Last Friday was the 2nd annual Michigan Lady Food Bloggers holiday cookie exchange, and I have to admit I wasn't feeling festive as I left to head to Patti's house. But I had made my cookies and I was looking forward to the latkes and the fellowship, so off I went. This year, I made Martha Stewart's Linzer cookies - I made one batch Martha' s way and then I went rogue and made one batch the way I felt like making them. This included using some apricot preserves I put up last summer, as well as using pecans in the dough. Martha's recipe called for seedless raspberry jam (my own is seedy) and hazelnuts that were a bitch to peel. Plus, hazelnuts are expensive. I also used a star cut out instead of Martha's fir cut out. Both of my batches are pictured above. The cookies on the red tray are Martha style, and the ones with the star in the center are mine. I have to say my variant was much better than Martha's...here's how I did it:
Apricot Pecan Holiday Cookies
1 cup raw pecan pieces
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon table salt
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
2/3 cup apricot preserves
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roast pecan pieces in a cast iron fry pan on the stove until fragrant....don't burn them. Set nuts aside until completely cool. Place nuts in a food processor, and process until finely ground. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, and beat until smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
Whisk together groung pecans, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add to butter mixture; beat on low until combined, about 2 minutes. Form dough into two flattened disks, wrap each with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have ready two baking sheets lined with Silpats (French baking mats; see sources) or parchment paper. Also have ready one 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter and one 3/4-inch size star cookie cutter. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out half the dough to a scant 1/4-inch thickness. Using the 3-inch fluted cutter, cut out cookies. With a wide spatula, transfer cookies to the prepared baking sheets. Using the smaller cutter, cut the centers out of half of the cookies. Repeat rolling and cutting with the other half of the dough. Combine the scraps from both batches, reroll and cut. Keep rerolling until you are out of dough. Refrigerate it for a while if it is getting too sticky.
Bake until the edges are golden, 12 to 16 minutes, rotating halfway through. Remove from oven; place on wire racks until completely cool.
Lightly sift confectioners' sugar over the decorative tops; set aside. Spread a scant tablespoon of preserves on the bottoms of each cookie, and sandwich with the sugar-dusted tops
Despite my Grinch like disposition when I left (caused by too much stuff going on, sick parents, the sun setting at 5 pm, my clock falling off the wall and breaking, and other depressing stuff) I was cured by eating lots of cookies and sharing lots of laughs, not to mention a fabulous white elephant gift exchange. I felt really blessed this weekend.