"Alan brought Hummus. Sarah brought some homebrew. Nick, nothing. And then she brought a plate full of boobs."
So, I want to try and do 12 specific, Holiday/Entertaining recipes for you. Some sweet, some savory, hopefully all done in time for you to actually make them for your holiday celebrations. To start with, cookies. This is an adaptation of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, with the sugar rations reversed, an extra yolk, some jam, and a glaze. Otherwise, they're the same beast, and I love them so.
I wish that I could say I had this vision in mind from the start. I didn't. I mistakenly believed I could make thumbprints from this dough, but it spread, leaving me a half-sheet pan of mammeries. So then came the glaze. And the result was a delicious, spirited cookie that I think would be a welcome respite, nestled among the ginger and chocolate and cloves and nuts that this season is about to let rain down on us, as we weep and rend our garments, clawing at the heavens and begging for mercy, as bells send their hollow, hateful peals through the streets and we collapse in the rivers of peppermint that threaten to sweep away the innocent.
Also, I've got a question.
For years, this family that my family had known for a long time used to drop off what I can only describe as a pastry wreath, that I hated the taste of but signified the start of the holiday season all the same. It might be Swedish, it might be Danish, Finnish, maybe even German, but this is what I remember - a flaky pastry, almost like a puff pastry but probably not, that encased a paste-y filling that was probably almond. The icing was a pale green, and I know that was definitely flavored with almond extract, and decorated with little rainbow non nonpareils. Does this sound familiar to anyone out there? Think on it. Let me know. Until then, here's the first of 12 recipes.
Happy December, friends.
Sugar cookies with apricot jam and almond-cinnamon drizzle
1 stick (half a cup) room temperature butter
1 3/4 cups AP flour, dip and sweep method
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda, plus an extra, scant pinch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk (If using extra large, jumbo or an extremely large egg, omit the extra yolk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup vanilla sugar
3 TBS dark brown sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon water (more if needed)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F, and line a half-sheet pan or light-colored baking sheet with parchment.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars, vanilla extract and salt with a wooden spoon. Add in the egg and yolk, if using. Mix just until combined, then scatter in the flour, baking powder, baking soda (don't forget that pinch - you could also just not level the spoon when measuring the soda) and stir, strong-arm style until a solid dough begins to clump and form around the spoon.
Using a cookie scoop, or a Tablespoon, scoop out round balls of the stuff and place on the pan, leaving 3 inches between each one - these spread. Using two fingers, flatten slightly, and then dip your thumb into the middle, leaving a nice indentation. Repeat until sheet is full, then dollop jam into each hollow. Bake for 10-15 minutes (after seven, open the door, lift the edge of the sheet with a potholder, and drop down to flatten the cookies) until cookies have golden brown edges and a nice, crinkly top. Remember, they spread.
Remove cookies from the oven, and place on a cooling rack or flat surface to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining dough, alternating sheets if you have them, or letting the pan cool between each batch. Once cookies are all baked, your first batch should be cool enough to glaze.
In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients for the glaze, thinning with more water if needed - you want it to drip smoothly from the spoon, but still thick enough to hold a line. Drizzle over cooled cookies, back and forth, until satisfied with their appearance. Until they don't shame the family.
Until they are winners.