All posts tagged: cookies

gluten-free cinnamon stars

Tips for Cut-Out Cookies and Austrian Cinnamon Stars

Whenever I make the gluten-free, cut-out cookies Austrian Cinnamon Stars, I think of my late father. Although he was neither an ardent cook nor baker, every holiday season he and I spent at least one night in the kitchen baking and decorating cut-out Christmas cookies. The tricks he employed to ensure beautiful holiday sweets are ones that I use to this day. If making the aforementioned Austrian cinnamon stars and any other cut-out cookies possessing a soft, sticky texture, I refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out. After mixing the ingredients for the cookie dough, I shape it into a ball, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Depending on the size and tackiness of the dough, it may need to stay in the fridge for a little longer or shorter. No matter what, it shouldn’t get cold and stiff. If it reaches that stage, it’ll be difficult to roll and cut. Another trick that my father taught me was that, to stop cookie dough …

What to Eat at European Christmas Markets

My mother used to claim that I inherited my wanderlust from her late father, a civil and mining engineer who worked and traveled throughout Latin America. If he was to blame for my “itchy feet,” that unceasing desire to roam the globe, then she bore responsibility for my passion for European Christmas markets. As a kid, I spent countless Saturdays following her through crowded church Christmas bazaars. Which faith sponsored the event never mattered. As long as it featured homemade pizzelles, kolaches, stollen or fruitcake, we’d be there. A curious kid, I wondered how my hometown’s holiday bazaars stacked up against those in people’s homelands. If I visited Germany’s Striezelmarkt, would ladies jostle and push for the last few loaves of nut-studded stollen? If I went to Poland, would people nibble on onion- and potato-filled pierogis as they shopped? What did people eat at European Christmas markets? For that matter, did they even have these seasonal fairs? Turns out that Europe is chocked full of cheery, outdoor, holiday markets. Along with decorations, crafts and jewelry, …

Revisiting Palmiers – Cinnamon Palmiers

I spent last week preoccupied with the age-old question of how to pack just enough clothing and books in a carry-on—a carry-on that can only weigh 15 pounds and that will be my only piece of luggage on this trip—for a month of traveling and working on another continent. My fixation meant that I fell a tad behind on sharing a variation on Kitchen Kat’s Lemon Palmiers. Forget what that alternate recipe was? As they say in Australia, which is where I’m headed, “no worries!” It is for cinnamon palmiers. Think back to July 21st when I posted a scintillating entry on the flaky, caramelized, French cookies known as palmiers. As you might recall, these treats derive their name from their palm-like shape; in French palmier means “palm.” Comprised of folded layers of puff pastry and sugar, which gives them their distinct shape, they’re a light and delicious little sweet. Palmiers traditionally feature just those two ingredients, sugar and puff pastry. However, as indicated in the previous post, you can spice them up with such …

Travel through Baking Lemon Palmiers

Because I lack the patience to wait in long lines, fight the crowds at historic sites and deal with other cranky, sweaty tourists, while friends are off baking at the beach or exploring national parks, I spend the summer tucked in my kitchen, reliving past vacations through food. Few sweets remind me more of poking around picturesque French villages than palmiers. Originating in Southern France, these flaky, caramelized cookies are a mainstay of patisseries and, in my case, the perfect breakfast-on-the-go. What can I say? Whether at home or on the road, I like my breakfasts small, portable and sweet. Palmiers get their name from their unmistakable shape. In French palmier means “palm.” Along with being compared to palm leaves, they have been likened to butterflies, eyeglasses, hearts and elephant ears. If I’m baking these cookies, they might resemble a palm tree or, on an especially harried day, a work of modern art. How do these cookies end up looking like palm leaves? Imagine dozens of layers of buttery puff pastry dusted with sugar and …

Danish Raspberry Slice or Hindbærsnitte

Hindbærsnitte is the latest addition to my ever-growing list of international dessert crushes. Some people liken it to homemade Pop Tarts. Others equate it to thumbprint cookies. Neither comparison comes close to the sweet splendor of this lovely Danish cookie. Inspired by Viennese confections, hindbærsnitte was born in Copenhagen in the late 1800s. The legend goes that in 1850 Danish bakers went on a long-term strike over unfair wages. To keep the country in breads and sweets, bakers from Austria were hired to fill the vacancies. Their time in Denmark and the culinary traditions that they shared would influence the creation of many Danish baked goods, including hindbærsnitte. With its flour- and almond-based dough and thick, fruity filling this cookie does remind me of such Austrian specialties as Linzer tortes and augens. The literal translation of hindbærsnitte is raspberry slice. Its name more or less explains the treat — baked cookie dough blanketed by raspberry preserves, topped with another sheet of baked dough and then sliced and iced or iced and sliced. The order of …

Double Chocolate S’mores Cookies

On the whole I don’t find supermarket baked goods all that enticing. The breads usually seem too airy, the cookies too bland, the cakes too slathered with artificially flavored frosting. However, last week, before the most recent, and hopefully last, snow of the season, I grabbed a cookie from my local market’s bakery section. Rather than satisfy my ever-present craving for sweets, it drove me to dig out my measuring cups, electric mixer, pen and notebook and create my own take on a s’more cookie. What made this particular cookie so special, so inspiring? Sweet without being cloying, chocolaty without being too rich, it struck the perfect flavor balance. Dotted with chunks of graham cracker, chocolate and marshmallow, the cocoa-enriched dough was far more complex and appealing than the usual double chocolate chip cookie. As with its campfire namesake, this cookie was so good that it left me hankering for “some more.” (Yep, that’s how s’mores got their name. You can’t just eat one graham cracker-chocolate bar-toasted marshmallow combo. You always want “s’more.”) As the …

Bewitching Black Currant Palmiers

A few Sundays ago I lucked out and found fresh, plump red and black currants at the Rhinebeck Farmers Market. Unlike the red currants, which I’d churned into sherbet, I took a fairly traditional approach with the larger, purplish-black fruit and cooked up a batch of black currant jelly. Why jelly? Like their red relation, black currants contain a large amount of pectin, the substance that causes foods to thicken and gel. To make black currant jelly, I simmered the fruit with some sugar and lemon juice. Once the berries had softened and the sugar had dissolved, I strained the reddish-violet syrup into a glass bowl. I allowed it to cool and set and — voila! — I had black currant jelly. Because I’d wanted to do more with currants than just make preserves, I came up with a twist on an old family favorite, palmiers. Made from puff pastry, this simple French cookie gets its name from its palm leaf-like shape. Depending on where you live and how you perceive its appearance, you may …

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie

If you’ve dropped by Kitchen Kat more than once, you’re probably aware of my insatiable sweet tooth. Pies, cakes, candies and tarts. I love and make them all. What you might not know is that I am perpetually on the lookout for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. From Amy’s Bread, Birdbath, Levain and Jaques Torres to the less pricey offerings at Jack’s and Insomnia and the vegan version at Joe I’ve tried them all. You name the bakery or recipe. I’ve eaten the cookie. Last summer, while in the thick of promoting Fish Market, I came across what may be the best chocolate chip cookie that I’ve ever had. Crisp, sweet, aromatic and with just a hint of spiciness, it was the cookie that I’d been craving. This divine treat came not from a professional bakery or The Joy of Cooking but from my friend Elizabeth’s sunny kitchen. I took a bite of one, devoured it and then reached for another and another and another. Before I knew it, I was covered in cookie crumbs …

All I Need are the Three B’s — Brown Butter Butterscotch Cookies

For years I’ve kept a dirty secret — I love rich, sugary butterscotch. It doesn’t matter whether it’s lovingly made from equal parts butter and brown sugar or manufactured from corn syrup and unpronounceable additives. I can and have eaten handful upon handful of butterscotch hard candy and cookies straight from the bag. Those brown, sticky sauces that cascade over sundaes and cakes? Adore them, too. Ditto for butterscotch icing and ice cream. Yum, yum, yum! These days butterscotch seems a bit passe. Then again, it probably never was the coolest confection in the cupboard. Even so I shouldn’t have to spend hours walking innumerable blocks to find a sweet possessing the slightest hint of butterscotch. Too often I just go home, rip open a bag of artificially flavored morsels and dig in. Pitiful but true. When I possess more patience, I bake one of my favorite cookies, the Triple Bs. A Kathy Hunt/Kitchen Kat original that first ran in the Chicago Tribune in November 2009, Triple B Cookies feature the delightfully decadent combination of …

A School of Lemon Sugar Cookies

Two weeks ago, as I cut and baked seven dozen fish-shaped, lemon sugar cookies for the Fish Market launch party, I thought of my late father and all the rolled, sugar cookies that we’d made together when I was a kid. Every Christmas and spring he’d pull out a large, aquamarine, Pyrex mixing bowl, wooden rolling pin and an eclectic collection of tin cookie cutters and spread these tools over the kitchen counter. This display of kitchen equipment could only mean one thing — we were about to kick off our biannual baking spree. No matter the season I’d insist on using every cutter, which meant that we ate bunny- and shamrock-shaped cookies at Christmas and reindeer and Santa Claus cookies at Easter. Then again, by the time that I’d finished slathering the cookies with royal icing, colored sugars, chocolate morsels and candy sprinkles, no one could tell exactly what he was consuming. Unquestionably, my dad was a good sport when it came to cookie making and decorating. Then and now, the secret to cutting …