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.

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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!