Q. “What is your favorite holiday cookie recipe? I love trying new ones and have friends at an annual cookie swapping party to impress!” —Kassie, Appleton
A. I have especially fond memories of the holiday cookies I had growing up as my mom would make several batches of different kinds of traditional favorites. The two recipes that I would like to share include my personal rendition of what is known as a Pecan Sandie. The name is derived from the inclusion of finely chopped pecans in this shortbread cookie. When made correctly it has a buttery, melt-in-your mouth texture with a nice pecan finish. The other recipe I would like to share is my Snappy Ginger cookie recipe. This recipe was developed several holidays ago when my wife and I set out to find the best gingerbread cookie. Unfortunately, our results were somewhat disappointing, so we went to work and developed our own. While the basic flavoring ingredients did not need much adjustment, the quantity of flour needed tweaking to get them just to the right texture. The inclusion of cayenne pepper gives this cookie a little extra ‘snap,’ thus the name Snappy Ginger instead of Ginger Snap.
Chef Jeff’s Snappy Ginger Cookies
Makes about 18 Cookies
Butter ½ Cup (1 stick)
Light Brown Sugar, packed 1 Cup
Molasses ½ Cup
Egg, whole 1 each
Ginger, ground 1 Tablespoon
Baking Soda 1 Tablespoon
Cloves, ground ½ teaspoon
Cayenne Pepper, ground ¼ teaspoon
Flour, all purpose 3½ Cups
Sugar, sanding, granulated or colored As needed
Preheat your oven to 350° F. With a mixer and paddle cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the molasses, egg, ginger, baking soda, cloves and cayenne pepper. Add the flour gradually but with the intention not to overmix the dough.
Place balls of cookie dough the size of golf balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten them about halfway. Sprinkle lightly with sugar to garnish. Bake for about 14 minutes, rotating the pan halfway. Remove from sheet pans about 5 minutes after baking. Enjoy warm!
Chef Jeff’s Pecan Shortbread Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen cookies (#24 scoop)
Butter or margarine, room temperature 1½ Cups (3 sticks)
Sugar, white, granulated 1½ Cups
Salt ½ teaspoon
Pecans, chopped, toasted 1½ Cups
Vanilla 1 Tablespoon
Almond extract 1 teaspoon
Flour, all purpose 3¾ Cups
Preheat your oven to 350° F. Cream butter, sugar and salt together thoroughly in a mixing bowl. Add the toasted chopped pecans and mix until well distributed. Add the vanilla and almond extract and blend thoroughly. Mix in the flour until completely blended, but do not over-mix.
Place balls of cookie dough the size of golf balls (#24 scoop) on an un-greased sheet pan. Flatten slightly to about ½ inch thick. Bake for about 25 minutes. Rotate the pans about half-way through. Immediately remove the cookies from the pans and cool on wire racks. Enjoy!