Cookbook offers cookie for every occasion

Brighten any day with this collection of Minnesota’s most-loved sweet treats

Daytona Strong
Taste of Norway Editor

The Great Minnesota Cookie Book

Book cover: The Great Minnesota Cookie Book
Traditional and beloved, inventive and new—there’s something for virtually every palate in this book devoted to one of the most-loved sweet treats: the cookie.

No matter the month or the season, there is perhaps no greater delight at some moments than to pull a tray of cookies out of the oven, releasing the inviting aroma of melted butter and sugar into the kitchen and beckoning eager hands to reach for a morsel at the moment it’s cooled just enough to touch. The collections of many home bakers contain a mix of family recipes—heirlooms of sorts—along with newer favorites. In this issue we hope to whet your appetite enough to add a couple of new recipes to your repertoire with a peek at a recent book, The Great Minnesota Cookie Book: Award-Winning Recipes from the Star Tribune’s Holiday Cookie Contest by Lee Svitak Dean and Rick Nelson.

The book contains 80 recipes collected over 15 years of the Star Tribune’s holiday cookie contest, and while many of the cookies would be just right for a festive cookie tray, most of these recipes would be just as appropriate for a sunny spring picnic with a glass of milk or lemonade as they would accompanying a hot cocoa on a dark December evening.

Readers will find a variety of drop cookies—from double-chocolate espresso cherry drops to Swedish almond chocolate macaroons—and cutout cookies like apple cardamom pecan star cookies and almond sandwiches. There’s no shortage of rolled cookies with flavors ranging from bacon to chai, or refrigerator cookies like almond Palmiers and chocolately Korova cookies, or bars.

No matter the taste or style you prefer—easy to make or involved, basic flavors or complex—there’s sure to be something here to please both baker and those treated to these delights. And whether for a special occasion or “just because,” a cookie presented at the perfect time can be a simple delight just right for bringing a smile to someone’s face.

Swedish Shortbread Cookies

Photo: Tom Wallace
Swedish Shortbread Cookies

Swedish Shortbread Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp.

½ cup plus 2 tbsps. granulated sugar

2 to 213 cups flour

13 cup raspberry jam

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. almond extract

2 to 3 tsps. water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and granulated sugar until creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the flour, mixing until just combined, adding enough so the dough isn’t sticky. Divide the dough into six balls of equal size, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place a dough ball between two sheets of parchment paper and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough to ¼-inch thickness, forming a 3- by 10-inch rectangle. Carefully peel away the top layer of the parchment paper.

Make a shallow crease down the center of the rectangle and fill the crease with raspberry jam. Repeat with the remaining dough. Carefully transfer the dough, retaining the parchment paper, to a baking sheet. Bake until the edges become golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven, cool for 2 minutes, and cut across the short side of the rectangle at a slight angle, making 6 or so cookies. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, almond extract, and 2 to 3 teaspoons of water until smooth. Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze across the cookies.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Note: This dough must be prepared in advance.

Almond Spoons

Photo: Tom Wallace
Almond Spoons

Almond Spoons

7 tbsps. unsalted butter

1 scant cup finely chopped almonds

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp. flour

¼ tsp. vanilla sugar

1 tbsp. heavy whipping cream

1 tbsp. half-and-half

1 tbsp. light corn syrup

Preheat the oven to 375°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a double boiler over gently simmering water (or in a bowl in a microwave oven), melt the butter and then slightly cool.

In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, almonds, granulated sugar, flour, vanilla sugar, cream, half-and-half, and corn syrup, and mix thoroughly. Drop teaspoons of the dough on the prepared baking sheets, spacing cookies 3 inches apart and baking 4 to 6 cookies at a time. (The cookies spread greatly.) Bake until lightly golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven.

Carefully slide the parchment paper off the baking sheet onto a flat work surface. Using a thin metal spatula, lift the cookies off the parchment paper and, with your hand, gently bend the flat cookie into the shape of a taco shell (the “spoon” of its name). If you prefer, you can drape plastic wrap over a broomstick-size dowel and drape the cookie over it to create the “spoon” shape; cool completely. The shaping takes some practice; the cookies need to be cool enough to hold their shape, but not so cool that they have set and hardened. If the cookies have become too cool, return the parchment paper to the hot baking sheet to warm up the cookies.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Notes: Vanilla sugar is available in some supermarkets and specialty food stores. Or make your own by splitting 1 vanilla bean, burying it into ½ pound of granulated sugar, and storing it in a tightly sealed container for 1 week.

If you prefer, skip the shaping of the cookie. They also look pretty in their wafer-like appearance straight from the oven.

Preheat the oven to 375°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a double boiler over gently simmering water (or in a bowl in a microwave oven), melt the butter and then slightly cool.

In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, almonds, granulated sugar, flour, vanilla sugar, cream, half-and-half, and corn syrup, and mix thoroughly. Drop teaspoons of the dough on the prepared baking sheets, spacing cookies 3 inches apart and baking 4 to 6 cookies at a time. (The cookies spread greatly.) Bake until lightly golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven.

Carefully slide the parchment paper off the baking sheet onto a flat work surface. Using a thin metal spatula, lift the cookies off the parchment paper and, with your hand, gently bend the flat cookie into the shape of a taco shell (the “spoon” of its name). If you prefer, you can drape plastic wrap over a broomstick-size dowel and drape the cookie over it to create the “spoon” shape; cool completely. The shaping takes some practice; the cookies need to be cool enough to hold their shape, but not so cool that they have set and hardened. If the cookies have become too cool, return the parchment paper to the hot baking sheet to warm up the cookies.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Notes: Vanilla sugar is available in some supermarkets and specialty food stores. Or make your own by splitting 1 vanilla bean, burying it into ½ pound of granulated sugar, and storing it in a tightly sealed container for 1 week.

If you prefer, skip the shaping of the cookie. They also look pretty in their wafer-like appearance straight from the oven.

Cardamom Orange Zest Sugar Cookies

Photo: Tom Wallace
Cardamom Orange Zest Sugar Cookies

Cardamom Orange Zest Sugar Cookies

cookies:

2 cups plus 2 tbsps. flour

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. baking soda

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp.

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup powdered sugar

½ cup canola oil

1 egg

½ tsp. vanilla extract

freshly grated zest from 2 oranges

1 tsp. ground cardamom

decoration:

1½ tbsps. granulated sugar

½ tsp. ground cardamom

1 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temp.

freshly grated zest from 1 orange, optional

To prepare cookies:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda, and reserve. In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the canola oil, egg, vanilla extract, orange zest, and cardamom, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F and line the baking sheets with parchment paper.

To decorate cookies:

In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and cardamom. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Grease the bottom of a flat-bottomed glass with butter and dip it in the sugar-cardamom mixture; then carefully press the cookie with the flat bottom of the glass. Repeat with the remaining cookies.

Bake until the bottom of the cookies are golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and cool for 2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Sprinkle with orange zest, if desired.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Notes: This dough must be prepared in advance. As the cookies cooled, we decorated with

freshly grated orange zest, for additional flavor and color.

Recipes and photos in this spread are reprinted with permission from The Great Minnesota Cookie Book: Award-Winning Recipes from the Star Tribune’s Holiday Cooking Contest by Lee Svitak Dean and Rick Nelson, photography by Tom Wallace, and published by the University of Minnesota Press (www.upress.umn.edu), 2018. Copyright 2018 by Lee Svitak Dean and Rick Nelson. Photographs copyright 2018 by Tom Wallace.

Daytona Strong is The Norwegian American’s Taste of Norway Editor. She writes about her family’s Norwegian heritage through the lens of food at her Scandinavian food blog, www.outside-oslo.com. Find her on Facebook  (www.facebook.com/OutsideOslo), Twitter (@daytonastrong), Pinterest (@daytonastrong), and Instagram (@daytonastrong).

This article originally appeared in the March 22, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBEor call us at (206) 784-4617.

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