Wine Wedneday: Cookies makes everyone feel good

I love the holidays actually, Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year.  It’s the trees decorated, the warmed mulled cider, and the cookies – oh the cookies that get me every time. So I wanted to share a few of my favorite cookies with you.  Pairing them with egg-nog, mulled cider or a nice glass of champagne always works.  Happy Holidays!!

Crisp Butter Cookies

1-cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the salt. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the flour and beat at medium-low speed until a very soft dough forms. Divide the dough in half, flatten into disks and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the dough until firm, about 30 minutes.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. On a well-floured surface, roll out one disk of dough 3/8 inch thick. Using a 2 1/4-inch round cutter, stamp out as many cookies as possible; transfer to the baking sheets. Repeat with the second disk of dough. Gather, chill and reroll the scraps, cutting out more cookies. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the cookies for about 18 minutes, until golden, shifting the pans halfway through baking. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes, then transfer them to racks to cool completely.

Hazelnut Butter Cookies

1-cup hazelnuts (about 5 ounces)

1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling

2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 large eggs, separated

1-teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1-teaspoon cinnamon

1/2-teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 400°. Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until deeply browned. Let the hazelnuts cool slightly, then transfer them to a kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove the skins. Let the nuts cool completely, then transfer them to a food processor with the 1/4 cup of granulated sugar. Process just until the hazelnuts are finely ground.

Divide the dough in half and refrigerate 1 half. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the other half to a 12-inch square. Cut the dough into sixteen 3-inch squares. Cut the squares on the diagonal to form 2 triangles each. Arrange the triangles about 1 inch apart on baking sheets and refrigerate until well chilled, about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg whites. Brush the cookies with the whites and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake in the center of the oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden. Let stand on the sheets until firm, then transfer to a rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Make Ahead The cookie dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month. The baked cookies can be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Ginger-Studded Sugar Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 cups all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Royal Icing, colored sugars and silver dragées, for decoration (optional)

In a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the flour and salt at low speed until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar, ginger, vanilla and orange zest and beat at low speed until smooth. Divide the dough in half and shape into 2 disks. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Working in batches if necessary, roll out the dough a scant 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Stamp out shapes as close together as possible. Arrange the cookies 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until lightly golden, 14 to 18 minutes depending on their size. Transfer to a rack to cool. Meanwhile, refrigerate the scraps until chilled, then re-roll, stamp out more cookies and bake.

Decorate the cookies with Royal Icing, colored sugars and silver dragées.

Make Ahead: The baked, undecorated cookies can be wrapped well and frozen for up to 1 month. The decorated cookies can be kept in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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