Czech out winner
More than 300 recipes were received for the fourth annual Post-Bulletin and Hy-Vee holiday cookie contest. Of the top 10, the tasting judges considered flavor, texture and appearance.
Here are the winners of the 2010 cookie contest:
The first-place winner, Deb Palmerof Rochester, baked kolaches, a filled and rolled Czech cookie. Though Deb says she's not sure how the recipe became an annual tradition, it's been in her family for as long as she can remember.
For the contest, Deb made two different fillings: a traditional nut filling and an apricot filling. For her efforts, she wins a $150 Hy-Vee gift card.
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
4 3-ounce packages Philadelphia cream cheese
1 pound butter, cold (do not use margarine)
In a bowl, blend the above ingredients together with a pastry cutter. (It helps to cut the cheese and butter into small chunks.) Use hands if necessary to combine all ingredients together. Divide dough into four balls and place in refrigerator, wrapped, for 1-2 hours to firm up. Take out one ball at a time and roll out on a plastic pastry mat that is sprinkled with confectioners' sugar. Add more sugar when rolling if dough starts to stick, but do not use flour because it makes cookies tough.
Roll dough to thickness of pie crust, keeping a square or rectangle shape. Using a knife, cut the dough into strips, about 3 inches wide and 4 inches long. Trim away uneven edges. Place 1 teaspoon of nut filling at end of each strip and roll like a log, then roll each log in a bowl of confectioners' sugar to cover entire cookie. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Watch carefully. Cool a few minutes then remove to a rack to cool completely.
1 pound finely ground walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
3 egg whites
Beat egg whites until foamy, then add sugar and beat until stiff. Mix in vanilla and nuts. Spoon about one teaspoon onto each strip of dough, then roll up. Note: You can substitute apricot or other fruit fillings, but be careful because fruit fillings tend to run out onto the cookie sheet. Be sure to remove soon after taking them out of the oven to avoid cookies sticking to the cookie sheet.
This year's second-place winner is Laura Pulaof Rochester with her neapolitan rainbow cookies. A striking three-layered colorful cookie with a wonderful almond flavoring, this recipe was given to her by an Italian friend in Florida.
"When we moved here several years ago, she used to send me these, but I finally decided I had to bake them myself. They are time-consuming but a huge favorite for anyone who has them," she says.
Laura wins a $75 Hy-Vee gift card.
Neapolitan (rainbow) cookies
1 8-ounce can SOLO almond paste
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
4 jumbo egg yolks
3 teaspoons almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
4 jumbo eggs whites
20 drops red food color
12 drops green food color
Red raspberry seedless jam
12-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips
In bowl, break up paste (grate), add butter and mix well. Add sugar, almond extract and egg yolks. Beat with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in flour with a wooden spoon, or use a mixer with flour on low speed.
In another medium-size bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites with electric mixer until peaks form. Fold whites into almond and butter mixture gently but thoroughly.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
11-inch-by-7-inch-by-1.5-inch pan greased and lined with wax paper (or sprayed with Pam).
Bake 10-12 minutes just until sheen disappears.
Color batter: (gently mix color in by folding)
1-½ cups green (do green layer 1st)
1-½ cups red
1-½ cups plain
Spread each color into prepared pan carefully and bake as directed. When cooled, turn green layer onto rectangular board or cookie sheet; spread with ¼ cup of jam. Then place plain layer on top of green and spread with jam. Top w with red layer.
Wrap assembled layers in wax paper, then press with heavy board for 2-3 days so layers get compressed.
Melt chocolate chips and spread on top and sides; refrigerate until set, then flip over and seal the bottom with chocolate. When set, let cookies sit at room temperature and then slice. These will keep for weeks in refrigerator if they are well wrapped in wax paper and plastic wrap.
Brenda Masseyof Byron takes third place with holiday gingerdoodles. With ingredients including raisins, crystallized ginger, orange peel and pecans, these cookies taste a lot like Christmas.
Brenda loves to cook — two of her favorite cooking magazines are "Cuisine at Home" and "Cooks Illustrated." For her efforts, she wins a $50 Hy-Vee gift card.
1 cup golden raisins
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
3-2/3 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon finely chopped orange peel
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pecan topping (recipe below)
Orange glaze (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350. Place raisins and butter in a food processor and whirl until raisins are chopped and combined with butter. Transfer mixture to an extra-large bowl. With an electric mixer, beat in brown sugar, eggs, 3 tablespoons crystallized ginger, orange peel and vanilla until creamy.
In another bowl, combine flour, pecans, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, ground ginger and salt. Gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture. Mix until well-blended. With a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop, drop dough 4 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten tops slightly. Spoon 1 teaspoon of the pecan topping onto center of each unbaked cookie. Bake 12-14 minutes or until edges are just set. Cool in pan 2 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack. Cool completely. Drizzle cooled cookies with orange glaze. Makes 3 dozen.
In a small bowl combine 1/2 cup golden raisins, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger, 3 tablespoons sour cream and 3 tablespoons caramel topping. Cover and chill until ready to use.
In a small bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons orange juice. Mix well and drizzle over cookies.
Lila Broganof St. Charles is this year's fourth-place winner with a confection she calls fudge puddles, a mini tart-like cookie with a peanut butter-based crust and a chocolate filling, topped with a Christmas M&M.
During the holidays Lila bakes at least 14 different types of cookies and candies. For her fudge puddles cookie entry, she wins a $25 Hy-Vee gift card.
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
In a large bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars. Beat in egg and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to the creamed mixture. Chill for one hour. Shape into 48 balls, 1-inch each. Place in lightly greased mini-muffin tins. Bake at 325 for 14-16 minutes or until lightly browned.
Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, make a 1/2-inch deep indentation in center of each ball. Cool in pans for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
1 cup chocolate chips
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
In a microwave or a small saucepan, melt chocolate chips. Stir in milk and vanilla until smooth. Fill each cookie shell with filling. Put a Christmas M&M in center of each one. (Leftover filling can be stored in refrigerator and served warm over ice cream.) Makes 4 dozen.