Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Robin's 18th Annual Cookie Exchange

Robin's Cookie Exchange is always loads of fun. Each person makes about 100 of their favourite cookies, and just before Christmas , we get together and do a cookie swap, drink mulled cranberry cider and chat. This year we had a record number of ladies, (over 20), so we got to take home lots of different cookies!

Christmas Wreath Cookies

Here are Robin's delicious Chocolate Candy Cane cookies.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

Servings: Makes about 18 sandwich cookies.

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 drops (or more) red food coloring

1/2 cup crushed red-and-white-striped candy canes or hard peppermint candies (about 4 ounces)


For cookies:
Whisk flour, cocoa, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Beat in egg. Add dry ingredients; beat until blended. Refrigerate dough 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out dough by level tablespoonfuls, then roll into smooth balls. Place balls on prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Using bottom of glass or hands, flatten each ball to 2-inch round (edges will crack). Bake until cookies no longer look wet and small indentation appears when tops of cookies are lightly touched with fingers, about 11 minutes (do not overbake or cookies will become too crisp). Cool on sheet 5 minutes. Transfer chocolate cookies to racks and cool completely.

For filling:
Using electric mixer, beat powdered sugar and butter in medium bowl until well blended. Add peppermint extract and 2 drops food coloring. Beat until light pink and well blended, adding more food coloring by dropfuls if darker pink color is desired. Spread 2 generous teaspoons filling evenly over flat side of 1 cookie to edges; top with another cookie, flat side down, pressing gently to adhere. Repeat with remaining cookies and peppermint filling.

Place crushed candy canes on plate. Roll edges of cookie sandwiches in crushed candies (candies will adhere to filling). (Cookie sandwiches can be made ahead. Store in single layer in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 weeks.)

I made a family favourite, Brandied Fruit Slice (an old Australian Women's Weekly recipe).

Brandied Fruit Slice

11/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
125g butter

30g butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup or molasses
1/4 cup self-raising flour
90g glace cherries
90g dried apricots
90g silvered almonds
1/4 cup brandy

Combine sifted flour and brown sugar in bowl, rub in butter. Press firmly into lightly greased tin (base measures 16cm x 26cm). Spoon fruit Topping evenly over base, bake in moderate oven for 30 minutes. Cool in tin, cut when cold.
Topping: Beat together butter. brown sugar, golden syrup, sifted flour and brandy. Add halved cherries and chopped dried apricots, stir in sultanas and almonds.

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