During the launch of her new book, “Villa Fortuna,” Cat Gardiner invited readers to participate in a mail-away cookie swap. This turned out to be great fun, as I was partnered with another JAFF reader, who turned out to be a great baker. Lucky me!
Every year, baking several types of holiday cookies has been a big part of our holiday traditions. My children love to bake them with me and share them with their teachers, our family and friends. Each year as I prepare, I look through my favorite cookie recipe books and magazines. For this type of cooking, I really love my baking magazines. Each year, I try to find some new recipes to enjoy, while maintaining my preferred selections for past years. Here’s a glimpse into the places where I looked for this year’s recipes.
This is the recipe from the very first Martha Stewart, Everyday Food Magazine that I use for all of my cookie cutter creations. The butter cookies come out so delicious with chocolate frosting and the chocolate dough cookies are delicious with or without frosting too!
This year, I baked Russian Tea Cakes, courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated 2010 Holiday Cookies Magazine, for my cookie exchange. These have been a long time favorite in our family, but they didn’t start out as Russian Tea Cakes for me. About 15 years ago, I had a young student who would bring me Greek Cookies during the holiday season. Even after the student moved on to another teacher, her mother made the cookies for me every year and she called them Greek Cookies. Yet, they are the same cookies found in this Russian Tea Cakes recipe, which shows how closely linked so many of our recipes are with other cultures. Still to this day, I think about Diana, and her mom when I make these cookies.
Today, I wanted to share this recipe, courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated 2010 Holiday Cookies Magazine:
Russian Tea Cakes
2 sticks of softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups flour
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup, toasted & chopped pecans
With electric mixer on med-high speed, combine butter, sugar, vanilla and salt, until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes.Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour, mix until just combined. Add pecans until evenly distributed. Place dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and onto a baking sheet. Bake until edge are slightly golden,about 10 minutes. Cool five minutes after taking them out of the oven.
Put confectioners’ sugar in a bowl and dip each cookie into the sugar, then place the cookie on a rack to sit. Cool the cookies to room temperature and then dip them in the sugar once more. The sugar will appear heavier after this second dip in the sugar. Enjoy!
It’s my hope that “Villa Fortuna” and its wonderful Italian baked goods recipes will inspire you to create and enjoy some delicious baked goods this holiday season. Thank you to Cat for the great swap and thank you to Zoe for sending me the delicious coffee cake!