Friday, November 30, 2012

Cookie Cutters and an "Anise Cutout Cookie" Recipe

Welcome, I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend filled with family, friends, food, and fun. Now that Thanksgiving is behind us for another year, it is time to prepare for my favorite time of the year, which is Christmas! Have you decorated and put up your sparkling tree yet? Were you one of the many people that went Christmas shopping on Black Friday? Did you get all of your gifts on your list? Have you even thought of what to serve for Christmas Eve or Christmas day dinner for your family? I know, here we are and it is December 1st already and it is overwhelming. So many things to do, places to go and not enough time to really enjoy the season. Well, I have one solution for you!

It is time to bring out the cookie cutters! December 1-7th is "National Cookie Cutter Week," just in time for your holiday baking. This may be one thing that you can cross off your “Holiday To Do List“. Do you know what other day is celebrated on December 4th? It is "National Cookie Day". So what better way to honor one of the most loved desserts in the world? By making cookies with cookie cutters. What a delightful way to bring in the holiday season!

“National Cookie Cutter Week” was started in the mid 1990’s by Paula Mullins from KY. She designed a cutter for each year for the “Cookie Cutter Collector’s Club”. Lyn Linder took over in 2007 when Mullins decided she no longer wanted to be involved. The English word “cookie” is derived from the Dutch word “Koekje,” which means little cake. Bakers used to place a small amount of cake batter in the oven to test the temperature. They soon discovered that these little bits of cooked batter were quite tasty on their own, and the “Cookie” was born!

The holiday season means lots of goodies, especially cookies. In the next few weeks many people will be searching their kitchens, pantry, and drawers for the cookie cutters, which may have been passed down through their family generations. Cookie cutters come in many shapes and sizes. At this time of the year, you see Christmas Trees, Santa, Snowmen, Bells, Stars, Snowflakes, and Gingerbread people to name just a few. Choose simply shaped cookie cutters that are open in the back. If you have cookie cutters that are closed in the back, it is more difficult to work with as the dough warms up, they stick sometimes. Before you make your shape on the dough with your cookie cutter, dip the cutter in a small amount of flour. This prevents the cookie cutter from sticking on the dough. Any dough that you use cookie cutters with should be chilled before baking. Cookies can be classified into 3 categories. Drop cookies, Rolled and pressed cookies. They can have nuts, cranberries, raisins, and be decorated with sugar icing.

There is nothing more fun and relaxing than making home made cookies with my cookie cutters that have been passed down from my mom to me. It is a wonderful way to bake with your family and make memories that will last a lifetime. Let this be the day that you buy a new cookie cutter and start your own tradition. Enjoy your home made cookies with a tall glass of cold milk or hot chocolate. Remember 'tis the season to be merry!

My recipe this week is called “Anise Cutout Cookies”. This recipe I found in the “Taste of Home” magazine. What drew me to this recipe were the anise seeds which my family uses not only in baking, but also cooking, and eating raw. Fennel or Anise (Finocchio is the Italian word) is a vegetable like a celery. It has a fresh, sweet flavor. I bet you can’t just have one of these delicious cookies!

Anise Cutout Cookie Recipe

Ingredients:
2 cups of shortening
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons anise seeds (crushed)
6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 Teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of apple juice
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1 Teaspoon ground of cinnamon

Directions:
In a bowl, cream shortening and sugar until fluffy; add eggs and anise seeds. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to the creamed mixture. Add the apple juice and mix well.
On floured surface, knead until well blended, about 4-5 minutes. Roll dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Now, use any shape cookie cutter and cut into 2-inch shapes. Place on greased baking sheets.
Bake at 375° for 12-16 minutes or until lightly browned. Combine sugar and cinnamon; roll cookies in the mixture while still warm. Cool on wire racks.
Yield: about 4 dozen, depending on what size cookie cutters you use.

 
Till Next Time………………

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