Sunday, December 20, 2015

Fancy Cookies: Cocoa Nut Swirls

I'm always on the hunt for a new cookie recipe. Especially a fancy cookie that offers more interest than a drop cookie. These nut swirls have a unique shape and a surprising flavor combination of nuts, spice and cocoa...and other good stuff.

While these cookies pair well with a cup of coffee or tea, they stand out on a cookie tray. They're more understated that their sugary counterpart - rather a gown up treat with a hint of chocolate, spice and essence of liqueur. And they're much easier to make than their shape suggests.

I included Nocino in the filling. It's a liqueur made from walnuts, orange peels and spices (and a local distillery just started making it). The Nocino compliments the nuts and spices in the filling. If you prefer, you can substitute coffee or hazelnut liqueur.

Feel free to roll the cookies as you like to form the design. I rolled each half of the recipe differently to make traditional palmier and circular shapes.

Make dough. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes until easy to handle.

I like the flavor of Nocino for this cookie. If you
prefer, use a coffee or hazelnut liqueur.

Roll each dough portion to a 12x8 inch rectangle. Spread
the filling to within 1/2 inch of the long edge.

Roll the long edges inward until the dough meets for a palmier
shape. Refrigerate dough log for 4-24 hours. Slice and bake.

Or roll up beginning with the long edge for a circular shape.

I made both shapes.

These cookies add an interesting design
(and unique flavor) to your cookie trays. 

Cocoa Nut Swirls
Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens
Yield: 72 cookies

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Nocino, coffee liqueur or hazelnut liqueur
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or hazelnuts, toasted
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Make filling: combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons flour, and the liqueur with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until smooth. If desired, stir in nuts. Cover; set aside.

Make dough: beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in egg, milk, and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the 2-3/4 cups flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill about 30 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.

Assemble: On a lightly floured surface, roll dough, one portion at a time, into a 12x8-inch rectangle. Spread each rectangle with half of the filling, spreading to within 1/2 inch of the long edges. For palmier shape roll up the two long edges to meet in the center. For circular shape, roll beginning with long edge. Brush the dough seam with water and lightly press together. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap. Place on a tray or cookie sheet. Chill for 4 to 24 hours.

Bake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets; set aside. Using a thin-blade knife, cut rolls into 1/4-inch slices. Place slices, cut sides down, 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake about 8 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are lightly browned. Transfer to wire racks; cool.

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