Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cookin' Cookies

We wanted to make Christmas cookies together. The grandfather was a huge fan of pignoli cookies. Choosing a recipe was a challenge, because we didn't want the cookies to be crunchy. Rather, they should be "al dente": chewy to the tooth. This recipe is the perfect texture for a pignoli cookie. He meticulously placed the pignoli nuts in the cookie (such as in the photo), whearas I clustered mine all over. Both balances of nuts were delicious! I recommend this recipe anytime when you have leftover pignoli nuts after making pesto (he made an arugala pesto a week earlier).

PIGNOLI COOKIES (courtesy of

1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
1/4 c. unsifted all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1 can (8 oz.) almond paste
2 egg whites
1 jar (3 oz.) pignoli nuts
Preheat oven to 300 F. Grease two large cookie sheets. Sift together granulated sugar and 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar with flour and salt; set aside.
In a medium bowl, break up almond paste into small pieces using a fork. Add egg whites and beat with electric mixer at medium speed until well blended and smooth.
With a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until well blended. Using slightly rounded teaspoonfuls, roll dough between hands into balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Place balls 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Lightly press into rounds, 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Press nuts into tops. Bake at 300 F. 20 to 25 minutes or until cookies are golden. Remove to wire rack and cool. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Store several days in tightly covered container to mellow. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen

I saw the peanut butter and jelly thumbprint cookies in December's Cooking Light and really wanted to bake them for Christmas! My best friend did a cookie exchange with her supper club a week ago and someone made these cookies. I liked them, but didn't love them. The person didn't use chunky peanut butter, which is a must for this recipe. I also didn't like the way the raspberry jam tasted; I wanted an authentic flavor. So, I picked up Polaner Grape fruit spread and wow...what an amazing difference! These tasted like a peanut butter sandwich in cookie form! Just make sure you have lots of milk on hand when you eat these.

2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter *do not use creamy - it will ruin the flavor*
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray
7 tablespoons seedless raspberry preserves **I used Polaner Grape Fruit Spread**
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Preparation: Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and salt, stirring well with a whisk; set aside.
Place sugars, peanut butter, and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating on low speed just until combined.
Lightly coat hands with cooking spray. Shape dough into 36 balls (about 2 1/2 teaspoons each). Place balls 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Press thumb into center of each dough ball, leaving an indentation. Cover and chill 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Uncover dough. Bake at 350° for 14 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove cookies from pans, and cool on a wire rack.
Place preserves in a small microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at HIGH 20 seconds, stirring once. Add juice, stirring until smooth. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon preserves mixture into the center of each cookie.
Yield 3 dozen (serving size: 1 cookie)

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