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Marcy Goldman’s Kids’ Chanukah Cookies

All together now…

Hanukkah Cookies Kids Will Love

Jeremiah was a bullfrog.
Was a good friend of mine.
I never understood a single word he said,
But I helped him a-drink his wine.
And he always had some mighty fine wine.
Singin’…

Joy to the world.
All the boys and girls now.
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea.
Joy to you and me…

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist. But how else could I tie together a chanuka recipe, a frog cookie cutter and my passion for Christmas? Three Dog Night’s Joy to the World, of course.

This is another one of Ann Clark’s delightful cookie cutters. The icing is my latest attempt at decorating (E for effort, F for fail), slathered on Marcy Goldman’s Kids’ Chanuka Cookies recipe. I find most sugar cookies a bit dull, but Goldman’s generous use of vanilla and additional flavourings give a gentle lift to an otherwise bland cookie. Plus they roll like a dream. None of them fell apart en route to the cookie sheet.

I had the fortune to speak with Goldman recently. Despite being a professional pastry chef and the founder of BetterBaking.com, Goldman’s approach to her craft is down-to-earth and practical. “Baking is just a series of simple steps done right,” she says.

She also has a few tricks up her chef’s jacket. I’ve been baking cookies since I was old enough to dump chocolate chips in the batter and have yet to find a sheet that cooks evenly in my quirky oven. Andrew gave me a silicon mat for Christmas last year, which helped, but Goldman’s solution is easier –  stack two inexpensive pans together and line the top one with parchment. You can buy two sturdy pans for a total of $10 while a single fancy insulated version can run you $25. The twin-sheet approach equalizes hot spots and provides consistent results. I tried it and it worked like a charm — even in my old clunker of a stove.

And those silicon mats? Goldman says, “It looks like baking on a bath mat!” Aesthetics aside, Goldman admits they work, but can get expensive. At $10 they look like a reasonably affordable solution, but since you need one per baking sheet, they can double your cost. It’s parchment and two pans for me from now on.

Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking by Marcy Goldman Back to the frog. This recipe comes from Marcy Goldman’s  A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking, 10th Anniversary Edition. Nominated for a Julia Child Cookbook Award, this book offers baking advice, equipment recommendations and mouth-watering recipes — all organized according to Jewish holidays. A newly added chapter, A Baker Becomes a Cook, offers 30 traditional savory recipes. Regardless of your religious orientation, this book will leave you craving Friday Night’s Rich and Addictive Cocoa Fudge Brownies, Strawberry Mango Hamantaschen, Marcy Famous Molded Potato Kugel or New Way Chanukah Potato Latkes.

At this time of year many holidays over-lap in a wonderful swell of festivities. What do you celebrate? And with which dishes?

Kids’ Chanukah Cookies

Excerpted with permission from A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking, 10th Anniversary Edition, by Marcy Goldman. Published by Whitecap Books, 2009.

Makes 3 to4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup ( 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 drops each lemon, orange and almond extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup half and half, milk or water
  • 1 -2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • sugar or coloured sprinkles

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and shortening with the sugar.
  2. Blend in the eggs, vanilla, and extracts. Fold in the flour, salt and baking powder and mix, adding the half and half gradually, to make firm but rollable dough.
  3. Chill the dough for 10 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Roll the dough out about 1/4 inch thick and cut into rounds, or if you have them use Chanukah cookie cutters to make holiday shapes.
  6. Brush the cookies with the beaten eggs white and sprinkle with sugar (regular or coarse, plain or coloured) or coloured sprinkles. Leave the cookies plain if you will be icing them after baking.
  7. Bake on the prepared sheets until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes.
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23 Responses to Marcy Goldman’s Kids’ Chanukah Cookies

  1. The Diva on a Diet December 1, 2009 at 3:36 pm #

    Don’t be so hard on yourself – I think the froggy’s cute!

    Very interesting sugar cookie recipe as well. I’m intrigued by the three different extracts. Do they all meld into one flavor? Or does one stand out? Its nice to hear they held together so well … my traditional butter cookie cut-outs are a huge PITA!

    • Charmian Christie December 1, 2009 at 3:50 pm #

      Diva, you’re very kind, but if you saw this from the side, you’d see the eyes are different depths. And you didn’t see the rejects either. Oh well, it tasted good.

      About the extracts, they all blended together. You wouldn’t say, “Hey, that’s almond!” or “I can taste the lemon”. But unlike most sugar cookies, these didn’t take boring. It’s hard to describe but three extracts supported the vanilla instead of fighting it. It’s still a gentle cookie, but provides a pleasant and subtle change from the bland sugar cookies I’ve had in the past.

  2. Debbie December 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm #

    We celebrate Christmas and Chanukah. My dad’s side of the family being catholic, my mom’s side, jewish. So, we all gather around the Chanukah bush together and we sing christmas songs and play with the dradle. We eat turkey, cranberry sauce and shortbread, and potato kugle, latkes and hamantaschen. We get Christmas presents and Chanukah geld. The best of both worlds! I love this time of year.

    • Charmian Christie December 1, 2009 at 4:56 pm #

      Best of both worlds, indeed! Sounds wonderful. I’m dying to try hamantaschen myself. What filling do you use?

      • Debbie December 2, 2009 at 3:53 pm #

        @Charmian Christie, Prunes is the filling I’ve tasted before.

        • Charmian Christie December 7, 2009 at 8:31 am #

          Thanks, Debbie. Prunes? I’m new to this dessert and haven’t ever had a prune-anything so will keep this in mind. Sounds festive enough!

  3. Amy December 1, 2009 at 4:51 pm #

    I’d like to try this but honestly I’m a little freaked out by the vegetable shortening in the recipe. When I bake it’s always butter, margarine or vegetable oil. Is the shortening essential? What on earth is it made out of?

    • Charmian Christie December 1, 2009 at 5:01 pm #

      I rarely use shortening myself but followed Marcy’s recipe. In the ingredient section of her book, Goldman writes: When I have opted for shortening, it is either required (for a pie pastry dough, for example) or simply better in the recipe for one reason or another.

      I’m guessing the small amount of shortening called for is what makes the cookies so easy to roll. If you’re uncomfortable, replace the 1/4 cup shortening with butter.

      • Dana McCauley December 1, 2009 at 8:44 pm #

        @Charmian Christie, I’m guessing Marcy uses veg shortening so that the cookies can be kosher as well. If they contained dairy, you couldn’t eat them after supper and that would be sad.

        • Charmian Christie December 1, 2009 at 9:11 pm #

          Good point, Dana. In some recipes, this is definitely the case. But this recipe also calls for butter so I’m guessing it’s a textural decision. Guess I could always ask Marcy…

  4. Cheryl Arkison December 1, 2009 at 5:17 pm #

    Technically we celebrate Christmas, but don’t really consider ourselves Christian. Just a cultural thing.
    But I do the almost traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner, and our other big deals are tree chopping and Christmas morning brunch.
    PS Thanks for the cookie cutter reference, we just did a big family purchase!

    • Charmian Christie December 1, 2009 at 5:21 pm #

      I hear you on the “cultural thing”. Most of the traditions I embrace are originally Pagan.

      A friend is Ukranian and does the traditional dinners. It sounds wonderful and really extends the season.

      Glad you liked the cutter ideas. What shapes did you buy? Or is that a secret?

  5. Cheryl@5secondrule December 1, 2009 at 6:18 pm #

    Since my husband celebrates Christmas and I’m Jewish (and we’re raising out kids Jewish), we always celebrate Chanukah at home and spend Christmas with his parents. Everyone gets their latkes, their menorah, their Christmas tree, and their presents. I haven’t heard a single complaint yet!

    p.s. I consulted with a well-known US baker who often used vanilla, almond and lemon extracts together to boost the flavor in many of her baked goods. It really does add a nice punch!

    • Charmian Christie December 1, 2009 at 9:12 pm #

      Interesting. I’d never heard of the combination before and really like it. Thanks for checking.

      I also love that you blend the holidays. I certainly wouldn’t complain if I got the best of both worlds.

  6. Robin Smart December 1, 2009 at 7:21 pm #

    Since I am baking on the “cookie sheets” inherited from my grandmother I too suffer from inconsistent results. I look forward to trying the double pan and parchment trick. I am in the mood to do some Christmas baking after these last few posts. Thanks for kicking my spirit into gear.
    Love.
    Robin

    • Charmian Christie December 1, 2009 at 9:13 pm #

      I was ready to get rid of my cookie sheets and this trick has saved me money. Parchment is inexpensive, so it’s wallet and environmentally friendly! Can’t beat that.

  7. Amy Proulx December 1, 2009 at 7:35 pm #

    How about Christmas, mashed with Shab-e-Yalda, the Persian celebration of the winter solstice. To me, Yalda feels like a celebration of the triumph of post-harvest storage technologies. If your crop lasted through the winter solstice without rotting, you were safe. But that’s my own spin on things.

    Traditional foods for Yalda include carefully preserved fresh melons and fruits from your summer garden (or in a pinch, fruits imported from Mexico, procured at the grocery store). That, and a lovely mix of dried fruits and nuts, and pomegranates. The evening is spent reading ancient stories and poems from Persian mythology, especially the legends of the ancient Persian kings conquering the sun.

    Then a few days later, Christmas! 2 years ago, we did a Christmas kufteh – the Iranian mammoth sized meatball with a chicken inside. My cholesterol is still reeling from that meal.

    • Charmian Christie December 1, 2009 at 9:16 pm #

      Amy, Yalda sounds wonderful. I’ve never heard of it before. I don’t know anything about Persian mythology but even from this short description I’m sure I’d find it enchanting– not to mention delicious.

      Thanks so much for sharing this!!

  8. Francesca December 1, 2009 at 8:30 pm #

    Green froggy is cute and sweet, but I came looking for red ribbon cookies today! :)

    • Charmian Christie December 1, 2009 at 9:18 pm #

      Francesca, when I get my piping skills in check I’ll make some Christmassy cookies. I really would like to learn to decorate cookies in a way that doesn’t look like I did it blind folded and with one arm tied behind my back.

  9. Dana McCauley December 1, 2009 at 8:47 pm #

    Love the frogs! Love Marcy’s recipes (they always work 100%) and love the whole ritual of Christmas food even if I don’t actually consider myself a ‘believer’.

    On my rosters are some ‘must haves’ that my family pouts about it changed such as buttertarts, ginger cookies, hermits. Then, the Christmas dinner must be turkey with bread stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy. The rest of the meal can vary but those elements are essential if you want to get a gift next year.

  10. Charmian Christie December 1, 2009 at 9:24 pm #

    Butter tarts and ginger cookies are on our must-have list, too.

    The rituals of Christmas food is very strong in our family as well. Most other holidays are fairly flexible, but don’t mess with our holiday meals — even breakfast must have scones or there will be no end of grief!

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