Sandbakkels






Sandbakkels

 a Norwegian Sugar Cookie. 


These are eaten as is without a fillling. Yield 3 dozen. Dough freezes well.


1 C butter, softened

1 C sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp almond extract

2 C all-purpose flour

1 C almond flour (you can substitute with another cup of all-purpose flour)

1/4 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 

Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add egg and extract and mix.

Add flour and salt and mix to combine.

Form dough into balls and place in sandbakkel tins. Press with your thumb until dough is pressed up the side of the tin.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.


I spray my tins with cooking spray before pressing in dough. To remove: when the cookies are still warm, turn onto palm of hand and tap several times on top and sides of tin with a spoon. Cookie will slip out. If you sub out the almond flour, the cookies will be less crumbly but still very good with a distinct almond flavor.


Gingerbread House

 



Gingerbread Houses/Men

This makes a very tasty gingerbread that is sturdy enough for construction. 

Yield 24 large 8" men or 6 small houses.


Bring to a boil:

1 1/2 C shortening

1 1/2 C dark molasses (one 12 oz jar)

1 1/2 C sugar

3 T vinegar

When mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat and cool slightly.


Stir together in a counter type mixer such as Kitchenaid:

8 1/2 C flour (plus you'll use more for dusting when you roll out the dough)

1 1/2 t salt

1 1/2 t soda

1 1/2 t ginger

1 1/2 t cinnamon

Add warm wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix.


Add 3 eggs and mix.


Dough will be soft and slightly warm. Roll out on well floured board to 1/8" thick. Cut out shapes and carefully move to parchment lined cookie sheet. Gather up scraps and reroll.  As the dough cools, it becomes more difficult to roll. Zap the dough in the microwave to warm up a wee bit and continue. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes, then rearrange pans switching them from top to bottom rack and bake for another 15 minutes.  This long baking time will make a sturdy cookie that is suitable for constructing a house. If you would like to make shapes that are softer for eating, halve the baking time.


I use Royal Icing, an edible "glue" to build houses and add candy:


3 egg whites

1 lb powdered sugar

1 t cream of tarter (optional)


Beat the above ingredients together with a hand or counter mixer until quite stiff. An alternative to using raw egg whites is meringue powder. Follow directions on container.


To use icing, make a cone out of heavy wax or parchment paper or use these wonderful disposable piping bags. I've had my box of 100 for at least a decade and they come in so handy a few times a year for a cooking project or a craft. Place the open cone in a tall glass, fill the cone with icing, twist the top shut and snip off a small opening at the tip. Build houses then let dry for a few hours before decorating with candy. Ask your guests to bring a bag of candy to share and have fun!


To make bases, cut out cardboard pieces and wrap with butcher paper or decorative wrap. 


My little three piece house cutter set is so old it's not available anymore, but I found plenty just like it here.


When I used to make dozens of houses and hundreds of gingerbread men, (literally!) I would start my baking in October. Undecorated, they store well in shirt boxes.





Almond Shortbread


Almond Shortbread

I love this variation of classic shortbread.

10 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar (plus 2 tablespoons)
1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal or almond flour
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Prepare an 8-9 inch square or round pan by spraying with cooking spray. If the pan does not have a removable bottom, cut a piece of parchment paper to fit pan and spray with cooking spray.

In a mixer bowl beat butter, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, vanilla and almond extracts until fluffy.  Mix in flours, then sliced almonds.  Press into a buttered and floured 8" round cake tin or 8" sq. pan and sprinkle with additional 2 tablespoons sugar.  Pierce all over with fork tines. Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let cool on rack for 20 minutes. Remove from pan and while it is still warm,  cut into wedges or squares.  Yields 16 2" squares.

Click here for the basic shortbread recipe.




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Nectarine and Burrata Appetizer


This appetizer is just what summer entertaining means to me—easy,  beautiful and using the season's best produce. It just shouts SUMMER!

Medium chop two ripe nectarines and finely chop one seeded jalapeno pepper. Toss together with a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and a handful of chopped cilantro. Place on a plate with a good piece of burrata cheese, sprinkle with a half cup of toasted pistachio nuts and serve with crackers or sliced baguette.  Every bite was a combination of cool and sweet, spicy and salty, creamy and crunchy. Divine.

Stars Lemon Squares

Lemon Squares




When life gives you lemons, make lemon squares. This recipe is from Jeremy Tower when he owned the Stars Restaurants in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Napa. These lemon bars are simply the best--firm but delicate, perfectly lemony and not overly sweet.

Stars Lemon Bars

Crust:
1 1/2 C flour
1/2 C powdered sugar
6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) cold sweet butter

Filling:
6 large eggs
3 C sugar
1 C plus 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 C flour
Powdered sugar for dusting.

To make crust:
Preheat oven to 325 F

Combine flour and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, add the butter and mix on low speed until mixture is the size of small peas. Press the crust into the bottom of a 9"x13" pan. Bake the crust for about 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.

To make the filling:
Decrease oven temperature to 300 F

Whisk together the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice and then the flour. Pour lemon filling on the top of the crust. Bake for 40 minutes, until the lemon filling is set. 

Allow to cool for one hour, slice into squares, and dust with powdered sugar.


Congo Bars



My girlfriend Charlotte brought these to a cookie exchange.  Not only were they delicious, but I loved the story behind it: Throughout my childhood my mother made these for our family and for church and school gatherings.  For years she would send them to the soldiers in Germany. They loved them because they were sturdy bar cookies and therefore always arrived fresh and unbroken. I now make them for my grandchildren.

3/4 C butter, at room temperature
1 lb. brown sugar
3 eggs
2 1/4 C flour
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 12 oz. package chocolate chips
1/2 C chopped nuts

Beat butter and sugar together.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Add vanilla, dry ingredients and mix well.  Add chocolate chips and nuts.

Spread dough evenly in a  12"X18" rimmed pan and bake in a 350F oven for 30 minutes or until just lightly brown.  Cool and cut into squares.


(Image credit: Eat the Love)




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Nebraska Caramel Corn




My girlfriend Patty brought cellophane bags of candied popcorn to a cookie exchange.  From Patty: The recipe originally came from my grandmother. Growing up in Nebraska, my mother made it for me and my two sisters when we were young. When we grew up and moved away, she made it for us when she visited our homes for the holidays.  She continued to make it for herself and her friends for her last Christmas when she was 93!  She was a strong woman and definitely influenced us all.  Jack helps me make it…that caramel sauce is boiling hot and he helps pour…both of us talk about Mom when we make it.  

From me: My husband, a self-proclaimed caramel popcorn connoisseur, says this is the best.

2 C brown sugar
2 sticks butter (1/2 lb.)
1/2 C white corn syrup
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
6 quarts popped corn

Combine brown sugar, butter, syrup, and salt.  Bring to boil, stirring constantly.  Boil for 5 minutes without stirring.  Remove from heat, add soda and stir. In a large bowl, pour over popped corn and stir throughly to coat.  Transfer caramel corn to rimmed baking sheets.  Bake in 250 degree oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven to cool, then break up pieces and enjoy.  Wrapped in cellophane bags and tied with a ribbon, they make pretty party favors or hostess gifts.





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