I picked up a great cookie cookbook in World Market last December called “1 Dough 100 Cookies.” Even though I was coping with a broken hand and a cast that month, I managed to get my holiday baking accomplished with the help of my sweet friend Jill. Together, we made four cookie recipes in a single day, the “Apricot & Pecan” cookies from this cookbook among them. I also like to peruse the imported and unusual food options at TJ Maxx around Christmastime, both to fill out my pantry and to stuff gift bags. This year, I found some wonderful crystallized ginger from China. I had another recipe that called for it, so I picked it up, but then I got the brilliant idea that a little crystallized ginger would make a pretty awesome cookie recipe even better. Turns out my instincts were spot on!
The grated orange rind and minced dried apricot make this cookie delightfully bright in flavor and the shortbread texture makes it irresistible. As soon as I had my cast removed, the first thing I did was make this recipe again. I gave half the batch to Jill for a gathering at her home, sent a dozen to my pastor who had seen the picture I posted on Facebook and expressed his interest in tasting them, and…well…the rest pretty much went into my tummy. I made a double batch both times, but unless you’re planning to share, I’m going to recommend against that for the sake of your waistline! Let me know how your batch comes out in the comments!
1 cup butter, softened
scant 3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
grated rind of 1 orange
1/4 cup plumped dried apricots, minced
3 Tbs finely minced crystallized ginger
scant 1 cup finely chopped pecans
In a large bowl, sift together the flour and a pinch of salt.
Two great ways to prepare the pecans is to either put halves or pieces in a Ziplock freezer bag and pound them with a meat tenderizer’s flat side or pulse them carefully in a food processor until they are fine but take care not to turn them into meal. You do want these very fine. If they’re too large, they won’t stick to the dough well when you roll it in them.
In a separate mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yoke and vanilla extract. Slowly add the flour mixture on low speed. Add the orange rind and apricot and mix on low until thoroughly combined.
Form the dough into a log about 2 inches in diameter and press the ends to flatten as much as possible. Spread the pecans in a shallow pan or dish and roll the dough in the nuts until well coated. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Arrange your oven racks on the top and bottom positions. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.
Unwrap the dough and cut into 1/4-inch slices or slightly thicker with a sharp knife. If your slices are flat on the bottom, you can reshape them but avoid handling them excessively. Put the slices on the prepared cookie sheets about 1/2 inch apart on all sides.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, switching the sheets half way through baking. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes before carefully transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
Store in an air-tight container for up to 10 days…if they last that long!
Your Daily Bread
Mark 1:1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”