The 2012 winning cookie recipes

  • Updated: November 28, 2012 - 5:24 PM

Royal Sweets With Chocolate-Balsamic Sauce, Peanut Stars Sandwich Cookies, Cranberry Pecan Swirls, Orange Ginger Drops and Cherry Almond Turnovers.

ROYAL SWEETS WITH CHOCOLATE-BALSAMIC SAUCE

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Note: Our 2012 winning cookie is from Patrice Johnson of Roseville.

For cookies:

• 4 egg whites, at room temperature

• 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

• Pinch of salt

• 1 c. superfine sugar

• 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted or whisked to remove lumps

For sauce:

• 3 oz. dark chocolate

• 1/3 c. heavy cream

• 1/4 c. packed brown sugar

• 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

• 2 tbsp. cold butter

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions

To prepare cookies: Preheat oven to 250 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on medium-high speed, beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until mixture is foamy. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until egg whites are very stiff and form solid peaks when the whisk is lifted out of the bowl, at least 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold in cocoa powder.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a star tip (or a plastic bag, with a corner cut out), fill bag with batter and pipe a basket-shaped circular cookie, 11/2 inches wide and 11/2 inches tall, with a small indented opening in the center (or make a tiny depression in top of cookie with wet finger or back of wet spoon). You could also use a small scoop to drop mounds of batter onto prepared baking sheets and make the indentation on top separately. Repeat with remaining batter.

Bake until cookies are dry and crisp on the outside but tender on the inside, 50 to 60 minutes. If cookies start to take on any color, lower heat to 200 degrees. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare sauce: In small saucepan over low heat, combine chocolate, cream and brown sugar, stirring occasionally until chocolate has melted. Stir in vinegar. Remove from heat, stir in butter until melted. Stir in vanilla extract and cool slightly. Spoon sauce into center of cookies.

 

PEANUT STARS SANDWICH COOKIES

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Note: This dough must be prepared in advance. Shelf-stable peanut butter, such as Jif o r Skippy brands, works best, because of its salt and sugar content. Both raw or roasted peanuts are suitable, and both are better when toasted. Place peanuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, and cook, stirring or shaking the pan frequently, until they just begin to release their fragrance, about 4 to 5 minutes (or preheat oven to 325 degrees, spread nuts on an ungreased baking sheet and bake, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes). Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. From John Halstrom and Trevor Howe of Minneapolis.

For cookies:

• 11/4 cups unsalted peanuts, toasted (see Note)

• 3/4 c. flour

• 1 tsp. baking soda

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

• 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter

• 1/2 c. granulated sugar

• 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar

• 3 tbsp. whole milk

• 1 egg

For filling:

• 3/4 c. creamy peanut butter

• 3 tbsp. unsalted butter

• 1 c. powdered sugar

• 1 tsp. peeled and freshly grated ginger

Directions

To prepare cookies: In a food processor, pulse toasted peanuts until finely chopped and they resemble coarse crumbs (alternately, chop peanuts very fine), and reserve.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt, and reserve.

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar and light brown sugar until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add milk and egg, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Fold in peanuts. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into 1/2-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Using moistened fingers, gently flatten cookies into 1-inch discs.

Bake until edges are slightly browned, 10 to 13 minutes. Remove from oven, cool 2 minutes and transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare filling: Place peanut butter and butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cook until mixture is easily stirred, about 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar and ginger and mix until filling is smooth.

To assemble cookies: Spread 1 teaspoon filling on the bottom of a cookie. Top with another cookie, bottom side up as if making a sandwich, and gently press cookies together. Repeat until all cookies form sandwiches.

 

CRANBERRY PECAN SWIRLS

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Note: This dough must be prepared in advance. From Annette Poole of Prior Lake.

• 1 1/2 c. flour, plus extra for rolling dough

• 1/4 tsp. baking powder

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 1/2 c. butter, at room temperature

• 3/4 c. sugar

• 1 egg

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1/3 c. finely chopped fresh cranberries

• 1/2 c. ground pecans

• 1 tbsp. freshly grated orange zest

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, and reserve.

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla extract, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

In a small bowl, combine cranberries, pecans and orange zest.

On a lightly floured work surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough to a 10-inch square. Sprinkle cranberry mixture over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border on two opposite sides. Roll dough, jelly-roll fashion, beginning at one of the borders and rolling toward the other border. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at least 8 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap dough and trim off uneven ends. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 1/4-inch thick slices and place cookies (flat side down) 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned, 14 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cool 2 minutes and transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

CHERRY ALMOND TURNOVERS

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Note: This dough must be prepared in advance. From Lance Swanson of North Branch, Minn.

For filling:

• 1/2 c. granulated sugar

• 2 tbsp. cornstarch

• 1/2 c. cherry juice (preferably the more sour Montmorency type of cherry juice)

• 3/4 c. minced dried tart cherries

• 1/2 c. grated almond paste

For dough:

• 2 c. flour, frozen, plus extra for rolling dough

• 2 rounded tbsp. sugar

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 3/4 c. (11/2 sticks) cold butter, diced

• 2 oz. cold cream cheese, cut into 1/2-in. pieces

• 6 to 7 tbsp. ice water

• 1 egg, beaten

• Decorative sugar or granulated sugar, for decoration

Directions

To prepare filling: In a small saucepan over high heat, whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in cherry juice and bring to a boil. Cook until thick, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, transfer filling to a heatproof bowl and cool to room temperature. Fold in cherries and almond paste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely cold, at least 1 hour.

To prepare dough: In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine flour, sugar and salt, and pulse until combined. Add butter and cream cheese, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until dough starts to form marble-size clumps. Press dough into 2 discs, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To assemble cookies: When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with half the dough at a time, remove dough from refrigerator and allow to stand for 5 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough to 1/16-inch thickness (dough will be quite elastic). Using a knife or a cookie cutter, cut out 2 1/2-inch squares or circles and place cookies 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough, gathering up scraps, re-rolling and cutting until all dough is used.

Drop 1 teaspoon filling in center of each square. Brush edges of cookies with beaten egg, carefully fold dough over filling to form a triangle and press edges to seal (cookies may be refrigerated at this point until ready to bake). Brush tops of cookies with beaten egg and sprinkle with decorative sugar or granulated sugar.

Bake until light golden brown, 17 to 19 minutes. Remove from oven, cool 2 minutes and transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

ORANGE GINGER DROPS

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Note: This dough must be prepared in advance. From Cheryl Francke of Arden Hills.

• 21/4 c. flour

• 2 tsp. baking soda

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 1/2 tsp. ground cloves

• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

• 1 tsp. ground ginger

• 1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. freshly grated orange zest, divided

• 1 tbsp. chopped crystallized ginger, plus extra for garnish

• 3/4 c. (11/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

• 1 c. packed brown sugar

• 1 egg

• 1/4 c. molasses

• 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice

• 3 tbsp. granulated sugar

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, cinnamon, ground ginger, 1 tablespoon orange zest and 1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, and reserve.

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and brown sugar until creamy, about 1 minute. Add egg, molasses and orange juice, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine remaining 2 teaspoons orange zest with granulated sugar. Using your fingers, blend mixture thoroughly until orange zest has crystallized appearance and texture, and reserve.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into 11/4 -inch balls. Dip dough balls in orange zest mixture and place cookies, sugar side up, 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Press a few pieces of crystallized ginger into sugared top.

Bake until cookies are set but not hard, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

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