Because we need another excuse to keep eating cookies over the holiday season, right?
One of our holiday cookie traditions comes to us from Sparky's Grandmother: Filbert (Hazelnut) Coins. These cookies, from Sparky's Dad's family of boys, come to us with a long-standing tradition of DESTRUCTION BY HAMMER!!! - no hazelnut shall be left unshelled or unscathed. This year, the tradition was in dire peril...the only hazelnuts we could find were already shelled (horrors!) but a little diligent effort and emergency shopping on my part and Sparky was happily bashing away in no time. Keep in mind that this exciting methodology for removing hazelnuts from their shells comes with the equally exciting possibility of hazelnut shrapnel, so plan accordingly - if you have an especially enthusiastic nut-sheller, you might want to insist on safety glasses.
1 cup butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, 1 separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups sifted flour
2 pounds unshelled hazelnuts (2 cups ground, and about 2 dozen whole nuts)
Shell the hazelnuts. Reserve about 2 dozen pretty whole ones. After the remaining nuts are all shelled and picked clean of shell fragments, put them in your food processor and pulse gently until they are the consistency of sawdust. Scrape down the bowl every so often.
Preheat oven to 350. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add one egg yolk, one whole egg, and vanilla, reserving the remaining egg white. Fold in the flour in three parts, making sure each part is incorporated thoroughly until you have a stiff dough. Add 2 cups of the ground hazelnuts and mix well.
Roll tablespoons of the dough, into balls. Place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment - beat egg white slightly; brush over balls and top with one of the whole hazelnuts; press to embed the hazelnut and flatten slightly. Bake for 12 minutes until slightly golden, allow to cool thoroughly before enjoying. Makes 2 dozen
Another tradition for us is rolled cookies - except I hate making rolled cookie dough! All the creaming and mixing and rolling...and you wind up with cookies that are pretty, but just don't taste very good.
When I found this recipe for Mochi Milk Cookies on the blog The Indolent Cook, I knew I'd found a tasty, easy way out. Because these are gluten and egg-free, they have a slightly different texture than many cookies, they will remind you of a cracker - but they are sweet and delicious, and go from bowl to oven in a few minutes - you can decorate them as you wish, but I prefer to make tiny cookies that don't need embellishment. If you find, as we did, that your cookies stick to the tiny cutters, a chopstick is the perfect tool for removing them.
1 1/4 cup Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour flour (also called glutinous rice flour - do not substitute other flours)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup superfine sugar (not powdered or confectioner's)
pinch of salt
1.5g packet of matcha tea powder (I used Matcha Stick )
Heat butter, cream, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a full boil, whisking thoroughly, then simmer until the mixture is completely dissolved and begins to smell nutty. Put the flour in a bowl and pour the wet ingredients over; mix thoroughly until it comes together in a dough. Divide the dough into 2 parts, put one in the refrigerator. Knead the green tea powder into the remaining half until it is completely green. Refrigerate both until the oil is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
Roll out to about 1/8 inch thickness and cut with mini cookie cutters. Place on parchment or silpat-lined cookie sheets and bake at 350F for about 10 minutes or until edges start to brown. Remove from oven. (sorry, I lost track of how many we made -about 2 large cookie-sheets full of small cookies.)
Cool thoroughly (the cookies will get crisp as they cool) Enjoy!