Wednesday, December 22, 2010

'Tis the Season

 For celebrating Jesus' birthday with cookies (and family and tradition and those blasted gifts). I just found this recipe, tweaked it, and now I'm calling it my own. I think I just fell in love. Sugar cookies are all well and good, but I prefer a chewy cookie, and the latter tends to be crispy, which is fine for a crispy cookie lover. But why limit yourself to a kid's cut out cookie? What about your refined adult palate? Let me introduce you to the closest thing I've ever tasted to a Milano: Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies, or, "Feliz Filano's" as I've decided to call them. They're my new favorite Christmas cookie. The original recipe calls for imitation vanilla, which is appalling, so do me and yourself a favor and buy "pure" or real, genuine vanilla extract. The more expensive it is, the better. Sorry. Another thing you're going to need to splurge on is good butter. Preferably AA. Betcha didn't know that butter was available in okay to great varieties (B, A, AA). It is. AA has the best color and body, and is the most flavorful and aromatic. I prefer Challenge or Land O' Lakes. Check the package. MOVING ON!

2 C all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon (optional)
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 C powdered sugar
1 t pure vanilla extract plus a few extra drops (anytime anything calls for vanilla I always put add a little extra)
For chocolate dipping:
9 ounces super fancy semi-sweet chocolate (or white or dark chocolate)

Whisk together the flour, salt, and cinnamon. In a mixer (stand or by hand), mix the butter until it's creamy, then add the sugar and let that beat for a couple minutes until it's nice and blended. Beat in the vanilla, then STIR in the flour mixture only just until it's all incorporated. You don't want to over-beat it. 

Take the dough out of the bowl and mush it together into a fat disk shape. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for an hour. (I kept mine in the fridge for three hours because I had to run out of the house and when I took it out it was very difficult to work with.) 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you're using a non-stick pan, you're good to go. If you have an older crappy pan like me, you should probably grease that sucker with baking Pam or some shortening (it doesn't hurt the flavor, either!). Lightly flour your work space and pin. Roll the dough out into a 1/4" thickness circle, cut out your shapes, and place them on your baking sheet, at least 1/2" away from each other (they won't expand very much). After your pan is full, stick it in the fridge again for about 10 minutes. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cookies have just started to lightly brown. Cool on a wire rack.

While your cookies are cooling... either chop up your chocolate (if using a bar), or just dump the chips in a microwavable bowl. Microwave for about one minute or until the chocolate is halfway melted. Then stir it until it's all melted and smooth. Take your baking sheet and stick it in the freezer to cool it down. Then line it with either parchment paper or plastic wrap. Dip your cookies and put them on the lined baking sheet. Once the sheet is full, put it in the fridge for 20 minutes to harden the chocolate.

Now, pour yourself a glass of milk and enjoy your festive grown-up cookies! I am.


Deana K said...

ooooh I need to try these!!! I think I will! THIS WEEK! woot!

And, I did NOT know that butter was graded. I am happy to report that my butter is AA. *whew*

Lizzie Brown said...

Let me know how they come out!

An Army Family said...

Tip for military folks: real vanilla extract is NOT expensive at the commissary. Neither are nuts, if any of your Christmas recipes involve them. Paid like 1.80 for a bag of chopped pecans the other day! I don't go there often but absolutely worth the trip for pricier stuff like that.

Lizzie Brown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lizzie Brown said...

Good point, Al. I used the McCormick pure vanilla extract, which is a grade B/2 vanilla, but I know if you go to grocery stores you can purchase some pretty expensive stuff that is grade A/1. I've seen little 2 oz. bottles for $25 and up in our Vons. The main point is not to use imitation vanilla (C/3).

Carol said...

I will be trying these! They look delicious...and I totally agree about pure vanilla! I found an organic brand that I really like for about $4, and it smells so amazing!