CHRISTMAS COOKIE COUNTDOWN:
Santa's Secret Wish Cookies!
Cream cheese puts these shortbread-style cookies right to bed. The result is a much more delicate flavour and texture that will get you dreaming like a kid again. Keep them plain and simple? They're the perfect partner to a cup of tea. Turn them into little dumplings stuffed with chocolate or custard, served warm from oven? You've got the keys to someone's hungry heart, maybe even Cindy's.
All Christmas Cookie Countdown recipes come from Cindy's childhood cookie recipe collection!
To prepare the Santa's Secret Wish Cookies
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla (seeds or extract) together with an electric beater on medium speed until smooth and lightened, about 1 minute. Add the cream cheese and continue beating until evenly distributed, roughly another 30 seconds. Mix the flour with the salt and add half of this mixture on low speed so as not to overwork the dough at this point. Finish by adding the remaining flour on low speed, mixing until a ball of dough starts to form around the beaters. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead just a few times to bring everything together very evenly. Chill the dough for at least a couple of hours before baking. Chilling and resting the dough will help give you a flakier result and also allow you to roll the dough much more evenly. The dough holds very well in the fridge for several days.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C, 160˚C Fan, 350˚F, Gas 4
To keep things super simple
Roll out the dough like you would with butter biscuits and cut out fun shapes using your favourite cookie cutters. If you leave the dough about 1.5cm thick, you get lovely little pillows that you can really sink your teeth into.
To make your own secret wish cookies
Roll the dough thinner, say approximately a 0.5 cm. Using a cookie cutter, stamp out circles about 6cm wide. Put a 2.5cm dollop of filling in the middle. Chocolate-hazelnut spread or pastry cream is delicious but explore and have fun! You might find a combination that is even better! Fold the circle over itself to make a half-moon shape. Placing a little dab of water along the edge of the circles often helps seal the deal. You are aiming to put as much filling in these happy little dumplings as you can while still being able to securely seal the edges together.
Space cookies apart on parchment-lined baking trays and bake for approximately 10 minutes. The cookies should come out of the oven with their edges set to a light golden colour and their bellies will still feel tender to the touch. Slide the parchment off of the tray and cool on a rack.
At this stage, while the cookies are still warm, you can dust lightly with vanilla or plain icing sugar or better yet, brush the cookies with a very fine layer of vanilla icing. The more love you give the cookies, the higher probability your Christmas wishes will come true.
*Fresh vanilla bean brings this cookie to another level but it's not necessary! If you are using vanilla concentrate instead, just be sure it is vanilla extract and not essence.
**Vanilla sugar can be bought, yes absolutely! If, however you want to create something extra special, you can make this at home by taking the seeds of 1 vanilla pod and scraping them into a whole lot of sugar, 1kg being a good start. Blitz the sugar and seeds together to a fine powder in a food processor and then taste. Leave it as it is to keep it super intense or if you want to extend your supply, add more sugar to taste (continuing to blend until you reach a fine consistency again). Return the scraped vanilla pods into the sugar to perfume your mixture even more. Never throw out your vanilla pods!
***When making the icing, regardless of how much vanilla sugar you use, start with a couple of teardrops worth of milk. You will quickly see how little liquid the sugar needs to 'dissolve'! It's easier to add a little more milk to get the consistency you are looking for than it is to add sugar.
- Makes roughly 36 wishes, less if your wishes are really big
120g Unsalted butter, softened
50g Caster sugar
Seeds scraped from 1/3 fresh vanilla pod* or 1 tsp vanilla extract
60g Cream cheese
- Good pinch flakey salt like Maldon sea salt
- Amazing optional filling ideas:
- Chocolate-hazelnut spread (Nutella will work) or
- Vanilla pastry cream
- Optional topping ideas:
- Vanilla sugar* or plain icing sugar for dusting or
- Vanilla sugar** + just enough milk to make a smooth spreadable icing***
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