Thursday, January 5, 2012

Slice and Bake Cookies

Each year I try a few new recipes for my Christmas cookie packages.  This year I did peppermint bark and slice and bake cookies.  I tried two variations of slice and bakes: orange cranberry and lemon poppy seed.  Everyone's favorite was the orange cranberry.  I would definitely make the orange cranberry version again because I love that combination.  If I made lemon poppy seed again, I would use the zest of one more lemon and mix in only 2 or 3 tablespoons of poppy seeds.  There are many flavor variations for this recipe, and I look forward to experimenting.  If you want to try some savory slice and bake options check out these recipes (also from Dorie). 
I love the concept of slice and bakes, it's so easy.  Make the dough one night, then slice and bake the cookies on another night.  Slicing the dough makes really quick work, and you'll have a tons of cookies ready in no time.  Honestly, the hardest part  is making a round log.  It turned out to be a pain in the butt, so don't worry too much about it, just get a semi-uniform log and be done with it.

Slice-and-Bake Cookies
Adapted loosely from Dorie Greenspan as seen on Smitten Kitchen
Yield: about 4 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract
2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour

Mix in grated zest of 2 oranges and 1/2 cup dried cranberries (I finely chopped them)
Mix in grated zest of 2 lemons; coat with or mix in 1/4 cup poppy seeds (I thought it needed the zest of 1 more lemon, and 2 or 3 Tbsp should do it for the poppy seeds.)
Mix in grated zest of 2 limes; coat with 1/4 cup cornmeal
Mix in 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots; coat with or mix in 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios
Mix in 1/2 cup mini chocolate or peanut-butter chips
Mix in 1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger; coat with or mix in 1/4 cup sesame seeds
Swap 1/4 cup of flour for unsweetened cocoa
Swap 1/2 to 1 cup of flour for ground almonds, pecans, hazelnuts or walnuts

Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat at medium speed until it is smooth. Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar and beat again until the mixture is smooth and silky. Beat in the egg yolks, followed by the salt and vanilla and any dried fruits, zest, nuts or seeds. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, beating just until it disappears. It is better to underbeat than overbeat at this point; if the flour isn’t fully incorporated, that’s okay just blend in whatever remaining flour needs blending with a rubber spatula. Turn the dough out onto a counter, gather it into a ball, and divide it in half. Wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Working on a smooth surface, form each piece of dough into a log that is about 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick. (Get the thickness right, and the length you end up with will be fine.) Wrap the logs in plastic and chill for 2 hours. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and kept refrigerated for up to 3 days or stored in the freezer for up to 1 month.)  I rolled each dough log with wax paper and put them in a zip lock bag.

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

While the oven is preheating, roll cookie logs in any coatings of your choice. Then, using a sharp slender knife, slice each log into cookies about 1/3 inch thick. (You can make the cookies thicker if you’d like; just bake them longer.) Place the cookies on the lined baking sheets, leaving about 1/2 inch space between them.

Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until they are set but not browned. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool to room temperature.

Do ahead: Packed airtight, the cookies will keep for about 5 days at room temperature, or in the freezer for a month. Unbaked logs can be frozen for longer.

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  1. These sound delish! I'll have to give them a try!

  2. How great to have a cookie with so many variations. I bet they're all delicious. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog till Monday night and I'd love it if you'd come by and link your cookies up.