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Archive for the ‘cookies’ Category

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This one, oh lordy, this one took me some time to figure out. Growing up, our neighbor across the street would bring a platter of treats over every Christmas. Lemon tarts, apricots date bars and pecan turtles. It was the same every year, simple and in vast contrast to our reciprocal platter that was decorated to the hilt with sprinkles, jimmies, colored sugars, icings and an ungodly amount of little silver balls that probably gave us all mercury poisoning. As kids, our decorating styles leaned heavily into gaudy. Festive but certainly gaudy.

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It popped up in my news feed one day not long ago, courtesy of Saveur magazine. Titled “Turtleback Cookies: Alabama’s Almost Lost Recipe”, I was immediately intrigued. I’d never heard of a turtleback cookie and the addition of “almost lost recipe” set the stage. There it was. I was drawn in, like a moth to a flame. I needed to learn more. That my friends, is what they call a successful lede.

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1tower.lrg.IMG_6535Last Friday was World Nutella Day and according to the internet, nearly every day of the year has something delicious attached to it, sometimes more than one per day, week and month. I’ve always been intrigued by these “food holidays” and wondered how they come to be. How does February become “National Cherry Month” when cherries really aren’t in season until June or July? Or who decides that February 7 is National Fettuccine Alfredo Day? And why? A little research revealed that one can petition various government institutions – local, state and federal – for special days. Individuals, trade associations or PR firms can file a petition to honor all sorts of things – industries, professions, even hobbies. There may even be duplicates, which is why there are two National Guacamole Days during the year, authorized at different levels of government. Which is good because as we all know, one Guacamole Day certainly isn’t enough. I really hope these petitions stay at the local level, as I hate to think of the POTUS taking time out from his/her day running the country to commemorate special events for guacamole, alfredo or cherries. I shudder at the thought.

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If you were following along last month, then you’re aware I did a little 12 Days of Cookies thing for the holidays. If you weren’t, well, I did a little 12 Days of Cookies thing for the holidays. The second post of the series was Fig Mezzaluna, delicate little pastry moons filled with the most delicious, spiced fig filling. Ever since, I’ve been thinking about that damn filling and coming up with ideas on what else I could make with it. What could I wrap that wondrous concoction in? It would make a fantastic baklava kind of thing, nestled between layers of phyllo and drizzled with honey. It could fill some fantastic thumbprint cookies. My thoughts also turned to Fig Newtons, naturally. I grew up in the 70’s. Of course I’d think of Fig Newtons. How good would that filling be wrapped up in a nutty, whole wheat dough? I swooned to think of it.

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I knew it would come to this and here we are. Merry Christmas my friends and welcome to Day 12 of the 12 Days of Cookies! The final cookie is a little special, it is Christmas after all, and one I have zero expectations of you actually making today. Perhaps you’ll file it away in your mental recipe box for next year or maybe you’ll just look at the pictures, smile and move on. Whichever is fine by me because this one is a bit involved. A real project-type cookie made for special times. Neapolitan Cookies, Seven Layer Cookies, Italian Flag Cookies or Rainbow Cookies, whatever you call them we can all agree that they are a stunner.

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We find ourselves nearing the end of the 12 Days of Cookies and I find it all a little bittersweet so I’m dishing up something sweet as a counterpoint. A good palmier is a special treat and one very conducive to the festivity of the season. It’s also something not commonly found or rather, a good palmier is not commonly found. I’ve had plenty of mediocre palmier, made with subpar pastry, lacking in caramelizaation, flavor and joy. I’m here to change all that. So Day 11 … Caramelized Ginger Palmiers to make your season bright.

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Every year the Chicago Tribune, probably much like many local newspapers, has a reader Christmas cookie contest. I’d often save those annual food sections with the winning cookies and would tag the recipes that captured my attention. Sometime in the 90’s, one of the winners was an eggnog flavored butter cookie. I loved the idea but didn’t care for the recipe. As sometimes happens, the concept was more appealing than the final product but I filed away the thought for another time. So here we are many, many years later and I remembered that cookie. I decided it was perfect for Day 10 as we approach the home stretch of the 12 Days of Cookies. Eggnog Buttons it is.

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