I’m all for a balanced and healthy breakfast, but there are times when all the yogurt and granola in the world fail to satisfy and only a cookie will do the trick. I had one of these days this past Wednesday after spending all of Tuesday night baking my favorite cookies to give to loved ones and coworkers for the holidays. Despite putting back two — okay, three — cookies for breakfast Wednesday morning, the guilt was kept at bay because my heart was happier and more satisfied post-cookie-indulgence. As my knowledgeable and lovely mom has always said: “It’s good for you if it makes your heart happy.” This has been my motto of moderation and is something you should keep in mind around the holiday season when your kitchens are overflowing with all things buttery and sweet. While I’m not advocating for you to sit down with a bucket of bon bons and have at them, I am reminding you to keep your heart happy, your tastebuds livened, and your mind free of goodie-guilt throughout the holiday season.
My favorite cookies are from my favorite Italian chef, Giada De Laurentiis, and they are phe-nom-en-al. They are buttery, perfectly sweetened, and pack a chewy crunch. I tripled the recipe to make for coworkers at the high school I’m interning at and received lots of compliments and recipe inquiries. I wish I could take credit for the creativity of this one, but all thanks should be directed to Giada.
Apricot and Nut Cookies with Amaretto Icing (Makes 2 dozen)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dried apricots, coursely chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
5 to 7 tbsp almond flavored liquor or 2 to 4 tsp almond extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and toast pine nuts and almonds until golden (approximately 5 minutes)
2. In a large bowl, beat the butter sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Bean in the egg. Stir in the flour until just blended. Mix in the apricots, almonds, and pine nuts.
3. Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a log, about 12-inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the dough in the plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper.
5. Cut the dough log crosswise into 1/4 to 1/2-inch-thick slices. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, spacing evenly apart. Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges, about 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
6. For the icing, place the confectioners’ sugar in medium mixing bowl. Gradually whisk in the almond flavored liqueur, until the mixture is of drizzling consistency.
7. Place the wire rack over a baking sheet. Using a spoon or fork, drizzle the cookies with the icing, allowing any excess icing to drip onto the baking sheet. Allow the icing to set before serving.