Seasons by the Sea: Recipes 11:28:13

Cookies Are a Piece of Cake

Chocolate Espresso Chews
    This recipe, from the Firehook Bakery in Alexandria, Va., is the best cookie recipe, and I know I have published it before, but it is worth repeating. They are too delicate for long distance travel.

    Makes about 50 small cookies.

1/2 stick (4 Tbsp.) butter
1 lb. good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped up
13/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. ground espresso
4 oz. walnuts
4 oz. chocolate chips


    Heat oven to 325. Melt butter and chocolate over bain marie.

    In mixer, beat together sugar and eggs until very light and thick. Add vanilla.

    Fold chocolate mixture into egg mixture. Sift dry ingredients and add to chocolate. Fold in gently. Add walnuts and chocolate chips.

    Drop cookie dough by tablespoonfuls about two inches apart on greased or papered baking sheet. Bake approximately 11 minutes or until tops are a bit cracked and puffed.

    Cool.

Mary’s Pignoli (Italian Pine Nut Macaroons)
    This recipe is from Richard Sax’s “Classic Home Desserts.”

    Makes about five dozen.

1 lb. almond paste
11/4 cups sugar
4 large egg whites
1 lb. (about 4 cups) pine nuts


    Preheat oven to 350. Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly butter the sheets.

    Break almond paste into pieces, place in mixing bowl with sugar, and crumble the ingredients together as you would for piecrust, until evenly combined.

    In separate bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Stir a little of the egg whites into almond mixture; it will be fairly dry. Fold in remaining whites.

    Place pine nuts in shallow bowl. Roll the almond paste mixture into one-inch balls, keeping them as round as possible. Press each ball into the nuts and gently turn to coat evenly (they will look like little porcupines). Place on prepared baking sheets, spacing them about one inch apart.

    Bake cookies until evenly pale gold, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool on pans about five minutes, then carefully transfer to rack to cool.

Butterballs
    There are many versions of these cookies, easy and perfect for the holidays. This version of Mexican wedding cookies is from “The Silver Palate Cookbook.”

    Makes about 36.

1 stick (8 Tbsp.) softened sweet butter
3 Tbsp. honey
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup shelled pecans, chopped moderately fine
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar


    Preheat oven to 300. Grease one or two cookie sheets.

    Cream butter. Beat in honey, then gradually mix in flour and salt, then vanilla. Add pecans. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for one hour.

    Form balls by hand, the size of quarters. Place two inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

    Remove from oven. As soon as they’re cool enough to touch, roll them in confectioner’s sugar. Allow to cool, roll again in sugar.