Monday, March 29, 2010

It's that time of the year...

When my after school program Cookie Club comes to a close! Our big event at school is called Celebrate Gunston and this year it was scheduled earlier than it's usual late April date.

Normally we make the traditional fare of cookies like Chocolate Chip, brownies, snickerdoodles, etc. Since we had an international theme going on it seemed only appropriate to research the country origins of some of the cookies we bake or look up countries and learn what cookies are indigenous there. Do you know how difficult this was? We wanted to make EVERYTHING! 'Oh that looks good....mmm, that sounds like a good one.'

Here's our list of cookies and their origin, following by their pictures and recipes.

Nanaimo Bars (Canada)
Brownie Nut Biscotti (Italy)
Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cakes, Kourambiethes (Greece) (nutty, butter cookie coated with powdered sugar)
Scottish Oat Cakes (did you guess Scotland?)
Rosettes (Scandinavian regions)

Nanaimo Bars

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds (optional)
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons custard powder
2 cups confectioners' sugar

4 (1 ounce) squares semisweet baking chocolate
2 teaspoons butter
  1. In the top of a double boiler, combine 1/2 cup butter, white sugar and cocoa powder. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Beat in the egg, stirring until thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and almonds (if you like). Press into the bottom of an ungreased 8x8 inch pan.
  2. For the middle layer, cream together 1/2 cup butter, heavy cream and custard powder until light and fluffy. Mix in the confectioners' sugar until smooth. Spread over the bottom layer in the pan. Chill to set.
  3. While the second layer is chilling, melt the semisweet chocolate and 2 teaspoons butter together in the microwave or over low heat. Spread over the chilled bars. Let the chocolate set before cutting into squares.
Cook's Notes:
Extremely rich, cut into small bars for sure. K-man's favorite of the bunch. We opted to drizzle the chocolate on top after we cut them. I know that chocolate has a tendency to 'crack' when on top of a bar cookie. We like the results this way.

Brownie Nut Biscotti
1/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 tablespoon water
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease baking sheets, or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa and baking powder; stir into the creamed mixture until well blended. Dough will be stiff, so mix in the last bit by hand. Mix in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
  3. Divide dough into two equal parts. Shape into 9x2x1 inch loaves. Place onto baking sheet 4 inches apart. Brush with mixture of water and yolk.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until firm. Cool on baking sheet for 30 minutes.
  5. Using a serrated knife, slice the loaves diagonally into 1 inch slices. Return the slices to the baking sheet, placing them on their sides. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes on each side, or until dry. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Cook's Notes:
Using a white chocolate drizzle would have been a better 'eye-popper' but we were using up what we had. Good flavor, very chocolatey.

Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cakes and Kourambiethes (Greece)
-the same cookie but from different countries

1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar for decoration
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, cream butter and vanilla until smooth. Combine the 6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar and flour; stir into the butter mixture until just blended. Mix in the chopped walnuts. Roll dough into 1 inch balls, and place them 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. When cool, roll in remaining confectioners' sugar. I also like to roll mine in the sugar a second time.
Cook's Notes:
I have seen these using pecans, walnuts and almonds. Just pick whichever nut appeals to you. I prefer them with almonds. Be sure to always TOAST your nuts before putting them in your recipe.

Scottish Oat Cakes

1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. rolled oats
1 c. sugar
1 tsp.
1/2 tsp.
1 c. Crisco
1/4 c. cold water

Mix dry ingredients by hand. Mix in Crisco until well mixed. Add cold water to form sticky dough. Roll out fairly thin on well floured board. Cut into 1 1/2 inch squares. (I use a pizza cutter). Bake on ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart, for 15-18 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove to rack immediately.

Cook's Notes:
I really was pleasantly surprised by these. Simple easy...low in sugar. Not complicated with several different flavors competing with each other (like the Nanaimo bars) K-man said you should NOT eat these after eating a Nanaimo bar. Those were so rich and sweet that these were almost tasteless in comparison. I guess I just enjoy a simple, hearty, grainy, less sweet cookie every so often. So these were my favorite.

recipe from

2 eggs
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Combine eggs, sugar and salt; beat well. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth.
  2. Heat a rosette iron in deep, hot oil (375 degrees) for 2 minutes.
  3. Drain excess oil from iron. Dip in batter to 1/4 inch from the top of the iron, then dip iron immediately into hot oil (375 degrees).
  4. Fry rosette until golden, about 30 seconds. Lift out; tip upside down to drain. With fork, push rosette off iron onto a rack placed over paper towels.
  5. Reheat iron 1 minute; make next rosette.
  6. Sprinkle rosettes with confectioners' sugar.
    Norpro Rosette Timbale Maker

Cook's Notes:
Shown above are the IRONS you need to make these. Not too expensive to have in your cooking tools for a fun treat for the kids every so often. BUT.....These were the overall winner of our customers. Despite our signs in front of the cookie trays (with descriptions!!) the customers would come to the table and ask for 'funnel cakes'. LOL Everything was pre-made except for the rosettes, which I was making at the table. They smelled exactly like funnel cakes (oh please....just a hot oil smell) and they resembled funnel cakes except for they were smaller and not at ALL cakey. Very light, airy, crispy and guaranteed to leave you with a dusting of powdered sugar on your chest! Great way to make money for nobody had a problem paying 3 for 1.00 (if they only knew that this stuff was PENNIES to make!)

Next year, I think we are nixing the making so many different cookies. FUNNEL CAKES are the way to go. Put on your calendar: Funnel Cake Sale, spring 2011- 1 small for a 1.00 - 1 large for your order now!

That's the way the cookies did not crumble....

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