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Cookie delights


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POSTED: Wednesday, December 09, 2009

If there's ever a cookie recipe that can be all things to all people, my mother's Royal Scotch Shortbread is it. Seemingly endless in virtue, the recipe is quick and easy for those who feel rushed by the holidays (simply press dough into a rimmed cookie sheet and bake, then cut into pieces). Yet it holds up to manipulation as well as any sugar cookie dough for those with time to employ cookie cutters and the like. And to top it off, it's delicious.

The shortbread recipe served my mother well over the years. She used it to bribe nurses everytime her children need TLC in the hospital or during weekly allergy shots. And every year, she'd pack shortbread into glass gallon jars for us to take to school Christmas parties. Sometimes she made the press-and-cut variety, squares topped with green and red sugar she concocted by combining white sugar with a few drops of food coloring. At other times, she crafted “;candy canes,”; coloring half the dough red and then twirling red and white dough sticks together for an extra-festive treat.

My own success via the shortbread came in 1980 in Mrs. Fujino's speech class at Waipahu High School. The culmination of the class was a demonstration project.

Now, I was a good student, but to my horror I realized I didn't actually know how to DO much (there's no way to turn studying into a scintillating presentation).

I had little choice but to fall back to the shortbread.

On the day of my demo, I arrived at class armed with baggies filled with raw ingredients, dough and colored sugar. I packed cookie cutters and a rimmed cookie sheet. My dad made copies of the recipe for my classmates.

I showed how three simple ingredients combined into a silky dough, how to press it into a sheet, shape it with a cutter, twirl it into a cane. As a final touch, I passed out samples.

True to form, the shortbread delivered. Mrs. Fujino gave me an A+.

No doubt everyone has a recipe that's served them just as well. To commemorate the season of giving, five Star-Bulletin staffers share their favorite cookie recipes here as a gift to our readers. Each comes with its own special place in our lives, and in that spirit, we hope you enjoy them as much as we have. My shortbread recipe is joined by:

» Assistant features editor Donica Kaneshiro's snowball cookie recipe, which is so easy and delicious she's been making it annually for 15 years.

“;The only problem is I've always got to double the recipe because of all the cookies my son and I eat while they're cooling,”; she says.

» In decades past, religion writer Mary Adamski hosted legendary cookie parties every holiday season for the Star-Bulletin staff. Here, she offers an Amish sugar cookie that uses a cookie press and hails from Wisconsin, where she grew up.

“;It's typical of that part of the world where everything is full of butter,”; Adamski says. “;But when it's baked, it's light.”;

» Page designer Charlene Robinson has been named resident baker of the newsroom. Her scrumptious treats never fail to put dreamy smiles on the faces of toiling colleagues. In fact, she baked up most of the cookies you see on these pages. Her Turnover cookies are included among the bunch.

» And last, but certainly not least, is a contribution of Coconut Washboards by “;By Request”; columnist Betty Shimabukuro.

“;These were popular in the 1920s and '30s, a time when people actually still used washboards,”; she says. “;They resemble mini-washboards, with ridges that you press in with a fork.”;

 

TOASTED COCONUT WASHBOARDS

Courtesy Betty Shimabukuro

1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
1 whole egg
1 egg, separated
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking power
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
White sugar, for dusting

Toast coconut in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown all over. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar; beat in vanilla, coconut extract, 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk (reserve egg white).

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir this mixture into butter mixture. Fold in coconut. Chill dough 20 minutes or until firm.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease baking sheets or line with parchment. Beat egg white slightly.

Roll spoonfuls of dough into logs about 2 inches long (dust hands with flour to prevent sticking). Roll logs in sugar, then 3 inches apart on baking sheets. Use a fork dipped in flour to flatten logs and create ridges in cookies. Brush with egg white. Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to racks and cool completely. Yields about 20 cookies.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per cookie: 160 calories, 7 g total fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 100 mg sodium, 23 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 2 g protein

 

ROYAL SCOTCH SHORTBREAD

Courtesy Joleen Oshiro

2 cups flour
1 cup powdered sugar
2 blocks softened butter (or substitute 1 block margarine for 1 block butter)

Leave butter out on kitchen counter an hour or two prior to start of baking to soften.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Sift flour and sugar into large bowl. Cut in butter, then knead and work dough until thoroughly mixed. Dough should be silky.

Pat dough into rimmed cookie sheet, to about 1/4-inch thickness. Or, roll out dough and cut with cookie cutters. Decorate as desired. (If dough becomes too soft, place in refrigerator for a few minutes.)

Bake for 40 minutes. Cookies made with all butter will be barely brown; if margarine is used, look for delicate golden brown color. While still warm, cut pan-pressed cookies into squares about 2 inches in size. Yields 2 dozen pan-pressed cookies.

» To make candy cane cookies: Add red food coloring to half of dough and knead until it turns dark pink. (If dough becomes too soft, place in refrigerator for a few minutes.) Pinch off small piece of red dough and roll into small ball. Roll ball into stick. Set aside and do the same with piece of white dough. Place red and white sticks side by side and twist both sticks together by rolling one end up and other end down simultaneously. Carefully place twisted stick onto cookie sheet and bend one end into hook.

» To make colored sugar: Place granulated sugar in jar, then add a couple drops of food coloring. Cover jar tightly and shake vigorously until color is blended evenly. Spread on dough and bake.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per cookie: 120 calories, 8 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 55 mg sodium, 13 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 1 g protein

 

AMISH SUGAR COOKIES

Courtesy Mary Adamski

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 and 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine ingredients in large bowl. Chill dough.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix colored sugar, green or red, into 1 cup of granulated sugar and pour on plate.

Cream rest of granulated sugar with powdered sugar, butter and oil, then add eggs and vanilla. Sifted flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt and added to mixture.

Roll chilled dough into small balls and place them a couple inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Dip cookie press into sugar mix and flatten dough balls. (Or use flat bottom of something glass: drinking glass, cup or bottle. Sugar will cling once glass gets a little oily from dough.)

Bake 7 to 10 minutes. Keep a close watch; they get dark quickly. Yields about 3-1/2 dozen.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per cookie: 180 calories, 10 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 100 mg sodium, 22 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 12 g sugar, 2 g protein

 

TURNOVER COOKIES

Courtesy Charlene Robinson

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup preserves, any flavor, or for chocolate lovers use Nutella (hazelnut and cocoa spread)
Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Cream butter and cream cheese. Add flour and mix. Chill for at least 1 hour.

Roll out dough on floured surface and cut out 3-inch circles. Place a less than a teaspoon full of preserves in center of circle.

Moisten edges with water and fold over into crescent shape. Seal edges with fork.

Bake 20 minutes or until light brown.

Mix powdered sugar and milk for glaze and drizzle over cooled cookies. Yields 2 dozen.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per cookie: 160 calories, 9 g total fat, 6 g saturated fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 15 mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 11g sugar, 1 g protein

 

SNOWBALL COOKIES

Courtesy Donica Kaneshiro

1 cup soft butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus extra for rolling cookies
2-1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Mix butter and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Sift and add flour and salt. Add nuts.

Chill dough. Roll into 1-inch balls. Bake at 350 on ungreased cookie sheet until set but not brown. Roll in powdered sugar while hot. Re-roll when cold. Yields about 4-1/2 dozen.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per cookie: 70 calories, 4.5 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 35 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 1 g protein