Thursday, December 20, 2012

Polvorones de Canele (Cinnamon Powdered Sugar Cookies)

Making cookies this year with my wonderful mother-in-law, she was so excited to find a recipe for polvorones de canele - powdered sugar cookies with cinnamon.  This Mexican twist on a butter cookie recipe is transformed by a simple, single ingredient - cinnamon.  Use the best quality of cinnamon and vanilla that you can afford as they are the driving flavors in this delicious cookie.

Celebrating the season and combining our cultures, I love the feeling of being able to help someone recreate memories and this was a great opportunity.  Not to mention the cookies were fabulous.  Exactly as she remembered them.

It was so wonderful to share culture and traditions, making cookies with my MIL each year is what lets me know that Christmas is coming.  It's been something we've done for 7 years now and I hope to never miss a Christmas baking with her, I always leave feeling at peace and inspired.


2 sticks (1 C.) butter ($1.00)
2/3 C. powdered sugar ($.15)
1 tsp. cinnamon ($.05)
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract ($.05)
1 1/2 C. flour ($.15)

1/4 C. powdered sugar ($.05)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon ($.05)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease baking sheet.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together 2/3 C. powdered sugar and butter until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Combine flour, salt, and 1 tsp. cinnamon; stir into the creamed mixture to form a stiff dough.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Mix together 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; roll balls in cinnamon mixture.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in preheated oven, or until nicely browned. Cool cookies on wire racks.

Yields: 36
Cost: $1.50
Cost per cookie : $.04

Butterscotch Blondies

There is just something about a cookie, warm and fresh from the oven, that fills me with a sense of home.  To call me a cookie addict in all honesty no stretch of the truth.  This portable, variable, customizable snack goes well with a boxed lunch, is elegant enough for tea time, and makes the kid in all of us smile.  I love cookies.

This season, I wanted to incorporate the iconic flavors of butterscotch into a cookie - but not a standard oatmeal cookie.  Don't get me wrong, I love oatmeal cookies, but pairing oatmeal and butterscotch is good, though not great.  I took a classic cookie dough base I've used for dozens of different cookies and swapped in butterscotch chips and a splash of rum extract, for a warm alternative to the oatmeal scotchies of the past.

To really kick up the flavor of the butterscotch, a pinch of two of nutmeg adds that perfect layer of intrigue and heat, making these cookies a huge hit with both kids and adults.

1/2 C. brown sugar ($.20)
1/2 C. granulated sugar ($.15)
1 stick of butter ($.50)
1 egg ($.15)
1 tsp. rum extract ($.15)
1/2 tsp. baking soda ($.05)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg ($.05)
2 C. flour ($.20)
1 C. butterscotch chips ($.50)


In a large mixing bowl, combine sugars and butter and cream together.  Add in egg and extract, mix well.  Dissolve baking soda in 1 T. hot water, add this to the batter.  Mix in nutmeg and flour until a semi-firm dough forms.  Stir in the butterscotch chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 375F for 9-12 minutes, bake longer for a crunchy cookie.  Cookies are done when sides are lightly golden.

Remove cookies from cookie sheet to cool on a wire rack.

Yield: 30-36 cookies
Cost: $1.95
Cost per cookie: $.05-$.06

Hazelnut Crescents

Part of the holidays for me is baking cookies with my MIL and this year, one of the cookies she chose was the classic almond crescent.  While I love the classics, I have tons of chopped hazelnuts to use and thought they would compliment this cookie well and....a new favorite has emerged!
The mild flavor of the hazelnut pared with the classic flavor of vanilla really makes for a great cookie.  Rather than dipping mine in melted chocolate, I chose a simple glaze, to keep the flavors mild and perfect for pairing with tea, hot cider, coffee, or hot cocoa.  I love creating new recipes and the holidays are always an inspiration - with so many great flavors and textures, I'm always able to offer a little something new each holiday season on my cookie trays.  Though this isn't the only new cookie on the tray this year, it is by far my favorite - no offense, butterscotch blondies.  You might be good, but hazelnut that's my style.
2 C. (4 sticks) butter, softened ($2.00)
1 1/4 C. powdered sugar ($.25)
1 tsp. vanilla extract ($.10)
1/4 tsp. salt ($.05)
4 C. flour ($.25)
1 C. ground hazelnuts ($.30)
1/4 C. powdered sugar ($.10)
1-2 tsp. milk ($.05)
Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

Mix well butter and powdered sugar until creamy.  Mix in salt and vanilla.  Slowly incorporate the flour, then the ground hazelnuts.

Shape dough into 2-inch crescents, using 1 Tbsp. dough for each. Place, 2 inches apart, on parchment- or foil-covered baking sheets. 
Bake 12 to 15 min. or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 2 min. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.
Mix together the powdered sugar and milk, brush glaze lightly over cooled cookies.  For an alternative to the glaze, you can sift powdered sugar over the cookies before they are completely cooled.
Yield: 72 cookies
Cost: $3.10
Cost per cookie: $.05