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Springtime Sweets – Tut

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets On March 29, 2018 0 Comments

Persians (modern-day Iranians) celebrated New Year on March 20 – it’s called Nowruz. Like people of the Persian culture, many of us observe Springtime celebrations that have come to us from the ancient past.

For my celebration of Springtime and Easter, I’m making Persian sweets called Tut. Although I’ve posted a similar marzipan recipe in the past, this one is different. Tut are easy to make and kids will love shaping these delicious sweets. Happy Belated Nowruz, Happy Passover, Happy Easter and Happy Springtime!

Prep time: 50 to 60 minutes
Makes: 40 to 50 sweets

Ingredients:
1/4 to 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1-3/4 cups raw, ground almonds (skinless)
3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 to 3 teaspoons rosewater (you can add more, if you like a stronger flavor)
3 tablespoons slivered unsalted pistachios
3 tablespoons slivered almonds
food coloring for red and green (follow instructions on food coloring package for making green)

Directions:
1. Place the granulated sugar in an 10-inch shallow, wide bowl; set aside.

2. In a 1 to 2-quart bowl, combine the almonds, concessioners’ sugar (not the granulated sugar) and cardamom.

3. Using a fork, stir the ingredients until well-blended.

4. Gradually (a little at a time), add the rosewater and stir with a fork.

5. With your hands, knead the mixture until it amalgamates well. If it is dry and crumbly, add a little more rosewater or drinking water.

6. Divide the almond-sugar mixture into three parts – place each part in a separate bowl.

7. Add 1 drop of red food coloring to one dough section in bowl. If it is too light, add 1 more drop; mix well. Set aside.

8. Following food coloring package instructions, add the required yellow & blue food coloring to the second dough section to create green tut or sweets. Mix well & set aside.

Shaping the Sweets:

1. Working with the white tut, take a 1/2-inch piece of dough, roll it and shape it into a slight oval.

2. Roll the oval tut or sweet in the granulated sugar, shaking off excess.

3. At top of tut or sweet, insert a slivered pistachio or almond. Set aside on a serving plate.

4. Continue shaping remaining mixture and then the red and oval mixtures into ovals, rolling in sugar and alternately inserting a pistachio or almond sliver.

5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time.

6. Springtime Sweets can be made a day or two ahead of time, covered and refrigerated.
Text & Photograph ©2018 Nancy DeLucia Real

Nancy’s Lebkuchen (German Spice Cookies)

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets, Holidays On December 12, 2017 0 Comments

Lebkuchen are sweet, spicy cookies that pop up during Christmastime. These cookies derive from a honey cake dating back to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome.

Today’s lebkuchen were invented by monks in 13th-century Franconia, Germany. Image.Lebkuchner1520WikipediaA Lebküchner from a manuscript c. 1520, in the Stadtbibliothek Nürnberg

Although lebkuchen are baked in a variety of shapes, round is most common. These cookies are made with honey, molasses and spices, including nuts (almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts) or candied fruit. They are then frosted with a lemon glaze and decorated in a festive manner.

The coolest thing about my recipe is that it contains no white sugar & you can prepare the dough a day ahead and refrigerate it. The next day, just cut and bake! Enjoy the lebkuchen with coffee, tea or eggnog during the Holidays!

Note: Lebkuchen in photograph are made without almonds and candied fruit.

Active Prep time: 20 minutes
Inactive Prep time: 2 hours to overnight (refrigeration of dough)
Bake time: 12 to 14 minutes
Makes: 20 cookies

Ingredients for the Cookies:
3-1/4 cups sifted all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1-1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup slivered almonds (optional)
1/2 cup candied fruit, finely chopped (optional)
vegetable oil, to coat dough prior to refrigeration

Ingredients for the Lemon Glaze:
1 large egg white, beaten
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Directions for the Cookies:
1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and salt; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, brown sugar, molasses, butter. If using the almonds and candied fruit, stir them into batter and beat together.

3. On a lightly-floured board or surface, gather the dough into a smooth ball and dust off the excess flour.

4. Lightly oil the dough, cover and seal in plastic wrap and refrigerate it from 2 hours to overnight.

5. After dough has chilled, preheat oven to 400°F.

6. Grease and flour two baking sheets measuring 12 X 18 inches. Alternatively, line the sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

7. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out the dough to 1-4-inch thickness.

8. Using a 2-inch, round cookie cutter (or other shape), cut out rounds from the dough. If you do not have a cookie cutter, use the rim of a glass, turned upside down.

9. Place the cut rounds of dough onto the baking sheets, spaced 1-1/2 inches apart.

10. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes or until firm to the touch.

11. After 12 minutes if lebkuchen are too soft, bake for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

12. Cool lebkuchen to room temperature.

Directions for the Lemon Glaze:
1. In a small bowl, stir together the beaten egg white and lemon juice.

2. Stir in the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth.

3. Lightly brush the glaze over lebkuchen and immediately decorate with green and red crystal sugars.
Text & Green/Red Lebkuchen Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

Spider-Web Biscotti

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets, Holidays On October 16, 2017 0 Comments

Biscotti (Italian, for “twice-baked) are Italian cookies that are baked as logs on a cookie sheet. After cooling, they are cut and baked once more – this makes them dry and crunchy.

Make these Spider-Web Biscotti by frosting them with swirly lines. Kids of all ages will love’em. Happy Halloween!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 25 to 30 minutes
Makes: 22 to 24 biscotti

Ingredients for the Biscotti:
2 cups all-purpose, unbleached white flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Hershey’s Cocoa® preferred)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Dash ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 lb (1 stick) unsweetened butter, room temperature
1-1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup roasted, slivered almonds (optional)
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Ingredients for the Orange Frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons cold water
4 drops yellow food color
1 to 2 drops red food color

Preheat Oven & Prepare the Cookie Dough:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Line one 18 X 12 baking sheet with parchment paper. Alternatively, butter the baking sheet, add 1 tablespoon flour; shake off excess flour and set aside.

3. In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; set aside.

4. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

5. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract; stir in the almonds and chocolate chips.

6. Gradually (a little at a time) beat in the flour mixture until all ingredients are amalgamated or uniform.

7. Shape dough into one ball. Divide the ball in two smaller balls.

8. On a lightly-floured surface, gently roll out one ball until it forms a log, measuring 14 inches long by 1-3/4 inches wide.

9. Gently lift and place the log on the baking sheet – about 1 inch from the long edge (this ensures that there is room for the next log).

10. Repeat rolling instructions for the remaining log and place it about 3 inches away from the first log.

Bake the Cookie Logs:

1. Place the baking sheet on a rack positioned in center of oven.

2. Bake the cookie logs for 25 to 30 minutes or until they spring to the touch.

3. When cookie logs have baked, transfer the cookie sheets to a rack or a counter.

4. Leave cookie logs on sheets to cool for 5 minutes.

Cut & Bake the Biscotti:
1. After 5 minutes, gently transfer one cookie log on a cutting board.

2. Using a serrated knife, cut DOWN into the log in this manner: You will cut 3/4-inch wide biscotti by positioning the point of the knife at top edge of the log.

3. In one motion, bring the knife down and cut through the log.

3. Cut the remaining biscotti into 3/4-wide slices.

4. Carefully place the biscotti, cut-side down on the baking sheet.

5. Bake 5 minutes per side. Remove baking sheet from oven and set aside on a counter – let biscotti cool completely.

Prepare Frosting & Decorate the Biscotti:
1. In a 3-cup mixing bowl, combine the powdered sugar with the water. If the mixture is too dry, add about 1/2 teaspoon more water. It should not be too runny nor too hard.

2. Add the food color – you may need to adjust the tone by adding 1 more drop yellow or red food color.

3. Transfer the orange frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a narrow tip.

4. Lay out the cooled biscotti on a baking sheet and drizzle the frosting over each one, creating a web-like pattern.

5. Serve biscotti immediately or store them in a tightly covered container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
Text & Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

Coconut Oatmeal Cookies (Vegan)

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets On March 12, 2017 0 Comments

I finally figured out how to make chewy, coconut oatmeal cookies. And yes – they’re deliciously vegan. Enjoy!

Active prep time: 25 minutes
Inactive prep time:30 minutes
Bake time:10 to 14 minutes
Makes:12 cookies

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (white, as opposed to wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil (preferably safflower, sunflower or canola oil)
2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut (preferably Baker’s® brand)
2 cups raw, old-fashioned oatmeal (do not use instant oatmeal)
1 cup unbleached, granulated sugar
1/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons dark or light molasses

Prepare Cookie Dough:
1. Line an 18 X 12-inch baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3. In a 3 to 4-quart mixing bowl or in a stand mixer, combine the oil, coconut, oatmeal, sugar, water and molasses.

4. If using a mixing bowl, with a hand mixer, beat all ingredients until they are uniform. If using a stand mixer, set speed on medium-high and mix all ingredients until they are uniform. Do not overheat.

5. Gradually (a little at a time), add the flour-salt mixture until the ingredients amalgamate or hold together.

6. Turn out the cookie mixture onto a floured, 16 X 12-inch waxed paper sheet.

7. Press the mixture to form a circle that is 1/4-inch thick. The circle may extend to a 12 to 14-inch diameter.

8. Slide the waxed paper onto a flat platter or baking sheet.

9. Refrigerate the baking sheet with cookie dough for 30 minutes.

Shape & Bake Cookies:
1. After 30 minutes, transfer the baking sheet with refrigerated cookie dough to a counter or working table.

2. Preheat oven to 375°F.

3. Using a 2.5 or 3-inch round cookie cutter (or an inverted glass), cut out the cookies.

4. Using a wide spatula, carefully transfer the raw, cut cookies onto a parchment-lined 18 X 12-inch baking sheet.

5. Gather the leftover dough to form a round mass.

6. Lightly four a second waxed paper sheet and press the dough mass onto its surface so that it is 1/4-inch thick.

7. Repeat cutting the cookies and transfer them with the spatula to the baking sheet.

8. Repeat gathering the dough and cutting and transferring cookies until dough is finished.

9. Place baking sheet with cookies on a rack positioned in center of oven.

10. Bake cookies for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, check to see if cookies have turned light golden brown. If they look too light, bake cookies for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
NOTE: Every oven is different, so temperature and bake times may vary.

11. When cookies are done, transfer the baking sheet to a counter or trivet. Let cookies cool so they can set.

12. After cookies have cooled to room temperature, using a spatula, transfer them to a serving platter.

13. When cookies are completely cool, place them in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

TO FREEZE COOKIES: Gently place coconut oatmeal cookies in double, freezer food bags and freeze up to one month. To serve, transfer frozen cookies to a platter or plate. When cookies are at room temperature, they are ready for serving.
Text & Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

Easter Cookies (Mexican Pastelitos)

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets, Holidays On March 18, 2016 0 Comments

These delicious cookies are from Mexico. They’re called pastelitos or little cakes. I think they look like Easter eggs. Hence, they’re a perfect dessert for Easter Sunday.

Everyone will love the flaky texture and buttery-cinnamon flavors of these melt-in-your-mouth Easter cookies!

Prep time: 25 to 30 minutes
Bake time: 25 minutes
Makes: 36 o 38 cookies

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sifted, powdered sugar (for garnish)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325°F.

2. Sift flour, cornstarch and cinnamon into a 3-cup bowl; set aside.

3. Line two 18X12-inch baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

4. In a 4-cup bowl or a stand mixer bowl, combine the butter and sugar; beat until light and fluffy.

5. Gradually add the flour mixture into the butter-sugar mixture.

6. Mix well and knead until a smooth dough forms.

7. With your hands, take a small piece of dough and shape it into a 3/4-inch ball.

8. Place it on one of the parchment-lined baking sheets.

9. Continue forming 3/4-inch balls of dough, placing them 2 inches apart on baking sheets.

10. Set baking sheets in oven and bake the cookies for 12 minutes.

11. After 12 minutes, invert upper baking sheet with bottom baking sheet; bake for an additional 12 to 13 minutes.

12. After 12 or 13 minutes, check underside of one cookie. It should look light golden brown. If it is not light golden brown, bake the cookies for an additional 5 minutes.

13. Remove the baking sheets with cookies from oven and set them on a counter to cool.

Serve the Easter Cookies:
1. When cookies have cooled, set them on a serving platter, garnished with sifted, powdered sugar.

2. FOR MAKING AHEAD: When cookies have cooled completely, sore them in double Ziploc® freezer bags up to 3 weeks ahead.

3. FOR THAWING & SERVING: Remove cookies from freezer and Ziploc® freezer bags. Place cookies on a platter to thaw for 4 hours (covered with aluminum foil). When ready to serve cookies, garnish them with sifted, powdered sugar.
Text & Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real