Athena Magazine

Fashion, lifestyle, passions

Quick and Inexpensive Gifts You Can Make December 22, 2009

Out of money and time? Try these budget-friendly DIY gift ideas …

 

Dazzling Cookies December 18, 2009

by Julia Pantoga, resident Domestic Goddess

This year I made cookies to give away for the holidays.  I picked three recipes that travel well and are unbelievably delicious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butter Jewels (Yield:  5 dozen)

2 cups butter (4 sticks!)
½ cup sugar
2 tsp almond extract
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
12 oz. assorted brightly colored preserves (my choices are apricot and cherry)
  1.  Cream butter and sugar.
  2. Mix in almond extract.
  3. Add flour and mix.
  4. Roll into 1” balls.
  5. Indent in center (1/4 tsp measuring spoon works well for even indents, make sure the bottoms are not too thin, or the cookies will fall apart when moved)
  6. Fill center holes with jam. (if transporting, do not over-fill above top of cookie).
  7. Bake at 350° for 8 min.
  8. Cool thoroughly before moving.  (Refrigeration or a cold porch really helps them “set.”)
Notes: 
  • As with all cookies with no eggs, that are comprised largely of butter and flour, these cookies are extremely fragile, especially when hot.  Once they have cooled, they are fairly sturdy.
  • These cookies will not rise or change shape when baking.  That’s good because you don’t have to worry about cookies spreading and sticking together.  However, that means you need to be careful about the appearance before you bake them:  wipe off any errant jam and shape the cookies carefully.

 

Mexican Chocolate Butter Wafers (Yield:  5 dozen)

Note:  Once cool, these sturdy cookies are ideal for sending.  These are so delicious, they are TOTALLY worth all the steps and dirty dishes.

½ cup sliced almonds
1tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ stick (4 tbsp.) butter
½ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp espresso powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
½ cup course grind sugar crystals
Confectioner’s sugar
  1. Over medium heat, toast almonds, cinnamon, and cayenne until fragrant (about 3 minutes).
  2. Grind almond mixture in food processor until very fine.  Set aside.
  3. Melt 4 tbsp butter over medium heat.  Add cocoa powder and espresso powder and stir until mixture forms smooth paste.  Set aside to cool
  4. In separate bowl, cream butter and sugar.
  5. Add cooled cocoa mixture and salt (if using).
  6. Add egg yolks and vanilla.  Mix until thoroughly combined.  Scrape bowl.
  7. Whisk nut/spice mixture into flour.
  8. Add and mix in flour/nuts/spices in three additions.  Mix thoroughly, but no more than necessary, scraping bowl after each addition.
  9. Shape dough into two logs 2 “ in diameter and 12” long .  Wrap in parchment or plastic wrap.
  10. Chill until very firm and cold, at least one hour.
  11. Roll chilled logs in decorative course grind sugar.
  12. Slice cookies ¼” thick and place on cookie sheets. 
  13. Bake 10 minutes at 375°.  Do not overbake.  Rotate baking sheet halfway through cooking time.  If cookies begin to darken on edges, they have overbaked.
  14. Cool 5 minutes.
  15. Dust with confectioners sugar.
  16. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

 

Molasses Cookies (Yield:  20 dozen)

1 ½ cup butter
2 cups sugar
½ cup molasses
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
Additional sugar to coat formed cookies
  1. Cream butter and sugar.
  2. Add eggs one at a time, mix well.
  3. Add molasses, mix well.
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt, Add to butter/sugar mixture
  5. Chill overnight.
  6. Taking @ 1 cup of dough out of the refrigerator at a time, shape in ½ inch balls.
  7. Roll cookie dough balls in sugar (at this point balls can be refrigerated for future baking).
  8. Bake for 6 minutes (8 minutes if cookie dough balls are frozen) at 375°.
  9. Cool on rack.

 Note:  When I freeze, rather than refrigerate ,cookie dough balls, the resulting cookies taste as good, but don’t look as nice.

 

The Best of Indie Sewing Patterns December 13, 2009

anna maria horner study hall skirt pattern

The delicious Study Hall Skirt pattern from Anna Maria Horner

Read the latest DIY Design column for the top picks in indie sewing patterns. Click here.

 

Learn, Baby, Learn: The best of online sewing instruction December 4, 2009

You don’t have to live in a big city or go to a fancy fashion school to get top notch sewing instruction. Read my column about online sewing classes here.