Homebaked hostess gift packages filled the kitchen countertops this week, some plates ready to be delivered to friends and neighbors and other baskets destined to travel to holiday dinners or parties. Pretty bows added some color to the more neutral golden browns and beiges of sweet and savory treats.
Mmmmmm, the pungent scent of curry, cumin and garlic filled the kitchen while the spiced nuts roasted, and that aroma did linger on for a few hours afterward. Sweet citrus, vanilla and almond fragrances perfumed the air on morning after morning as an assortment of butter-rich cookies cooled on stacked racks. Cheese crisps, cheese straws and cheese wafers added their own distinctive tang as they took their turn in the oven.
There was such a noisy mix! Open with the whirring rumble of the Kitchen Aid mixer, add the intermittent chop, chop, chopping of knives mincing nuts and dried fruits, dial in some Christmas carols as background music , and add endless teasing and peals of laughter as I baked and RL nibbled on raw cookie dough and sampled more than a few finished treats.
We're having w-a-y too much fun in the kitchen this month, especially with the taste-testing part. We'll run out of sweet and savory treats before Christmas if we don't stop snacking on the goodies. It's my fault that we need more savory items - who can resist sampling "just one more" cheese crisp? or cheese straw? or...
Cheddar Wafersadapted from ChocolateandZucchini via SmittenKitchen via The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook
6 ounces extra-sharp cheddar (or any hard cheese), shredded and softened
4 tablespoons butter, diced and softened
3/4 cup AP flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
3-4 green onions, minced (or 3 slices bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled)
1/4 teaspoon smokey paprika (or cayenne), plus more for sprinkling
milk or cream, as needed to bring the dough together
- Use a stand mixer or food processor to make take all of the effort out of this recipe - or work a little harder and do it by hand with a pastry blender.
- Add the shredded, room temperature cheddar to the mixer bowl; Whirl it around to cream it.
- Add the diced, softened butter to the bowl and cream it with the cheese.
- Add the flour, salt, smokey paprika and minced onions (or bacon) to the bowl and mix well until the dough comes together into a ball. If it seems too dry and crumbly, add a tiny bit of milk or cream and keep mixing until a rough ball forms.
- Shape the dough into two logs and wrap each in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Chill for an hour or two until firm enough to easily slice. (ChocolateandZucchini suggested placing the dough in the freezer for 20 minutes instead.)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet pans with parchment paper or use a Silpat.
- Slice the chilled dough into 1/2 inch rounds and space an inch apart on the baking sheets. (Return any unused dough to the fridge between batches.)
- Sprinkle lightly with salt and smokey paprika and bake until golden and crisp, about 10 to 14 minutes. Let the cheese wafers rest on the baking sheet for a minute before transferring them to cooling racks.
|Cheddar Wafer dough is stiff and not at all pretty.|
|A chilled roll of dough cuts easily into uniform slices.|
|Stacked racks of Cheddar Wafers are irresistible and invite immediate sampling.|