Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Cookies: Sparkling Molasses Chewies and Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti

Whether you're attending a party, making a care package or just looking for something to snack on, you may find yourself in need of some tasty cookies this holiday season.  One of my favorite sights as a child was at the church's annual living nativity, where the snack table was often stacked high with chocolate crinkles, butter spritz cookies and italian pizzelles.

My favorite was always my family's cut-out sugar cookies, but I'll be sharing those when I make them for a party in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime, these chewy molasses cookies would be right at home on any holiday snack table.  I used turbinado sugar on the outside to give them a bit more sparkle and extra crunch, but if you don't want to bother buying a different kind of sugar just for these, regular would work fine.

Sparkling Molasses Chewies (makes about 4 dozen cookies)
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs beat

For rolling: 1/2 cup turbinado (unrefined) sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease or line cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.  Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves and set aside.  

With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and vegetable shortening, then add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add molasses and eggs and beat until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix on low speed, or by hand, until a smooth dough forms.  The dough will be a bit sticky, so stick it in the fridge for about an hour to make it easier to handle.

Put turbinado sugar in a small shallow bowl.  Spoon out the dough in heaping tablspoons, roll into a ball, and roll in the sugar to coat.  Place on prepared cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 12-14 minutes.

Remember cinnamon toast?  Maybe you do, because you just had some the other day, but it's probably been years since I had a simple slice of toasted bread, buttered and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.  Of course, I say "sprinkled", but when I was a kid it was more like "doused" or "avalanched".  

These biscotti are like a grown-up version of cinnamon toast.  Dense and sweet with a nice bit of crunch, you can wrap them up in a pretty bag with someone's favorite tea or coffee and give them the gift a relaxing late-morning snack.  They're also less likely to crumble than most cookies, which makes them perfect for long-distance travel.  

Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti (makes about 2 dozen biscotti)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup white sugar
6 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 325°F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  In a bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add 1 egg, egg yolk and vanilla exract and mix until smooth.  Stir in the dry ingredients.

On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half.  Roll each half into a log about 9" long x 1.5" wide.  Place the logs on the prepared cookie sheets and flatten slightly.  Brush with the beaten egg.  The logs may seem small for biscotti, but they will spread during cooking.

Bake the logs for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes.  Slice each log crosswise into 1/2" slices with a serrated knife.  Place cut side down on the cookie sheet and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon and sugar.  Return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, until toasted.

Cool on wire racks, and enjoy with your favorite coffee.

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