Austrian Peach Cookies

3/4 cup  butter or margarine — softened
1 cup  sugar
3/4 teaspoon  baking powder
3 3/4 cups  all-purpose flour
1/2 cup  milk
2 eggs
3/4  teaspoon  vanilla extract
2/3   cup  apricot jam
2   teaspoons  rum or sherry
1/4   cup  chocolate pieces — melted and cooled
1/3   cup  finely chopped filberts, walnuts or pecans
To decorate:
1/4    cup  water
1/3    cup  Red Sugar (recipe below)
2/3    cup  Yellow-Orange Sugar (recipe below)
green gumdrops and cinnamon sticks

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Measure butter, milk, 1 c. sugar, eggs, baking powder, vanilla and 2 cups of the flour into a large mixer bowl.  Blend 1/2 minute on low-speed, scraping bowl constantly.  Beat 1 minute on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally.

Stir in remaining flour.  (Dough will be smooth and soft.)  Shape dough into smooth 3/4 inch balls.  (Each ball will make 1/2 of a peach.)  Place balls 1-inch apart on ungreased baking sheet.  ( Do not use parchment paper or silicon baking mats.  They alter the shape of the cookie and make them flat.)

Bake in center of oven until cookies are brown on the bottoms, 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool on wire racks.

Place tip of small knife in center of flat side of cookie.  Carefully turn knife and rotate cookie to hollow, reserving crumbs.  Mix 1 1/2 cups reserved crumbs, the jam, chocolate, nuts and rum.  Fill hollowed cookies with crumb-chocolate mixture.  Place 2 filled cookies flat side together to make a peach.

Brush each peach very lightly with water.  Immediately roll 1 side of peach in red sugar for blush.  Sprinkle yellow-orange sugar on peach to cover completely.  Set aside to dry.

Roll gumdrops 1/8 inch thick on well-sugared board.  Cut into leaf shapes.  Make small hole in stem end of leaf.  Insert small piece of cinnamon stick through hole in gumdrop and into seam of peach.  Store in airtight containers at room temperature no longer than 2 weeks or in freezer no longer than 3 months.

RED SUGAR:  Measure 1/3 cup sugar into shallow ovenproof dish.  Add a few drops red food color.  Rub color evenly into sugar with back of spoon.  Heat sugar in 400 degree oven until dry, stirring occasionally.

YELLOW ORANGE SUGAR:  Measure 2/3 cup sugar into shallow ovenproof dish.  Add 2 drops of red food coloring and enough yellow food coloring to make peach color.  Rub color evenly into sugar with back of spoon.  Heat sugar in 400 degrees until dry, stirring occasionally.

“Sphere, December 1972″
“5 dozen”

NOTES : These cookies are a family tradition in our home at the holidays and for special occasions.  The recipe came from a magazine called Sphere, December 1972.   I first made these as a teenager at home.   The magazine article described these cookies:
“Peaches are spectacular cookies that could have come only from Vienna, a city famous for its spectacular confections.  These cookies, all the way down to the chocolate rum-flavored pits, look enough like the juicy summer fruit to fool the most discerning eye.  In ancient Rome, gifts of waxed fruits were given for New Year.  This custom was an outgrowth of fertility rites.  Peach cookies are an unmistakable symbol of fertility and rebirth, both anticipated after Winter Solstice.”
These freeze well.

Maryland Peach Sangria

  • 750 ml bottle rose wine (that’s rose with an accent but I can’t find that on my keyboard, don’t use white zinfindel)
  • 3/4 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup peach nectar
  • 6 tablespoons thawed frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pound ripe Maryland peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 6 ounces fresh red raspberries
  • 2 cups club soda, chilled

Combine first 5 ingredients in a pitcher; stir until sugar is dissolved.  Stir in peaches and raspberries. Cover and chill 8 hours.  Stir in chilled club soda just before serving.  Frozen raspberries may be used.  Peach flavored vodka may be substituted but omit peach nectar.  The recipe first made an appearance at Ivy Hill Farm in August 2013.  Perfect after a long day working at the Peach Festival.

Source: Southern Living, June 2010, original recipe name Carolina Peach Sangria.

Spicy Rosemary Walnuts

2 1/2 cups walnuts
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbs. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Preheat an oven to 300°F.

Place the nuts in a bowl. In a small, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the rosemary and stir until aromatic, about 1 minute. Pour the seasoned oil over the nuts. Add the sugar, cumin, salt, black pepper and cayenne and stir to coat the nuts evenly. Transfer the nuts to a baking pan.

Bake, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are toasted, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool completely.

Store the nuts in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Holiday Entertaining, by Georgeanne Brennan (Oxmoor House, 2007).

Apricot Citrus Scones

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • 3/4 cup diced apricot, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup pecans (I use raisins or currants) chopped
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (for glaze)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (for glaze)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and butter a baking sheet.  In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.  Blend the butter into the dry ingredients, using your fingertips or a pastry blender, until the mixture is crumbly.  Add the orange zest, apricots and pecans (raisins or currants) and toss to combine.  Add the buttermilk and stir until the dough is rough and shaggy.

Gather the dough together and place on a generously floured work surface.  Knead gently about 10 times.  Divide the dough in half and pat each piece into a circle about 7 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick.  To glaze, brush the circles with the heavy cream and sprinkle with the sugar.  Cut each round into eight pie-shaped wedges.  Place the scones, barely touching, on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake until puffy and golden, 15-18 minutes.

Yield: 16 scones

Adapted from:  “Starbucks Passion for Coffee”  Sunset Books

Mock Devonshire Cream
from Southern Living

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 12 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed

Beat cream cheese and butter at high speed with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Add whipped topping; beat at medium speed until blended.  Chill.  Yield: 3 cups


Barefoot Contessa’s Panzanella

  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
  • 20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

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