Friday, December 24, 2010

May Your Christmas be merry and your belly filled with cookies.

Merry Christmas dear readers. I hope your holidays are happy, your bellies are stuffed, and your wishes fulfilled.

I'm sending this fleeting message from my bed, where I've been propped up for the past few days, fighting off a horrid virus that's invaded my head and caused my ears and throat to feel like they're on fire.

In lieu of anything coherent (give me a break, I'm incapacitated), and because I've been a bit cookie-obsessed these past few weeks, I bring you the best cookies I've found online this year.

Gingerbread Man Cookies

I've tried several different gingerbread recipes, and this is the best one I've come across. The cookies aren't too chewy or tough, and have a nice, light, spiced flavour too them.

(From allrecipes)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until smooth. Stir in molasses and egg yolk. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg; blend into the molasses mixture until smooth. Cover, and chill for at least one hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until firm. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. Frost or decorate when cool.

Chocolate mint squares

These are a bit more fiddly to make, but taste really good - especially the mint buttercream icing, which I couldn't stop scooping straight from the bowl. 


Chocolate Mint Squares: Butter (or use a non stick cooking spray) a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) pan.

Bottom Layer: In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 - 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

Buttercream: In your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer) cream the butter. Beat in the remaining ingredients. If desired, add a little green food coloring and beat until the filling is uniform in color. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more milk. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).

Chocolate Topping: In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Spread over the filling and refrigerate.

To Serve: To prevent the chocolate from cracking bring the squares to room temperature and then, using a sharp knife, cut into pieces.
Yield: Makes about 25 squares

Chocolate Mint Squares:

1/2 cup (1 stick) (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) unsweetened cocoa
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (200 grams) graham cracker crumbs
1 cup (65 grams) coconut (either sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup (50 grams) walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped

Buttercream:
1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 - 3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (Bird's) or vanilla pudding powder
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
2 cups (230 grams) powdered sugar (confectioners or icing) sugar
Green Food Coloring (optional)

Chocolate Topping:
4 ounces (115 grams) semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter




Crescents (Mexican wedding cakes)

These are really easy to make, and taste delicious. They have a crumbly texture that's unique to other cookies.

(From the Food Network)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for coating baked cookies
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting hands
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped into very small pieces

Directions

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Line cookies sheets with parchment paper.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar at low speed until it is smooth. Beat in the vanilla. At low speed gradually add the flour. Mix in the pecans with a spatula. With floured hands, take out about 1 tablespoon of dough and shape into a crescent. Continue to dust hands with flour as you make more cookies. Place onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 40 minutes. When cool enough to handle but still warm, roll in additional confectioners' sugar. Cool on wire racks.


Toffee Squares

I came across this recipe on Epicurious, and was intrigued by the combination of toffee and toasted almonds. The end result was good.

Ingredients

Crust
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
Topping
  • 7 to 8 ounces milk chocolate, broken into pieces, or 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped almonds, toasted
Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment.
2. Prepare the crust. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg yolk, vanilla, and salt. On low speed, gradually beat in the flour just until mixed. The dough will be stiff. Pat the dough evenly over the bottom of the baking pan.
3. Bake in the center of the oven until pale gold on top, about 20 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the oven and scatter the chocolate pieces evenly over the crust. Return the pan to the oven for 1 minute. Remove the pan again and, using a knife, spread the chocolate evenly over the crust. Sprinkle evenly with the almonds.
5. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Using a sharp knife, cut into small squares, then carefully remove from the pan with a small offset spatula or an icing spatula.




Sugar cookies with icing

Christmas isn't complete without good old fashioned sugar cookies, and it's always fun (or disastrous, depending on which way you look at it) to get the kids to help decorate them. I've been using this rolled sugar cookie recipe and icing recipe from allrecipes for the past few years, and they always turn out well.


Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.



Sugar Cookie Icing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • assorted food coloring

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.
  2. Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.




Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies

Ingredients

Makes 36
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a shallow bowl, place 1/2 cup sugar; set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat butter and remaining cup of sugar until combined. Beat in egg and then molasses until combined. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in dry ingredients, just until a dough forms.
  3. Pinch off and roll dough into balls, each equal to 1 tablespoon. Roll balls in reserved sugar to coat.
  4. Arrange balls on baking sheets, about 3 inches apart. Bake, one sheet at a time, until edges of cookies are just firm, 10 to 15 minutes (cookies can be baked two sheets at a time, but they will not crackle uniformly). Cool 1 minute on baking sheets; transfer to racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 4 days.
Christmas Nipple Cookies -- I mean, Peanut Blossom Cookies

From Joy of Baking.

Ingredients

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (185 grams) peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
1/3 cup (70 grams) light brown sugar
1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Coating:
1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar
Garnish:
48 milk chocolate Kisses, unwrapped

Directions 
Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter. Add the peanut butter and sugars and beat until light and fluffy (about 2 - 3 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat to combine. Beat in the milk. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the peanut butter mixture and beat until incorporated. Cover and chill the batter for about an hour, or until firm enough to roll into balls.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. 
Roll the batter into 1 inch (2.54) round balls. Place the granulated white sugar in a shallow bowl and roll each ball in the sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart.
Bake the cookies for about 8 - 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned. Immediately upon removing the cookies from the oven, place a chocolate Kiss in the center of each cookie, pressing down until the cookie just starts to crack. Cool completely on a wire rack. 
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.



 
Ho Ho Ho!

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4 comments:

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

That is pretty darn good for being sick! Those look amazing!

ModernMom said...

Oh My Gosh those look amazing! It's after Christmas and I think I may still after to try a couple of those:)

Hope you feel better soon:(

Kate Coveny Hood said...

WOW! That's a lot of cookies. I want one of the mint brownie things right now.

(Just catching up on a month or so of lapsed blog reading....)

BellaMama said...

Yummy, they all look gorgeous!
Sigh, if only Hershey's chocolate kisses were readily available in the UK!

PS - do you think treacle would work in place of molasses??