rosemary buttter cookies

Are we there yet? I can’t believe Christmas is just a few days away. It has been a super-festive holiday season. There have been parties involving cookies and cocktails and gingerbread houses and eating. There has definitely been some good eating. It’s been a blast. It feels like Christmas. And I’ve been baking up a storm as a result.

What’s crazy to me is that there is so much left to do. I still have a serious shopping list to tackle. And a playlist to compile for this fantastic blog. There are gifts that need to be made and desserts that need to be baked for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. And even though I know I’ll be exhausted at the end of it all, I’m actually really looking forward to it. Like I said, it feels like Christmas.

When I made these rosemary butter cookies for a party last weekend, I decided that I would be adding them to my list of favorites. The cookie itself is not super sweet, which is a nice change of pace from all of the sugary treats I’ve been partaking in. More importantly, it’s an easy cookie, one that requires little time and effort. Plus, the dough can be made in advance and stashed in the freezer until you need it. And with the help of a little rosemary, these are just a bit fancier and more flavorful than your basic butter cookie.

I pretty much love anything with rosemary. As a little girl, I would pick the needles from my grandparent’s rosemary bush and sniff them obsessively; I couldn’t believe that something so fragrant could grow in the yard. Part of me still feels that way whenever I pick the rosemary that grows wild in my front yard. Unlike gingerbread and other spiced goodies that go floating around during this time of year, these rosemary cookies don’t scream Christmas, but are still a great addition to your holiday repertoire. And everyone will thank you.

rosemary butter cookies

adapted from Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies 2005

makes about 5 dozen

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg plus 1 egg white, beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 cup fine sanding sugar

Combine butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the whole egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour, rosemary, and salt and mix until combined.

Divide dough in half and shape each half into a log. Place each log on a 12-by-16-inch sheet of parchment. Roll in parchment to 1-1/2 inches in diameter, pressing along edge of parchment at each turn to narrow log. Transfer dough to paper-towel tubes to hold shape, and freeze until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush each log with beaten egg white, then roll in sanding sugar. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on baking sheets lined with parchment, about 1 inch apart. Bake until edges are golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Store in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

 


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vanilla marshmallows

We’re back…

I really took it to heart when I heard someone say that this is the time of year for the Earth to rest. It’s not that I’ve actually done much resting, though I do like the idea of rest, but I have taken a bit of a break. Part of it had to do with my oven being out of commission. And I also burned out a little after all of those pies I made for Thanksgiving. But the holidays are officially here and I’ve been really anxious to get back in my kitchen.

Let’s talk about marshmallows. I like marshmallows. As an adult, I don’t typically find myself eating plain marshmallows. But when combined with other ingredients, marshmallows are one of my true loves. I love s’mores and rice krispy treats and scotch kisses and rocky road. These goodies would be nothing without marshmallow. After buying a package of fancy marshmallows at Whole Foods last year, I decided that I needed learn how to make my own.  And when I saw the marshmallow recipe in the Baked cookbook, I knew it was time.

Let me just say that eating a homemade marshmallow makes you feel like you’re eating a marshmallow for the first time. It’s like you’ve never had a marshmallow in your life prior to that moment, like those jet-puffed marshmallows you stuffed in your face as a child weren’t even marshmallows. Homemade marshmallows are soft, fluffy, and perfectly squishy and melty when you put them in your mouth. They make you say, ” OMG,” out loud, like it’s a reflex.

Making your own marshmallows is surprisingly easy, especially considering the payoff. The hardest part was waiting the six hours for them to set – I was dying to sample them! If you want to impress yourself and your loved ones this holiday season, make some marshmallows. I know I will. I can’t wait to distribute these bad boys. And I also can’t wait to throw one in a bowl of hot cocoa.

vanilla marshmallows

adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

makes 48 large marshmallows

vegetable shortening

12 sheets gelatin

2 cups sugar

1 cup light corn syrup, divided

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting

Grease a 9x13x2 inch pan with vegetable shortening. Set aside.

Fill a medium size heatproof bowl with very cold water and ice cubes. Place the gelatin sheets in the water and set aside.

Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and place on the stove over medium-low heat.

In another medium saucepan, add the sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup, and 1/2 cup of water and stir gently, making sure not to splash the ingredients onto the sides of the pan.  Put the saucepan over medium-high heat.

Put the remaining 1/2 cup corn syrup in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Set aside.

Check the temperature of the saucepan of water.  When the temperature reaches 220°F, drain the water from the gelatin and gently wring any excess water from the gelatin sheets. Place the bowl of gelatin over the saucepan of simmering water and stir until the gelatin is completely melted.  Remove the bowl from the pan.

Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly pour the melted gelatin into the corn syrup. Keep the mixer on low.

Place the candy thermometer in the saucepan with the sugar mixture. Bring the sugar mixture to the softball stage on the candy thermometer, 235-240°F. Remove the candy thermometer from the mixture and remove from the heat.  Turn the mixer to medium speed for 1 minute, then slowly pour the sugar mixture into the gelatin mixture. When all of the sugar mixture has been added, turn the mixer to medium-high and beat for about 5 minutes. The marshmallow mixture will begin to turn white and fluffy. Add the vanilla and salt and turn the mixer up to its highest setting for another minute.

Working very quickly, pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan. Use an offset spatula to spread the mixture evenly. Sprinkle with a bit of sifted confectioners sugar and let sit for at least 6 hours.

Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the marshmallow and gently pull with your hands to remove. The marshmallow will come out in one large piece. Lay on a flat surface dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

Place 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl.

Using a chef’s knife, cut the marshmallows into a 6×8 grid. Roll each marshmallow in confectioners’ sugar. Keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.