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Continued: Recipes: 2009 winner and finalists

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  • Last update: December 2, 2009 - 4:00 PM

ALMOND TRIANGLES

Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. "I found this recipe many years ago in First for Women magazine," wrote contest winner Charlotte Midthun of Granite Falls, Minn. "Everyone who tastes them wants the recipe. They are my family's favorite."

• 2 c. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided

• 3/4 c. granulated sugar, divided

• 1 egg

• 3/4 tsp. almond extract

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 23/4 c. flour

• 1 c. packed brown sugar

• 1/3 c. honey

• 1/4 c. heavy cream, at room temperature

• 1 lb. (about 51/4 c.) sliced almonds

Directions

Carefully line a 10- by 15-inch jellyroll pan with aluminum foil, shiny side up.

To prepare dough: In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat 1 cup (2 sticks) butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add 1/2 cup granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, almond extract and salt, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low, add flour and mix until just incorporated.

Press dough evenly into pan and push dough up sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a fork, prick dough in 20 to 24 places all across dough and bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To prepare topping: In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, honey, remaining 1 cup (2 sticks) butter and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves.

Increase heat to medium-high, bring mixture to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and stir in cream. Stir in almonds.

Spread almond mixture evenly over crust. Return pan to oven and bake until bubbling, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer pan to a wire rack to cool. While bars are still slightly warm, cut into triangles.

 

CLARE-OES

Makes about 15 sandwich cookies.

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. "I have been baking since I was a little girl," wrote finalist Jane Stern of Minneapolis. "In 2002, Tish Boyle came out with 'The Good Cookie' [Wiley, $34.95]. I have made many of her cookies, but this one has stayed on the top of my list. She calls the cookie 'Amy-oes.' I made a slight change in the ingredients and call them 'Clare-oes' after my daughter Clare."

For cookies:

• 11/4 c. flour, plus extra for rolling dough

• 2 tsp. instant espresso powder

• 1/4 tsp. salt

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

• 3/4 c. granulated sugar

• 1 egg

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 3/4 c. Dutch processed cocoa powder, sifted

For buttercream filling:

• 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

• 1 c. plus 2 tbsp. powdered sugar

• 1 tbsp. strongly brewed coffee, cooled, plus extra if filling is too thick

Directions

To prepare cookies: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, espresso powder and salt, and reserve.

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and beat until thoroughly combined, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add vanilla extract and beat until thoroughly combined.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add cocoa powder, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary and mixing until just incorporated. Add flour mixture in three additions, mixing until just incorporated.

Divide dough into two equal pieces, shape into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured work surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness (or roll between two sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper). Using a 2-inch round or scalloped cookie cutter, quickly cut as many circles as possible and transfer cookies to baking sheets, spacing cookies 1 inch apart.

Repeat with remaining dough, gathering up scraps, re-rolling and cutting until all dough is used (re-refrigerating dough if it becomes too soft). Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, until they no longer look wet and are soft to the touch, 7 to 9 minutes; do not overbake. Remove from oven, cool for 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare buttercream filling: In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and gradually add powdered sugar, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add coffee and mix until blended (adding more, 1 teaspoon at a time, if necessary to reach desired consistency). Increase speed to high and beat until buttercream is creamy, about 2 minutes.

To assemble cookies: Spoon 1 teaspoon buttercream filling into center of bottom of a cookie. Top with another cookie, bottom side up, as if making a sandwich, and gently press cookies together until filling spreads evenly to about 1/16-inch from edge. Repeat until all cookies form sandwiches.

 

FRENCH-SWISS BUTTER COOKIES

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. "This recipe is from the 1950s," wrote finalist Ramona Doebler of Elk River. "My mother made them when I was growing up. After I got married, I asked for the recipe but it was lost. So, I sent a request to readers of your newspaper. I still have the letter with the recipe dated Dec. 16, 1969, from Mrs. Myrtle Eveland of Anoka, Minn. I make them every Christmas cookie-baking season."

• 1 c. (2 sticks) butter

• 1 c. sugar

• 1 egg yolk (reserve egg white)

• 21/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

• 2 c. flour, plus extra for pressing dough

• Finely chopped walnuts (or pecans or decorative sugar)

Directions

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolk and beat until thoroughly combined.

Reduce speed to low, add cinnamon and flour and mix until just incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, slightly beat reserved egg white with a fork. Roll dough into small balls and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Dip a flat-bottomed glass in flour and press dough to 1/8- or 1/16-inch thickness, re-flouring glass with each cookie.

Brush a little egg white in center of each cookie and sprinkle chopped walnuts (or pecans or decorative sugar) in center of cookie. Bake 10 to 12 minutes; do not overbake. Remove from oven, cool for 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

KOLACHES

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. "My mom made these every Christmas and for special occasions when I was growing up, and I have made them for most of my 41 years of marriage," wrote finalist Pat Monson Johnson of Eden Prairie. "My dad, who is no longer living, made a special 3-inch square-shaped cookie cutter for my mom to use in cutting out the dough. I now have it and it is such a strong reminder of my dad and how he solved little problems around the house." Johnson prefers using raspberry and apricot preserves.

• 4 c. flour, plus extra for rolling dough

• 1 envelope (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast

• 2 c. (4 sticks) cold butter, cut into small pieces

• 2 egg yolks

• 1 c. sour cream

• 3 egg whites

• 1 c. granulated sugar

• About 2 c. fruit preserves

• Powdered sugar for garnish

Directions

To prepare pastry: In a large bowl, sift flour. Sprinkle yeast over flour. Using a pastry cutter, cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg yolks and sour cream and stir until well combined (dough will be thick). Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

To prepare cookies: When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip egg whites for 2 minutes. Slowly add granulated sugar, whipping egg whites to stiff, glossy (but not dry) peaks and reserve.

On a lightly floured work surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll 1 cup of cookie dough (keeping remaining dough in refrigerator so it remains firm) to thickness of pie crust, roughly 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick.

Using a 3-inch cookie cutter or a pastry or pizza cutter, cut dough into 3-inch squares and place cookies 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.

Repeat with remaining dough, gathering up scraps, re-rolling and cutting until all dough is used. Fill each square with 3/4 teaspoon fruit preserves and 1 generous teaspoon of meringue. Pull corners of cookie into center and pinch gathered corners together tightly.

Bake cookies, one sheet at a time (cookies will reopen during baking), until pastry is golden brown (don't let cookies get too brown on bottom), about 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack placed over waxed paper to cool completely. To garnish, fill a fine strainer with powdered sugar and gently tap out powdered sugar over cooled cookies.

 

PERSIAN MOLASSES CRINKLES

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Note: "After a recent trip to Turkey I came home with a taste for the more exotic flavors of the region," wrote finalist Lance Swanson of North Branch, Minn. "So after some brainstorming, substituting and tweaking I came up with a cookie for which my tasters gave me rave reviews." Pomegranate molasses is available in Middle Eastern food shops or in the imported foods sections of most supermarkets. Or, to make pomegranate molasses, combine 4 cups pomegranate juice, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until syrup reduces to 1 cup and is the consistency of a thick syrup, about 75 minutes. Remove from heat, cool for 30 minutes and transfer to an uncovered glass jar to cool completely. To toast slivered almonds, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread nuts on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often. Remove from oven and cool.

• 21/2 c. flour

• 2 tsp. baking soda

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 3/4 c. shortening

• 1 c. sugar

• 6 tbsp. pomegranate molasses

• 2 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest

• 1 egg

• 3/4 c. slivered almonds, toasted and very finely chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

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 shortening and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add pomegranate molasses and lemon zest and beat until thoroughly combined. Add egg and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated (dough will be soft).

Form dough into 1-inch balls, dip dough into chopped almonds, place cookies 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, almonds-side up, and bake until cookies are puffed and deeply cracked, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven, cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

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