'Tis the season for cookies, Part 2
(Czech Vanilla Crescents)
Popular especially at Christmastime, these Bohemian Christmas cookies look like freshly fallen snow.
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
2 cups sifted flour
1 ¼ cups ground, unblanched almonds
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the flour, ½ cup at a time. Add in the ground almonds, vanilla, and salt, continuing to beat until the mixture becomes a slightly stiff dough.
Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for approximately 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease or butter baking sheet.
Pinch off walnut-sized pieces of the chilled dough and place them on a floured board. Roll each one into a 2½-inch strip approximately 1 inch wide and ½ inch thick. Shape each piece into a crescent by pulling it into a semicircle.
Arrange the crescents at least 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove baking sheets from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners sugar. Freeze or store in airtight containers. Makes 36.
Chocolate Spice Crisps
These thin, delicate French cookies, dusted with granulated sugar, give a frosted appearance.
1 2/3 cups flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. finely ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
¾ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Sugar for dipping
Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, pepper, and allspice in a medium bowl and set aside.
Cream the butter with the sugars, melted chocolate, vanilla extract, and egg. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until the cookie dough is thoroughly combined.
Loosely wrap the dough in a length of plastic wrap and roll into a log, about 18 inches by 1½ inches. Using your hands and the flat edge of a baking sheet or ruler, press the dough into a rectangular log shape. Chill in the refrigerator for 1–2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the dough and slice crosswise into ¼-inch thins. Dip both sides of each cookie into the granulated sugar. The dough isn't sticky, so expect some sugar to fall off. Place the cookies 1/2 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Allow them to cool on the baking sheet and transfer to a wire cooling rack. Makes 6–8 dozen cookies.
Excerpt from "Christmas Cookies 'Round the World" by Pam Griffin, available at www.cedarfort.com. More recipes to follow in coming weeks.