Classic Cookies for the Grownups

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Every family has their holiday favorites, sweets spelled out on well-worn recipe cards passed down from one generation to the next. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to try something new, to find a new family favorite to share.

After all, traditions have to start somewhere.
For a bit of departure from the usual spate of kid-friendly favorites, these recipes reinterpret the classic pairing of espresso and lemon into treats sure to please the grown ups. In each recipe, granulated sugar adds a finishing touch of sweetness and holiday sparkle.

Lemony Semolina Cookies
(Adapted from ‘Dolce Italiano’ by Gina DePalma (W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., 2007)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2/3 cup semolina

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup (1 stick/4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

Freshly grated zest and squeezed juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons limoncello

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, semolina, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.

Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, olive oil, and 1 cup sugar on medium speed until very light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and the egg yolk, followed by the lemon zest and juice, limoncello and vanilla extract, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

On low speed, beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients to make a soft dough. Remove the dough from the bowl, flatten it into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and chill until it is firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or butter or line them with parchment.

Place the additional granulated sugar in a small bowl. With lightly floured fingers, break off teaspoonfuls of dough and roll them into 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in the granulated sugar to coat evenly. Place the cookies on the baking sheets, evenly spacing them 1 inch apart.
Bake the cookies until they have collapsed and are crinkled and pale golden brown, 14 to 18 minutes, rotating the sheets 180 degrees halfway through the baking to ensure even browning. Allow the cookies to cool for 1 or 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then use spatula to transfer them gently onto wire racks to cool completely.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container, layered with parchment paper, in a cool, dry place for up to 4 days.
Yield: About 5 dozen

Dark Chocolate Biscotti
(Adapted from ”Baking” by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin, 2006)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder

2 tablespoons instant espresso powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate-covered espresso beans

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder baking soda, baking powder and salt.
 Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes; the mixture may be crumbly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes; don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients in three additions, mixing only until a dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the chopped espresso beans, then turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead in any dry ingredients that may have escaped mixing.

Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough into 12-inch-long logs. Flatten both logs with the palm of your hand, so that they are 1/2 to 1 inch high, about 2 inches across and sort of rectangular, then carefully lift the logs onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle each log with a little sugar.

Bake the logs for about 25 minutes, or until they are just slightly firm. The logs will spread and crack – and that’s just fine. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, put it on a cooling rack and cool the logs for about 20 minutes. (Leave the oven on.)
Working with one log at a time, using a long serrated knife, cut each log into slices between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick. Stand the slices up on the baking sheet –you’ll have an army of biscotti – and bake the cookies again, this time for just 10 minutes.

Transfer biscotti to a rack to cool.
Yield: About 40 cookies