Lemon Thyme bars


I love the freshness of lemons and limes particularly in the spring. These delicious bars are from Giada de laurentiis and worth making . They are quick and easy to prepare and really pack a punch in the lemon department . I must admit as it was raining heavily outside I decided to omit the thyme,but I am intrigued about using fresh herbs in my baked goods and,as the cookies turned out so well,I plan to try making them again with the herb.

Makes 16 bars

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

Butter for greasing

Flour for dusting

BARS

1 stick (4 ounces ) unsalted butter,at room temperature

1 cup flour

2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 pure vanilla extract

GLAZE

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Place an oven rack in center of the oven.Preheat the oven to 325*F.Butter and flour an 8 by 8 inch glass baking dish .

In a small bowl combine flour,Thyme and salt.Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together 1 stick butter and powdered sugar on high-speed until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds. Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture.
Using damp fingers, press the dough into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes until golden. Cool for 30 minutes.

GLAZE

In a medium bowl,whisk the lemon juice and powdered sugar together until smooth. Spoon glaze over cooled crust . allow to harden at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
Using a metal spatula,remove crust from the pan.Cut into 1  1/2 inch square bars and arrange on a serving platter or store in a plastic container at room temperature.

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Fantastic Thumbprint cookies


Ever since I started making these cookies I have had multiple requests for more and the recipe . I must confess this is a great recipe from Ina Garten , more commonly referred to as the barefoot contessa . I have made a few minor changes to the recipe . For one thing I reduced the amount of sugar by a 1/4 cup as I found 1 cup too sweet . I increased the vanilla by a little extra , I cannot stress the importance of a good extract , I love Neisen Massy , it really makes a difference . I omitted some of the all purpose flour and added some rice flour .It really gives a light airy texture to the cookie . Lastly , I omitted the beaten egg , for the wash and replaced it with some whole milk , for all my friends with egg allergies . It did not affect the taste or texture of the cookie at all .

Adapted from Ina Garten

32 cookies

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

3/4 lb ( 3 sticks ) unsalted butter , at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar ( I use superfine sugar , it really gives the cookie a finer crumb )

1  1/2 tsp good quality Vanilla ( such as Neilsen Massy )

3   1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup rice flour

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4   to 1/2 cup whole milk

7  oz sweetened flake coconut

Raspberry or apricot jam ( seedless raspberry jam tastes great in these cookies )

Preheat oven to 350*F.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment , cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla.

Seperately , sift together the flour ,salt and rice flour . With the mixer on low speed , add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar . Mix until the dough starts to come together ( Do not overmix at this point ) Dump on a floured board and roll together in a flat disk ( this is a very important step , as the dough rests and is easier to proceed to the next step ). Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes .

Roll the dough into 1  1/4 inch balls . Dip each ball in the milk and then roll in the coconut. Place balls on ungreased cookie sheet ( I use parchment paper to line the sheets ) and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger ( I use the back of a wooden spoon ) .

Bake 20 to 25 minutes , until the coconut is a golden brown .

Cool and serve .

Almond or Hazelnut cookies


During the holidays , especially when the first sign of flurries appear , I am ready for my holiday cookies . I must confess , these cresent cookies , made with toasted almonds ( very important , I find , as it intensifies the flavor of the almond and gives the cookie a crisper texture ) , are my favorite . Normally the cookies are rolled in powdered sugar , but I use just a dusting , its just the right amount . I made slightly larger cookies to pack as individual gifts , but , round , crescents or even cigar shapes are attractive .

Adapted from cook’s illustrated

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

 2 cups hazelnuts , toasted or a scant 1  3/4 cups whole blanched almonds ( preferably toasted )

2 cups bleached all purpose flour

3/4 tsp table salt

1/2 lb (2 sticks ) unsalted butter , softened

1/3 cup superfine sugar

1  1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract ( if using almonds )

1  1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar for rolling cooled cookies ( I used less than 1 cup as I just sifted the sugar on top )

Adjust oven racks to upper and lowe middle positions and heat oven to 325*F . Mix 1 cup chopped nuts , flour and salt in medium bowl . In workbowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade , process remaining chopped nutsuntil the texture of coarse cornmeal , 10 to 15 seconds ( do not overprocess );stir into flour mixture and set aside.

In bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed or by hand , beat butter and sugar until light and creamy , about 1  1/2 minutes with an electric mixer or 4 minutes by hand ; beat in extracts . Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula; add flour mixture and beat at low speed until dough just begins to come together but still looks scrappy , about 15 seconds . Beat at low speed until mixture just comes together , 6 to 9 seconds ( do not overbeat .

Working with about 1 tbs dough at a time , roll and shape cookies into balls or other desired shape . Bake until tops are pale golden and bottoms are just beginning to brown , turning cookie sheets from front to back and switching from top to bottom racks halfway through baking , 17 to 19 minutes .

Cool cookies on sheets about 2 minutes ;remove to cooling rack to cool completely . Then either roll each cookie in powdered sugar or simply dust with powdered sugar.

Pecan Shortbread


 During the holidays I like to bake with spices and nuts . Nothing  evokes the warmth of the holidays more , to me , than pecans , from pies to cookies to squares and , even brownies . I love this simple pecan shortbread recipe from Ina Garten , it has a melt in your mouth texture , with the slight crunch from the pecans . it is quick and easy to make and ships well , so it makes great holiday gifts .

Makes 24 cookies

Ina Garten

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

3/4 lb unsalted butter , room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla

1 tsp pure almond extract

3  1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1  1/2 cup small diced pecans

Preheat oven to 350degrees F

In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment , mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined . Add extracts . in a medium bowl , sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter sugar mixture . Add the pecans and mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together . Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk . Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes .

Roll the dough 1/2 inch thick and cut into 2  1/2 squares with plain or fluted cutter . Put the cookies on an ungreased baking tray .

Bake 20 to 25 minutes until edges begin to brown . Allow to cool . Serve

Vegan coconut almond macaroons


I recently stumbled across this amazing coconut almond macaroon on a wedsite called savvy vegetarian .I have tried this recipe a few times with great success , each time altering and tweeking till I had the best final product ( to the agreement of all who tried them ) . I added some coconut extract and switched from ground almonds to almond paste , this gave the macaroon a more moist , chewy texture . I added a little salt and baked them in mini muffin tins to hold their shape better ……just delicious success !

Makes 2 dozen

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

1 cup powdered sugar

2 cups shredded sweetened coconut

1 eight ounce can almond paste ( Solo makes a great one )

1/4 tsp almond extract and 1/4 tsp coconut extract

1/4 tsp salt

2  1/2 tbs EnerG egg replacer plus 2/3 cup warm coconut milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease 24 small muffin or line with paper liners for a more festive look

Mix together the powdered sugar , coconut , almond paste , extracts and salt.

whisk the egg replacer and warm coconut milk till frothy.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients . Mix throughly.

Using a tablespoon cookie scoop , drop spoonfuls of mixture into the prepared pans .

Bake for 17 to 18 minutes , until lightly golden .

Cool in pan . serve

Oatmeal Shortbread Squares


Moist , chewy , crunchy and aromatic , these squares have it all . The aroma of these baking with the spice of the ginger is mouth watering , and , once cooled you will not be dissapointed with the buttery flakiness from the butter and the slight crunch from the oatmeal .

Makes 16 squares

Laura Barton of the Oregon Department of Agriculture

3/4 cup plus 2 tbs whole wheat flour

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup oats , preferably steel cut ; old fashioned or quick cooking oats (not instant)

1  1/2 tsp ground ginger

3/4 tsp cream of tartar

3/8 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup ( 1 stick ) plus 1 tbs cold unsalted butter , cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 325*F . lightly butter an 8 inch square baking pan . In a food processor , combine the flour , sugar , oats , ginger , cream of tartar and baking soda ; pulse to combine . Add butter and pulse on and off until the mixture is crumbly .

Pat the dough into the prepared pan , pressing the surface with a floured fork until even ,bake until the center is set and the top is pale golden brown , 20 to 30 minutes .

Cool to lukewarm in the pan on a wire rack . While still warm , very carefully cut into 16 two inch squares. Cool completely in the pan . Store squares in an airtight container.

Pecan Cresents


Crispy , Crunchy , Buttery , this is Judy Rosenberg’s description of these melt in your mouth cookies made with loads of crunchy pecans and rolled in cinnamon sugar just before baking. PERFECTION!!! When my kids were young , I used to bake dozens of these are pack them as gifts for their teachers . They pack and ship well.

Makes about 48 cookies

COOKIE

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks ) unsalted butter , at room temperature

1/3 cup plus 1 tbs sugar

1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups finely ground pecans

COATING

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat  oven to 325*. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper .

Sift the flour ,salt and cinnamon together into a small bowl and set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed cream butter , sugar and vanilla in medium bowl until the ingredients are light and fluffy , about 4 minutes. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add the flour mixture and the pecans, and beat on medium low speed for 20 seconds. Scrape the bowl. Then beat until flour and nuts are completely incorporated, about 15 seconds.

Break off generously rounded teaspoons of the dough , and roll them between your palms to form cresents.

In a small bowl , stir together the sugar and cinnamon for the coating. Dip the cookies in the coating and place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake cookies until they are lightly golden and firm to the touch, 30 minutes. Cool completely on the sheets.

Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days .