Hey guys. If you haven’t been watching the Holiday Baking Championship, week 2 started off with making 2 different, Grandma inspired, holiday cookies. One needed to be a sandwich cookie. 45 minutes on the clock.
I don’t remember my dad’s mom baking. And my mom’s mom gave us ice cream when we stayed over. But when my dad’s mom passed and we cleaned out her house, I kept a springerle rolling pin that I thought looked cool, but had yet to use. Cookie number 1, german springerle cookies.
This dough was not hard to make. The challenge was rolling them out and baking them for 25 minutes. Not a quick bake, that’s for sure. And they also say to dry the cookies for 8 hours or overnight before baking.
The 2nd cookie I made was a linzer. Delicious, buttery, lemon cookies sandwiched together with raspberry jam. Also a cookie I have never made before but always wanted to. The hard part for me was finding a cookie cutter small enough to cut out a hole for the top. The snowflake cutter didn’t leave enough dough left to transfer to a cookie sheet without breaking. I eventually had to take a teaspoon and scoop out a small hole. Got those cookies baking 3 minutes before time was up.
Needless to say, I failed at baking these within 45 minutes. I bit off more than I could chew. I wanted to make cookies I’ve never made before, both of which required rolling out dough. Not smart for a timed challenge. Total elapsed time was 70 minutes.
The main event was to make a pie by hand, no electrical equipment, except the oven. And the twist was to make a 2nd mini pie for the picky eater who doesn’t like the 1st. 90 minutes, go!
Once again, I decided to make pies I had never made before. Started by making the dough with my pastry blender. To be honest, I normally make the dough by hand because I don’t like cleaning my food processor. So that was the easy part. My trick to rolling out the dough is to do it between two pieces of wax paper, remove one side and replace, then remove the other side, fit the dough in the pan and remove the top piece of wax paper again.
The 1st pie I chose to make was a maple walnut. While the crust was blind baking, I started to make the filling. The most important thing was getting this pie baking as soon as possible as it would take 45+ minutes.
I imagined that I was in the competition and didn’t have enough dough leftover for the mini pie. But a graham cracker crust would be much easier to make than more dough. What flavors go well with graham cracker? Well, a lot. I chose a peanut butter pie. Only takes 15 minutes to bake after making the filling on the stove, which takes about 14 minutes. I was determined to beat the clock on this challenge.
The crust was done and filled and pie #1 was in the oven. Deep breath and onto the filling for pie #2. No problems there, filled the graham cracker crust that I whipped up and got that in the oven with 20 minutes to go.
Finally, a little bit of down time. What would go really well with both of these pies is whipped cream. And what would be really nice to use is a hand mixer. But alas, that wasn’t part of the challenge. So I got out a whisk and went to town on some cream. My arm got sore pretty quickly, but I kept at it and had a lovely, thick cream that my great grandmother (who used to make meringue by hand) would have been proud of.
The maple walnut pie was still a bit wobbly with 5 minutes to go. I was basically done with the challenge so the pies came out as the timer ticked down to 0.
I think I redeemed myself from the cookie challenge with these pies. The taste test was a success though I’m not sure I would make the maple walnut pie again without some modifications. Too much nut flavor, not enough sweetness.
And with a sink full of dishes, the ceiling started raining. Roof rats have invaded our attic and helped themselves to water by eating up the pipes. Had to shut the water off and leave the dishes until repairs could be done. Oh, the excitement never ends!
1 1/2 Tbs crushed anise seeds
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Lightly grease cookie sheets. Sprinkle with anise seeds. Set aside until needed.
Mix the flour and baking powder together in a bowl until well blended. Beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until light and frothy, 5 to 8 minutes. Slowly stir in the flour mixture until a thick dough forms.
Working with handfuls of dough, roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until 1/4 inch thick. Lightly sift confectioners’ sugar over the dough. Place springerle molds onto the dough; press down hard and evenly until the mold’s design registers in the dough. Remove the mold. Use a small knife to cut around each cookie, and place on prepared cookie sheets. Repeat, until all dough has been used. Cover the cookies with a lightweight cotton cloth and allow to dry 8 hours or overnight. Or bake immediately if doing a timed challenge.
Preheat oven to 250°F.
Bake cookies in preheated oven until tops are pale brown and set, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container.
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon, or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp salt
raspberry jam for filling
powdered sugar for dusting
Beat the butter, sugar, and zest until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as needed, about 3 minutes. Add the yolk and vanilla and beat until combined.
Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, almond flour, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until just combined.
Divide the dough in half, and pat each half into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
On a lightly floured surface, roll one disc of dough out about 1/4 inch thick. Using the desired cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Transfer to a baking sheet. Gather the scrap dough, roll, and repeat. Place the cut cookies in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
While the first half of cookies is chilling, cut out the remaining dough. Once you’ve transferred these cookies to a baking sheet, use a small cookie cutter to make a peekaboo cutout in the center of each. Place cookies in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill.
Bake all of the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn brown. Let them cool for 5 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Place the cookies with the holes in them on a cookie sheet and sift powdered sugar over the top. Turn the remaining cookies flat side up and spoon 1/2 teaspoon of jam into the center, spreading it slightly. Top with the sugar-dusted cookies.
Maple Walnut Pie
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 Tbs butter, melted
1 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a bowl, whisk the eggs, salt, and sugar together. Stir in the butter, maple syrup, and vanilla.
Poor the filling in a prebaked pie crust and sprinkle the nuts on top.
Bake until just set, about 40 minutes. Cool on a rack. Decorate with whipped cream if desired.
Peanut Butter Pie
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
600 ml evaporated milk
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Combine the egg yolks, sugars, cornstarch, and salt in a heavy saucepan. Slowly whisk in the milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes.
Remove from heat. Stir in the butter and vanilla.
In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter and powdered sugar. Work with your fingers to blend together until a consistency of fine crumbs.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips and all but 3 Tbs of the crumbs evenly over crust (graham cracker or prebaked pie dough). Pour in the filling and sprinkle with remaining crumbs. Bake for 15 minutes.
Let the pie cool for an hour and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.