New Mexican Wedding Cookies

corrected cookieContributed by Eleanor Hansen

Many years ago, during a trip to Sante Fe, New Mexico, I sampled some shortbread cookies studded with pine nuts. Delicious. Never forgot ‘em. So when I was baking a batch of traditional Mexican wedding cookies, I added pine nut instead of almonds. The other “secret” ingredient is Old Town Spiced Sugar from The Spice House owned by Dame Patty Erd.

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon Chicago Old Town Spiced Sugar (see Headnote)
1 teaspoon vanilla, if available use clear vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup toasted pine nuts
Additional confectioners’ sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325°F and line a baking sheet with foil. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Cream together butter, confectioners’ sugar, spiced sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour beating until blended. Stir in pine nuts. Chill dough about 1 hour.

3. Using a 1/2-ounce (1 1/4-inch) ice cream scoop, drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheet at least 1 inch apart.

4. Bake 15-20 minutes. Cookies do not need to brown.

5. Remove to cooling racks set on paper or a tea towel (to catch sugar). Generously dust with confectioners’ sugar. Cool completely and dust a second time with sugar.

Scandinavian Rhubarb Cake

Rubarb Cake copycontributed by Dame Patty Erd
The Spice House

2 large stalks rhubarb
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 eggs
1 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for the rhubarb
1/4 cup melted butter, plus more for the cake pan
1/3 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.

2. Slice the rhubarb stalks into bite-sized pieces and sprinkle them with 1-2 tablespoons sugar. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and spices.

4.In a large bowl, beat 2 eggs with 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy. Add almond extract, melted butter, and milk and stir until smooth. Stir in flour mixture and stir until smooth.

5. Pour batter into cake pan and scatter the rhubarb pieces over the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Old Fashioned Cinnamon Apple Cake

Carol Smoler Diane Sokolofski 2
Dames Carol Smoler & Diane Sokolofski

We asked Dame Carol Smoler if she would share this cake recipe served at the Networking Dinner which she hosted.

3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sliced apples, peeled and cored (I use 2 large Granny Smith)
1 cup walnuts

Continue reading “Old Fashioned Cinnamon Apple Cake”

Quick Pear-Streusel Coffee Cake

Quick Pear-Streusel Coffee Cakeby Gale Gand
from Gale Gand’s Brunch!: 100 Fantastic Recipes for the Weekend’s Best Meal
(Clarkson Potter, 2009)
Makes one 8-inch square cake; serves 8

My grandma Elsie on my mother’s side was a great baker in the Austro-Hungarian tradition. Strudels, poppy seed cakes, coffee cakes, and cookies always seemed to be in her kitchen when we visited.

I found a great apple streusel coffee cake recipe in her card files when I became the keeper of those treasures. Here it is, revived, with my little twist of using pears instead of apples.

For the cake
Unsalted butter, for the baking dish
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 ripe pears (I like Bartlett), unpeeled, cored and chopped (1 1/2 cups)

For the streusel topping
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut up
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Gale Gand's Brunch! by Gale Gand1. Heat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Butter an 8-inch square baking dish.

Make the cake
1. Combine the flour with the baking powder, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and then mix in the milk and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the pears, and mix well.

3. Pour this into the buttered baking dish.

Make the streusel
1. Mix the sugar, flour, cold butter, and cinnamon in a bowl by pinching them together with your fingers until well combined. Sprinkle over the top of the batter.

2. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until it is golden and dry on top. Cool in the pan, and then cut into squares. This cake keeps for up to 4 days, covered, at room temperature.

Recipe © 2009 Gale Gand. All rights reserved.