Self-Frosting Spice Cookies

[image: self-frosting spice cookies cooling on a rack]
[image: self-frosting spice cookies cooling on a rack]

I found this recipe while researching traditional Dutch and German cookies. These are called Anise Platzchen or Self-Frosting Anise Drops, and traditionally they’re made with anise (er, obviously). I found this spice variation along with a vanilla one on Gin’s Kitchen. I found the concept SO WEIRD that I had to try it. But while the recipe worked (which honestly I was really not expecting), I didn’t actually like the taste? But I brought them to a party today, and my friends seemed to enjoy them, so here is the recipe.

Self-Frosting Spice Cookies
recipe adapted from Gin’s Kitchen
3 large eggs
1 1/8 cup white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 3/4 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt

Using a stand mixer (or electric hand mixer—trust me, you will not want to do this by hand), beat the eggs together until they have lightened in color. Slowly add the sugar. Once the sugar is in, beat the mixture on medium speed for 20 minutes.

While the mixer is running, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients.

Also do this while the mixer is running: line 5 baking sheets* with parchment paper (or prepare 5 pieces of parchment to go into baking sheets if you have fewer than 5 sheets) (I read a couple recipes that said you can’t use parchment for this, but I didn’t have any problem with sticking). If you don’t have parchment, prepare the pans with butter and flour or Baker’s Joy spray.

Once the 20 minutes is up, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Continue beating for another 3 minutes.

Use two teaspoons and scoop about a teaspoon of dough at a time. Use the other spoon to shove the dough off the first spoon onto the parchment. It’s very sticky. Try to get the dollops as circular as you can. Space them about 1.5 inches apart.

Let the cookies sit out overnight. Yes. Do that.

[image: before baking, how the self-frosting spice cookies look on the pan]
[image: before baking, how the self-frosting spice cookies look on the pan]

The next morning, heat your oven to 325. Bake each sheet for 10 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, and then move to a cooling rack. If your cookies stick, let them cool a bit more before removing them. I didn’t need a spatula, just a little twist and they released from the parchment. I recommend baking one sheet at a time, if you can. I couldn’t get both sheets to get to the same level of doneness when I baked two at once.

As the cookies bake, they will lift up from the bottom slightly, as shown in the top picture. Voila, self-frosting cookies!

* I fit 12 cookies onto a sheet, and the recipe provides dough for 60 cookies. If you can fit more than 12 cookies onto a sheet, good for you. Make your calculations for how many sheets you’ll need. 12:5, 15:4, 20:3 or whatever.

Coconut Macaroons

(adapted from David Leibovitz)

coconut macaroons
[Image: 43 golden-toasty coconut macaroons on a wire cooling rack on a green tablecloth.]

4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp honey
2 1/2 cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut
1/4 cup flour (see note)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

If you’re making these for Passover, grind up matzoh in a spice/coffee grinder instead.

Mix all ingredients except vanilla in a large nonstick skillet over low to medium heat. Stir, and do not stop stirring. Things will look a little dire at first, but they’ll coalesce soon enough. Keep stirring.

When the mixture starts to scorch (I take this to mean darken a bit in color and make schlorpy noises when you move it around the pan), remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. I recommend a narrow container with as little exposed surface area as possible. Press some plastic wrap down on it to minimize air contact. (At this point, the mixture can be refrigerated for up to one week, or frozen for up to two months. Bring it back to room temperature before baking if you do this.)

Heat oven to 350 and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Form dough into 1-inch mounds with your hands and space evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Do not be tempted to pull them early, the darker they get, the better they taste! I sometimes use the convection setting for the second half of baking in order to get the edges dark and crispy. Cool completely before serving.

(These get better in the days following baking, so if you have the time, make them early. I store them in an unsealed zip-top bag in order to preserve their texture. Sealing it will soften them.)

Plum Cake

(adapted/simplified from the smitten kitchen, which was adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours)

1.5 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
5 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
8 small plums, halved and pitted

Heat oven to 350. Butter and flour an 8×8 baking dish. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until homogenized, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time. Continue beating, adding the oil, zest, and vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Arrange the plum halves cut side up on top of the batter in a 4×4 grid. Press the plums into the batter.

Bake, and start checking for doneness at the 30 minute mark. Cake is done when the top has browned and puffed up around the plums, and when a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool on rack for 15 minutes, then de-pan. Cake may be stored for up to 2 days at room temperature.

Chai-Buttermilk Spice Cake

Refatted from Cooking Light

1/2 cup boiling water
6 chai tea bags
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/3 cup (3 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 large egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
cooking spray

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour boiling water over tea bags in a bowl; steep 5 minutes. Remove and discard tea bags; cool to room temperature.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, stirring with a whisk. Place cream cheese and butter in a large bowl, beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 3 minutes). Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until well combined. Beat in brewed tea and vegetable oil. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition.

Using clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently stir one-third of egg white mixture into batter; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture.

Spoon batter into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean (it took me closer to 50 minutes). Cool in pan on a wire rack.

Checkerboard Cookies

Canadian Living

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
2 Tbsp vanilla
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp table salt

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave, then let cool to room temperature.

In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 of the eggs, 1 at a time, then beat in vanilla. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt; stir into butter mixture in 3 additions, using hands if too stiff to stir.

Remove half of the dough for vanilla dough. Stir chocolate into remaining dough in bowl, using hands to blend thoroughly.

Divide vanilla dough in half, and shape into flat squares. Place dough, one square at a time, between 2 sheets of waxed paper; roll into two 7-inch squares. Chill for about 30 minutes or until firm. Using ruler and sharp knife, cut each square into nine 3/4-inch wide strips. Repeat with chocolate dough.

Place about 1-foot long piece of plastic wrap on work surface. Alternating vanilla and chocolate strips, place 3 strips of dough directly on plastic wrap, close but not touching. Whisk remaining egg; brush over sides and tops of strips. Gently press strips together to adhere. Repeat, forming second and third layers and alternating placement of strips, to create checkerboard effect. Gather plastic wrap up to cover log; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days. Repeat for second log, reversing colour pattern.

Heat oven to 350.

With sharp knife, trim ends and cut each log into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange 1-inch apart on parchment paper-lined rimless baking sheet. Bake in centre of oven, rotating trays halfway through, for about 12 minutes or until set and very light golden. Let cool on pan on rack for 3 minutes. Transfer to racks to let cool completely.

Molasses Spice Cookies

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp table salt
1/2 cup chopped raisins (optional, I didn’t use them but my mom said they would have been a good idea, and The Joy agrees)

Heat oven to 350. Beat the butter until soft, then add the sugar and blend until light and creamy. Beat in the egg and molasses.

Sift the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Alternate adding in thirds the sifted ingredients and the buttermilk to the mixture in the bowl, beating smooth after each addition. (Er, that wasn’t terribly clear. Sift those things together. Add a third of the buttermilk to the butter/sugar/egg/molasses mixture. Beat smooth. Add a third of the sifted flour/soda/spices/salt to the bowl. Beat smooth. Add another third of the buttermilk, etc.)

Drop the batter in teaspoons onto a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes.

(Note: these baked up as soft little puffy cookies. I have a feeling if I made them in warmer weather, they might have coalesced into an large amorphous cookie. This happened with the Pfeffernüsse. So just be careful, and if you feel like the dough is way too loose [this may be hard to tell, as it’s a pretty loose dough anyway], put it in the fridge for 10 minutes or so before baking.)


Altered very slightly from a recipe by Tyler Florence

7 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup sweet marsala, plus 2 tablespoons
8 ounces mascarpone, softened to room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup brewed espresso coffee
1 ounce dark chocolate
1/4 cup brandy
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
48 ladyfingers
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Cream together egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Add 1/3 cup of the marsala and continue to whisk until mixture is thick and doubled in volume. (This is basically a zabaglione.) Remove from heat. Stir in the mascarpone until completely blended.
In a chilled bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture, to lighten.

In a small saucepan, combine espresso, chocolate, brandy, vanilla, and remaining 2 tablespoons marsala. Heat gently, and stir to dissolve the chocolate. Then, chill the mixture to cool it down, about 15 minutes. Quickly dip each ladyfinger in the chilled coffee mixture and arrange in a single layer on a 9 by 13-inch glass baking pan. Do not soak the cookies or they will become too moist. Spread 1/2 the mascarpone cream evenly with a spatula on top of the dipped ladyfingers. Repeat with a second layer of dipped ladyfingers and remaining mascarpone cream. Sprinkle top with cocoa powder. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to two or three days before serving.

Baraziq (sesame cookies)

from Mediterranean Street Food by Anissa Helou

4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
pinch salt
1/3 teaspoon baking powder

For the garnish:
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1/2 cup quartered pistachio nuts
1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted in a nonstick pan until lightly golden

Put the sugar and softened butter in a mixing bowl and work together with a wooden spoon until completely blended. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend with your hands until you have a soft dough. If the dough is too soft to work with immediately, refrigerate it for 1 hour. Divide the dough into 18-20 pieces to make small baraziq or 6 pieces to make the larger size.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Shape each ball of dough with your hands until you have quite a thin disk, about 2 1/2 inches wide, and place on a large platter. When you have shaped all the disks, dip each in the egg white, then in the pistachios on one side and the toasted sesame seeds on the other. Make sure you coat them well with the seeds. Arrange on the lined baking sheet with the pistachio side down.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown. Let cool before serving. Baraziq will keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.

Lemon Curd

Fine Living

3 oz. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest

Beat the butter with the sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Slowly beat in the eggs and yolks. Beat for 1 minute more, then stir in the lemon juice. The mixture will look curdled. Do not panic.

Cook the mixture over low heat until it becomes smooth, then increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, without letting it boil, until it thickens enough to leave a path on the back of the spoon when you drag your finger through it. If you want to go by temperature, you’re looking for 170 F.

(I mixed everything in a stainless steel bowl, then put it over a pot of simmering water and whisked for 10-12 minutes.)

Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest. Press plastic wrap onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming and chill in the refrigerator.

Banana Bread

1 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup banana pulp (~2 bananas)
1 1/2 cup minus 2 tbsp AP flour (so 1 3/8 cup)
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and beat until light. Add baking soda and sour cream. Beat well. Add bananas, flour, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Mix well with mixer on low power. Bake in buttered bread pan at 350. Start checking on it at 45 minutes, although it may end up taking closer to an hour. It’s finished when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.