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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Company is Coming: recipes

When company comes - at the last minute - it's helpful to have a selection of menu items you can make using what's normally in the house. I wanted to add a homemade dessert to my dinner plate so I rummaged around a few books and magazines and came up with two new items. Both used ingredients I already had access to and both seemed simple enough to pull off quickly - before I put up the roast chicken.

Within an hour I was finished with the baking and just needed to ice the one cookie. Just the way I like it - quick and easy!

Lemon-Poppy Shortbread with Lemon Icing
Makes about 24

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine flour, cornstarch, nutmeg, salt and poppy seeds in medium bowl; mix. In an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar with lemon peel and vanilla in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add dry ingredients and mix well until dough begins to come together.

Turn dough out onto a sheet of waxed paper and flatten into a disk. Cover with another sheet of paper. Roll out dough to 1/4" thickness, turning and freeing the paper as you go - both top and bottom.  cut out cookies and transfer to ungreased cookie sheets. Gather and reroll scraps and cut out additional cookies.

Bake cookies till firm and beginning to brown on the edges - about 17 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack and let cool. Drizzle with Lemon Icing (see below).

Lemon Icing
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 tsp fresh lemon juice

Place sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk in the lemon juice until the mixture is thin enough to drip off a fork. Transfer to a squeeze bottle and drizzle over cookies.

Orange-Ginger Shortbread Cookies with Rich Chocolate Chips
Makes about 24

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon (packed) grated orange peel
1 teaspoon (packed) finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1 large egg yolk
3 tablespoons whipping cream
8 oz. bittersweet (about 70% cacao) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare baking sheets with sheet of parchment paper.

Combine flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. In a large mixer, beat butter, sugar, orange peel ad extract until light and fluffy.  Add in the yolk and then the cream and mix well. Add the flour mixture and beat until dough comes together and then add in the chocolate chips.

Drop by generous tablespoons onto the sheets spacing 3/4" apart. Flatten slightly and bake until golden - about 18-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

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