Sunday, December 14, 2008

Back to the Cookie-ing

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the danger of watching the Food Network with someone you love. When we lived in our (awesome) basement apartment up in Ottawa back when I was at Carleton U, Andrew and I would kill our class-less mornings by watching the line-up on FoodTV (after Rachael Ray, that is! Laugh if you must, but I still enjoy her talk show, and her recipes are sound in composition - if not always in time frame!). Our tradition has continued, in a fashion, to today - when we're spending a Sunday together (unfortunately the only day we both really have free, thanks to his weird work hours and my school schedule) that's almost always the channel we have on. Hell, that's almost always the channel I have on all the time - even when I'm not technically watching a show! What can I say, I need background noise to work... silence scares me. I even put music on at night to sleep!

Anyways, a few months ago we caught one of my absolute favourite (and sadly, no longer produced) shows - Sugar with Anna Olson - where the featured goodie was candied fruit. Normally, I loathe the stuff in any form: pineapple, cherries, mango, what have you... probably a throwback from eating too many dried out, green cherry-centred shortbreads at family Christmas parties. One of Anna's creations was an icebox-style cookie with cherries and pecans, and it caught my eye as a gorgeous biscuit, and it struck Andrew as a good starting point for a Christmas plate snack!

Needless to say, Andrew was after me for months afterwards to make them. I was hesitant to dive headlong into another Olson recipe, though: I love watching her show, but for some odd reason the recipes that say yum on screen never seem to translate well in my kitchen! I've had some major issues over the years with two promising recipes of hers: this lemon-poppyseed cake that failed to cook through, and these fig bars that, well... look nothing like hers! So, I knew enough to take the recipe as just a starting point and branch off into my own thing.

My own thing involved nixing the nuts, as well as part of the butter, and adding in cream cheese (like I did for these cookies) for some body and cheesecakey-like goodness. I made the dough a couple weeks ago, rolled it into a log and froze it so that now when the kitchen's in constant upheaval I don't have to bother the other kitchen users with dragging out my mixer and the like. I baked off a couple of these as testers yesterday and was pleased with the results... baking times had to be toyed with of course due to the fact the dough was frozen, but in the end I was rewarded with beautiful, stained-glass like shortbready circles. Andrew hasn't tasted them yet, but we're going to finish the batch today and I'm sure he'll have an opinion! I've also got plans to whip out some "blackstrap spice men" cookies (there's more than ginger in those suckers), and with any luck at all I'll be able to make a version of another FN cookie and a Toronto Star featured one too! Tomorrow, I'm hoping to make a loaf of bread and possibly mincemeat tarts in between doctor's appointments (I made that filling ages ago, and I intend to use it!), and Tuesday's the cookie delivery trip down to ExxonMobil with my mom! I can't wait... I even have a Kensington Market jaunt with my dad on Thursday to look forward to after all that jazz. Christmas is coming early!

For your consolation, I'll leave you with my recipe for these sugar bombs (and send it off to Susan's Eat Christmas Cookies roundup too over at FoodBlogga). Hopefully you'll like their taste as much as I enjoyed their delectable aroma from the oven!

Glacé Cherry Shortbreads
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
2/3 cup salted butter, softened
1/4 cup low-fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup cake flour
10 oz glace cherries (red or green), cut in half
  1. Cream butter, cream cheese and icing sugar until fluffy.
  2. Beat in egg, vanilla and lemon extract.
  3. Stir flours into the butter mixture until well blended.
  4. Fold in cherries by hand.
  5. Divide dough into two logs, about 1" across.
  6. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 12 hours (alternately, wrap plactic-covered logs with foil and freeze up to 3 months).
  7. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a baking tray with parchment or a Silpat (do not grease - buy the parchment, you'll want it!).
  8. Cut 1/8" thick slices of the cookie dough, place on sheets 1" apart.
  9. Bake 8 minutes (or frozen dough for 12), until barely coloured.
  10. Cool completely on sheets.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 78.4
Total Fat: 3.0 g
Cholesterol: 11.9 mg
Sodium: 27.8 mg
Total Carbs: 11.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.2 g
Protein: 1.1 g


  1. My mom used to make a cookie that looked like that, with maraschino cherries and ground walnuts. These look great!

  2. I think that you'd probably love fruitcake. ;) They look yummy!

  3. This sounds like a new kinda holiday cookie :), delicious. The Food Network does provide some great background noise, I agree; there's something comforting about hearing people scraping bowls and bringing things to a boil while I do chores :D. Hope you're having a lovely holiday season :)!


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