Cherry Snowball Cookies for Santa

Snow Ball Cookie

Image from Food.com

I have been told by a precocious elf that Santa likes a whiskey (single malt please!) and a plate of “Cherry Snowball Cookies” after travelling all night downwind behind a team of reindeer. While a malt whiskey has always been served to Santa at our house, the Cherry Snowball Cookie is a relatively new addition.

The photo to the left from Food.com hardly does the snowball cookie justice since it features that overly-sugary commercial grade maraschino cherry typically used to adorn Manhattan cocktails served in Chestertown, Maryland.   While there is much to be said for the cuisine of Chestertown – particularly if you like the Canada Goose in a slow cooker – the bar scene has succumbed to commercialized  food for patrons that need a buzz while watching the Republican Presidential debates.   Mind you, I feel their pain.

Luxardo CherriesIn snobby Greenwich, educated chefs tend to opt for Luxardo cherries, which are actually the “original” Italian maraschino cherry before some mad scientist decided to add more sugar and artificial coloring.   Sadly, Luxardo cherries are often difficult to find in most supermarkets so we now buy ours on Amazon.

In any event, the recipe below uses Luxardo cherries and we strongly recommend that you incorporate them into your Snowball Cookie so Santa won’t be disappointed.  Without further ado, the recipe for Cherry Snowball Cookies from Elizabeth Morris (Toronto) that was published in a recent Penzey’s Catalogue

Cherry Snowball Cookies

Ingredients (Makes 2 1/2 dozen)

  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond paste
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup (about 30) pitted Luxardo cherries, drained
  • 2 cups coarse decorating sugar (also purchased on Amazon)

Preparation

Heat the oven to 350º.  Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Using a hand mixer, beat butter and confectioners sugar in another bowl until fluffy. Mix in almond paste, vanilla and egg.  Slowly add dry ingredients until dough forms.

Roll dough into thirty 1-oz balls.  Working with 1 ball at a time, press thumb into dough and place a cherry in the center.  Roll dough into a ball encasing the cherry.

Roll cookies in decorating sugar and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.  Bake until golden, about 20 minutes.  Let cookies cool completely.

Santa will thank you as he loosens another button in his red outfit.

Thanksgiving Dressing

turkey-dressingMany will argue that the most important fixture at a Thanksgiving meal is the dressing rather than the bird.  I am prone to agree as members of my family will often engage in rather heated debate over the “best” way to prepare dressing. I have no intention of raising Thanksgiving tensions any further but I have recently come across a couple of tips (Cook’s Illustrated on the Food Channel) that I felt were quite useful. In addition, I will share our traditional dressing recipe (sans meat or oysters) for those prone to making their own dressing rather than buying it at a grocery store.

Tips to Prepare Dressing

  1. We have long ago given-up cooking dressing in the cavity of the bird.  Aside from being a chore that yields only a limited amount of dressing, some studies suggest that the undercooked drippings of the turkey can be harmful to your health.  Why take the chance?  As such, we prepare and cook the dressing separately.
  2. Yes, Sheila makes turkey stock by slow-cooking turkey wings and legs overnight using the same ingredients (but three times as much) described in GourMay’s recent recipe on chicken stock.    (Editor’s Note:  Most people will use chicken stock for Thanksgiving dressing, but it isn’t quite the same.)
  3. Our family prefers the dressing to be a bit drier than most and this is accomplished by removing the aluminum foil some 20 minutes before the end of baking and/or reducing the amount of stock that is added to the dressing.
  4. NEW TIP – You should slowly bake the bread pieces (about an hour at 250ºF to remove the moisture.  Cook’s Illustrated has proven that it removes moisture far more effectively than the traditional way to let the bread harden on the kitchen counter for a couple of days.
  5. NEW TIP – Cook’s Illustrated rendered fat from turkey wings by poking holes in the wings and then browning them quickly on both sides (about 10 minutes) before setting the wings aside.  They then sautéed the vegetables (see below) in the drippings with a couple of Tbs of butter.  Most importantly,  they placed the turkey wings on top of the dressing to allow more “natural” drippings to infuse the dressing while it baked.   The dressing and turkey wings are covered in foil and returned to the oven to bake for about an hour.

GourMay’s Traditional Thanksgiving Dressing

Ingredients

  • 12 Cups of bread cubes (if possible, 1/2 of which should be traditional unsweetened cornbread)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 3 cups finely chopped celery
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1 Tbs poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1 cup of turkey stock (add more if you want a “wetter” dressing).  Note:  The stock should only be added shortly before baking.

Preparation

  • The dressing maybe prepared a day or two earlier, but do not add the stock until shortly before baking.
  • Saute onion and celery in butter.  Combine with other ingredients (except the stock) and adjust seasoning to taste.
  • Preheat oven to 325º
  • Add turkey stock to dressing mixture, place in a casserole and cover with foil and bake for about an hour.
  • Uncover for the last 20 minutes or so for a slightly crisper dressing.

Peace to you and your family this Thanksgiving.

 

Repost: Sedgemoor Easter Biscuits

Some Gourmay readers get their nose out of joint when I don’t always publish new recipes. Sadly, their nose will continue to remain out of joint as I have decided to republish this delightful recipe for Sedgemoor Easter Biscuits. As most Gourmay readers are aware, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I can assure you this is certainly an Easter treat that will be enjoyed by young and old.

A recent Easter favorite is Sedgemoor Easter Biscuits that I first discovered in the New York Times some two years ago, but the original recipe comes from Florence White’s 1932 cookbook Good Things in England A Practical Cookery Book for Everyday Use.  This cookbook was reprinted in 2003 and there is an excellent Blog on Sedgemoor Easter Biscuits or “Cakes” with the recipe in grams for those metrically-inclined.  I will stick to Tbs and tsp to preserve our somewhat outdated traditions in cooking.

Sedgemoor Easter Cakes

West England is known for its great biscuits and potted cream and dairy products and this sensational recipe brings together all of those great English traditions. This recipe includes a confectioner’s sugar glaze to set off the great flavors of this currant biscuit.

Sedgemoor Easter Biscuits

Ingredients
3/4 cup dried currants
2 Tbs brandy
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 oz (1 stick) of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 large egg beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
4 tsp milk

Preparation

Place currants in a small bowl, add brandy and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment.

Place flours and salt in mixer.  Mix briefly on low speed to blend.  Dice butter, add to mixer bowl and mix on low speed until blended with flour to make a crumbly mixture.  Whisk sugar and spices together and add to mixer.  Mix on low.  Add egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, currants and brandy, and mix on low just until clumps of dough start to form.  Turn dough out on work surface.  Knead briefly to smooth.

Roll out about 3/8-inch thick.  Us a 2 1/2-inch round cutter, preferably fluted to cut rounds.  Reroll scraps.  Place rounds on baking sheet.  Bake about 25 minutes until lightly browned.  Transfer cookies to a rack.

Mix confectioners’ sugar with milk and remaining vanilla, and brush on warm cookies.  When glaze has set, brush on a second coat.  Allow to cool completely.  If desired, wrap in packages of three and tie with pastel ribbon (Holy Trinity).

This recipe yields about 18 cookies and I always make a double batch.  You will want to also after you taste these great England cakes.

Sheila May
Therese Saint Clair