Here are two delicious recipes from Chef Annmarie Chelius of Ocean City and Chef Linda Wohlman of Absecon, chef educators at Atlantic Cape Community College’s Academy of Culinary Arts. The Vanilla Pretzel cookies are what I decided to make. Two notes on this. Be sure to give yourself time to refrigerate the dough for at least two hours. I ended up refrigerating over night, and that worked out just fine. I also recommend using good vanilla in this recipe and the addition of cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top, really adds a nice surprise and of course makes them look more festive.
Vanilla Pretzel Cookies (for Valentine’s Day, we made them into Hearts)
Chef Annmarie Chelius
Yield: 6 dozen
4 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 and 1/2 cups granular sugar
4 whole eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
Pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream the butter and sugar.
Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour and mix to a paste.
Chill dough in refrigerator for 2 hours.
Divide dough into 1/2-ounce pieces (the size of a small meatball). Roll the dough into a stick to 7 inches in length. Shape dough into a pretzel or heart shape.
Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the edges are light brown.
While the cookies are still warm, brush on the vanilla icing.
Store in airtight container.
Vanilla Flat Icing
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract*
1/4 cup water
Combine all ingredients and brush onto the pretzel cookie. Allow to dry and place in a cookie tin.
*Vanilla extract substitutions: 1 teaspoon almond extract or 2 tablespoons lemon zest.
Add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons red food coloring to the cookie dough to make cookies festive for Valentine’s Day.
Just before baking, brush cookies with egg white and dust with colored sugar sprinkles.
The Happy Pear
Chef Linda Wohlman
Yield: 2 servings
1 pear, just ripe
2 ounces heavy cream
2 ounces Stilton, Gorgonzola or Maytag cheese
2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons walnuts, chopped (optional)
Vanilla gelato or good quality ice cream
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Peel the pear, cut it in half from top to bottom and remove the core, stem, etc.
Place pear halves in a snug sauté pan, cut-side down.
Pour heavy cream over the pears.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until just softening.
Flip the pears.
Place equal amounts of Stilton on each pear and baste with any remaining heavy cream.
Continue baking until cheese is melted.
Transfer to dessert plates.
Scoop desired amount of vanilla gelato on each pear, drizzle with aged balsamic and sprinkle with walnuts.
The ACA, located at Atlantic Cape’s Mays Landing Campus, has been training future chefs and food service professionals for more than 30 years. For more information about the Academy, call 1-800-645‑CHEF, email email@example.com or visit www.atlantic.edu/aca.