I am back…figuratively and literally. I am back in New York City after spending months eating my way through Asia. There are so many more cities that I would like to visit, but my stomach did its best to make a dent in the continent. I’ll share my day-to-day experiences in Manila, Boracay, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau, Tokyo, Taipei, and Hanoi in the new year. In the mean time, there are so many holiday food and events that it is a month-long celebration here in the city that never sleeps.
The holidays were in full swing when I arrived home. You would need to have a serious case of the bah-hum-bugs to not feel the holiday cheer in the crisp winter air. The holiday markets glow in Bryant Park and Columbus Circle (each year I pick up the No Chewing Allowed silky smooth French truffles as gifts), the horse-drawn carriages at the southern tip of Central Park are gussied up in red and green bows, and the Saks Fifth Avenue animated display twinkles amid the admiring crowds.
But what are the holidays without a good old-fashioned cookie swap? Luckily, I made it back in time to gather with my fellow food bloggers to chow down on lip-smacking ribs at Hill Country Barbecue and overindulge in dozens of cookies while benefiting Cookies for Kids Cancer. (Honestly, I did it for the kids!)
I had wanted to get my grubby hands on the Gluten-Free Mallowmars made by Nancy (The Sensitive Pantry). I was hopping back and forth in anticipation while waiting on line, hoping to get some (yes, I already went to the toilet before I left home). Alas, there weren’t even any crumbs left by the time I got there. I tried to look forlorn, hoping that someone ahead of me would take pity and give me half of theirs. Nope. Nada. We bloggers can be ruthless when it comes to food.
I was not able to try every cookie and so many of them were delicious, but my favorite was a tie:
- Lillian (Sweets by Sillianah) made delicate Matcha French Macarons with Black Sesame Buttercream. Every time I see her, I do a little rain dance to the macaron gods hoping she’ll bring a few for me.
- Justin (Just Cook NYC) and Amber (Blue Bonnets and Brownies) both brought the Homesick Texan’s gluten-free Chipotle-Spiced Chocolate-Pecan Chewies. I don’t think there was a memo, but thank goodness two people brought the chewies because I nabbed one from each pile and immediately bought a copy of The Homesick Texan Cookbook.
I brought Chocolate-Dipped Bacon Shortbread Cookies, an idea that I had toyed around with in my mind while I was in Asia. I found the cutest piggy cookie cutter at I Love Cake in Hong Kong. It made me think of Jeff’s (i8nyc) funny doormat. He loves bacon, foie gras, and uni…and I immediately knew I had to make bacon cookies with it. (Talk about random stream-of-consciousness inspiration!)
I loved that Margaret (Savory Sweet Living) also made a sweet and savory play with Corn Cookies. Its intense corn flavor comes from freeze-dried corn! I was intrigued because I had also been working out the details of how to execute corn creme brulee, which I recently made and will share with you in a future post.
Many thanks to Maggy (Bloggers Without Borders) for making the swap happen, and to Gail (One Tough Cookie), Jackie (Diva That Ate New York) and Ken (Hungry Rabbit NYC) for coordinating a magical holiday event!
I know, I know…you must be bummed at not being able to taste all these delicious cookies (I’m still bummed about the Mallowmars too!). Don’t feel too bad…as a holiday gift from Nescafe, one of you will win a Dolce Gusto Piccolo espresso system. You can make single-serving Italian-style brewed cappuccinos, lattes, hot chocolate and teas with the Dolce Gusto coffee and milk capsules.
Just leave a comment at the bottom of this post by December 24, 2011 1pm Eastern Time for a chance to win. One person will be chosen using random.org. One comment per person. The Piccolo can only be shipped to a U.S. (non-PO Box) address. Visit Nescafe Dolce Gusto US on Facebook to enter additional giveaways.
Chocolate-Dipped Bacon Shortbread Cookies
3 strips of bacon
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, chopped
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Place the bacon as a single layer in a large frying pan, and cook over medium-high heat until crispy.
Place the bacon slices on a paper towel lined plate and let cool.
Place the bacon in a plastic bag and crush using a rolling pin (or another heavy object like a can or pan) so that you end up with bacon bits. You can also place the bacon in the food processor. Set aside.
Whisk together the all-purpose flour, cornstarch and salt. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and confectioner’s sugar until combined. Add the vanilla extract and beat for another 15 seconds until it is incorporated. Add the flour mixture and combine on low. Add in the bacon bits and beat on low just until incorporated.
Separate the dough into two discs and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Remove one dough disc from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured surface (I like to roll out my cookies on a silicone baking mat). Pound (do not roll) the dough with a rolling pin to flatten it further and spread it out evenly. After every few pounds, pick up the dough and turn it 90 degrees, adding more flour underneath if necessary. Continue this until the dough is 1/4 inch thick. Give the dough a quick roll with the rolling pin to flatten out the top.
Cut out shapes, dipping your cookie cutter in flour each time. Transfer the cookies to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. (For better shaped cookies, place the sheet of cookies in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking.) Bake for 13 – 15 minutes until cookies just start to turn golden brown at the edges. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cool on the rack for another 20 minutes.
Repeat with the remaining dough.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, stirring frequently. Once it is melted, dip each cookie into the chocolate. Shake off the excess chocolate and place on a sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Let cool until the chocolate hardens. (You can stir 1/4 teaspoon of vegetable shortening into the chocolate if it is too thick for dipping.)