What perfect timing for this month’s Daring Bakers challenge! Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us. I always like to start making my Christmas cookies at the beginning of December and then freeze them. That way I can make a batch a week at my leisure and then when Christmas time is here I can focus my time and energy on other things (like being with my family!).
I always make choosing which Christmas cookies I make into a “thing”. When I lived with my parents my mom and I almost always baked the exact same cookies every year, it was tradition. But when I moved away from home I decided instead of feeling sad that I was no longer baking cookies with my mom, I was going to do ALL NEW cookies! I like to do different flavors and textures – some soft, some sandy, some crunchy; a chocolate, a citrus,
I chose to do a twice baked shortbread cookie that I have been looking at for a while, but wanted to add some browned butter to it. They were super simple to make and I love how they turned out! Awesome flavor, with a sprinkling of sea salt on them, and a great sandy texture! I also decided to do the Armenian Nazook cookies that I didn’t get done from a new challenges ago.
Twice Baked-Brown Butter Shortbread Cookies (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
12 TBSP unsalted butter
5 TBSP sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour
Turbinado or Demerara sugar for topping
Sea Salt for topping
Grease a springform or tart pan with a removable bottom and set aside.
In a small sauté pan, slowly melt the butter and then watch it (without stirring) until the fats start to become brown and nutty smelling (watch it, it burns quickly).
Pour the butter into a medium bowl.
Whisk in the brown and granulated sugar until mostly melted.
Stir in the vanilla and the salt.
Using a rubber spatula carefully fold in the flour until just combined.
Pat and spread the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan, making sure it is evenly spread out.
Let it rest on the counter, loosely covered with a towel, for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 300F.
Bake the shortbread for 45 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven (leave the oven on) and remove the bottom from the pan.
Lightly sprinkle the top of the shortbread with some turbinado sugar and a pinch or two of sea salt.
Allow the shortbread to rest for 10 minutes.
Cut the shortbread into 16 wedges and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat.
Bake for an additional 15 minutes (I pulled mine out a little early because they were looking very golden).
Cool in a wire rack.
Armenian Nazook Cookies ( recipe from Daily Candor, and her Aunt Aida!)
3 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup sour cream
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk, beaten with a fork
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and yeast.
Add the sour cream and butter and mix until it forms a soft dough.
Knead for 10 minutes, until it no longer sticks to the bowl or your hands (it will still feel sticky, though).
Cover the dough and refrigerate 3-5 hours.
In a medium bowl, mix ingredients for the filling (the flour, sugar, butter and vanilla) until it feels like clumpy, wet sand.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Cut the refrigerated dough into quarters.
Form one quarter into a ball and roll out into a large oval or rectangle (should be thin but not transparent).
Spread 1/4 of the filling across the rolled out dough in an even layer, spreading all the way but leaving about 1″ at each edge.
From a long side, roll the dough up into a log (like cinnamon rolls).
Flatten the log out a bit with your fingers, to squash it a little.
Apply the egg yolk wash to the whole roll.
Using a crinkle cutter or a sharp knife, cut the log into 10 equally sized pieces.
Place onto an un-greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 30 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.
Cool and Enjoy!
Storage: these cookies should be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, or can be frozen for up to 3 months!