Ginger Pecan Sandies

A simple recipe for a rich, crumbly cookie.

Cream 1 stick butter with a cup of confectioner’s sugar and a teaspoon each almond and vanilla extract. Blend in 2 cups plain flour sifted with a teaspoon of baking powder, a  half cup chopped pecans, and a heaping tablespoon of ground ginger.

(Note: I have tried this recipe with freshly-grated ginger, and it simply does not work at all well with the butter.)

This makes a soft, elastic dough. Work it into a ball and refrigerate for an hour or so. You can wrap it up if you want; I never do, I’m going to wad it up and roll it out anyway.

Pat or roll dough a half inch thick, sprinkle with sanding sugar, and cut into rounds or squares. Bake at 350 until lightly browned.

Oatmeal Date Cookies

This recipe is a riff of those dense, rich fruit bars the deli in the cafeteria of the Johnson Commons at Ole Miss once sold.

Blend a cup of coarsely-chopped pitted dates with a ¾ cup brown sugar and a stick of soft butter. Sift in a cup of all-purpose flour, a teaspoon baking soda, and a teaspoon salt. Add a lightly beaten egg, a teaspoon vanilla, whatever spices fit your groove (clove and ginger are mine), and a cup and a half of quick-cooking oats. Mix until moist through. Spoon onto a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake on the middle rack of a preheated 350 oven for about 20 minutes.

You can also spread this divine, sensuous, facet of rapture in a pan and slice into bars.

Lemonade Cookies

Cream 2 sticks of softened butter with a cup of sugar. Mix in two large eggs, and beat until light. Sift three cups all-purpose flour with a teaspoon of baking soda and blend into the creamed mixture. Add a 6-oz. can of (thawed) lemonade concentrate. A tablespoon or so of lemon zest is a nice touch. Drop dough by spoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 400 for about 8-10 mins. Cool and coat with icing made with confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Try pink or yellow food coloring in dough and/or icing.

Cat Tongue Cookies

Cream one cup confectioner’s sugar with one cup softened butter and a teaspoon vanilla extract. Lightly whip 3 egg whites, room temperature; they just need to be a little frothy, not stiff at all.

Add half the egg whites to the sweet butter along with three tablespoons plain flour. Mix well, blend in the rest of the egg whites with enough flour to make a soft dough.

Pipe dough in 6-inch strips onto a baking sheet lined with lightly oiled parchment paper. Give them room to spread. Bake in a medium (350) oven until edges are browned.

Cool on a rack. For black cat tongues, dip in melted chocolate.

May the 4th Be With You: Chewy Wookie Cookies

Though they’re traditionally made on May 4, Wookies are fun to make any day of the year.

Preheat oven to 350, and line a lightly oiled baking sheet with parchment paper. Flip the paper to oil both sides. Cream together 2 sticks softened unsalted butter with 1 cup sugar. Mix in one 1 large egg, beaten, and add a tablespoon vanilla extract. Set aside.

Mix 2 ½ cups AP flour with 1/2 c. cocoa and 2 teaspoons baking powder. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients until just combined. On a clean floured surface, work the dough until smooth and roll out to about ¼ inch. Cut into “wookies” with a gingerbread man cookie cutter, place onto the parchment baking sheet, and use a fork to make fur.

Bake for about 10 minutes, remove from oven and cool thoroughly before decorating with frosting and sprinkles.

Lucky Charms Treats

Line a 9 x 13-in pan with parchment paper and lightly grease with softened butter. Melt a stick of unsalted butter to bubbling, and add a 10 oz. bag of mini marshmallows. Remove from heat, add another 10 oz. bag of marshmallows along with a teaspoon of vanilla extract. When the marshmallows are melted, add 8 cups of Lucky Charms cereal, and stir until well-blended but still warm and gooey. Press evenly into baking pan, bake on center rack at 300 for about 20 mins. Cool at room temperature for an hour, and cut into squares.

Coconut Macaroons

Sift 3 cups flour with 1 teaspoon baking powder. Mix in 2 cups light brown sugar (it doesn’t have to be packed, for Pete’s sake) and work in a cup of cold butter. Stir in 2 well-beaten eggs with a teaspoon each vanilla and almond extract. Add 2 cups grated coconut, mix well, and drop by spoonfuls onto a lightly oiled sheet pan. Bake at 350 until tops are toasted and bottoms browned.

Grinch Crinkle Cookies

Mix together one box vanilla cake mix—I use the French vanilla—two beaten eggs, one stick softened butter, a tablespoon of vegetable oil,  and 1 oz. green food coloring.

In another bowl, mix one cup corn starch with 1 cup powdered sugar. Using a large spoon, scoop up a lump of the green dough, shape it into a ping-pong ball, and roll it around in the starch/sugar mixture until coated.

Place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake at 375 on a middle rack until they crinkle, about 8-10 minutes. Take care they don’t brown. Once done, remove from oven and let sit 2 minutes before placing on wire rack to cool completely.

For hearts, mix a half cup each of flour, corn starch, and powdered sugar mixed with a half stick soft butter, just enough cold water to make a stiff dough, and red food coloring. Cut into heart shapes and bake on an oiled cookie sheet at 350 until crispy. Glue to cookies with a paste of powdered sugar and water.

Red Currant Thumb Cookies

When working with the dough, use powdered sugar on your hands and wax paper wrap instead of flour; these cookies are floury enough. The longer you chill the dough, the better it holds its shape. Use unsalted butter, and almost anything other than red currant jelly is too sweet. Mashing the jelly with a fork makes it less likely to bubble up and spill over onto the dough.

Take 3/4 cup softened butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 egg yolk, and 1 1/2 cups cake flour. Cream butter and sugar with egg yolk. Fold in flour, knead a little bit, wrap in wax paper, and chill. Roll into 1/2 inch balls, make a small depression in the middle, and fill with jelly. Bake at 325 until golden.

Ginger Pecan Shortbread

Cream 1 stick butter with a cup of confectioner’s sugar and a teaspoon each almond and vanilla extract. Blend in 2 cups plain flour sifted with a teaspoon of baking powder with a  half cup chopped pecans and a tablespoon dried ground ginger. (I have tried this recipe with freshly-grated ginger, and it simply does not work at all well at all with so much butter.) This mixture makes a soft, elastic dough that you must work with flour-dusted hands. Form dough into a ball, and pat or roll into an 8” round, score into six wedges, and crimp the edges with a fork. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 375 until the edges are just brown. Cut and serve. This recipe makes great cookies, too.