Recipes by Robin Asbell

Gingerbread Cookies

Makes 48 3-inch cookies. Prep time: 1 hour 

Ingredients - Cookies

1 1⁄2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1⁄4 cup light brown sugar
1⁄2 cup molasses
1 large egg

Ingredients - Royal Icing

2 cups powdered sugar, approximately
large pasteurized egg white or 2 1⁄2 tablespoons meringue powder 
1⁄4 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons water, approximately

Method

In a large bowl, mix together flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Using a stand mixer or an electric beater, cream butter until soft, then add brown sugar and beat until well-mixed. Add molasses and beat, scrape down and add egg, beat again until combined. Stir in the flour mixture. Divide dough into four rectangular pieces, place between sheets of parchment and roll out 1/4” thick. Stack sheets of dough on a baking pan and chill for 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lay sheets of dough on counter, remove top layer of parchment and use a cookie cutter to cut into shapes. Using a thin spatula, transfer cookies to parchment-lined baking sheets. Repeat process with scraps.

Bake 12 minutes, switching the pans between oven racks halfway through. When cookies are puffed and look dry, remove and cool on the pan for five minutes, then move cookies to a cooling rack.

Using a stand mixer or electric beater, mix powdered sugar with egg white or meringue powder. Mix in lemon juice and water, a tablespoon at a time, to reach desired consistency. Transfer icing to a piping bag with a small round tip and use to draw outlines on the cookies. 

 

Poppy Seed Rugelach

Rugelach, a traditional Jewish treat, can also be filled with chocolate chips, walnuts, marzipan or fruit preserves. 
Makes 24 cookies. Prep time: 6 hours (includes chilling); 1 hour active

Ingredients

1 1⁄2 sticks butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups flour
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 cup poppy seeds
1⁄4 cup milk
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons raisins, chopped
1⁄2 teaspoon lemon zest

Method

Cream butter and cream cheese together until fluffy. Add flour, sugar, salt and beat to combine. Form 2 disks, wrap in plastic wrap; chill 4 hours.

In a coffee grinder, grind poppy seeds coarsely then heat in a pan with milk, honey, raisins and zest. Stir over medium-low until thickened, approx. 20 minutes, then cool completely.

Preheat oven to 325 F and line two sheet pans with parchment. Roll out dough to make two 12" rounds about 1⁄8" thick, then spread each with half the filling. Use a pizza cutter to cut each round in 12 wedges. Roll up each piece from the wide end, bend in tips to make a crescent. Place on pan, chill 1 hour.

Bake for 40 minutes, switching the pans between oven racks halfway through. When done, cool cookies on pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks. 

 

Chocolate Glazed Nut Brittle

A recipe of decadent brittle makes wonderful gifts, a little goes a long way! Portion and package festively for teachers, coworkers and friends.
Makes 2 1⁄2 lbs. (approx. 27 servings). Prep time:  1 hour; 20 minutes active

Ingredients

2 cups sugar
1⁄2 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter
1⁄3 cup light corn syrup
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1⁄2 cups roasted salted peanuts or cashews plus an optional 1⁄4 cup, finely chopped
8 ounces dark chocolate, melted

Method

Line a large sheet pan with a rim with parchment paper.

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the sugar, water, butter and corn syrup and bring to a boil to create caramel. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the caramel is light brown and registers 300 F on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble. Stir in the nuts, then immediately scrape the brittle onto the prepared baking sheet. Using the back of a large spoon (oil it lightly if it sticks), spread the brittle into a thin, even layer. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Spread melted chocolate over the brittle, sprinkle with the finely chopped nuts, if using, then chill. Break the brittle into large shards. Store in airtight containers for up to two weeks.