soft almond sugar cookie cutouts that are very thick and glazed and fun

hello from korea, friends!!!!!!!! the last few days have been totally bonkers as the olympic channel has made every single one of my dreams come true and brought me over to pyeongchang to help cover the olympics. i am freaking out, it is still soaking in, and i have no idea what time it is where you are, but for now i have to dash over to gangnueng to watch nathan chen's short program, so i will tell you more about this later! follow along on instagram!

i really need to quickly tell you about these valentine's day cookies though because they are our new favorite cookies hands down. they are so freaking soft and thick and almondy, and i realize that i should just admit that this is an almond flavored blog already (yes, the annual almond cake is coming soon!!) but i know as soon as i do that i'm going to start hating almond. (haha, never!) but if you do hate almond, rest assured, this is actually about to become an ice skating blog this week.

i like these cookies because you can cut out thick shapes with them and you don't have to worry about refrigerating the dough (you can if you want) so these come together extremely quickly. the trick to getting the best texture is to take them out of the oven when they are just starting to think about turning brown but haven't yet. or maybe they have around the bottom edges but that's it. they will be too soft to handle immediately out of the oven but as they cool they'll firm up just slightly and achieve that perfect softness that's lofthouse-esque but way denser.

the thing i'm still working on is the decorating part. when i pipe freehand glaze lines i feel really clumsy! and i'm trying to figure out how to get the outlines of the glaze to zhoosh into the rest of the glaze better. michelle says to use a toothpick to help blend it. i tried it for two cookies and then got impatient! oh well, the good thing is that clumsy lines and poorly zhooshed glaze still taste really good but if you have ideas for how to make the outlines blend in better, please @ me.


soft almond sugar cookie cutouts

makes about 22 large (3" ish) cookies or 30 smaller (2" ish) ones

ingredients

For the cookies:

3 1/2 c (448g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 1/3 c (150g) almond flour

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1 c (226g) unsalted butter, softened

2/3 c (137g) granulated sugar

2/3 c (80g) powdered sugar

zest from 1/2 of a lemon, optional

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp princess emulsion (or another tsp vanilla)

3/4 tsp almond extract

for the glaze:

2 cups (240g) powdered sugar
2 tb (40g) corn syrup
2-3 tb whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
Pinch of kosher salt
Food coloring

Sprinkles!
 

clues

To make the cookies, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and the sugars until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the lemon zest if using and mix to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each, and then add the extracts.


Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing until blended. At this point you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour, or up to two days, or you can get going on rolling out your dough and cutting out your cookies immediately. 

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350ºf. Line two baking sheets with parchment or a silicone mat and set aside. Working with half of the dough at a time, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to 1/2” thick. Cut out your shapes and then transfer to a baking sheet, 1" apart. Re-roll scraps and cut out more shapes. Bake until they’re just thinking about starting to turn brown, begin checking larger cookies for doneness at 12 minutes, and smaller cookies at 10 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes and then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, corn syrup, 2 tablespoons milk, vanilla, almond extract, salt, and a few drops of food coloring until smooth. It should be very thick but just thin enough that when you lift up your spoon it falls off in smooth ribbons. If it’s too thick, add a couple more drops of milk, and if it’s too thin, add a few more spoonfuls of powdered sugar. Spoon a couple of spoonfuls into a piping bag and snip off 1/4" tip. Pipe around the borders of your cookies to make an outline. Thin the remaining glaze out with another teaspoon or so of milk, until it's easily spreadable. Fill in the outlines with the thinner glaze and top with sprinkles immediately before the glaze dries.

Let dry and enjoy!! 

These will keep at room temperature for a good few days, but you can also freeze them once the glaze is dry and they'll stay fresher longer!
 


-yeh!


new year's cookie cereal!

Hi! It's Molly of last week here, Molly of the present is on holiday break and not allowed to open up her computer until January 3. (There is a piece of washi tape holding it shut.) Present molly is definitely opening instagram every five seconds though. And, like, sitting on her couch eating cheese and butter sandwiches, getting them all in before the clock strikes 2018 when suddenly there is a little guilt in the air about eating bread, but shut me up, that’s all I’m saying about New Year’s diets. 

Molly of the present might be a little bit tan from a two day skip down to the great American Southwest, very full on pizza from a pizza party at Melissa’s (!!!! Omg past Molly is so excited), and awaiting results from her 23 and me test since she got one for herself and one for Eggboy to put under the Chrismukkah bush. Just for funsies! I know I’m half Chinese and part Hungarian but one time at Thanksgiving someone from my mom’s side said something about having Polish ancestors and maybe even some Spanish ones (!!). I can’t wait to find out. 

Also, we celebrated our third anniversary yesterday!! Hooray!!!!!! I think we went to IKEA. That’s the plan at least. And now that I think about it, I think that my favorite hidden talent of ours as a couple is confidently maintaining a perfect track record of never fighting in an IKEA. That’s pretty good, right??? It’s maybe either a testament to our level-headed reasoning skills or to the fact that as long as I get Swedish meatballs in my belly the world could end but I’d still be smiling. Either way, I am extra excited to spend the day looking at Hemneses and Vördas with my cool husband. 

Enough being mushy now! Let’s get crispy.

As you may remember, I spent a large portion of my February stamping out macroscopic heart shaped cookies to make valentine’s day cookie cereal:

This was a long repetitive process but extraordinarily satisfying. So I did it again only this time with a festive holiday/New Year’s day approach! The only real differences from the valentine’s day version are that the cookies have ground almonds instead of hazelnuts (as well as sprinkles to be like new year’s confetti), and the meringues are swirly and colorful. It’s all very almond-forward because that’s the flavor of the holidays and if you make it now it will definitely still be good by the time that New Year’s morning rolls around and you simply cannot be bothered to make a brunch or wait for a table at the Walker Brothers, but you still want something celebratory. 

I used a large round piping tip to stamp out my circles. I also added dried cranberries and cherries and pecans and marcona almonds but feel free to change those up based on what you have on hand. The only thing you really need to pay attention to is making sure the cookies and meringues are really good and dry before taking them out of the oven, that will help this cereal keep for a while and not get smelly when you bag it up and gift it to the person you forgot to give a gift to. 

Omg, see you in 2018!!!!!


almond cookie cereal

makes about 18 servings

ingredients

1 batch mini almond cookies, recipe below

1 batch mini meringues, recipe below

1 c chocolate chips

1 c toasted coconut flakes

1 c toasted almonds, coarsely chopped (I also threw in some pecans!)

1 c dried cherries or cranberries

milk, for serving

clues

gently combine all of the ingredients. 

serve in a bowl with milk!

keep in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. cereal should keep for a couple of weeks.


mini almond cookies

ingredients

1/2 c almond meal

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 c unsalted butter, softened

3/4 c sugar

3/4 tsp vanilla

1 large egg

sprinkles

clues

preheat the oven to 350ºf. line two baking sheets with parchment.

in a medium bowl, combine the almond meal, flour, and salt.

using an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until it is pale and fluffy. add the vanilla and egg and beat well to combine. with the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, beating until combined.

turn the cookie dough out onto a lightly-floured surface. using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out until it's about 1/2" thick, sprinkle the top with sprinkles, and then continue rolling until it is 1/4" thick. use a cookie cutter or large round piping tip to cut out tiny circles. place the circles on the baking sheets (they can be pretty close together), and bake until they're lightly browned on the bottom, about 10 minutes. re-roll scraps and repeat.

once all of the cookies are baked, reduce the oven to 250ºf and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes to really crisp them up. let cool on the pans.


ingredients

120 grams (or about 1/2 c + 3 tb) sugar

2 large eggs whites

1/4 tsp almond extract

2-4 colors of gel food coloring

clues

preheat oven to 400ºf. distribute the sugar in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes, until the edges are starting to brown. while sugar is baking, crack your egg whites into a stand mixer. 

once the sugar has been in the oven for a few minutes, begin beating the egg whites in a stand mixer on high until they're foamy. reduce the mixer and gradually sprinkle in the warm sugar. once all of it has been added, add the almond extract. beat on high for a few minutes, until the meringue is stiff, glossy, and cold.

reduce the oven to 225ºf.

prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment. fit a pastry bag fitted with a 1/8" or 1/4" round tip and use a paint brush to paint vertical lines of the food coloring inside of the pastry bag. (for a video tutorial, see my IG story highlights!) Fill the bag with your egg white mixture, pipe tiny dollops onto the parchment, and bake for about 20 minutes, until the mini meringues are no longer shiny and they're crispy all the way through. let cool on the pans.


-yeh!

saffron baked marzipan

I witnessed the most Minnesotan thing in the world this weekend: at our lil hotdish Hanukkah party, there were just enough pigs in a blanket to take us until the last hour or so. And then for the last hour there sat exactly one pig in a blanket in the center of the tray. Nobody would take it. I couldn’t believe my eyes: the best food in the world was left there out in the open and no one was taking it, but of course, this is how things go here. In any other situation I would have taken it, obviously, but I was curious to see how long it would go and also I had already had like a million, so I just watched it for a while as I sipped my vodka-y hot chocolate and thought about how you would never ever in a thousand years find one single pig in a blanket all by itself at a party in New York. Am I right??? Here, there’s this system. Someone might come over to take half of it and then someone else would come over to cut off half of the remainder and then another person would cut off half of that, etc., etc., to infinity until nothing but a microscopic dot of a pig in blanket was left. This pattern, the non-finishing of a dish by many people who refuse to have the last bite, is one truly charming phenomenon of Midwestern party food.

[Finally I opened my big mouth and addressed it so that we could discuss this single pig and then Ben From Wisconsin bit off half and handed it to me. I bit off half of that and then handed it back, excited that this was about to become a thing, but then because apparently he was feeling sassy and in the mood for a laugh he popped the rest in his mouth, just like that. People cheered, I frowned.]

Which is all to say that we threw a lovely party, complete with fireside chats and lefse, old friends and new, and I didn’t even have a headache the next day. 

Who all is ready for a holiday break?? I am! Not in like a burnt out way, just in the way that I would kind of like some time to binge Mrs. Maisel and fold laundry. I would also like more time to make boxes of colorful cookies as that’s become one of my favorite holiday things in the last few years. This season I’ve been filling boxes with a lot of sandwich cookies and wreath cookies and of course there always has to be marzipan in some form. 

So today I have for you something that’s inspired by three different cookies: these almendrados, a chewy baked marzipan that Alana and I had by a pool in Malta a long time ago, and the marzipan balls from Breads Bakery that look like they’re going to be boring but taste freaking fantastic. Usually when you think of marzipan you think of kind of a raw dough situation but imagine now that it has a crisp exterior shell and a little more chewiness, thanks to some quick time in the oven. So satisfying! I love these little guys, you can just pop them in your mouth or pile them high into a cookie box because they are so sturdy. 

Making them is a very simple process: whereas most homemade marzipan recipes call for blending nuts into oblivion in a food processor, this recipe skips that step and uses Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour, which is just blanched almonds blended into a fine meal. So no need for a food processor. (If we were making marzipan cake decorations we would want to go the food processor route since the end result is a much smoother dough but in this case, the slightly coarser texture works beautifully.) Saffron adds a bit of very special saffron-y-ness, and they’re actually not complete without a swim in some sprinkles. Sprinkles aren’t optional, you need that extra sweetness and crunch for these to be at their height of tastiness. If you’re fresh out of sprinkles, a coating of turbinado or granulated sugar will be fine too. 

saffron baked marzipan

makes about 50 little balls

ingredients

1/8 tsp saffron, crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 tsp hot water
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 c (224g) bob’s red mill almond flour
3/4 c (150g) sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 large egg

sanding sugar or other sprinkles, for topping

 

 

clues

in a small bowl, combine the saffron, hot water, and almond extract and set aside to steep.

in a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest. add the egg to the bowl with the saffron and whisk to combine and then pour the egg mixture into the dry mixture and mix together to form a dough. It might seem like there isn't enough egg mixture to bring it all together at first but just keep on mixing. 

Press the dough into a ball, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll heaping teaspoons of the dough into balls and dip them in sugar. Place on the baking sheets and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the bottoms of lightly browned. Let cool and enjoy!

-yeh!

Thanks to bob's red mill for sponsoring this post!

latke hotdish

Made a latke hotdish because I couldn’t not, right?? And also because hotdish Hanukkah is the theme of this year’s holiday party. I probably won’t do this ever again unless you pay me a million dollars but that’s just meant to say more about my current overwhelming desire to be lazy, nothing about whether or not this is good or not. 

This is in fact very good!!! It’s meat and potatoes at its best: hella braised brisket and fried potatoes. There is nothing not to like.

Why is this hotdish different from all other hotdishes?

1. Obvious: it’s topped with latkes!! Tater tots are basically little latkes already so this route essentially just makes our favorite hotdish topping even better. It takes a lot more effort. But as someone who is royally dreading having to shred potatoes again this weekend, I can tell you that you definitely should at least try a brisket juice covered latke once in your lifetime. And I mean, if you’re going to be making latkes anyway, it really would behoove you to make a few extra, throw them on this hotdish, and then freeze it and reheat it for the last night of Hanukkah when you are totally done with flipping latkes. 

2.   It is dairy free!! While the traditional hotdish contains meat and creamed soup, it has also been important to me to find good dairy free/kosher options. In Molly on the Range, one recipe goes the coconut milk route, and I’ve made my classic hotdish a few times using olive oil in place of butter and stock in place of milk. But my new favorite option, I just realized, has been staring me right in the eye since Eggboy and I first started dating! The first recipe that Eggmom ever sent me (before we had ever even met I think) was her tomato soup that is thickened with squash puree. It is delicious and has proved to be one of the most popular recipes in MOTR. So thickening this tomato-based hotdish mixture with butternut squash puree is exactly what I’ve done here and the squash adds the most delicious warming undertones that make me forgive it for being such an easy vegetable to get sick of. 

3. It’s got an apples! Which is a nod to latkes + apple sauce, h/t to Kristin for this connection.

4. And rosemary and red wine and all sorts of things that will make your house smell so good that your guests will have no choice but to melt right down into the holiday spirit. I suck at decorating for the holidays but what I lack in greenery and tiny light up houses, I make up for in house smells. And that’s just as important, right??

Q: Omg you want me to braise a brisket, roast a squash, puree it, shred potatoes, and fry latkes all at once? Is this The Onion?? 

A: You can totally make the braised brisket mixture (including the part where you stir in the squash) a day in advance. It’ll probably even taste better that way. The latkes can also be prepped ahead. Assembly can also be done ahead. That’s one of the most beautiful things about a hotdish, it can all be prepped in advance and the only thing that really changes is how much time it spends baking. If you’re baking from the refrigerator, it’ll probably just need a few more minutes. If baking from frozen, cover with foil and bake at 350º for an hour, and then uncover and then increase the heat to 400º and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until the innards are heated through. 


latke hotdish

serves 6

ingredients

2 1/2 tb canola or vegetable oil, divided

2 lbs brisket, cut into 2” pieces

Kosher salt

Black pepper

1 large onion, sliced

2 carrots, chopped into 1/2” coins

2 celery stalks, chopped into 1/2” pieces

1/2 c red wine

1 tb brown sugar

2 tb tomato paste

1 (14-oz) can chopped tomatoes

2 c beef or vegetable stock

Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped

2 apples, cored and sliced

1 small (2-2 1/2 lbs) butternut squash, halved and deseeded

A good pinch of crushed red pepper

1 batch latkes, recipe follows

Chopped fresh parsley, to serve, optional (if you’re feeling fancy)

clues

Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the brisket, season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a few turns of black pepper and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the red wine and cook for a few minutes until it’s reduced by half. Add the brown sugar, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, stock, rosemary, and apples and simmer uncovered for 2 1/2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender. You want this to reduce and get quite thick and saucy, however if it reduces too far to where it’s more gloopy than saucy, add a bit more stock. 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375ºf, brush the innards of your squash with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt and a few turns of pepper and roast until a fork pokes easily into the center, begin checking at 1 hour. Puree the squash and then stir it into your hot dish mixture with crushed red pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning

Increase the oven heat to 400ºf. 

Transfer the mixture to an 8” by 12” casserole dish and top with latkes lined up in nice neat rows. Bake until the mixture is bubbly and the latkes are deep brown, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly and then top with chopped parsley, if using, and serve. 


latkes

Makes enough mini latkes for this hotdish, plus a few more to nosh on as you’re cooking

ingredients

1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes

1 large yellow onions

3/4 tsp kosher salt

2 large eggs

1 tb lemon juice

1/3 c (43g) all-purpose flour

Black pepper

 

Canola or vegetable oil, for frying

clues

Shred the potatoes and onions in a food processor or with a grater or mandoline. Place in a strainer that’s been lined with cheesecloth. Toss with salt and let sit over a bowl for 30 minutes. Gather the top of the cheesecloth and then use your hands to squeeze out as much excess moisture as you can. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the eggs, lemon juice flour, and a few turns of black pepper. Heat a skillet with a 1/4” oil until shimmering. Working in batches as not to crowd the pan, fry up loosely packed rounded tablespoons of the latke mixture until browned on both sides. Add more oil to the pan as needed. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and set aside until ready to use. 


-yeh!