I love the interplay of savory with sweet, and the maple syrup provides a balancing sweetness to counter the saltiness. I couldn't find any sanding sugar for the snowflake but I did find edible glitter! Who knew there were such varied cookie decorating tools?
With a fridge full of cookie doughs, I'm imagining all sorts of interesting cookies to make. In addition to looking quite lovely on the plate, these cookies were delicious enough to warrant a late night tea snack with Hubby.
I think this year's stocking stuffers will include a box of homemade cookies. Who knows? Maybe I'll find more recipes to love eating as much as I loved baking these cookies.
The recipes are featured in the special Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies edition and will be available until January 2006. If you would like the other recipes (the original or my versions), just send me an email (ablithepalate AT gmail DOT com) or leave a comment and I'll be happy to send them.
Maple Lace Cookies
based on the Holiday Cookies' recipe
2 T salted butter
2 T dark brown sugar
2 T medium grade maple syrup
2 T all purpose flour
pinch of coarse salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan over medium-low heat. Transfer to a glass bowl. Whisk in the flour and salt.
Drop 1/2 teaspoons of batter onto Silpat or parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake the cookies until they turn golden brown, about 6 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. The cookies are very delicate and will break easily so remove from the cookie tray with care.