Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holiday Cookie Recipe (and the 1000 Cookie Party)

Back when I was in college, my roommate and I would throw The 1000 Cookie Party every year around this time. As you might have guessed, we made 1000 cookies for these parties, baking and decorating for three days ahead of time, and storing tupperwares full of cookies in every available closet. We threw the party for two reasons, the obvious first one being a holiday celebration, the other being an excuse for our friends to take a break from studying for a bit (ah, how the holidays and finals used to go hand-in-hand in those days) and fill up on homemade treats. And perhaps get a sugar high to sustain them for the next few hours of studying. It was quite the undertaking (evidently, we weren't too worried about studying for our finals), but so much fun.

Today, being in the holiday spirit (and, to be honest, craving cookies), I decided to whip up a batch of one of my favorite cookies I used to make for those parties: Honey and Orange Sandwich Cookies. They're super cute, sweet tooth-satisfying (especially if you love honey, which I really really do), and not your average (in taste and presentation) homemade cookie, which is why I like to bake them and give them away this time of year. Here's the recipe and instructions for those of you following along at home (which I got and tweaked a wee bit from an old, giant cookbook I've had for ages called, appropriately, Cookies).

Honey and Orange Sandwich Cookies
(makes 20, although I've only ever ended up with 18...maybe I should stop eating so much dough...)
2 1/4 cups self-rising flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup sweet butter, diced
finely grated rind of 1 large orange
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds, although pine nuts also go well)

For the filling:
1/4 cup sweet butter, diced, at room temp.
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon honey
orange zest to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking soda, and sugar into a large bowl.

Add butter, rubbing in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the orange rind. Heat honey in a small pan until runny, but not hot.

Pour honey over the dry mixture and mix (with a whisk, if you're me, or with a fancy Kitchen Aid, if you're lucky) until you have a firm dough.

Divide the dough in half and form 20 small balls (about the size of a large cherry, although I tend to shape mine a bit bigger--I do love giant cookies...) from one half. Place balls on the baking sheet, leaving room for them to spread, and flatten to create flat cookies. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheets and leave to cool.

With the other half of the dough, form 20 small balls and dip one side of each into the chopped nuts. Place the cookies, nut side up, on a baking sheet and bake in the same manner as before.

While they are cooking, make the filling by beating the butter, sugar, honey, and orange zest together in a mixing bowl until you get a light and fluffy icing consistency.

Once the cookies are cool, scoop a hefty amount (I like filled sandwich cookies) of filling onto the first batch (without nuts), and sandwich together by topping with a nut-covered cookie.

And voila--homemade sandwich cookies that are sure to satisfy and impress your holiday guests! I hope you all enjoy!

P.S. What are some of your favorite recipes to bake for the holidays? I'm always up to adding to my 1000 cookie repertoire!

Recipe originally from Cookies, by Catherine Atkinson, published by Barnes & Noble.

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