Long ago I swore off cookie and candy baking because of one unescapable reality: I could happily live on these foods alone.
There are only two qualifiers that call for such activities; one, if it’s the Christmas season and two, if I am pregnant. Currently both qualifications are met so treats abound!
After producing these batches, some improvisations and others classic recipes from the Swedish lineage, it was gratifying to see so many ingredients in use from preserves of the summer. Among these are dried apricots, apple-maple jam and rhubarb sauce. In the fruit bar recipe here, the flavors of these preserves prove magnificent.
Expecting, for me, means sickness, and often eating doesn’t happen until post lunch time. The tea and cookie brunch is one solution, and the cookie cocktail makes for a sort of insta-party. Morning sickness doesn’t stand a chance against butterballs and fruit bars. I am thus determined.
These three recipes comprise three Swedish generations of holiday treat baking, one from myself, one from my mama and one from her mother. Grandma Rene’s is authentically Swedish whereas the other two are simply yummy creations made by we with Swedish heritage.
~ Butterballs (Swedish Grandma’s Recipe) ~
With her grand dinner parties, gracious hostessing and Swedish cooking ~ any recipe from Rene is a sure winner. So it is with these ever so tasty butterballs. My mother emailed the recipe, along with the potato starch cookie classic which I’ll have to share, and we had excellent results. These cookies qualify for the ‘anytime, anywhere’ list.
The cookie produced will be subtle yet rich in flavor. It is a basic cookie at face value, but that would be underestimating the delectable treat. At first I was worried about the small measure of sugar that it requires, but I would not change the recipe a bit. For this one, I encourage no modifications for perfectly balanced, nutty, buttery consistency.
1 cup butter
4 Tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sifter flour
1 cup chopped nuts
1-2 cups powdered sugar
~Cream butter; add sugar and beat until light; add vanilla and beat again
~Add flour and mix well; fold in chopped nuts.
~Shape into small balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 15-18 minutes on 350º F or until just firm and beginning to golden.
~Roll in powdered sugar while still warm; allow to cool before serving.
~ Fruit Bar Cookies with Preserves ~
I toke a classic, simple bar cookie recipe from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook and created three different new fruit combinations. Each of these (apricot-date, apple-maple and rhubarb) came from the pantry, produced from garden and gathering in the sweet summer months. And each can be reproduced or replaced if desired.
1 cup flour (I use Bluebird Grain Farms flour here)
1 cup oats
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1 recipe fruit filling
~Combine first four ingredients in a bowl and mix well; chunk cold butter into flour mixture and blend with a pastry blender or food processor until resembling course sand.
~Reserve 1/2 cup pastry mixture and set aside; with remaining pastry mixture, spread on bottom of an ungreased 9 x 9 ” baking dish or pan; mash down to one even layer.
~Top first cookie layer evenly with fruit filling of choice; sprinkle remaining pastry mixture on top of fruit.
~Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes or until top crust begins to brown.
Apple-Maple Fruit Filling
I used my recipe for apple-maple jam, found on the preserves page (Canned & Preserved 2012), but here is a simple sauce that approximates the jam recipe.
1 1/2 cup apples (preferable a tart variety) peeled and cored
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup maple syrup
pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg
~Bring apples and water to a boil and reduce to simmer for 3 minutes; add maple and spices and simmer for a couple minutes more; thicken with flour if desired; cool slightly and spread evenly on first cooking layer.
Apricot-Date Fruit Filling
1 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
~Chop apricots; bring apricots to a boil in water and let simmer for about 5 minutes or until soft; add sugar and flour and simmer for a couple minutes more; remove from heat and add dates; spread on top of first cookie layer.
Rhubarb Fruit Filling
Using rhubarb sauce is just fine for this version; see the recipe at article The Barb is On. I used rhubarb from the freezer that I had washed and chopped this summer. Here’s the quick cook down sauce that maintains some of the chunky freshness of the barb.
1 1/2 cups rhubarb
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tablespoons flour
~Using a small sauce pot, boil water and rhubarb and reduce to a simmer; add sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes; add flour as needed to thicken and simmer a minute more; cool slightly and spread evenly on first cookie layer.
~ Peanut Butter Tiger Fudge ~
Super quick, fun to make with children and universally popular, this family recipe is one we make every year. It is easy to modify to your liking, i.e. remove or switch out nuts, coat with dark chocolate, light, or none at all. It seems to get eaten faster than any other holiday treat, regardless of the latest version. And if you are in a rush to produce some fast candy, this recipe is a sinch with no baking involved.
1 lb. candy coating (almond bark)
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup walnuts or other nuts
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
~Melt coating in a saucepan over medium neat, stirring constantly until smooth; remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and nuts.
~Fit tin foil to a shallow baking pan or two such as cake pans; spread candy mixture evenly to coat, about 1/4 inch.
~With spoonfuls of warm chocolate, spread in zig-zag patterns over top of candy mixture.
~Chill for 1 hour +; remove from refrigeration and cut or break into two inch pieces; store refrigerated or at room temperature.
Love from our kitchen to yours! ~Georgina @ Caramelize Life