Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The recipe for these cookies came from Betty Crocker's 1970's Sphere Magazine via my sister. They're a Christmas favorite, but are suitable any time you need a really festive cookie
3/4 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 and 3/4 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 325
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, vanilla and milk and mix well. Add flour mixed with baking powder and mix well. You can also just dump all the wet ingredients in a mixer and let her rip. Very forgiving recipe. Add the flour in two or three batches.
Form the soft dough into round 3/4 inch balls, and place on an ungreased baking sheet 1 inch apart (they don't spread a lot in the oven). Each ball will flatten slightly and form one half of each peach. Bake on the center oven rack until they cookies are slightly brown on the bottom, 15-20 minutes.
Remove to a wire cookie rack to cool. While still slightly warm and soft insert the tip of a knife into the bottom of the cookie, and rotate the cookie to remove some of the interior, reserving the crumbs. If you wait until the cookies are completely cool it's more difficult to do this and the cookies are more likely to crack.
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces, melted
2/3 cups apricot jam
1/3 cup chopped filberts, walnuts, or pecans
2 teaspoons rum or sherry
1 and 1/2 cup of the reserved crumbs
Melt the chocolate and mix all the filling ingredients together. I used blackberry jam and a little raspberry flavoring today instead of the apricot jam, as the cookies themselves are rather bland. I typically use apricot brandy instead of rum or sherry. Match up the cookies so they are in pairs that fit together well. Fill the hollows in the cookies to just about level, and put two cookies together to form the peaches. The filling needs to protrude just enough so the filling in one cookie will adhere to the filling in the other cookie.
THE PEACH COLOR
Measure 1/3 cup sugar into a shallow ovenproof dish and add a few drops of red food coloring. Rub color through the sugar with the back of a spoon until the coloring is even. You are looking for the color of the blush on a peach.
Measure 2/3 cup sugar and add first a couple of drops of red food coloring and then enough yellow to give you a pleasing peach color.
Dry out the sugars in the oven, or, preferably, make the sugar a day before you make the peaches and let them air dry.
FINISHING THE PEACHES
Brush each peach very lightly with water, and roll part of one side in the red blush. Roll the whole peach in the peach sugar, or sprinkle the sugar on. Insert the stems and leaves if you haven't already done so.
THE STEMS AND LEAVES
Remove shards of cinnamon stick from a roll of cinnamon. They need to be about 1 1/2 inches long.
With green gum drops, or spearmint leaves, or green fruit slices, cut leaf shapes and roll them in sugar on the cut surfaces. Make a small slit in one end of the leaf with a toothpick - just to make it easier to insert the cinnamon stick. Insert the shard of cinnamon into the crack between the filled peaches. I like to have these ready to insert before the filling has hardened, as sometimes the stick will force the halves to separate. But the sugars really need to be put on the peaches after the filling has hardened, so you can handle them without their falling apart.