Mexican Wedding Cookies


Mexican Wedding Cookies

It has been a while since I last posted a recipe.  With Christmas approaching, all the Christmas songs and decorations reminded me tis is the season for baking.  Winter holidays are definately the time for sugar.  Every year, about one week before Christmas, my co-workers always bring in their delicious homemade goodies so I like to walk around and sample all of them.  These Mexican wedding cookies are one of my favorites – they are simply delicious and good as a gift for friends, neighbours and relatives.

Ingredients:

2 sticks (1 cup)
½ cup
1½ cups
1 tsp
2 ¼ cups
¾ cup
¾ tsp
Unsalted butter, softened
Confectioners sugar
Confectioners sugar (for rolling only)
Vanilla extract
All-purpose flour
Very finely chopped pecans
Salt
  1. Finely chopped pecans and set aside.  (picture 1)
  2. Beat together butter and ½ cup confectioners sugar in an electric mixer at moderately high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes.  (picture 2)
  3. Beat in vanilla extract, then add in flour and salt (picture 3).
  4. Add chopped pecans, mix everything at low speed until just combined (picture 4).  Covered and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 ◦F.
  6. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, roll level teaspoons of dough into ¾ – inch balls and arrange about 1 inch apart on the baking sheet.  I shaped cookie dough into a ball and a moon shape.  (picture 5)
  7. Sift remaining 2 ½ cups confectioners sugar into a large shallow bowl, set aside.
  8. Bake in batches in middle of oven until bottom are pale golden, about 10 minutes.  Immediately transfer hot cookies to confectioners sugar, gently rolling to coat well, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  9. Roll cookies in confectioners sugar again when cooled.

Mexican Wedding cookies

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Note:

Cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 weeks.

cookie can

I received this snowman container from my neighbour, it has three tiers.  I put butter cookies in the first tier, Mexican wedding cookies in the second tier and Biscotti in the third tier.  Isn’t it cute?

Tier 1Tier 2tier 3

Recipe for Spritz (Norwegian Butter Cookies) is here and recipe for Raisin Walnut Biscotti is here.  Happy baking!!

Halloween Witch Finger Cookies


Witch Fingers

Witch Fingers

It’s Halloween!  Want to gross everyone out with these creepy finger cookies?  They surely taste a thousand times better than they look.  These fingers are a spooky addition to a Halloween party and kids absolutely love them.  I just shaped the fingers with my hands instead of using a finger cookie mold (each one only had 8 witch fingers cavities, not practical at all).  To prevent your cookies from flattening after baking, the trick is to freeze the shaped fingers for 30 minutes before putting them into the oven.

Recipe adapted from Pattie T.  http://pattietierney.blogspot.com/2011/10/witch-finger-cookies.html

Ingredients:

225g (2 sticks)
120 g (1 Cup)
1
1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon
340g
1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon
40-60
1 tube
1 Tbsp (Optional)
Unsalted butter (softened)
Confectioners’ sugar
Egg
Almond extract
Vanilla extract
All purpose flour
Baking powder
salt
Whole almonds
Red decorator gel
Cocoa powder (for decorating only)

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg, almond and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
  2. Gradually add flour, baking powder and salt, mix until combined.
  3. Split dough into two parts and wrap in plastic wrap, refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
  4. Working with one dough at a time, roll about a tablespoonful of dough into finger shape for each cookie.
  5. Squeeze red decorator gel onto nail bed (only the edge) (see picture 1), press one almond firmly into the nail bed to give the appearance of a long fingernail (picture 2).
  6. Use your fingers to squeeze cookie near the tip and again near the center of each to give the impression of knuckles. Make an indentation with a toothpick or a knife where the knuckles are to help give a more finger-like appearance (picture 3).
  7. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, arrange the shaped cookies on the baking sheet and place the whole pan into freezer for 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 325F degree, bake finger cookies for 20-25 minutes or until pale golden.
  9. Let cool and lightly dust the knuckles with cocoa powder (picture 4).

Witch Fingers collages

Notes:

Make sure to freeze the shaped fingers for at least 30 minutes before baking.

Witch FIngers

French Macarons


Macaron

Macarons

When thinking of macarons, you probably think of Ladurée as they are one of the top premier sellers of macaron in France.  They offer dozens of flavors and almost every tourist will stop there to have their first macaron.  These delicate almond-meringue cookies are not cheap, Bottega Louie in LA downtown sell theirs for $2.50 per tiny piece.

These French sandwich cookies are made entirely of almond powder, egg whites, and sugar.   The most difficult part is achieving the right consistency and presentation of the macaron shells.  The technique for making macarons is a little tricky as there are so many factors at play – the amounts of ingredients, the mixing of the batter, the length of resting time, the oven tempearture, the baking time, etc.  All of these things can cause problems.  The first few times I made them, no feet were developed at the bottom.  Although the flavor was still good, I failed.  I tried many online recipes before I found one that worked for me.  Some have more sugar which will make the shells very glossy but the sweetness is too overpowering.  I did a lot of reading online and practiced to understand the chemistry behind it.  “Not So Humble Pie” blog is a great troubleshooting guide and has a lot of useful tips,  I recommend everyone read it before starting the baking process.

Ingredients:

100g
35g
200g
120g
1 tsp
gel food coloring
Egg whites (about 3 eggs)
Caster sugar
Icing sugar
Almond meal
Cream of Tartar (optional)
Optional

Directions:

  1. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.  Prepare a piping bag with a round tip.  You can place the bag into a measuring cup and cuff the bag’s opening over the top, this makes the bag easy to fill hands-free.
  2. Sift almond meal and powdered sugar together to remove any clumps, sift twice if possible.  Set aside.  (picture 1)
  3. Weigh out the egg whites into a large stainless mixing bowl.
  4. Begin beating the eggs on low speed.  Once the egg whites are very foamy, begin sprinkling in the sugar as you beat.   Increase the speed to medium, you can add in cream of tartar to stabilize the meringue if necessary, and beat the meringue to stiff glossy peaks.  Add the food coloring (It takes 2-4 drops of gel) and mix.  (Pictures 2 and 3).
  5. Add about 1/4 of the almond/sugar mixture and fold in until no streaks remain. Continue to add the almond mixture in quarters, folding until you reach the proper batter.   It should take roughly 50 folds until the mixture is smooth and a very viscous liquid, not runny. Over-mixing the batter, your macarons will be flat and have no foot, under-mixing the batter, they will not be smooth on top.  (Pictures 4 and 5)
  6. Pour the batter into your prepared piping bag.  (Picture 6)
  7. Place a tiny drop of batter at each corner of the baking sheet to secure the parchment paper.  (Picture 7)
  8. Pipe rows of batter (dollops a little bigger than a quarter) onto the baking sheets, giving them space to spread.
  9. Tap the pan on the counter several times to bring up any air bubbles (this prevents cracking).
  10. If you want to sprinkle nuts on top, do it now so that they will stick to the top of the shells.  (Picture 9)
  11. Allow the cookies to rest on a level surface for 30-60 minutes.  Until they are no longer tacky to a light touch.
  12. While the cookies are resting, you can preheat your oven to 300F.
  13. Bake the cookies for 16-20 minutes.

macaron

Parchment produces taller compact feet, the Silpat baked cookies’ feet tend to be shorter and a bit ruffled.  The cookie from the following picture was baked on parchment paper.

Macaron

The bottom of the shell should be flat and easy to come off the parchment paper, it shouldn’t be sticky.

Macaron bottom

The delicate shell had a crunch outside but yet was moist so it melted in your mouth.

Macarons

Notes:

  • If you’re using stainless steel container to beat the egg whites, feel free to add a pinch of salt, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or couple drops of lemon juice to help strengthen the egg whites.
  • Only use gel coloring.
  • If your oven is a fan-forced (convection) oven, do not turn on the fan.  Each oven is different, I placed an oven rack in the upper 3rd as the heat was too strong at the bottom or middle rack.  You will need to know how your oven works and adjust the rack position.

My favorite macaron filling is the Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream (recipe here), you can choose any fillings you want and a lot of them can be found on Martha Stewart‘s website.

Basic Swiss Meringue Filling

6 large egg whites 1 1/2 cups sugar 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Place whites and sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat, and whisk on high speed until mixture is cool and stiff peaks form, about 6 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Use immediately.

Basic Swiss Meringue Buttercream Filling

Basic Swiss Meringue + 1 1/4 pounds (5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

Chocolate Ganache Filling

1/2 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped (preferably 70 percent cacao)
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, softened

  • Bring cream to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour cream over chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Let stand for 2 minutes. Add butter, then whisk mixture until smooth. Let cool, stirring often. Use immediately.

Fondant Sugar Cookies


Fondant Sugar Cookies

I made these Fondant cookies for my daughter’s birthday party at school.  Although it took a long time to roll out the fondant and make the angry birds and hello kitty faces, the feedback is rewarding.  For the marshmallow fondant recipe, please refer to my Fondant Cake with Strawberry Filling post.

Ingredients for Sugar Cookies:

1 cup
1 cup
1
2 ¼  cups
¾ cup
¼ teaspoon
Butter, softened
Sugar
Large egg
All-purpose flour
Unsweetened cocoa
Salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Add egg, beat until blended.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt, gradually add to butter mixture, beating just until blended, don’t over mix it.
  3. Divide dough into 2 equal portions.  Cover and chill for 10 minutes or longer.
  4. Place 1 portion of dough on a lightly floured surface, and roll to 1/8-inch thickness.  Cut with a 3 to 4 inch round cookie cutter.  Place cookies on lightly greased baking sheets.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Cool cookies on wire racks.  Decorate baked cookies after they are completely cool.

Vanilla Sugar Cookies:  Skip unsweetened cocoa.  Increase flour to 3 cups. Beat in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract with butter in Step 1.