In general, I don’t keep a lot of home-baked sweets in our house. I do so, not as a lofty statement against sugar consumption. I do it because I love them too much! But after Thanksgiving has gone by, there is some strange phenomenon that occurs: I feel the need to bake cookies.
I like to make something either from my heritage or childhood, or something that might not be the usual. Oh, I like sugar cut-outs (and I do have my Aunt Eleanor’s killer recipe for cut-out cookies using Jello as one of the sugars), and I enjoy decorating, but I love to find a cookie with an unusual taste or texture.
Sheryl Julian, the Boston Globe’s excellent food editor, recently published this article about Classic Holiday Cookies in the Sunday Globe magazine. So far, I’ve made 2 of these recipes and plans are materializing to bake the others. Today I made Laura Raposa’s Orange-Coconut Macaroons and promptly froze them for our holiday dessert plate. The fragrance of orange completely blew me away.
Laura Raposa’s Orange Coconut Macaroons (as adapted by Sheryl Julian)
Makes about 22
- 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
- 2 egg whites
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Grated rind of 1 navel orange or scant 1/4 teaspoon or orange oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 1/2 cups flaked, unsweetened coconut
- 3 1/4 cups flaked, sweetened coconut
- 1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) bittersweet chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (Either my oven is too hot or this temperature was a bit too much for the cookies to bake 18 minutes; monitor and turn down as needed)
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In an electric mixer, combine the condensed milk, egg whites, vanilla, orange rind or oil, salt, and unsweetened and sweetened coconut. Beat on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, until thoroughly incorporated.
- Scoop 2 tablespoons of the batter (a small ice cream scoop works well) onto a baking sheet, and continue making mounds, leaving 1 inch between them. Dip your fingers into a bowl of cold water and shape the dough into mounds, smoothing out any feathery edges.
- Bake the macaroons for 18 to 20 minutes, or until they are light golden brown. Let them cool on the baking sheets.
- Meanwhile, fill a saucepan with several inches of water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl that will fit neatly into the pan without touching the water. Melt the chocolate in the bowl, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the chocolate from the heat and wipe the bottom of the bowl dry. Dip a fork into the melted chocolate and drizzle it over the macaroons in a crisscross pattern. (I skipped this, but for gifting or to be fancy, it sounds delicious).
- Let the chocolate cool on the cookies. Use a wide metal spatula to remove the cookies from the baking sheet.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Both of my great-grandfathers were bakers; if that’s an inherited trait, I’m officially thanking them both here for instilling in me a love of yeast and flour. Working with yeasted doughs and breads is quite satisfying, and it has been something I’ve dabbled in since high school.
I found this recipe on the King Arthur Flour website recently and decided to try it out. Eggy and not too sweet, I’ve put some of the dozen buns aside for Christmas breakfast. And, as an extra bonus, the smell of baking dough has filled our apartment.
Ingredients – Buns
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 tsp saffron threads, lightly crushed
- 1/2 cup butter
- 4 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour (King Arthur recommended)
- 1 TBSP instant yeast
- 1/4 cup potato flour OR 1/2 cup instant potato flakes
- 1-1/2 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs (1 will be separated)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Ingredients – Topping
- 1 large egg white (reserved from dough) mixed with 1 TBSP cold water
- OPTIONAL coarse sugar (pearl sugar recommended)
- OPTIONAL golden raisins
- In a small saucepan set over medium heat (or microwave safe bowl in the microwave), heat the milk and saffron to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Set the mixture aside to allow the butter to melt and cool to lukewarm which will be about 30 minutes time.
- In a large bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together yeast, flour, potato flour, salt and sugar.
- Separate one of the 3 eggs and set the white aside to use in the topping.
- Pour the lukewarm mix/butter mixture over the dry ingredients. Now add the two whole eggs + the 1 egg yolk and the vanilla. Mix to combine and then knead (use the dough hook) for about 7 minutes by mixture (or if you’re a purists, mix for 10 minutes by hand) until the dough is smooth and supple.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour until it’s quite puffy (but it doesn’t have to double in bulk).
- Gently deflate the dough (give it a punch, it’s okay) and divide it into 12 equal pieces. If you use a scale for this each piece weighs about 92 grams or 3 1/4 ounces.
- Shape the dough into rough logs and let rest covered for about 10 minutes.
- Roll each log into a 15 or 18 inch rope; shape each rope into an “s” shape by rolling the ends into opposing coils. If you are using raisins, you can tuck a raisin into the center of each side-by-side coil (I skipped the raisins).
- Place buns on lightly greased sheet (or on parchment) leaving about an inch between each piece. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. While dough rises, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Brush each bun with the egg white/water mixture. Sprinkle with coarse pearl sugar if desired.
- Bake buns until golden brown (about 18 to 20 minutes). King Arthur Flour recommends tenting the raising with foil for the last 3 minutes to prevent the raisins from burning (which is yet another reason I skipped the raisins).
- Remove the buns from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.