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Thursday, November 11, 2010


My online cookie magazine will be moving to my web site after this month. Please visit me at:

The November issue is also there, with additional information.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Welcome to the first issue of my online cookie magazine! This month, we'll explore flavors of the harvest, and molds to accompany them. Join me for recipes, featured molds, and baking tips. If you have any questions, please use the contact form on my web page.

Table of Contents
November 2010 Issue

Late Fall--An Appreciation of the Season

Fall is one of my favorite times of year. The sudden change in sunlight, from clear to golden, a new scent in the wind, a new school year. Fall has always seemed to me to be a season of beginnings, not endings.

Here on San Juan Island, fall is everywhere. Leaves turn to yellow, brown, and orange, swirl from hill to hill. Garden tools retreat from the aisles of the hardware store, replaced by fireplace logs and road salt. Old pear orchards, untended for years, bear heavily among tall weeds. The pears are harvested only by deer and raccoons. Pumpkins are piled outside the market, and the new crop of apples dazzles us.

And the windstorms begin. I'm told I live on the windy side of the island, and I believe it. Some November nights, the south-west wind sounds like a freight train. I grew up in hurricane country, and I've never heard winds quite like this.

Surprisingly, though, there has never been any damage--aside from losing the seat cushion from a lawn chair when we first moved here. We looked and looked, but never found it. I imagine that seat cushion sailing through the night air like a Frisbee, maybe sailing out to sea. Neptune may be sitting on it this minute, for all I know. We're wiser now--when wind is in the forecast, we bring the chairs in.

Here at the 49th parallel, fall is over by the end of November. Winter doesn't start officially until the solstice, December 21, but the year itself knows no such rule. Late November in the islands is cold. We close our windows at night now, and our footsteps crackle on frost in the early morning. Often, we have snow around Thanksgiving. It's a good time to celebrate houses, brightly lit and welcoming--our own, or our friends' --a good time to be home, or to entertain. The scent of baking cookies fills the kitchen. We hear the storms outside and count our blessings.

It's time to pause and feel thankful for all we have. And many cultures do this at harvest time, whenever it occurs. Traditional harvest celebrations include Sukkot, Harvest Home, Festival of the Autumn Moon, Martinmas, Thanksgiving, and many more.

This month, let's look at cookies to celebrate the earth's bounty. November's recipes feature the flavors I associate with autumn--nuts, cranberries, apples, pumpkin, and warm spices.

Acorn and Oak Leaves--November Cookie Mold

Autumn leaves, and squirrels caching acorns--maybe, if you're a squirrel, an acorn is a cookie!

Here's a fall springerle mold from Gene Wilson at HOBI Cookie Molds:

And here's my cookie:

Recipe: Pumpkin or Apple Cookie Tartlets

Pumpkin or Apple Cookie Tartlets

These require a special mold--usually called a "pineapple tart mold." It's intended for an Indonesian specialty, but these molds make wonderful cookies as well, and are very easy to use. I like the apple jelly for apple pies and the honey for the pumpkin pies.

1 cup (225 grams) butter or margarine
1 large egg
1/2 cup (120 milliliters) apple jelly or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup or 100 grams sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
About 4 cups (585 grams) all-purpose flour

1. Melt the butter. Set aside.
2. Beat the egg in a large bowl.
3. Mix the honey or jelly, vanilla extract, and milk. Add to the egg.
4. Mix the sugar and salt. Add to the egg mixture.
5. Add the butter slowly to the egg mixture and beat well.
6. Add flour slowly until the mixture is solid enough to knead. If you are using an electric mixer, stop the mixer once or twice as you add flour, and scrape the sides of the bowl to get all the flour mixed in.
7. Transfer the dough to a counter or breadboard and knead in more flour to make a soft, slightly sticky dough.
8. Wrap and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
9. Roll and form the dough according to the directions for your mold.
10. Chill the cookies while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).
11. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until slightly browned at the edges.

Fill with commercial pumpkin pie or apple pie filling, pumpkin or apple butter, or with your own pre-cooked pumpkin or apple pie filling. It's best to add the filling just before serving.

This month's technique section explains how to make a cookie sheet full of these tartlets with very little trouble or handling. Here's the tart mold, which is available from Biodiversity Herbs.

Apple Picking--November Cookie Mold

Here's a mold that celebrates the apple harvest. You could make this cookie with the recipe for "Apricot Jam Cookies" from my book, "Baking with Cookie Molds," substituting apple jelly for the apricot jam. The mold is available online from Springerle Joy.

And here's the cookie:

Recipe: Cinnamon Chestnut Cookies

Two warm autumn flavors, cinnamon and chestnut, combine to make a special seasonal cookie. Medium-light in color, and with a smooth texture, this recipe is good for complex molds. Make sure to use sweetened chestnut paste rather than unsweetened pureed chestnuts.

These cookies are crisp, on account of the high percentage of nuts. Make them thin for best results.

Cinnamon Chestnut Cookies

1 cup (225 grams) butter or margarine
1 large egg
1/2 cup (160 grams) sweetened chestnut paste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cream
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
About 1 1/4 (165 grams) all purpose flour

1. Tear the chestnut paste into marble sized bits.
2. Melt the butter.
3. Combine the warm butter and the chestnut paste and beat well until smooth.See note.
4. Beat together the egg, vanilla extract, and cream and add to the butter mixture.
5. Combine the sugar, salt, and cinnamon, and add to the butter mixture
6. Add flour slowly until the mixture is solid enough to knead
7. Transfer to a work surface and knead in more flour to make a dough the consistency of children's modeling clay.
8. Roll and form the dough per the instructions for your cookie molds or the directions in my book, "Baking with Cookie Molds".
9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees Celsius).
10. Bake one test cookie for approximately 15 minutes. Adjust time and temperature as needed, and bake the remainder of the cookies.