While there is never a wrong time to enjoy homemade cookies, they sure seem to be plentiful this time of year. Our dear friend Brendan shared some of his favorites with us, all of which pair wonderfully with coffee.
Brendan Murphy, with cookies.
This was a recipe that came from a source I rely almost exclusively for his breads, and that would be Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City. His description of the cookie began with the use of the word ethereal, and along with the name of the cookie, I had to try them. No butter and only egg whites makes them an extraordinarily crisp cookie, with empty caverns when you bite into them. Whole roasted almonds exist throughout the cookie, which I like to bake very small. My ideal would be an espresso served with a bone on the side, Biscotti style. A perfect dipping cookie, in either milk, tea or especially coffee. they are baked until bone dry, and hold up to an impressively long dipping session.
Ossi Di Morti
From Jim Lahey's Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook
Yield: 20 cookies
125 grams (1 cup) whole raw almonds
75 grams (scant ¾ cup) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting
250 grams (1¼) cups sugar
5 Grams (1 teaspoon) baking powder
Pinch of fine sea salt
2 large egg whites
1. Heat the oven to 350°F and lightly toast the almonds on a sheet pan for 8 to 10 minutes, or until a shade darker in color. Set aside and let cool completely. Turn the oven down to 300°F and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
2. Stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl with a fork. Stir in the cooled almonds. Add the egg whites and stir until the dough comes together, about 1 minute. The dough will be quite soft.
3. Generously flour a piece of parchment to work on. Divide the dough in half and place one piece on the floured parchment. Dust the dough with flour and use floured hands to roll the dough into a rope about 1 inch thick and 10 inches long. Slice through the rope at 1-inch intervals. You will need to keep patting the dough back into the 1-inch rope as you go. Place the cookies 3 inches apart on a parchment-lined pan. Bake the cookies for 30 to 35 minutes, or until they are just slightly browned on top. Allow the cookies to cool completely on the pan and store in an airtight container for up to a month.
¾ pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup minced crystallized ginger (not in syrup)
1. Preheat oven to 350℉
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and 1 cup of sugar on medium-low speed, just until they are combined. (Don't whip!) Add the vanilla and 2 teaspoons water and mix until combined. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until the dough starts to come together. Add the ginger, then dump onto a surface generously dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
3. Roll the dough ⅜ inch thick and cut circles with a 2¾-inch plain round cookie cutter. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges start to brown.
4. Cool to room temperature and serve.
Another cookie that exists in many forms, and is a Belgian crisp spice cookie in origin that is perfect with coffee or tea. Made most famous by the Speculoos cookie butter offered by Trader Joe's. It's a spice cookie only in that it contains cinnamon, which works just fine for me. I've had many, and liked most, and is usually a very thin, snappy cookie. The recipe I've been using comes from Thomas Keller's Bouchon bakery. Not snappy, with a pleasant soft crisp, and uses three flours as opposed to the belgian wheat flour-All purpose, cake and wheat flour. delicious, and very addictive.
From Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery Cookbook
Yield: 8-12 cookies
All-purpose flour, 104 grams (¾ cup)
Cake flour, 74 grams (½ cup + 1½ tablespoons)
Whole wheat flour, 74 grams (½ cup + 2 tablespoons)
Baking soda, 1.3 grams (¼ teaspoon)
Ground cinnamon, 1.3 grams (½ teaspoon)
Kosher salt, 1.3 grams (⅜ teaspoon)
Dark brown sugar, 74 grams (⅓ cup [lightly packed])
Granulated sugar, 59 grams (¼ cup + 2¼ teaspoons)
Clover honey, 8 grams (1⅛ teaspoons)
Unsalted butter, at room temperature, 177 grams (6.2 ounces)
Powdered sugar for dusting
1. Place the all-purpose flour in a medium bowl and sift in the cake and whole wheat flours. Break up any lumps of flour remaining in the sieve and add them to the bowl. Sift in the baking soda and cinnamon. Add the salt and whisk together.
2. Combine both sugars in a small bowl and whisk to break up any lumps. Using a fork, stir in the honey.
3. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn to medium-low speed and cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar mixture and mix for about 2 minutes, until fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing on low speed for 15 to 30 seconds after each, or until just combined. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate any dry ingredients that have settled there.
4. Mound the dough on the work surface and, using the heel of your hand or a pastry scraper, push it together into a 4-by-6-inch block. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or, preferably, overnight.
5. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F (standard). Line two sheet pans with Silpats or parchment paper.
6. Unwrap the dough and place it between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap. With a rolling pin, pound the top of the dough, working from left to right, to begin to flatten it, then turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat. (This will help prevent the dough from cracking as it is rolled.) Roll out to just under ¼ inch thick. If the dough has softened, slide it (in the parchment) onto the back of a sheet pan and refrigerate until firm enough to cut into cookies.
7. Using the decorative cutter, cut out the cookies and arrange them on the prepared sheet pans, leaving about ¾ inch between them. If necessary, push the trimmings together, refrigerate until firm, and re-roll for a total of 8-12 cookies. If the dough softens, return it to the refrigerator until the cookies are firm enough to transfer to the sheet pans.
8. Bake the cookies until golden brown, 13 to 15 minutes, reversing the positions of the pans halfway through baking. Set the pans on a cooling rack and cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely. Just before serving, sift powdered sugar over the cookies.
The cookies can be stored in a covered container for up to 3 days.
1. Preheat oven to 375°F
2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
3. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
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