Christmas Cookies 2016

Every Christmas I embark on a epic cookie baking session. This year is no exception. Actually, because I am closer to family the cookie tins have increased this year. In spite of working with a new oven with less counter space nothing seems to keep me from the joy of holiday baking.

So what’s on the list for this year?

White Chocolate Peppermint :

This year I am going to try a new method for making these minty favorites. In the past I have struggled with the cookies flattening. My current theory is that they are weighed down by the andes peppermint chunks in them. To try to prevent this, I am going to melt the peppermint with the white chocolate and only sprinkle a few morsels on top afterward. We will see if that makes a difference.

White chocolate dipped Ginger:

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These are my new favorites. I made them for the first time last year and they went over so well I’m making a larger batch this time. They are a bit more time consuming as they require cooling before dipping or decorating but they are so yummy and they catch everyone’s eye. For more see:

https://agreenesadventures.org/2015/12/23/christmas-cookies-2015/

Chocolate Bakers:

A basic for chocolate lovers. I have done several variations on this over the years including adding chili to make them more like Mexican Coco and of course also peppermint. But classics are still great. I’ll try to get a recipe out for those to you soon.

Holiday M and M:

Speaking of classics. This is a basic as it gets, well at least for me. The secret I find to these salty and sweet upscale chocolate chips is the use of a little bit of oat flour and vanilla pudding mix to keep them moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside.

Holiday Red Velvet :

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In the past I’ve made these with holiday velvet cake mixes, cookies come in both red and green. The green ones don’t seem to go over as well even though they taste the same. So instead of making it extra colorful we are skipping the grinch coloring this year.

For a recipe see:

https://agreenesadventures.org/2015/12/22/holiday-velvet-cookies/

Organic Gluten Free No White Sugar Oatmeal Cookies

This is my new experiment this year. I took a basic oatmeal cookie recipe and did some work substituting ingredients. I was able to come up with an alternative to meet the needs of a few family members with food allergies, something I completely understand.  (for more on this put the words “tree nuts” and “barley” into my search box on this blog). If this goes well and I get thumbs up from those who will enjoy them then a recipe may be down the road for this as well.

In addition to these wonderful cookies I am making a few candies and snacks including peanut brittle, butterscotch haystacks, and spicy cajun peanuts to name a few.

Are any of these your favorites? If not what is your favorite holiday treat?

Lemon Thyme Shortbread

For Fourth of July this year I made lemon thyme shortbread cookies to go along with our fresh berry salad and homemade whipped cream. For more on this see:

https://agreenesadventures.org/2016/07/06/4th-of-july-weekend/

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I’ve wanted to learn to make shortbread for a long time and lemon is one of my favorite summer ingredients for baking.

I found a recipe from: twopeasandtheirpod: lemon-rosemary-shortbread that I adapted to make these star shaped light summer cookies.

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These are not high in sugar, although they are very buttery. People commented they would go well with tea, and were more like British biscuits. Yes I would agree they are more European in style as compared to most of my other sugar filled crunchy or gooey cookies.

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But I think in the spring and summer sometimes you need something light that pairs well with iced tea or fresh berries. What I love about these cookies is that the texture is light but still more moist then a cracker and they have a perfect burst of lemon.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 TBS lemon zest

1 1/2 teaspoons minced thyme

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 C lemon juice.

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Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, salt, lemon zest, and thyme together.
  2. In a separate bowl beat the butter and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy.
  3. Then beat in the vanilla extract and lemon juice.

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Note: add more lemon juice or zest for a stronger lemon burst or more vanilla for a more mild smooth flavor

4. Chill the dough for at least 1 hour or until firm.

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Put parchment paper, a Silpat, or grease your cookie sheet and put aside.

IMG_65976. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 1/4 inch thick square. Cut into shape of your choosing using a lightly floured cookie cutter.

IMG_65967. Place shortbread cookies on the cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are a light brown around the edges

8. Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool completely on a wire rack.

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Then Enjoy!

Luke thought they were good but a little heavy on the thyme. If your not a fan or herbs in your cookies you can always take them out of the recipe or substitute them for some fresh vanilla bean.

Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

A long title for a very delicious cookie.

For Valentine’s this year I decided to put a twist on the traditional Peanut Butter Kiss Cookie.

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Instead of buying plain chocolate kisses I bought caramel filled kisses, this time of year they come in a pink bag and are wrapped in pink swirled foil.

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I adapted a basic Peanut Butter Kiss Cookie recipe with a few gourmet twists below:

Makes about 32-36 cookies

Ingredients:

1/4 c creamy peanut butter

1/2 stick or 4 tsb unsalted butter

3/4 C brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

¾-1 C all purpose flour ( I use organic)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

36 Caramel kisses unwrapped

sea-salt and white sugar for topping or sprinkles

1/4 container vanilla pudding mix

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Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Stick the unwrapped caramel kisses in the freezer
  3. Cream peanut butter and butter until smooth
  4. Add in brown sugar and pudding mix beat until smooth
  5. Add eggs and vanilla and beat again
  6. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt
  7. Add dry ingredients to the wet slowly and beat on low speed

IMG_61568. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or slip pats and grease if needed

9. Let dough sit in the fridge for about an hour to chill meanwhile move the kisses to the fridge

IMG_615810.After an hour roll the dough into small 1-1/2 inch balls

11. Roll the balls in extra sugar/course sea salt combo

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IMG_6160 12. Place dough balls on baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes

13. When cookies come out of the oven give them 2 minutes to rest

14. then place a chilled caramel kiss in the center of each

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Note: Be careful when moving these cookies to a cooling rack or trying to stack them for storage, in the first few minutes after kisses are put on the cookies they will get hot and melty. My solution is to clear a place in the freezer to flash freeze the candy before packing the cookies for storage.

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These cookies were a perfect hit, both at home our jobs, they went fast. They are rich but the salt cuts the sweet and few people ate only one.

White Chocolate Ginger Snap Cookies

So my second new cookie experiment this year was a white chocolate dipped ginger cookie. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make ginger snaps and found this recipe on pintrest.

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The cookies themselves ended up taking a long time to bake, I’m guessing because of the molasses.

White chocolate can be hard to work with it can burn easily or harden quickly. So I decided to use my fondue pot to dip the white chocolate halves; the perfect solution.

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I found a sprinkles pack that had red balls, and Christmas trees. This worked out perfect to make holly. I think they were the biggest hit this year because they are so attractive and they taste great.

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Unfortunately the pictures you see are the leftovers least attractive cookies, but they taste just as good as the rest.

I do not have a modified recipe for them yet but I got the recipe from a fellow blogger Cookingclassy

Hope you are all enjoying the holiday season!

 

Holiday Velvet Cookies

So if you follow my blog at all you know I love to bake and most of all to bake cookies. And Christmas is the perfect time of year to experiment with new recipes.  This year I did two new experiments.

In the past I have worked with several different cake mixes to make cookies for more on this see 4th of July funfetti cookies or strawberry cheesecake cookies.

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So when I saw in the store a holiday velvet cake mix I thought: why not? I have before done a cake mix cookie for Christmas with the funfetti cake, but I had to add a lot of food coloring to make them festive.

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So this year the color was already in the mix and they turned out great! Similar to the other cake mix cookies I used the cake mix, vegetable oil, but this time I also add a little extra coco for a stronger velvet taste and cheesecake pudding mix.

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Here’s the full recipe below.

Holiday Velvet Cheesecake Cookies

Makes about 32 cookies

Prep time 10 minutes

Cooking time 30 minutes

  • 1 box Holiday Funfetti cake mix
  • 1 ½ small box instant cheesecake pudding mix
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ C of flour
  • ¼ C coco
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1/2 cup white baking chips, divided

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, vegetable oil spray, or a Silpat.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, coco and flour
  3. Add in the 3 eggs, vegetable oil, and vanilla until a dough forms
  4.  Stir in  the white chips.
  5. Using a cookie scoop, drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets 2 inches apart.
  6. Press a few chips onto the tops of each cookie or seasonal sprinkles

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies just start to lightly brown.

 

The centers will still be very soft – that’s okay!

Cool for 2 minutes, then remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

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To make them extra festive I rolled the tops of the cookies in red, white, and green sprinkles and placed a snowflake on each. They are bright, ,moist, colorful and most of all taste great!

And for the second experiment . . .  you’ll have to wait for the next blog.

Maple Cookies with Cinnamon Vanilla Buttercream

In one of my flashback to March posts I wrote about how this past month we enjoyed an all you can eat pancake breakfast at a local maple syrup producer during upstate new york maple weekend.

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We bought local amber maple syrup that I was excited to use to make maple cookies. These cookies similar to a snikerdoodle have a hint of spice, perfect maple flavor, scented with vanilla, and a soft chewy texture.

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So here’s my recipe for maple cookies with cinnamon vanilla buttercream.

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Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar (3/4 C if using dark)

1 egg

1 1/2 cup real maple syrup (I used amber)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons vanilla pudding mix

Directions

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  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar.
  3. Add the egg, syrup and vanilla. Mix until well blended.
  4. Sift together the flour, salt, dry pudding mix, and baking soda.
  5. Stir the flour mix into wet mixture until well blended.
  6. Shape into 1/2 inch balls.  Note: I hand roll them and because the dough is sticky I used flour on my hands to keep the dough from sticking.
  7. Place on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.

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Bake 9-10 minutes in the preheated oven. Let cool on wire rack. They will deflate a little after coming out of the oven.

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I made these cookies small so they would work as mini cookie sandwiches. You can make them into 1 inch balls if you do not plan on making sandwiches out of them. They will probably need 10-11 minutes in the oven.

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Once cookies have cooled you can make the Cinnamon Vanilla Buttercream. These cookies are great on their own but I thought a light butter cream would help balance out the sweet of the cookie.

Ingredients:

2 C powdered sugar

3 TBS vanilla

2 tsp cinnamon

1 C salted butter softened

Note: you can choose not to use salted butter I thought it balanced out the sweet of the maple cookies

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Directions

  1. combine all ingredients
  2. start mixer on slow then slowly increase speed
  3. let the mixer get to its highest setting for 30 seconds.
  4. put a lid on it and let it stiffen up in the fridge
  5. spoon out a tablespoon or two of frosting onto a cookie and place the other on top to make a sandwich.

Note: I would keep these cookies in the fridge or cooled until they are ready to be eaten so the icing does not melt.

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Valentines White Chocolate Hugs and Kisses Cookies

As I wrote last week I decided to do cookies for valentines day this year for our weekend guests and for Luke’s work and my students. This year I made two new types of cookies from changes to previous cookie recipes.

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The base for these cookies came from my baker’s chocolate sugar cookies. I did a white chocolate baker’s chocolate here then bought a large bag of Hershey’s hugs and kisses to center the cookies. To add to the Valentines theme I bought heart shaped sprinkles to add color to the cookies. They are perfect bite-size cookies full of chocolate flavor.

White chocolate Bakers cookies with hugs and kisses

Makes about 3/4 dozen

Ingredients:

3 squares white chocolate Baker’s unsweetened chocolate (old style) or new style=12 baker’s pieces

1 cup butter –only use butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Hershey hugs or kisses candy pieces for each cookie

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Instructions:

1. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwavable bowl on HIGH 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

Or if you do not have a microwave then use a double boiler and heat on medium. Be careful with white chocolate as it can easily burn if not keep it at a lower temperature while melting.

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2. While the chocolate melts in a separate bowl mix flour, baking soda, sugar and salt.

3. Let the white chocolate mixture cool at little, especially if you have it on the stove top then pour it into your bowl with the dry ingredients.

4. Stir in egg and vanilla until completely blended.

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5. Refrigerate 15 minutes stir and put back in for another 15 minutes

6. Heat oven to 325 F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls or smaller based on your preference of chocolate to the cookie ratio.

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7. Put decorating sprinkles in a bowl and roll the top of the dough ball the sprinkles.

8.Place, 2-inches apart, on greased cookie sheets.

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9. Bake 10-12 minutes or until set.

10. Give the cookies 2 minutes to cool then place the hugs/kisses in the center of each.

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Note: the hugs melt easier then the kisses you can help set the candy by sticking the cookies in the fridge for a few minutes.

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Not only do they look great but are a wonderful Valentines treat!