Black and White Cookies - Holiday Style

Trying think outside of the usual holiday cookie box, I thought I would try one of my favorite treats this week. The black and white cookie is a NYC favorite and when done right it is a sweet and cake-like cookie that is perfect for dessert or with your afternoon tea. With a little food paste, I was able to jazz these up for the holidays and the result was not as cute as I would have hoped, but a fun alternative to the usual cut out Santa's and dry gingerbread. Easy to make and decorate, might be a good addition to your cookie tray this week.

Black and White Cookies
Adapted from Gourmet 2002
Makes about large 10 cookies

For Cookies:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup well shaken buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg

For Icing:
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
red and green food coloring or paste (if want to make festive)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a cup.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add egg, beating until combined well. Mix in flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately in batches at low speed (scraping down sides of bowl occasionally), beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until smooth.

Spoon 1/4 cups of batter 2 inches apart onto a buttered large baking sheet. Tap down the batter to flatten the tops. Bake in middle of oven until tops are puffed and pale golden, and cookies spring back when touched, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, stir together confectioners sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl until smooth. Transfer half of the icing to another bowl and stir in the coca, adding more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to thin to same consistency as white icing.

**If making festive: divide rest of white icing in two bowls. Add red and green food paste or coloring to desired color.

Once cookies are completely cool, turn cookies flat sides up, then spread the colored icing on half of each and chocolate over the other half.



Albondigas - Mexican Meatball Soup

I know, I have posted a lot of Mexican style soups to this blog. But I swear this one is different. I came up with the recipe after reading a few variations and the result was so full of flavor and different from traditional tortilla soups, that I had to share. The broth has a ton of body and bold flavor. And let's get serious, the meatball is having a moment and this soup let's it shine. With holiday cooking and snow on the way, this soup works perfect for nights in when you could use a break from the usual rich and sugary fare.  And though it packs some nutritional punch, it feels decadent and satisfying. Just the way I like my soup.

Albondigas - Mexican Meatball Soup
Forks & Amusement 2011
serves 6

For the Meatballs:
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 lb ground beef
1/4 lb chorizo (ground pork if you cannot find, but add some spice if you use it)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all the ingredients, except the meat in a bowl. Add in the meat and gently incorporate the meat so that everything is well combined, but not over worked. Use hands or fork. Place heaping teaspoons of the mixture, gently rolled into balls, onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through. Set aside.

For the Soup (can start making while meatballs cook):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Anaheim or other green chili variety, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
6 cups beef stock
2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 - 7oz can chipotle peppers, chopped (deseed if you do not like spice)
1 to 4 teaspoons adobo sauce from the can of chipotle peppers, depending how spicy you like it
2 carrots, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated zucchini
1/4 cup uncooked rice
juice of one lime
chopped fresh cilantro and grated cheese for garnish

Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat and sauté the onion, chili, garlic, oregano, and cumin until vegetables are soft. Add the stock, tomatoes, chipotle, adobo, carrots and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Add the zucchini and rice and simmer for an additional 30 minutes, until rice is tender. Add in the meatballs and lime juice and heat through. Taste and adjust for seasoning (salt, pepper, more adobo, hot sauce?). Serve hot and garnish with the cilantro and cheese if desired.


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