Monday, October 27, 2008

Hickory Nuts and Bake Shoppes

There is one more tradition that our family follows when spending a weekend in Northern Wisconsin; a visit to the bakery.

The Spooner Bake Shoppe is one of the most delicious places you will find. It boasts of Jelly Rolls, Glazed Donuts, Cinnamon Twists, and Filled Danishes. My personal favorites are the Raspberry Filled Sugar Cookies, a sweet melt in your mouth folded piece of heaven, and the plain Croissant, which is buttery and flakey all at once.

The bakery is nestled in the Main Street section of town. Faced with dark wood and carved with detail seen in the hometown villages I'm sure the ancestors who founded it remember.

Although I’ve never tried to recreate the Raspberry Cookies, I will share a cookie recipe that also goes well with milk! The Hickory nuts I use are gathered by my grandfather, who will sit at the table with a bucket and pick the ‘meat’ from the nuts out. His weathered and gnarled hands working more deftly than mine ever could even after years of farm work.

Chocolate Chunk Hickory Nut Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cups (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 cup hickory nuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl beat butter and sugars until creamy.
Beat in vanilla, then eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
At low speed, gradually add flour mixture into butter mixture; beating until just blended.
Fold in chocolate and hickory nuts.

Drop large tablespoons of rounded dough, 2 inches apart, onto a nonstick cookie sheet.
Bake cookies 10 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.

Note: I drizzle a chocolate gnosh over the cooled cookies for a final chocolate kick.

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