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Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

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Today is St. Patrick’s Day and I have to admit, I’m well beyond drinking cheap green beer from plastic cups. I never much enjoyed crap beer anyway. In college, my friends and I would save our pennies for a pint of two of Guinness. Sure the corner bar had $1.50 pitchers of Coors Light every night but when we could, we’d spring for $4 pints of the good stuff. Really. These days my festivities turn more to good beer or Irish whiskey, old friends and delicious food. It is still just as fun if different in tone and I still enjoy a nice pint of Guinness. Which is, believe it or not, is a lot easier on your system than cheap, skunky, questionably colored beer. True story (in my inexpert but experienced opinion).

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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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Nine down, three to go in the 12 Days of Cookies people. So on Day 9 let’s talk about that holiday classic, shortbread. You really can’t have a holiday cookie assortment without a buttery shortbread of some sort, am I right? While I did a super fancy layered version back on Day 1 (Pretzel Caramel Shortbread), a simple vanilla shortbread is a classic. It’s a sure fire crowd pleaser but also fairly commonplace so let’s mix this up a bit, shall we? Lets do something interesting, with unexpected textures and flavors and a little festive color thrown in for kicks. In that spirit, today’s cookie post is Orange Cranberry Cornmeal Shortbread.

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Yes, a second coconut cookie recipe in the 12 Days of Cookies. Do you know why? Because I love coconut. I am one of its people. Coconut is delicious and I should use it more; we all should. Coconut cream pie, crisp coconut butter cookies, coconut gelato, and chewy macaroons; all are wonderful and I’ve already discussed my fondness for coconut candy bars. I especially like it with tropical flavors like pineapple, mango, citrus and how can you beat a good, properly made piña colada? It is an ingredient that has the power to immediately transport you to another place, one with sunlight and endless sandy beaches. This recipe fits right into those criteria. A little lime in the coconut, if you will.

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It seems that I collect cookie recipes. I find them, people give them to me, and sometimes they just appear. Website bookmarks, post it note tabs in cookbooks and magazines, word documents in computer files and scraps of paper and index cards, I have them all saved in some form or another. It might take me a while to get to them all but eventually I will. Projects like this give me a perfect reason to sort through them and bake away. Years ago, my friend Laurel added another one to the stack when she told me about a cookie dear to her family, a Swedish recipe they enjoy every Christmas morning. The Kringla. I had to know more.

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