When I think of my Christmases as a child, I think of cookie plates overflowing with every type of cookie: pizelles, sugar cookies, and of course, ladylocks.
As I'm writing this, several Christmas memories have popped into my head: it was always a big deal to decorate sugar cookies. My mom would gather up my brother and I and we would throw together some dough. Once it was rolled out, it was our job to cut the cookies and sprinkle them with whatever colors we wanted. It was such a a special time.
On a related note, Christmas was the only day when my mom would let us eat cookies for breakfast. My brother and I delighted in stuffing our faces with all sorts of cookies! I later told my mom that when I moved out of the house, I would eat cake and ice cream for breakfast everyday. This may have happened once in college. It definitely lost its glamour once you have that freedom.
Now, on to the ladylocks. My mom never made ladylocks for us, but our grandmother and family friends did. Ladylocks were one of my favorite cookies as a kid. I mean, what's better than a cookie covered in powdered sugar and filled with a creamy icing?!
For these cookies, I wrapped them around some cannoli forms that I have; I also grabbed the inner tube of an aluminum foil roll and cut it in to about 8 smaller rolls. I covered them with some tin foil. I got the inspiration for my recipe from Mindy Bakes, where she also talks about the importance of Pittsburgh cookie tables. (We had one at our wedding - it's a tradition that Pittsburghers must live by!) In her post, Mindy uses wooden clothespins (the ones without the metal hinges) and wraps them in tin foil. I could see this being advantageous; my holes were a little large for the filling, but I made them work.
Work with what ya got!
1 1/2 c. organic whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c. vegan butter, chilled for 20 minutes in the freezer
1/3 c. organic non-hydrogenated shortening, like Spectrum, chilled for 20 minutes in the freezer
2 T. organic cane sugar
pinch of sea salt
1 T. almond butter
1/2 T. vanilla
1/3 c. vodka, stored in the freezer
Measure and scoop the vegan butter and shortening onto a plate. Place the plate in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 300° and line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.
In your food processor, load all of the dry ingredients, followed by the vanilla and almond butter. Add in the chilled butter/shortening. Start to pulse the ingredients. Once everything is mixed a bit, turn the processor on and stream in the vodka until the dough just comes together in a ball. (Hint: check out my pie crust video for procedural tips!)
Take the dough and roll it out in a long, rectangular shape (probably on parchment paper for ease of rolling). Using a pastry (or pizza) cutter, cut a rectangle and remove the excess - you can reroll it later. Make sure your forms are well greased with coconut oil or shortening. Take your cutter and slice long even-ish strips of dough. Your thumb nail is a good measuring tool for their width! Carefully and slowly roll the dough around the forms. They should be overlapping. Repeat this process for all of the dough. You should be able to get at least 12 large ladylocks from this dough, probably 24 if you're using clothespins as the forms.
Bake the cookies for 20 minutes. Take them out of the oven. Let them cool for about five minutes and then do your best to remove the forms. You don't want them to get stuck in there!
For the filling:
1 c. organic shortening
1 1/2 c. organic powdered sugar
a splash of vanilla
2 T. pure maple syrup
a few shakes of cinnamon
Combine these ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir. If it seems too thin or runny, add a little bit more powdered sugar. If it's too thick add a little more syrup.
Assembly: roll each cooled cookie into some powdered sugar. Using a piping bag fill each cookie with some frosting. I dunked my ends in chopped pistachios, but you can choose whatever you like!
Bam! You are done! These fancy cookies are easy and can impress all of your guests.