Greatest Grampa’s Cookies


My Grampa is almost 85, so I guess you could say he’s the man who has just about everything.
…But there is one thing he never forgets to ask for; these cookies:

I’m so glad that I could find something that he really loves. I’m sure he’s tasted a few great things, so I’m pretty flattered. We have always made the trip up to see him and Greatest Nana after the holidays. Recently in addition to celebrating, the kids and I often pack along a few things to stock their freezer with into the New Year.
Even though I’m sure he knows what he’s getting. Along with the soups and staples, the care package wouldn’t be complete without these little surprises. Just to be festive, I’ve fancied them up a bit with hazelnut butter. I really hope he likes them.
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Holiday Classic: Gingerbread Cookies


It’s surprising to admit, but I was never a kid who was overly impressed with getting a gingerbread man during the Holidays or any days for that matter.

Maybe it’s that those grocery store offerings were harder than sinking your teeth into a wooden plank? Or maybe it was the bitter, lip staining food colouring used to fill in Ginger-Santa’s suit? Even as a kid, artificial wasn’t my thing, but upon rediscovering the amazing, wafting aromas of spicy ginger cookies at my Grandparent’s house , I think I truly regained my love of molasses and the Gingerbread Man.

Packed with freshly grated ginger and that slow pouring dark molasses, these cookies are barely sweet, leaving room for plenty of adornment for the Holidays.

VEGAN GINGERBREAD COOKIES

1/2 cup Coconut Oil, room temperature
1/2 Cup Fancy Molasses
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 teaspoons Freshly Grated Ginger, include any juice
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
pinch, Freshly Grated Nutmeg
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Cream the coconut oil and sugar until fluffy.
While this goes, and you’ll need the time, use spray oil to coat the inside of your 1/2 cup measure.
Pour in your molasses, and don’t forget that s l o w  saying… it does take it’s time.
Add molasses into the fluffed sugar, along with the vanilla.
Using a spoon, peel your ginger, then grate into a bowl to catch any extra juice.
Add grated ginger along with its juice, discarding any really stringy bits, until evenly blended.
Follow by adding the cinnamon and nutmeg.
Next, add the soda right to the dough and, on the lowest setting, follow with the flour, a half cup at a time.
Mixing just until dough comes together.
Shape dough into 2 discs and chill for at least 2 hours before rolling.
Preheat oven to 375 °F.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disc to just over 1/8-inch thick.
Cut your dough out into desired shapes and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 6 to 8 minutes until edges are firm to touch but centers are still soft.
Allow to cool completely before decorating.

For the icing, I’ve used this or I found that about 2 Cups of Icing Sugar (check your source), 1/4 Cup Corn Starch or Soy Flour, a drop of vanilla and a dribble of water mixed to a thick ribbon, will pipe really well.

Holiday Kourabiedes – Walnut Sugar Cookies


Tis the season to learn of new traditions. When I first heard of these I couldn’t help but be excited.

Greek Kourabiedes are popular special occasion cookies. They are often served at weddings, christenings and of course, Christmas. You might also find them on an Egyptian cookie tray for the similar celebrations. There, they are called Kahk.

They remind me a bit of what a cross between a shortbread and a sugar cookie.
They’re simple, nutty AND they use some of my orange blossom water I coveted for recipes past.

Kourabiedes are subtle and not too sweet. The seasonal walnuts may be traded for almonds, but I love the combination of the bitterish walnut and bursts of salt with a hint of citrus and the warming, sweet and intriguing fragrance of orange blossoms. They’re perfect for the Holidays. I hope you try them.

KOURABIEDES – WALNUT SUGAR COOKIES

3/4 Cup Walnuts
1 1/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) (vegan) Butter, like Earth Balance, softened
1/2 cup Confectioners Sugar, plus more for dusting
1 Tablespoon Cointreau
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon Orange Zest
2 Tablespoons Orange Flower Water

Toast the walnuts in a 350ºF oven, until golden brown, about minutes.
Pulse about 1/4 cup of the nuts in a food processor until finely ground.
Add the flour, baking powder, remaining nuts and salt. Pulse again to mix everything together and roughly chop the remaining nuts.
Meanwhile, beat the butter, sugar,  Cointreau, orange zest and vanilla extract together with an electric or stand mixer until and fluffy.
At a low speed, stir in the nut/flour mixture to make a crumbly dough. Bring the dough together with your hands (it IS crumbly). Flatten it into a disk, like pastry dough, and wrap it in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate dough for about half an hour.

Preheat oven to 350º F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or a silicone liner.
Unwrap the dough and cut into 20 pieces. Roll into balls between with your hands. Flattening to shape each piece into a round   disk.
Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake until the cookies are golden, about 15 minutes.
Remove them from the oven and lightly brush the orange blossom water over the tops of each cookie.
Transfer to a cooling rack and dust with additional confectioners sugar.

Montréal, March Break, Maple Syrup & Madeleines.


Mmmm.

Hopefully this is the post worth waiting for. Since being whisked off for a quick French get away, I ate my way through all of Montréal’s renown food samples.


Squeaking a flight through a crazy snowstorm, even for Québec standards, safe at home I brought out my sack of goodness from a small approvisionnement de cuisine shop, still wet from the cookie sized snowflakes that were tumbling down around me. In it, my newly treasured Madeleine pan…

Madeleines are one of my most favourite things. Yes, Proust would be proud. I love these delightful tea cakes so much I named my first born after them. Really.

I couldn’t have been more excited while tredging my better half through this snowstorm to make it back to a little shop I’d originally peered through the window of as this recipe serendipitously came together.

You see, most of Northeastern Canada and U.S.A produces everyone’s supply of maple syrup, and it’s at this time of year, when the temperatures are at their crazy best that the maple sap begins flowing. Thankfully for where I’m at, Québec is one of the number one producers of the stuff – so imagine my pure delight, as I was picking up a few morning groceries, to discover Maple Flakes, even being Canadian I haven’t seen this stuff in the flesh and it hits me that these are where the French Petite Madeleine meets French Canadian. I have certainly found what I have been trying my hand at veganizing these “invasions of the senses” for.

MAPLE MADELIENES

1/4 Cup butter (or to make it vegan, lactose free margarine), melted
1/2 Frozen banana, thawed and pushed through a sieve to puree.
1/3 Cup Soy milk
3 Tablespoons Orange Juice
1 Tablespoon Orange Zest
1 Cup All Purpose Flour, sifted
1/4 Cup cornstarch, sifted
1/4 Cup Sugar,
1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Sift dry ingredients together.
Add juice to the soy milk and let rest.
Melt butter/margarine and let cool.
Beat banana and sugar together until very smooth.
Add the soy milk and maple syrup and zest to the banana mixture and combine well.
Whisk in the melted butter then, gradually whisk in dry ingredients with the wet until combined.
Allow the batter to set for about an 1/2 hour in the fridge while you
evenly grease and lightly flour your Madeleine pan.
While the oven preheats to 375ºF, fill each shell 3/4 full with batter and let the batter rest in the pan, popping any bubbles that rise to the surface.
Bake until centers have puffed and the edges are crisp and browned; about 15 minutes.
Cool completely before drizzling over the glaze and sprinkling with maple flakes.

MAPLE GLAZE

1 Tablespoon Margarine
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup Confectioners Sugar

Melt the margarine in a medium saucepan.
Add the maple syrup and continue to heat until bubbling.
Whisk in the confectioners sugar until smooth.
Reduce heat but continue to simmer until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Remove from heat and dip, dunk or drizzle, since the glaze will begin to harden and crystallize as it cools.

Cranberry Shortbread


Getting into the last week before Christmas, the excitement builds and the rush heightens. I can’t help but get those butterflies like I had when I was a kid. A staple at our Christmas sweets table, this version of shortbread is certainly a family tradition just as Santa and snowflakes. Soft and tender, they simply melt in your mouth. Wonderful all alone, but for the Hoildays the addition of toffee or dried cranberries is an extra special treat.

I had originally made give aways of this cookie mix for the Holidays, just needing to add the margarine but the simple layer of sugared cranberries seemed lost in the sifted white ingredients, so I opted to just spare recipients the time of baking and bring them the finished products instead, minus the ones I had to test for doneness, of course.


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Satsuma Almond Sammich Cookies


It was amazing I had a chance to fill these cookies. Fresh and plain, the almond biscuits coming straight from the oven proved pretty popular. I almost would have thought to leave them just for snacking although it is Christmas cookie season, so I figured a little extra sparkle was in order.

Setting off with an original idea to use up the finally ripe hachiya persimmon sinking into my window sill, I was thinking of a swankier jelly thumb print. All I needed was the cookie to dab my thumb downward.

Looking for a cookie base to stuff, ice or otherwise decorate wasn’t too tough. I wanted versatility and these cookies have it. Delicately flavoured with almonds these cookies are also nice and crisp, able to hold up a sweet orangy center.

This, I guess is where inspiration meets evolution; or laziness meets versatility – can’t decide.
No matter which, the cookie base is a great canvas and here are two works for it.
Let me know what you come up with.


Continue reading Satsuma Almond Sammich Cookies