We invented this recipe together. Declan wanted cookies with Reese’s Pieces after viewing the motion picture E.T. the Extra Terrestrial for the first time. That movie made we want some of the peanut butter candy, too and reminded me how sad and weird the story is. The kids barely made it through without crying when they thought E.T. was dead. But we all made it to the end when E.T. went back into outer space and lived happily ever after.
Fika, the Swedish coffee break that happens at least once a day, is my new favorite excuse to enjoy coffee and sweets whenever I need to take a moment. The aim is to find some sort of balance during the day in the pleasure of sipping a cup of coffee. Traditionally, sweets are eaten, as well, especially cinnamon buns but cookies and cakes are also invited to the party. It’s exactly the kind of thing that I enjoy doing in the middle of the afternoon to recharge my batteries. And, like most Americans who find themselves rushing around all day, I can always use some more fika in my life. One book I read on the subject suggested that fika could be considered a “caffeinated meditation”. Yessss. Taking a moment to relax, reflect, spend time with a friend or even to let the dog run around the yard while I put my feet up, that’s what I have learned is the essence of fika. According to my research, fika in Sweden happens twice a day. I can only hope to aspire to such a goal. Until then, I will do my best to fika as much as I possibly can.
Here is a cookie recipe that keeps well and is easy to make to have fika sweets at the ready. The balance of the dark chocolate, sweet shortbread and briny sea salt pair well with a cup of warm, slightly bitter coffee.
Chocolate Drizzle Shortbread
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out.
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
10 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon Crisco or flavorless oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine flour and salt in a medium sized bowl. Using a stand mixer, blend butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg and almond and vanilla extracts. Mix to combine. Add flour mixture and mix until all ingredients are combined. Form dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Take dough out of refrigerator. Dust a sheet of parchment or Silpat with flour. Roll out dough into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick using a floured rolling pin. place parchment or Silpat with dough onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until dough is longer shiny.
Remove par cooked dough from oven and gently slice into small rectangles about 1 1/2″ wide and 2″ long. Place in oven and bake again for 7-8 minutes until edges are lightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before separating cookies.
After separating cookies, heat the chocolate chips and oil in a microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring in between each interval until mixture is completely melted. Drizzle cookies with melted chocolate and immediately sprinkle with sea salt before chocolate hardens. Allow chocolate to harden for a few hours. Store in a sealed container for up to one week.
Enjoy your fika moment!
Aaah, holiday treats! Candy canes, chocolate Santas and all manner of inventions to be found on Pinterest! But truly, nothing says Christmas time more to me than the flavor and scent of gingerbread cookies. Especially these gingerbread men cookies: my mother Val’s recipe found in her Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery. She accumulated each volume by collecting stamps at the supermarket. Those books served her cooking repertoire well, long before the internet came along.
I can understand now that I have two kids of my own going here and there, them needing rides and chaperoning in every waking moment of the day that Val had to delegate the cookie making to us kids considering she had three children’s activities schedules to juggle. Sometimes the cookies came out well but many of them were often burnt on the edges or undercooked and the decorating….let’s just say that after the one time my younger brother was allowed to help, his presence was no longer requested in the kitchen. Gingerbread men covered in red gel frosting for blood and green gel camo outfits were not what my mother had in mind to hand out to her friends as holiday gifts. We ate a lot of gingerbread men at home that year.
Whatever your decorating style, I am sure that you will find these cookies to be tasty. They hit all the right notes in flavor and aroma from the molasses and ginger. Perhaps you will be brave enough to employ some child labor of your own in the decorating. Or you can drop the kids off to their scheduled activities and keep the fun of adding frosting and sprinkles to yourself.
(makes about 3 dozen)
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
2 3/4 cup flour, plus more for rolling out dough
2 teaspoons dried, ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk (regular will do, in a pinch)
frosting, sprinkles, candy decorations
Mix molasses, sugar and butter, well. In another bowl, mix together flour, ginger, salt and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, stirring well until smooth. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. (Overnight is best as this step is CRITICAL. You will literally pull your hair out if you try to roll out the dough before it is chilled.)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Remove about 1/2 cup of dough from the refrigerator (keep the rest chilled while you are working). Roll out dough on a well floured board to 1/8″-1/4″ thick. Cut with floured cutters and place cookies on ungreased cookie sheets. ( I use Silpat liners or parchment paper would work well, too.) Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until just before cookies brown on edges. Remove from oven and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and cool completely before decorating.
If planning to hang cookies on tree, make a hole about double the size you want the end result to be in the cookie BEFORE baking.