The holiday baking has begun. I like to bake several batches of cookies at Christmas time, usually 5 to 7 different recipes. Each year I gather the latest magazines and cookbooks in search of new and interesting recipes to try. I am always up to the challenge and look for recipes that stretch my baking skills. Sometimes the results are wonderful and become new standards, but many times the recipes simply don't make the cut. They either don't turn out like pictured, are too rich or sweet or simply not worth all the extra time and effort required. After so many years of 'new and different' recipes, I've settled on a solid dozen or so really special ones that comprise the bulk of my cookie baking each year.
The Marvelous Macaroons and Chocolate Madeleine cookies I am making here are standard Christmas-time cookies. They are big winners among friends and family and have stood the test of time. I started making both recipes over 20 years ago and they continue to get oohs and aahs each time I make them. The Chocolate Madeleine recipe is from one of those small paperback cookbooks featured near the cash register at the grocery store. I have tons of them! This one is from Pillsbury featuring Show Off Desserts. Though the book promotes Pillsbury brand products the recipe uses no convenience packaged products, just the way I like it to be. These delicate, shell-shaped cookies are moist and have a cake-like texture that is chocolatey-good. Both attractive and delicious these are good any time of year. In addition to being a great Christmas time cookie, they are a wonderful choice for any elegant party such as afternoon tea or a bridal shower.
The Marvelous Macaroon recipe comes from an ad in a magazine for Baker brand coconut and Dole brand almonds. The recipe was to promote Dole's new chopped almonds offering, that I'm not sure they distribute
any longer. The recipe is essentially a standard macaroon one, but with the addition of nice chunks of almonds. I add the candied cherries to the recipe to make them more Christmas themed. For anyone who likes macaroons these are wonderful - nice and chewy, with those bits of nuts and sweet cherries - yum!
2 2/3 cups sweet flake coconut
2/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4 egg whites
1 tsp. almond extract
1 c. chopped almonds
1/2 c. chopped candied red cherries
Combine coconut, sugar, flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir in the egg whites and almond extract and combine all ingredients well.
Stir in the almonds and cherries.
Drop from teaspoon onto lightly greased baking sheets ( or use Silpat mat).
Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
Remove from pan immediately. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.
Chocolate Madeleine Cookies
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. butter, melted & cooled
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt
Powdered sugar for dusting
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Generously grease madeleine pans.
In large bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until thick and lemon colored.
Gradually add the butter, beating until well blended.
In a small bowl mix together the flour, salt and cocoa. Fold into the egg mixture, blend well.
Spoon batter into prepared pan(s), filling each 2/3 full. Bake for 6-9 minutes or until cookies spring back when touched lightly in center.
Remove cookies to wire cooling rack. Cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. Makes around 3 dozen cookies.