Biscochitos

Bizcochitos Cookies
The “café” was nothing more than a cheap addition to a ‘70’s ranch house on a dirt cul-de-sac. I was in search of much needed caffeine and it was the best I was going to get in little Chimayo, a town without gas station, bank or grocery store.

“Excuse me,” I asked, “can you tell me what those are?” pointing to a plate of thin, simple, cinnamon sugar dusted cookies in the otherwise barren pastry case.

“Biscochitos,” he said with a look of incredulity at my ignorance, “they’re our state cookie.”

I purchased two of the unfamiliar cookies to go with my cappuccino.

New Mexico and I had already become fast friends during my first trip to Santa Fe to experience the Christmas Eve luminarias. My fondness grew this trip during my drive from Albuquerque to Taos to Chimayo – surrounded by stretches of Georgia O’Keeffe painted deserts under infinite azure, cloud-crowded skies.

As I sipped my cappuccino and munched on the crunchy, anise-cinnamon-flavored biscuits, I found another excuse to fall in love. Any state, I mused, that had an official state cookie (the first) deserved my adoration.


Biscochitos (Bizcochitos)

  • Servings: 88 cookies about 1 ½” in size
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Lard isn’t something most of us keep in our kitchen. For the best flavor, it’s worth purchasing lard, but feel free to substitute shortening in a pinch.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon table salt (not Kosher)
  • 1 Tablespoon anise seed, crushed
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 cup lard (you can substitute vegetable shortening in a pinch)
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tablespoon brandy
  • Topping
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in the anise and orange zest.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat together sugar, lard and butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and brandy and beat until combined. Gradually beat in the flour, a little at a time, just until combined. Dough should be similar in consistency to pie crust dough. Form into a brick, cover and refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon for topping.
  4. In between 2 sheets of waxed paper, roll out dough to ¼ inch thickness. Cut out cookies (I used a small 1½” circle cutter). Place cookies on baking sheet and bake until just barely golden and set, about 10 to 12 minutes. Let cookies cool for 1 minute, and then carefully toss them into the cinnamon sugar. Place on cooling rack until completely cooled. These cookies make great coffee dunkers – but are also tasty nibbled plain.

 

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Raspberry-Rose Viennese Whirls

Viennese Whirls
If baking is Love made edible, then these Viennese whirls are my billet-doux to St. Valentine, himself – layers of homemade raspberry-rose jam and vanilla buttercream sandwiched between delicate melt-in-your-mouth Viennese cookies. Will you be mine, Valentine?


Raspberry Rose Viennese Whirls

Love made edible – slightly adapted from Mary Berry’s recipe.

Ingredients

    Jam
  • 7 oz. frozen raspberries
  • 7 oz. sugar
  • 4 teaspoons rose water
  • Cookies
  • 9 oz. unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1 ¾ oz. confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • ⅛ teaspoon table salt (not kosher salt)
  • 8 oz. all-purpose flour
  • 1 oz. cornstarch
  • Buttercream
  • 3 ½ oz. unsalted butter, softened
  • 7 oz. confectioner’s sugar, sifted plus more for dusting
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Make the jam: Combine the frozen raspberries and sugar in a small deep-sided saucepan and bring to boil over a medium heat. When the sugar is melted, increase the heat and boil for another 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and add rose water. Transfer to a small container (pass it through a sieve if you’d rather not have seeds in your jam). Leave to cool and set.
  2. Make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 375F. Line 3 baking sheets with baking parchment. Using a 2” round cutter as a guide, draw 8 circles on each sheet of paper, spaced well apart. Turn the paper over so the pencil marks are underneath.
  3. Beat the butter, confectioner’s sugar and salt in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Sift in the flour and cornstarch and beat until thoroughly mixed. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a medium star nozzle. Pipe 24 swirled rounds (not rosettes), inside the circles on the baking sheets. Refrigerate cookies for 15 minutes before baking (this will help cookies retain their shape).
  4. Bake in the center of the oven for 13—15 minutes, until pale golden-brown. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Make Buttercream: Beat the butter, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla until fluffy and smooth. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a medium star nozzle.
  6. Assemble: Spoon a layer of jam onto the flat side of 12 of the cookies and place jam-side up on a cooling rack. Pipe an equal thickness of buttercream over the jam and sandwich with the remaining cookies. Dust with confectioner’s sugar. Share the love.

Apricot Pocket Cookies

Apricot Cookies
SCENE ONE: 2:16 a.m. after their eighth date, a couple are entwined on the couch, an empty bottle of wine and two wine glasses are located on a table in front of them. A small bowl of homemade truffles sits between the glasses.

[kissing, kissing, kissing]

Him: “It’s late. I should probably go home soon.”

[more kissing, kissing, kissing]

Me: “Do you want to go home…or do you want to sleep here?”

[continued kissing, kissing, kissing]

Him: {silence}

Me: “It’s not a trick question.”

[more kissing, kissing, kissing]

Him: {silence}

Me: “Okay…I’ll answer for you. You want to go home.”

Him: {silence}

[kissing, kissing, kissing]

Him: “I guess I owe you some sort of apology or explanation.”

Oh god, please don’t apologize. That will make me feel like more of a lusty sexual deviant than I already do. And, as far as an explanation, what could you possibly tell me that would make me feel better about getting shot down for sex? I either don’t want to know or – if you have a valid excuse – this situation just became way too complicated for me.

I don’t let him give me an excuse, but I manage to think up a few of my own.

10 reasons he won’t sleep with me:
1) He finds me unattractive
2) He’s transgendered or gay and hasn’t worked up the courage to tell me
3) He has a secret girlfriend and he doesn’t want to “cheat” on her
4) He thinks sex will make me too “attached” [It won’t]
5) He’s bad in bed
6) He thinks I’ll be bad in bed
7) He has an STD
8) He thinks I’ll make him stop sleeping with other people [which is true]
9) I stink [armpit, cooch and breath check!]
10) He has ED or some other medical issue that precludes the horizontal mambo

SCENE TWO: It’s 6:00 p.m. the next evening. The same woman, alone, is curled up on the couch wearing her pj’s. Two cats sleep soundly beside her. On her lap is a platter of these cookies that she is devouring – one by one and without regret. Sometimes – most times, actually – the easiest company is our own.


Apricot Pocket Cookies

  • Servings: 27 cookies
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Ingredients

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup apricot jam
  • ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons turbinado sugar (like Sugar in the Raw)
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar

Directions

  1. With an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually add the flour, mixing until just incorporated (don’t overmix).
  2. Remove the dough from the bowl and form it into a 1” thick scare. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour.
  3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a rectangle 9” x 12”. Cut the dough lengthwise into 3 strips 9” x 4”. Spread each strip with apricot jam and sprinkle with walnuts. Starting from the long side, roll each strip into a log. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice each log into 1” pieces and place on a parchment or silicon lined baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake until golden brown, 22-25 minutes.
  5. To decorate, melt chocolate chips in microwave, stirring every 30 minutes until smooth, about a minute. Drizzle cookies with chocolate and dust with powdered sugar.

 

Ginger Hazelnut Millionaire Bars

Millionaire's Shortbread
Inspired by one of my favorite recipes for Ginger Crunch Slices, these rich bars combine buttery shortbread, spicy ginger-cardamom caramel, creamy bittersweet ganache and sweet-salty hazelnut “croquant.”

I planned on giving them to the new neighbors across the street, but after eating two, decided to keep this batch all for myself.


Ginger Hazelnut Millionaire Bars

More like an exotic candy than a cookie, the combination of butter, heady spices, bittersweet chocolate and hazelnuts create quite a flavor bomb.

Ingredients

    Shortbread
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Caramel
  • 7 Tablespoon butter
  • 4 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoons cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons corn syrup
  • Hazelnut Croquant
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
  • pinch salt
  • Ganache
  • 4.5 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions

    Shortbread:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 inch square pan with aluminum foil and butter the foil.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour and salt and beat until the batter just starts to clump together. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan, lightly prick the shortbread with the tines of a fork, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until pale golden in color. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool while you make the caramel.
  3. Caramel:
  4. In a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine caramel ingredients, bring to boil and pour over shortbread. Cool.
  5. Hazelnut Croquant:
  6. While caramel is cooling, heat sugar and water in a small nonstick skillet over high heat, swirling, until sugar dissolves. Reduce to a simmer, and cook, swirling occasionally, until amber, about 4 minutes. Add hazelnuts and stir for 30 seconds to coat.
  7. Pour mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a nonstick baking mat, and immediately spread nuts on sheet and sprinkle with salt. Let cool. Coarsely chop.
  8. Ganache:
  9. Once caramel is cool, place bittersweet chocolate, heavy whipping cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and whisk until completely melted and combined. Pour over caramel and smooth. Sprinkle with hazelnut croquant. Let set for an hour or two, or refrigerate until set. Remove from pan using foil, cut into 16 fingers.

Chocolate Motherload Cookies

Rich chocolate sandwich cookies on a plate with milk

Are you a Chocoholic – a craver of all things chocolate? Come into my lair, darling…my aspiration for this recipe is your personal entrapment.  If my baking raison d’être is luring you into my den of culinary debauchery, guaranteeing your enslavement, what would your cocoa kryptonite look like?  My money is on these – thick layers of creamy bittersweet ganache sandwiched between soft jumbo double-chocolate cookies.

In fact, I may have overdone it – a pinch too much.  Neither my 14-year old niece, my sister-in-law, nor I could eat an entire cookie.  One of these cookies wouldn’t just enslave you, it would incapacitate you.  I recommend you go with the standard size option listed below.

P.S.  After naming these, I discovered that “Motherload Cookies” is also the name of a strain of marijuana.  Rather than change the name, I decided to keep it –  you’ll need to be stoned to eat an entire jumbo size cookie.


Chocolate Motherload Cookies

  • Servings: 14 jumbo or 28 standard cookies
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The “jumbo” cookies are too much, even for those addicted to chocolate. I recommend the standard size if you want to remain upright after eating one. This recipe was adapted from The Sugar Cube bakery’s Triple-Threat Chocolate Cookies.

Ingredients

  • 32 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips, divided (YIKES!)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 Tablespoons flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream

Directions

  1. Place 12 oz. chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl and microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely melted (about 90 seconds). Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, espresso powder, and vanilla. In another small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir egg mixture into melted chocolate until fully incorporated. Then add flour mixture, stirring until combined. Stir in 8 oz. of chocolate chips and toasted walnuts. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 60 minutes.
  3. Make ganache by placing the remaining 12 oz. of chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream in a microwave safe bowl and microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely melted (60-90 seconds). Cover and refrigerate until spreadable consistency, about 90 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets will Silicone or parchment paper. Scoop dough onto sheets, placed about 1” apart (2 Tablespoons dough for jumbo, 1 Tablespoon for standard size cookies). With the bottom of a glass or similar, press dough to flatten into even ½” thick rounds. Bake until cookies no longer look wet, but they are still soft ( about 12 minutes for jumbo and 10 minutes for standard size). Cool cookies on sheets then transfer to racks.
  5. Generously spread flat side of half the cookies with ganache and top with remaining cookies. Cookies filled with ganache will keep, covered, at room temperature for two days. More than two days, store filled cookies in refrigerator, bring to room temperature before eating. Pour yourself a tall glass of ice-cold milk and enjoy.