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.
- Cream butter and sugar.
- Mix in almond extract.
- Add flour and mix.
- Roll into 1” balls.
- 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)
- Fill center holes with jam. (if transporting, do not over-fill above top of cookie).
- Bake at 350° for 8 min.
- Cool thoroughly before moving. (Refrigeration or a cold porch really helps them “set.”)
- 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.
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
- Over medium heat, toast almonds, cinnamon, and cayenne until fragrant (about 3 minutes).
- Grind almond mixture in food processor until very fine. Set aside.
- Melt 4 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and espresso powder and stir until mixture forms smooth paste. Set aside to cool
- In separate bowl, cream butter and sugar.
- Add cooled cocoa mixture and salt (if using).
- Add egg yolks and vanilla. Mix until thoroughly combined. Scrape bowl.
- Whisk nut/spice mixture into flour.
- Add and mix in flour/nuts/spices in three additions. Mix thoroughly, but no more than necessary, scraping bowl after each addition.
- Shape dough into two logs 2 “ in diameter and 12” long . Wrap in parchment or plastic wrap.
- Chill until very firm and cold, at least one hour.
- Roll chilled logs in decorative course grind sugar.
- Slice cookies ¼” thick and place on cookie sheets.
- 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.
- Cool 5 minutes.
- Dust with confectioners sugar.
- Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
- Cream butter and sugar.
- Add eggs one at a time, mix well.
- Add molasses, mix well.
- Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt, Add to butter/sugar mixture
- Chill overnight.
- Taking @ 1 cup of dough out of the refrigerator at a time, shape in ½ inch balls.
- Roll cookie dough balls in sugar (at this point balls can be refrigerated for future baking).
- Bake for 6 minutes (8 minutes if cookie dough balls are frozen) at 375°.
- 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
Read the latest DIY Design column for the top picks in indie sewing patterns. Click here.
Technically Speaking: Hi-Tech Sewing Supplies October 24, 2009
Read the latest DIY Design column and learn about a few of the coolest sewing tools. Click here …
Sewing musts: How to cut out a pattern September 17, 2009
Find all sorts of great resources on how to cut out a pattern in the latest DIY Design column. Discover here.
Organic Envy blog: Modern Green Living+Spa Wisdom September 14, 2009
I just found a great new organic blog, an offshoot of Organic Spa magazine:
Welcome to Organic Envy! After launching Organic Spa Magazine in January 2007, we felt it was time to open the doors to communication even further. The mission of the magazine is to bring spa wisdom home, as well as to highlight the spas that are leading the organic way. Is there something special you do to find that elusive balance we all seek? We love to share ideas and exchange thoughts revolving around a healthier planet and a healthier you. Please join us in the conversation.
Organic Envy belongs to the Organic Spa Magazine, if you love the publication you will enjoy this green blog.