Cashew Shortbread Cookies

I’m not sure about you, but everyone around me (even strangers in the elevator) keeps saying, “I can’t believe the holidays are here” or some variation of “I can’t believe” dealing with the end of the year. But, it happens every year, no? Why is it we can’t better prioritize ourselves to expect these things that happen regularly? Well, I’m part of that everyone, and it always amazes me how quickly the year passes.

And every year, I think about getting involved with a cookie swap, but it never happens because the holidays always sneak up on me. This year was different. I found out about The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap from Sweets by Sillianah early on, and I committed! I would have loved to host a cookie swap or participated in other B&M swaps, but this is a good start for me. Next year we’ll see if I can graduate to some of those.

Thank you Julie and Lindsay for hosting and organizing such a wonderful event, and I hope these little cashew shortbread cookies made it safely over the river and through the woods!

Cashew Shortbread Cookies
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup chopped cashews
1/3 cup powdered sugar for decoration

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a medium bowl, cream butter and vanilla until smooth.
3. Sift the 6 tablespoons powdered sugar and flour together and mix into the butter mixture until just blended. Mix in the chopped cashews.
4. Roll dough into 1 inch balls, and place them about 2 inches apart on a Silpat-lined cookie sheet.
5. Bake for 12-15 minutes in the preheated oven. Let cool about 10 minutes, then roll cookies in remaining powdered sugar. Roll cookies a second time if desired.

Black Sesame Spritz Cookies

Spritz cookies are fit for all occasions. Be it for weddings, birthdays or any other day, I love making cookies with my dear cookie press. But in reality, I haven’t touched this cookie press in over three years. And maybe I was just rusty, but initially, making these spritz cookies was as hard as making macarons!

My first attempt of pressing these cookies turned out horribly, with half-pressed shapes on the cookie sheet and some presses where no dough came out. Great, there I was thinking my practice on 1600 of them was all for nothing. But through patience, (you can probably tell by my picture that this story has a happy ending) I now have a trick to share about getting these cookie press cookies to come out just right. Be sure to read the annotated recipe below for the details.

Black Sesame Spritz Cookies
adapted from Williams-Sonoma

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup black sesame paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg, vanilla, salt and black sesame paste and continue beating until well mixed. Using a spoon, stir in the (sifted) flour until blended.
3. Pack the cookie dough into a cookie press according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Meaning spoon in the dough into the tube as best as you can. Not that different from how you may have played with Play-Doh.) Fit with the desired-shaped cookie plate and press the dough out onto ungreased baking sheets or sheets lined with Silpat nonstick liners (or parchment paper), spacing the cookies 1 inch apart. (Here is my trick: Place the cookie press on top of the cookie sheet where you want your next cookie to go. Press down on the trigger kept it held for 5 seconds. Let go of the trigger, and wait for another 5 seconds. Carefully pull the cookie press up and you should see nicely formed cookie dough ready to be baked. Repeat the counting and pressing until you’ve used up all the dough.)
4. Bake until the cookies are light golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool. Decorate with colored sugars or icings as desired. (No need to decorate these small cookies when you’re already spending a lot of time making them!) Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. Makes 40 to 60 cookies.