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December 14, 2014

Pecan and Oat Sandwich Cookies (Bitten Word Cover-to-Cover 2014 Project)
Posted by betsyjo

Two Christmas songs keep running through my head today. One I heard at a restaurant last night: God Bless Us Everyone by Celine Dion.  The other is “I can’t believe it’s Christmas, I think I’m finally getting something! I can’t believe it’s Christmas, my favorite time of year,” sung by the incomparable Larry the Cucumber.  Despite temperatures in the mid-70s today, it’s clear the Christmas spirit has found me.

I can’t say these cookies scream Christmas, although they are pretty good.  I’ve never had molasses in oatmeal cookies, but it is a welcome addition, one I may apply to regular ole oatmeal cookies.  (Hold the raisins, please!)  I found the cookies to be pretty large, but if they had been any smaller they would have burned in the 10-minute cooking time.  Mine were completely done in 9 minutes.  I would also recommend chilling the cookie dough between batches.  The later batches spread all over the pan.  My caramel sauce also turned out grainy, which I’ll chalk up to user error, although it’s a problem I don’t usually have when making caramel.

 

The flavor is pretty darn good.  I’ll give this recipe (found here) 7 out of 10 stars, and that’s being a little generous.  Sorry, Martha.  Don’t feel too bad.  I also made a ribeye steak tonight according to your method, and it gets 11 out of 10 stars.

Desserts

December 13, 2014

Noel Balls (Bitten Word Cover-to-Cover 2014 Project)
Posted by Chammer

After seeing Betsy’s post about her adventures making Lamb Tartare in last year’s Bitten Word Cover to Cover Project, I vowed to sign up in 2014. I regretted not signing up in 2013 but a sick pregnant girl potentially making Lamb Tartare could have been disastrous! This year’s cookie assignment seemed a little more tame and the littles were able to help me bake. Nothing puts a mom in the holiday spirit more than baking with her kids, except maybe the glass of eggnog enjoyed after the cookies are done and the kids have gone to bed…

The Noel Balls from Food and Wine were delicious.  Don’t let the Medjool dates scare you.  These little beauties are delicious, albeit a tad pricey. After tasting them (neither W nor I had tried them before) we checked out the sugar content.  14.5 grams in one date!  No sugar added.  I’ve previously made Pecan Snowballs which were very similar but with no dates. Between the pecans and Medjool dates, these aren’t your everyday sugar cookies. Worth it once a year for Christmas? Probably.  Maybe Noel Balls should be the new cookies left out for Santa and Mrs. Claus! :)

This recipe is pretty simple with easy-to-find ingredients and a quick baking time. They also baked up great at high altitude (over 6,000 feet) which isn’t true for every cookie recipe.  The final product is appealing and impressive.  A perfect solution if you need a quick cookie for a holiday party or to put in a tin to gift to friends!

Noel Balls
Food and Wine

1 1/4 cups pecan halves
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped plump Medjool dates
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. In a food processor, pulse the pecans until finely ground. In a medium bowl, whisk the ground pecans with the flour, dates and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the butter with ¾ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread the remaining 3 cups of confectioners’ sugar in a large pie pan. Working in 3 batches, using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, scoop the dough into 1-inch balls. Arrange the balls on the prepared sheets at least 1 inch apart. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom; rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then roll them in the confectioners’ sugar until completely coated. Let cool completely, then roll again in the confectioners’ sugar.