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.

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

Crisp Gingersnaps: Mystery Revealed

Every time the Christmas holidays roll around, we have  a recurring debate over whether the Christmas cookies should be crisp or soft.  Since Thérèse does most of the cooking,  the cookies are always crisp.   Personally, I like gingersnaps to be crisp enough so they don’t stick to my dentures but soft enough so they don’t crack my caps.   I have found that the “younger” generation prefers their cookies on the softer side and I suppose that comes from eating so much processed food.

This year, after two rather unsatisfactory batches from third parties,  Thérèse took matters into her own hands by following a very timely recipe from our favorite food magazine, Cook’s Illustrated.  The recipe for crisp gingersnaps (found below)  is quoted in its entirety.

There are three useful “secrets” that should be followed to achieve the desired level of crispness:

  • Brown the butter briefly to remove moisture before combining with the flour and other ingredients;
  • Cut back on the amount of brown sugar to reduce the level of moisture;
  • Lower the oven temperature to 300º.   Cook longer at a reduced temperature to allow the gingersnaps time to dry out.   Thérèse recommends 15 minutes before rotating tray for another 10 to 12 minutes.

Crisp Gingersnaps from Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients (Makes 80)

  • 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (please insist on King Arthur flour)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1 1/4 cups of dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of molasses
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar

 

Preparation

  1. 1. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in bowl. Heat butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until melted. Lower heat to medium-low and continue to cook, swirling pan frequently, until foaming subsides and butter is just beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer butter to large bowl and whisk in ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, and cayenne. Cool slightly, about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar, molasses, and fresh ginger to butter mixture and whisk to combine. Add egg and yolk and whisk to combine. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. 2. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place granulated sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate. Divide dough into heaping teaspoon portions; roll dough into 1-inch balls. Working in batches of 10, roll balls in sugar to coat. Evenly space dough balls on prepared baking sheets, 20 dough balls per sheet.
  3. 3. Place 1 sheet on upper rack and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, transfer partially baked top sheet to lower rack, rotating 180 degrees, and place second sheet of dough balls on upper rack. Continue to bake until cookies on lower tray just begin to darken around edges, 10 to 12 minutes longer. Remove lower sheet of cookies and shift upper sheet to lower rack and continue to bake until cookies begin to darken around edges, 15 to 17 minutes. Slide baked cookies, still on parchment, to wire rack and cool completely before serving. Cool baking sheets slightly and repeat step 2 with remaining dough balls.
  4. TO MAKE AHEAD: Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Let dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping. Let frozen dough thaw overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding with recipe. Cooled cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks in airtight container.