Cream Cheese Thumbprint Cookies

It’s that time of the year again when we reach for our recipe books and recipe cards to find the most delectable Christmas cookies recipes and prepare them for our loved ones. This year, I am adding a few new-discovered recipes to my traditional cookie menu. These Cream Cheese Thumbprint Cookies are so silky and delicious and they just melt in your mouth. Fill them with your favorite jam and enjoy the sight and the taste!

Cream Cheese Thumbprint Cookies

Cream Cheese Thumbprint Cookies

[Printable recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (225 g) butter, softened
  • 3 oz (85 g) cream cheese
  • 1 cup (200 g)sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups (320 g) all-purpose flour
  • Jam (strawberry, raspberry – seedless, apricot, etc.)

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla. Add flour and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour or until easy to handle.
  2. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place two inches apart on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, make a deep indentation in the center of each ball; fill with about 1/2 tsp jam. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for 10-12 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Cream Cheese Thumbprint Cookies

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Hello my friends! I hope everyone is doing well; I missed you all! 🙂 I took an involuntary baking break while I was trying to complete some remodeling projects in the house before the winter gets here. I have not completely abandoned my artistic expression, I started two paintings and plan to finish them before the end of the year and I’ve discovered a new passion: poetry. I’ve always liked reading poetry, but have never tried to write anything. Well, a few weeks ago a “What if I tried” thought crossed my mind, so I started thinking and putting the words together and for now they sound very good to me. I am not sure if I am going to share it with the world yet, but I am sure of one thing: writing poetry brings me so much joy!

My hope is that these chocolate sandwich cookies will bring you joy of making and of course joy of tasting! They are a treasured recipe from my old-yellow-falling-apart recipe book that I started when I was about thirteen years young. These cookies are not too sweet. Cocoa gives them just a hint of gentle bitterness and the vanilla frosting just a right amount of sweetness.

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

[Printable recipe]

Cookies:

  • 250 g (8.8 oz) flour
  • 65 g (2.2 oz )powdered sugar
  • 50 g (1.8 oz) cocoa
  • 13 g (2.5 tsp) baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 185 g (6.5 oz) unsalted butter (room temperature)

Frosting:

  • 500 ml (2 cups) milk
  • 4 TBSP flour (or corn starch)
  • 150 g (5.3 oz) powdered sugar
  • 2 packs vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 160 g (5.6 oz) unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 egg yolk (optional)

Chocolate glaze:

  • 75 g (2.6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 50 g (1.8 oz) unsalted butter

Preparation:

  1. For the cookies, combine all dry ingredients and mix for a few minutes. Add egg and butter and mix on slow until resembles a crumbly mixture. Flour your working surface and knead the dough by hand until nice and smooth. Flatten it, cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  2. While the cookie dough rests in the fridge prepare the filling.
  3. Mix the flour with a couple of spoons of milk until smooth. Let the milk boil at a low temperature and pour the flour mixture into boiling milk. Whisk constantly until it starts thickening, then remove from heat and let it cool completely.
  4. In a mixing bowl combine butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix all together. You may add an egg yolk for a nice color, but it’s not essential. Now add this mixture to the flour base and whip it at high speed until well combined and fluffy.
  5. Now line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured surface roll out the cookie dough to about 1/2 cm (or 3/16 inch) thick and cut out cookies with a round cookie cutter (about 3-3.5 cm or 1 ¼ inch in diameter)
  6. Bake at 180 C or 350 F for about 12-14 minutes.
  7. Cool down completely. Glue two cookies together with the frosting.
  8. Melt chocolate and butter, let cool down for a few minutes and pour a teaspoon of the glaze on the top of each cookie.

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Flour_Milk frosting

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Šape…or…Bear Paws shortbread cookies

Šape are one of the most loved, traditional Bosnian treats. When translated to English, šapa (sing.) simply means a “paw”. The old tins were shaped like bear paws, hence the name. I remember playing with my grandmother’s šape tins when I was a little girl. They had that gray and brownish patina from years of use and I wish I had somehow saved them…Today the tins come in all different shapes and can be purchased here. A madeleine tin can also be used to make šape.

Bear paws are made from simple ingredients, readily available in every household. Biting into a šapa can instantly take me back to my grandmother’s little kitchen, with wooden floors, green credenza and an old tin box she kept them in. Šape are made for birthdays, feasts, weddings, christenings, Christmas and almost every other special occasion. They are sort of a shortbread cookie, originally made with lard, but are just as good made with butter. Traditionally, walnuts are used in the cookie, but I’ve seen them made with shredded coconut, poppy seeds or spiced with cinnamon. The crumbly dough is pressed into tin forms, placed onto a cookie sheet, baked and tossed in powdered sugar. They simply melt in your mouth!

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Šape or Bear Paws

[print recipe]

Yields about 30-35 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 120 g /4.2 oz lard (or 140 g /4.9 oz butter)
  • 120 g / 4.2 oz sugar
  • 1 vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 120 g / 4.2 oz ground walnuts
  • 300 g / 10.5 oz / 2 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 13 g / about 1 tsp baking powder
  • A few tsp of milk (if needed)
  • 1 – 2  tbsp honey (optional)

+

  • Powdered sugar
  • Baking tins
  • Butter (melted) to brush the tins

Preparation:

  1. Beat lard (or butter), sugar and vanilla for about 3-4 minutes, then add egg and lemon zest and mix for couple of more minutes.
  2. Add ground walnuts.
  3. Combine flour and baking powder; add to the lard mixture.
  4. The dough will be crumbly. If too dry, add a tbsp or two milk
  5. Brush the tins with melted butter, fill them about 2/3 with dough.
  6. Place the tins on a cookie sheet and bake at 180 C / 355 F for about 15 minutes or until golden-brown color.
  7. Let them cool down for a minute or two, remove from tins and liberally dust with powdered sugar.

Enjoy with a cup of coffee, tea or dip in milk! 🙂

Sape preparation

Šape forms

Šape

Šape

Šape

Ginger Polenta Cookies (with cranberries and walnuts)

My Christmas Bakery is in full swing. This week I made a ton of Razz-Ma-Tazz Bars which seem to be everyone’s favorite. I made my first brittle and a whole bunch of different Christmas cookies, which I will be posting in the next few days. For today I chose the ginger polenta cookies. These are new to me and they have exceeded my expectations. I adapted the recipe from one of the many holiday cookie magazines that I’ve collected over the years.

Ginger Polenta Cookies

Ginger Polenta Cookies (with cranberries and walnuts)

[printable recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups (320 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2  cup (80 g) polenta or yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2  cup (50 g) toasted nuts (walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, etc. – I’ve used walnuts)
  • 1/2  cup dried (50 g) cranberries (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 orange (zest + 1 TBSP juice)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 sticks (225 g) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
  • 1 large egg  + 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) crystallized ginger (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 TSP ground ginger

Preparation:

  1. Stir together flour, polenta, nuts, cranberries and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugar in a mixer bowl at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, egg yolk, orange zest and juice, chopped ginger and ground ginger. Add flour and mix at low speed until combined.
  3. Gather dough into a ball and divide in half. Shape into 2 (9 inch) logs and wrap in plastic wrap with ends sealed. Refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or until firm.
  4. Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C). Cut logs into 1/4  inch slices and place them onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake 15-18 minutes or until slightly golden at edges. Cool  completely and serve.

*** I added a bit of chopped candied lemon peel for a hint of green color.

Bon Appetite!

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Ginger polenta cookies

Ginger polenta cookies

Date-Orange Swirl Cookies

It’s that time of the year again when I open up a Christmas Bakery in my own little kitchen to do labor of love. Baking has always been one of my favorite hobbies but baking Christmas cookies goes into a special category. I try to involve the whole family in the process. Kids and I are usually mixing, baking, assembling, decorating and guess who is tasting? The man of the house! That was easy to predict, wasn’t it? 😀 These cookies are one of my favorites. You should try and see how date and orange filling fits perfectly into the cream cheese pastry!

Date Cookies

Date-Orange Swirl Cookies

[printable recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cup dates (pitted and finely chopped)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 3 cups + 1 TBSP all purpose flour
  • 2 TSP vanilla extract
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TSP baking soda
  • 1/2 TSP salt

Preparation:

  1. Mix dates, orange juice, sugar, butter and 1 TBSP flour in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until thick. Add 1 TSP vanilla; set aside.
  2. Beat brown sugar, cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until creamy. Add eggs and remaining TSP vanilla; beat 2 minutes.
  3. Combine remaining 3 cups flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add to cream cheese mixture and stir until blended. Divide dough in half. Roll one half of the dough on a lightly floured surface into 12 X 9 inch rectangle. Spread half date mixture over dough and tightly roll it up jelly-roll style. Wrap in plastic wrap and leave it in the freezer for at least 1 hour. Repeat with remaining dough and date mixture.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F ( ). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Cut dough into 1/4 inch slices. Place them 1 inch apart and bake about 12 minutes or until golden.

Bon Appétit!

Artist Trading Cards Party and Razz-Ma-Tazz Bars

After a disappointing Friday when I headed to Chicago to meet with my best friend and didn’t make it there because my reliable German car broke down on the highway, my Saturday turned out to be quite pleasant. For the first time ever I participated in Artist Trading Cards project. There were 30 artists who participated. We all had to make 1 card a day for 30 days starting September 1st. The purpose of making one card a day is just to stay involved in your art since many of us don’t do art for living and in this busy world of  ours it is hard to find time to paint. So after 30 days we all supposed to have 900 cards all together. Party was taking place last Saturday at St. Joseph, Michigan, a beautiful town at the Lake Michigan shore. Everyone was asked to bring a dish to share, so I decided to go with Razz-Ma-Tazz Bars (see my Christmas edition here) that really have never failed to put ones taste buds in awe. Party went very well, cards were traded, food was great and the company of fellow artists excellent. I came home happy, I made some new friends, I got 30 new trading cards and all the bars were eaten! 🙂

Razz-Ma-Tazz Bars

[printable recipe]

*** I use a 1.5 measure of batter for the 9 X 13 inch baking pan. The quantities below are for the 9 X 9 inch square pan. ***

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (115 g) butter or margarine
  • 2 cups (335 g) NESTLE TOLL HOUSE Premier White Morsels, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup (170 g) seedless raspberry jam (I use with seeds and I also add 1 cup of frozen raspberries)
  • 1/4 cup (35 g) sliced almonds

Directions

  1. PREHEAT oven to 325 degrees F (162 C). Grease and sugar 9-inch-square baking pan.
  2. MELT butter in medium, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 1 minute; stir. Add 1 cup morsels; let stand. Do not stir.
  3. BEAT eggs in large mixer bowl until foamy. Add sugar; beat until light lemon colored, about 5 minutes. Stir in morsel-butter mixture. Add flour, salt and almond extract; mix at low speed until combined. Spread 2/3 of batter into prepared pan.
  4. BAKE for 15 to 17 minutes or until light golden brown around edges. Remove from oven to wire rack.
  5. HEAT jam in small, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 30 seconds; stir. Spread jam over warm crust. Stir remaining morsels into remaining batter. Drop spoonfuls of batter over jam. Sprinkle with almonds.
  6. BAKE for 25 to 30 minutes or until edges are browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.

♦♦♦

Here are some of my trading cards that I’ve taken to the party.

Watercolor and watercolor pencil:

An apple in pastel…

…and two pencil sketches:

Here are some photos of other artists cards and of the atmosphere in the studio:


Butternut Squash Cookies

While I was on a short break from baking I spent time painting, remodeling my kids rooms and participating in the Artist Trading Cards project. All these activities are coming to their end (will write about it in the future) and I am again longing to spend time with my favorite friends: flour, butter, rolling pin and the rest of the gang. 🙂 I really enjoy fall baking! When I think of fall baking, I think of apples, pumpkins, squash, cinnamon, brown sugar and fragrant aromas enveloping the whole house. Last week I baked a butternut squash for dessert and had about a half of it left. I came to the idea to use it as a filling for cookies. The cookies turned out to be a huge hit with my family and friends, so I hope you will enjoy them too. These are absolutely one of the best cookies I’ve ever made. They melt in your mouth and are delicious warm or cold, just by itself or paired up with a cup of milk, coffee or tea.

Butternut Squash Cookies                                              

[printable recipe]

Yields about 40 cookies

* First bake butternut squash or pumpkin with 50 g (1/4 cup) brown sugar and 1 TBSP butter.

Cookie dough:

  • 250 g (8.8 oz) butter (softened)
  • 150 g (5.3 oz) sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 350 g (12.3 oz) all-purpose flour

Filling:

  • 250 g (8.8 oz) baked and mashed butternut squash (or pumkin)
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 80 g (2.8 oz) walnuts (chopped)

* Before starting with the dough prepare a fresh butternut squash or pumpkin. I use butternut squash because is most flavorful in my opinion. You will need about half of one medium squash. Peel it, remove seeds and cut into cubes. Mix with 1/4 cup of brown sugar and one melted tablespoon of butter. Place it into a casserole dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 20-30 minutes at 400 F (200 C).

For the cookie dough beat together softened butter, sugar and salt until foamy. Add one egg and egg yolk until incorporated and then add flour (little by little) until all used up.  You may want to leave the dough in the fridge for about 1/2 an hour.

While the dough is resting mash 250 baked butternut squash, add brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped walnuts. Mix until well incorporated.

On a floured surface roll your dough into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Cut into 1 ½ inches squares so your cookies are even in size. Pat each rectangle with your fingers until about 2 inches in diameter. Place a teaspoon of filling onto cookie dough, close it up and lightly flatten it. Place it onto cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Repeat until all cookie dough is gone.

Bake at 375 F (190 C) for 12 minutes. Don’t let them brown, they need to stay light. Cool slightly and dust with powder sugar. These cookies melt in your mouth! You can also choose different fillings such as almond filling, poppy seed, chocolate, nutella, etc.

XVII Century Anise Seed Cookies

My son had an assignment in his English class which included writing an essay about a 17th century English poet – Andrew Marvell, presenting the essay dressed as closely as Marvell and making a dish from the same period. Of course my son decided to tell me that he needed the food the very evening before the project was due. My quick web search for the 17th century English recipes resulted in a quite interesting list of recipes from which I chose one for anise seed  cookies or biscuits.

Recipe presented in its original language:

To make Bisket.

Take the yolks of two dozen of egges, two handful of Anniseeds, a little yest, one pound of butter, one quart of creame, foure pound of fine wheat flowre, work all these together in a paste, and make it up in long rouls being something flat, then lay them upon papers, and set them into the Oven and bake them, (but not throughly) then let them stand a day or two, then cut them into slices, and rub them over with small beaten sugar, then lay them upon papers, and set them into the Oven, until they be hard.

Of course, I had to adjust it…. What would I do with the amount of cookies made with two dozen egg yolks? 😀 I used 1/4 of listed ingredients, instead of yeast I used a bit of baking powder and I also didn’t wait a day or two, but baked the cookies right away. I was amazed how smooth and silky the cookie dough was. The cookies turned out to be a delight, very tasty and just sweet enough. My son took them to school and said they were gone in less than five minutes. I hope he got an A! I am going to make them again!

Anise Cookies or Biscuits                   Printable recipe

Ingredients:

  • 6 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup (50 g) sugar
  • ¼ lb (113 g) butter (room temperature)
  • 1 ½  tablespoon anise seeds
  • 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 lb (453 g) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Sugar to coat the cookies

Preparation:

  1. In a bowl whisk softened butter and sugar until fluffy. Add on by one egg yolk mixing the whole time.
  2. Add anise seed and mix thoroughly.
  3. Now add cream and at the end flour combined with baking powder. The dough will be quite firm and smooth.
  4. Form the dough into two logs, each about 1.5 inches (4 cm) in diameter. Flatten each log a bit as to form a rectangular shape.
  5. Wrap the logs into plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge at least an hour.
  6. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 365 F (185 C).
  7. Cut the logs into 3/8 inch (1 cm) thick cookies. Dip each cookie in sugar and place on the baking sheet.
  8. Bake them about 12-14 minutes, let them cool down and enjoy with some tea, hot chocolate or milk.

Non Plus Ultra

I first learned about Non Plus Ultra cookies when I was a teenager. I was totally intrigued by the name and had to find out what it meant. I made sure to write down the recipe in my own recipe book that I started back then and I still keep it as a precious treasure. This little recipe book connects me with past times when life in Bosnia was peaceful and probably much better and safer than today. It connects me with my mom who encouraged me to start collecting recipes and taught me how to bake.

Turning the pages of my old recipe book today, I stumbled across the Non Plus Ultra cookies recipe and just had to make them. With a good reason they have been named Non Plus Ultra, which in Latin means: Nothing further beyond; The ultimate; Perfection. Looking at the list of ingredients one would not think that something special could come out of it, but somehow all the ingredients come together in a perfect harmony and make this cookie a one-bite, crispy, melt-in-your-mouth perfection.

Non Plus Ultra cookies              Printable recipe

Ingredients:

  • 280 g (2 ¼ cups) all-purpose flour
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
  • 1 pack of vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 250 g (1 1/10 cup) butter at room temperature
  • 3 eggs (divided)
  • 200 g (1 cup) sugar
  • Apricot jam


Preparation:

1. For the cookie dough combine flour, sugar and vanilla, add butter, egg yolks and mix until compact and smooth-looking. Cover with plastic foil and chill for about 30 minutes.

2. In a bowl mix egg whites and sugar just until combined. Place the bowl on a dish with boiling water and lightly heat it until all sugar dissolves.

3. Transfer the mixture into a bowl of a stand mixer and beat it on high for about 10 minutes or until firm peaks form. Set aside and cover.

4. Take the cookie dough out of the fridge and roll it out 4-5 mm thick and cut out small, round cookies. Place them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.

5. Fill the meringue mixture in a decorating bag and squeeze a bit of it on each cookie.

6. Preheat the oven to 150 C (300 F), place the cookie sheet in and turn it down to 120 C (250 F). After 12 minutes lower it to 85 C (185 F) and bake for 10-12 minutes more. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

7. Put two cookies together in a sandwich with a small amount of apricot jam and voila! You have your Non Plus Ultra cookies – a true perfection!

Bon Appétit!