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Tasty Cookies for Occasions and the Holiday Season

The National Herald

A dessert table with a variety of cookies. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Cookies are always a welcome addition to any holiday dessert table and a nice hostess gift to bring to parties. Baking together is a family tradition for many and helps create warm holiday memories to last a lifetime. Assigning tasks to the kids is a nice way to get the little ones involved in the process and pass down treasured family recipes to the next generation. This holiday season, try the following recipes with Zea flour, made from the ancient Greek grain.

Jam-Topped Cookies

2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1 1/2 cups Zea flour, or unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 to 1/2 cup strawberry, cherry, or apricot jam or preserves, preferably Greek

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for 30 seconds. Add about half of the flour, all the sugar, the eggs, and vanilla. Beat until well-combined. Beat in the remaining flour. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to one hour until easy to handle.

Roll the chilled dough into one-inch balls and place one inch apart on a greased baking sheet. Press the center with your thumb to make a small indentation. Bake in the preheated 375-degree oven for 12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack. Fill the centers with the jam or preserves of your choice just before serving.

The National Herald Archive

A dessert table with a variety of cookies. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Fudge Brownies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

3/4 cup Zea flour, or unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and the chocolate over low heat, careful not to burn the chocolate. Remove from heat. Stir in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat until just combined. Stir in the flour and the walnuts, if using, and spread the batter in an eight-inch square baking pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars and serve or store in an airtight container.

Lemon Bars

For the crust:

1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup Zea flour, or unbleached all-purpose flour

For the filling:

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons Zea flour, or unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

For the topping:

Powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To make the crust, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1/4 cup of sugar and beat until well combined. Add the 1 cup of flour and beat until the mixture is crumbly. Press the crust into the bottom of an ungreased eight-inch square baking pan. Use the flat bottom of a measuring cup to flatten and even out the crust on the pan. Bake in the preheated 350-degree oven for about 15-20 minutes or until just golden. Remove from heat and set aside.

To make the filling, beat the eggs, 1/2 cup of sugar, the 2 tablespoons of flour, lemon peel, juice, and baking powder until well combined, about 2 minutes with the electric mixer. Pour the filling into the baked crust and bake in the preheated 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes until lightly brown around the edge and the center is set. Cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, dust with powdered sugar, if preferred. Cut into bars and serve.