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, August 23, 2010

Cookie Recipe #233 - Speculaas

This is a Dutch cookie that is eaten on December 6 in Holland during the Feast of St. Nicholas. You don't have to wait until December 6 to make this delicious spicy cookie filled with a hazelnut and almond filling.

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups ground hazelnuts, 1 1/2 cups ground almonds, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, 1 egg, beaten, 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice, 2 1/4 cups self-rising flour, 1 teaspoon apple pie spice (or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg & 1/4 teaspoon cloves), 1/3 cup light brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature, diced, 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon milk, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, almond halves.

Instructions: Make the filling first, as follows: Put the ground hazelnuts, almonds, granulated sugar, confectioners' sugar, beaten egg and 2 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl and mix to a firm paste, adding more lemon juice, if needed. Divide the mixture in half and roll each piece into a sausage shape about 10 inches long. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator.

Make the dough as follows: Sift the flour and apple pie spice into a large mixing bowl, then stir in the brown sugar. Add the butter and rub in well with your fingertips. Beat one of the eggs, add to the mixture and mix together to form a dough. Knead lightly, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 12 inch square and cut in half to make 2 equal rectangles. Beat the remaining egg and brush some all over the pastry rectangles. Place a roll of filling on each piece of pastry and roll the pastry to enclose the filling. Place, joined side down, on the prepared baking sheet.

Add the milk and granulated sugar to the remains of the egg and brush over the rolls. Press almond halves along the top.

Bake for about 35 minutes until golden brown. By lifting the edges of the parchment paper, transfer rolls to wire racks to cool completely, then cut diagonally into slices.

Makes about 3 dozen slices.

"The Cookie and Biscuit Bible", Hermes House, Anness Publishing Ltd, London, 2010.

Cookies Rule!!!

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