We are introduced, at an early age, to the sweet wondernous of a cookie. From teething cookies to soothe the swollen aching gums of incoming incisors, onto animal crackers purchased in rectangular-shaped boxes bearing a string handle for easy toting by little fingers. Deciding which part of the animal should be eaten first-the trunk of the elephant or the tail of a lion-depended on how hungry one was. Savor each and every one or simply gobble them down as fast as possible.

My next cookie memory would be the ever famous, possibly all-time favorite, the chocolate chip cookie. There is nothing better than to bite into a round circle of baked dough sprinkled with gooey melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. A chocolate chip cookie can dry tears, heal broken hearts, mend scraped knees and elbows and solve sibling arguments. Most of the problems in the world could likely be solved by a properly baked, right out of the oven, chocolate chip cookie. The power of a cookie is underestimated.

I will attempt in the next 365 days to prepare and comment on a year’s worth of different cookies-one for each day. My goal is to share with others my extreme love of cookies-baking them and especially eating them! Feel free to send me your favorite recipe, your earliest cookie memories, or how cookies may have influenced your life. Cookies Rule!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cookie Recipe #58 - Almond Orange Dainties

Well, the Olympics are over...almost like Christmas night when all the presents have been opened, your belly is full of great food, you've shared loving moments with your family and friends, and because all this excitement has been building for weeks, now you ask yourself, "Now what?" What are we going to watch on TV now? My husband liked the skiing events, the bobsled and luge. I liked the ice skating and speed skating (Yeah, Apolo!). Yesterday's hockey game was magnificent; only way it could have been better was if USA had won, but 3 of the Canada team gold medal winners are part of our hometown team-the San Jose Sharks. So, now that the Olympics are over, everyone will have time to bake a batch of cookies. Try today's - the orange-flavored cookie is rolled in toasted crushed almonds then filled with a dark chocolate center...cookielicious....

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 3 egg yolks, 3 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2-3 teaspoons freshly grated orange peel, 1 cup toasted sliced almonds, ground. Chocolate filling: 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup whipping cream, 1 egg yolk, slightly beaten, 2 tablespoons butter, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Instructions: In large mixing bowl, combine butter, sugar, vanilla and egg yolks until creamy. In separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, blending well. Stir in orange peel. Cover and refrigerate about 1 hour or until firm enough to handle.

Meanwhile toast almonds as follows: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread almonds in thin layer of shallow baking pan (baking sheet). Bake 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown; remove and allow to cool. Crush in food processor until finely ground; set aside in small bowl. Next, make filling as follows: In small saucepan, stir together sugar, cocoa and flour. Gradually stir in whipping cream. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove a tablespoonful of chocolate mixture and blend with the slightly beaten egg yolk. Transfer egg yolk/chocolate mixture back to saucepan of chocolate and blend well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla; stir until mixture is smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Shape dough into 1 inch balls; roll into ground toasted almonds and place about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Press thumb in center of each ball; spoon about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon filling in each thumbprint.

Bake 11-13 minutes or until set. Cool a minute or two on baking sheet before removing to cooling racks. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

("Hershey's Homemade" published by Hershey Foods Corporation in 1991).

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