Yikes! It’s been WAY too long since my last TWD post…I apologize to the TWD gods! But here I am, back on the wagon, ready to sing Dorie Greenspan’s praises once more! And these cookies are the perfect way to start. Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars (doesn’t that sound amazing?), chosen by Lillian of Confectiona’s Realm. Oh man, let me tell you..these were outstanding! They start with a layer of oatmeal-peanut cookie dough (delish on it’s own!), then you top it off with a chocolate-sweetened condensed milk-peanut layer and crumble a little more of the cookie dough over the top of that. Bake it off and you have sticky, crunchy, chewy cookie/candy bars! YUM!
Just look at that gooey chocolate center….oh man…. This was such a great recipe to get me back on the TWD wagon- a great treat! I can’t wait to take these babies to work with me sometime! If you’d like the recipe (trust me, you do), head on over to Lillian’s blog and she’ll have it posted for you.
This weekend, we had a our friends Michael and Andrea over for a little while and Andrea and I decided to get in the kitchen and do some cookie decorating (a first for both of us!). Luckily I had some gingerbread dough already chilled in the fridge, so we set out to decorate gingerbread men – so much fun! I used Katie’s recipe for her Soft and Spicy Gingerbread Cookies – SO good!! I’m only sorry I didn’t double the batch…these were the best tasting gingerbread cookies I’ve ever had! Here’s the recipe:
Soft and Spicy Gingerbread Cookies
-seen on Good Things Catered, adapted from Allrecipes.com
1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. molasses (I didn’t have enough molasses, so I used half honey)
4 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Stir in molasses and egg.
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.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
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 cookie sheets.
Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until firm. Let cool for 10 minutes on pan. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.
Frost or decorate when cool.
I’m quite proud of my little gingerbread boys!
So is Andrea! Hers were super cute – she actually made little outfits for her cookies; including a cute little bikini! I decided to play it safe (and boring) and keep all mine the same (snoooooooooze….).
I do love the pearl buttons, though – we had a ton of fun with those pearl non-pareils! And no, these aren’t the most professional-looking gingerbread men, but I thought it was pretty good for our first try!
All of Andrea’s cute little outfits…
And Michael destroying it…..
We had a really fun time, and I can’t wait to learn more about decorating cookies and hopefully get better one of these days! This will probably be my last post before Christmas, so I want to go ahead and wish everybody a happy and wonderful Christmas! Enjoy your time with your family and friends, and don’t forget the reason we celebrate – the birth of our Lord! Merry Christmas!
I love chocolate and peppermint together! That’s why I’m willing to try any cookie/brownie/ice cream recipe that calls for chocolate and peppermint – you just can’t go wrong with that combination. And yes, I know I’ve been doing a lot of desserts (mainly cookies) lately, but hey, that’s what I DO at Christmastime…I bake. I bake a lot. Those extra 10 holiday pounds aren’t gonna put themselves on, you know?? And I have my Christmas fat-pants just waiting for me in the closet…so bring on the sugar, butter and flour!
I found these cookies on Two Peas in Their Pod (and I must say, theirs look waaaaay better than mine!) and knew I had to try them. That day. I mean, just listen to that title – Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies….ahhh, beautiful. Doesn’t that sound like heaven? Well, it tastes like it, too – and that’s not just me saying that; I took them to work and all the other voice teachers, choir directors and choir students loved them. Really loved them! For me, it’s the crunchy outsides and the soft, chewy insides, followed by the flavor of deep chocolate and the coolness of the peppermint. A delicious cookie! However, I will say that these are the messiest little buggers I’ve ever worked with. Talk about a sticky dough! But worth it in the end.
These are absolutely beautiful before baking – lovely little balls covered with chunks of candy cane, but after baking, unfortunately, they lose some of their outer beauty. Mine really spread a lot, which I can’t figure out, because I chilled the dough thoroughly; oh well. They still taste good, though, and that’s all that matters in my book! Happy Baking!!
Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies
-Two Peas in Their Pod
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
4 ounces 99% unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 candy canes-crushed up
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the oil, chocolate and granulated sugar and blend on medium speed. With the mixer running, add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. There may be some small clumps of sugar in the batter at this point. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed, stopping once to scrape down the sides. Mix until just incorporated, 2 to 3 minutes. The dough will be sticky.
Gather the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Position the racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.
Pour the crushed candy canes onto a plate or into a shallow bowl. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and roll each ball into the candy cane pieces, so that all sides are covered. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared sheets.
Bake for 10 minutes for soft, chewy cookies, or 12 minutes for crisp cookies, rotating the pans halfway through baking. The cookies do set up, so if you want them soft, take them out at 10 minutes. Let cool completely on cooling racks. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.
Last night we had the family over for a big Christmas party. I love having people over during the holidays – I get to show off my Christmas decorations, serve my favorite snack foods, and most importantly, have a good time with the people I love. There were 16 people total, so of course there was lots and lots of food! I made 2 big batches of my toasted oatmeal cookies, a batch of M&M cookies, spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and peppermint bark (to name a few).
Toasted Oatmeal Cookies
Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
My sister brought her famous “soggy sandwiches” (you assemble a bunch of turkey and cheese sandwiches, put them all in a big jelly roll pan, pour melted butter over the tops, sprinkle with Italian seasoning, and bake for 5 minutes until the cheese melts – sinful!!), my Aunt Josie brought a chocolate roll-up cake, and Nana brought crockpot cocktail weenies. And my sweet Grandaddy brought me a big, beautiful Poinsettia! Some of my favorites from the party include:
Sausage balls – SO good! It absolutely would not be a party in our family without these babies! Recently, my sister found that adding milk makes them a lot more moist. We love to use maple sausage – it adds such great flavor!
3 cups Bisquick baking mix
1 pound maple pork sausage
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup milk
pinch Cayenne Pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl (it’s easiest if you have a Kitchen Aid mixer – use the dough hook), roll into 1 inch balls and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the balls are golden brown. Cool completely.
My mom’s Christmas Wassail – just like the sausage balls, it really wouldn’t be Christmas without this wassail. My mom’s been making it every single Christmas since the ’80′s and every year we look forward to it! It simmers for 2 hours, so the entire house smells heavenly! Keep the container that your apple cider came in to store any leftover wassail; then just pour yourself individual cups and microwave anytime you want hot wassail!
2 quarts apple cider
1 46-oz. can pineapple juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon allspice
15-20 cloves, stuck into an orange or apple
3-5 cinnamon sticks
Combine all ingredients in a large pot or crockpot on high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 hours.
*You’ll notice all kinds of stuff floating around in my picture – I added some Williams Sonoma mulling spices that I had on hand; it’s not needed, though.
And finally, my favorite – Granna’s Green Stuff. This is seriously the best stuff ever – fluffy…creamy…….green. Originally, my great-grandmother would always make this every Christmas, now her daughter-in-law, my grandmother (Granna), makes it a lot, as we request it a LOT! It’s GOOD!! This recipe is as close as I can get to my great-grandmother’s recipe – she never would tell anyone what was in it! I’m pretty sure this is it, though…
“Green Stuff” (It’s really called Lime Jello Salad, but we’ve always known it as green stuff)
1 (3 oz.) pkg. lime Jello
1 c. hot water
(Heat up drained pineapple juice for part of liquid.)
Mix. Stir until well dissolved. Set until jelly-like consistency then carefully whip with electric mixer.
1/2 pkg. (4 oz.) cream cheese
1 can (15 oz.) crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1 c. whipping cream
Whip cream until stiff. Add cream cheese. Mix in Jello and blend thoroughly. Fold in pineapple and nuts. Put into a serving bowl and chill for at least 4 hours.
Just look at that fluffy green goodness!! Anyway, we had an absolutely delightful party last night – thanks to everyone who came and brought delicious food and great company!
I’ve been holding onto a little piece of news for a couple of weeks now – about a month ago, I entered a cookie contest for a newspaper in the DFW area. A week went by and I got an email saying my cookies (Toasted Oatmeal with Golden Raisins, Pecans and Coconut) made it onto the Semi-Finals! Woo-Hoo! Honestly, I never expected them to even get that far. The next step was for me to take a plate of my cookies to the newspaper office for more judging. Shortly thereafter, I got another email – onto the Final round! Oh YEAH! This time, professional pastry chefs and bakery owners would make my cookies following the recipe I provided (um, talk about nerve-wracking!). Then, I got a call from super-sweet Stephanie saying I WON! Holy cow, this was a total and utter shock! What an awesome surprise…my humble little oatmeal cookie won a contest; now that will brighten anyone’s day!
This is an awesome opportunity because my cookies are going to be sold at a bakery in Fort Worth for 2 weeks this month! How cool is that?! They can even be shipped nation-wide; and all the proceeds go to charity – really cool! I got to have my picture in the paper and everything (that’s a big deal for ‘lil ‘ol me!) – the photo shoot was so much fun…the photographer had me make all kinds of fun poses/faces! I’m just glad they chose a semi-normal looking picture for the article!
Just for fun, here is the article, which includes the recipe (sorry, it’s no longer online!). Thanks again, Stephanie, all the other Fort Worth Star Telegram employees and pastry chefs who chose my cookie and gave me a really fun treat this holiday season!!
Toasted Oatmeal Cookies with Golden Raisins, Coconut and Pecans
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (one stick) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp.
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 – 1 cup (however much you want, really) shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup golden raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oats, coconut and pecans and spread on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until the coconut becomes fragrant, stirring frequently. Let cool. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl, cream both sugars and butter until light, fluffy and smooth. Add egg, half and half and vanilla and blend until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture, the toasted oat mixture, then the raisins. Drop dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper in rounded spoonfuls (or you can use a cookie scoop) about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 12 -15 minutes or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack for cooling.
Here’s something sort of weird about me (one of many): I love M&M’s in my Christmas cookies, but I’m not a big fan of them by themselves. It always kind of baffles me when people say their favorite candy is M&M’s. I mean, there are so many varieties of candies out there…why M&M’s?? To each his own, I guess. Now, when it comes to cookies, however, I love to bake with M&M’s (but only if they’re red and green, of course!). Whether it’s my Monster Cookies, chocolate chip cookies with M&M’s, or these yummy, simple drop cookies, they’re always delicious and they always make me feel a little “jollier” around Christmastime (it’s very important to feel jolly at Christmas! :-)). When my sister and I were little, we always left Santa M&M cookies on Christmas Eve, so naturally, this kind of cookie just screams Christmas for me.
Speaking of Christmas-y things, what color lights do you prefer on your Christmas tree?? Me, I love the colored lights – they’re much happier and cheery looking. Oddly enough, this year we have a white-lighted tree….just not the same… Anyway, back to business. I went searching for a good ‘ol drop cookie recipe and decided to check the King Arthur Flour site, which is quickly becoming my favorite online resource for baking recipes, and found this recipe. It’s totally simple, straight-forward and really, really tasty. The thing I loved most was that the cookie part wasn’t too buttery and sweet; it was nicely balanced and let the M&M’s be the star. These are just plain ‘ol, simple M&M cookies, but just seeing a plate full of them makes you feel warm and fuzzy…and of course, jolly! If you have kids, these are perfect cookies to make for Santa – they’re easy enough that the kids can help, and they end up looking very Christmas-y and fun! Enjoy!
M&M Christmas Cookies
-King Arthur Flour
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, light or dark, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons milk, optional
2 cups Holiday M&M’s
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment. Beat together the butter, sugars, salt, vanilla, baking soda, and baking powder until well combined. Add the egg, beating until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and beat again until smooth.
Add the flour, mixing it in completely. Stir in the milk, then carefully stir in the M&M’s.
Drop the cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2″ apart. A cookie scoop works well here.
Bake the cookies for 14 to 16 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown, and a bit darker around the edges.
Remove them from the oven, and cool right on the baking sheets.
You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting for this time of year to get here! I absolutely love the Holiday season….and more importantly, the baking adventures it brings. I’ve already been baking all kinds of cookies and having tons of fun trying new recipes. Like these Pfeffernüsse – German spice cookies, traditionally made at Christmas.
I first fell in love with these in college while taking a German course. My professor had just gotten back from Germany and brought us a whole array of German Christmas cookies to try. These were among them, and ooooh boy, were they good! Since then, I’ve been searching for the perfect recipe for Pfeffernüsse, so I can make them at home. This recipe is a Martha Stewart, and while it’s close….it’s not exactly what I’m looking for. However, the cookies were delicious (sort of like a molasses cookie) and my co-workers seemed to really enjoy them.
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350º. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place confectioners’ sugar in a brown paper bag (I used a bowl).
In a medium bowl, combine flour, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and baking soda. Set aside.
Place butter, brown sugar, and molasses in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture; beat until just combined. Pinch off dough in tablespoon amounts; roll into 1 1/4-inch balls. Arrange balls 1 1/2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. (Dough can be frozen at this point, covered tightly with plastic wrap, up to 1 month).
Bake until cookies are golden and firm to the touch with slight cracking, about 15 minutes. Transfer sheets to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Working in batches, place cookies in paper bag; shake until well coated. Let cool completely on wire rack. Store in airtight container.
And now here’s the part that I’m most excited about: my first giveaway!!! It being cookie season and all (and because they started playing Christmas music on XM radio!), I thought it only fitting to give you a little something to get you started.
I recently saw this book reviewed on The National Cookie Network blog and immediately bought one. Great tips and pictures showing you how to perfectly decorate cookies for any occasion (with an entire section dedicated to Christmas cookies!). Perfect for a cookie decorating idiot like myself. And since it’s so fantastic, I decided to get an extra copy for you!! AND since you can’t make great holiday cookies without some fabulous cookie cutters: this Holiday Linzer Cookie Cut-Out set is yours as well. Woo Hoo!!
All you have to do to enter is leave me a comment on this post answering this little question:
What Holiday cookie are you dying to try this year?
1.) Only one entry per person, please
2.) You have until midnight Friday, Nov. 20. I’ll post the winner on Monday.
Silly title, I know – but chances are, most of you can probably relate to the relationship I have with canned pumpkin. When it’s the end of summer and still sweltering hot outside, I find myself walking down the ‘Baking/Spices’ aisle of the grocery store, just to get a glimpse of the empty spot on the shelf where the Libby’s canned pumpkin would normally be. Just to check and see if they have any yet…we all know it’s not really the calendar that tells us when Fall gets here – it’s the good people of Libby’s who decide when Fall begins. The day I see the cans of pumpkin puree on the shelves of the grocery store is the first day of Fall, as far as I’m concerned. And recently I discovered just how precious my canned pumpkin is to me…as you all know, it’s been near impossible to find it lately. None of my stores had any. What a tragedy. Autumn with no canned pumpkin??! I think not! However, just recently, the pumpkin-shortage nightmare was ended and Libby’s was on the shelves once again. Needless to say, I grabbed as many cans as I could carry! For a week or so now, I’ve been thinking of ways to use my beloved canned pumpkin…pancakes? Cookies? Bread? Possibly, but not just yet. Pumpkin blondies? Yes, please! Blondies filled with pumpkin, spices and full of white chocolate chips…perfect! (*For those of you who aren’t familiar with blondies – they’re just like brownies, but minus the chocolate)
If you’ve got a can or two just sitting around in the back of your pantry, crack one open and re-discover the goodness and joy to be found in baking with canned pumpkin!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice (I doubled this)
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¼ cups granulated sugar (or brown sugar)
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup white chocolate chips
½ cup chopped, toasted nuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with foil. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. Stir together and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined. Mix in the pumpkin puree. With the mixer on low speed add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Fold in the white chocolate chips (and nuts, if using) with a rubber spatula.
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs, about 35-40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting.
To serve, lift the cake from the pan using the foil and transfer to a cutting board. Peel off foil and using a sharp knife, cut into 24 squares.
When I was little, I used to loooove a certain brand of store-bought cookies; they had all kinds of yummy flavors, but my favorite was their molasses cookies. I loved them because they were really chewy and sugary (chewy cookies were a big deal!). Nowadays, I like them for a few other reasons as well – I love the spices and the rich flavor the molasses adds. I haven’t had those cookies in a few years, and actually hadn’t really thought about them in a long time, until I found a great sounding recipe for ginger molasses cookies a few days ago. I stumbled on a fellow musician’s food blog- Gimme Some Oven (how cute is that?!) and found these cookies and knew I had to make them – after a few days of really chilly, crisp Fall weather, these spicy cookies sounded like perfection.
My cookies actually came out looking and tasting almost exactly like the ones I used to love so much as a kid – I was really pleased with how they turned out. Perfectly chewy and soft, with lots of warm spices. These were great and hubby and I have really enjoyed gobbling them up!
Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies
-Gimme Some Oven
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp. soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until combined. Add in the eggs and molasses, and beat until combined. Then slowly add in the dry ingredient mixture until combined.
Roll the dough into small balls (about 1″ in diameter). Fill a small bowl with sugar, and roll each ball in the sugar until it is completely coated. Place on cookie sheet, and bake for about 8-10 minutes. Once they are done, remove from the oven and let cool for a minute or two. Then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Back around Father’s Day, I wanted to make cookies for our dads, but I wanted something new and different. I love trying different flavor combinations and coming up with recipes that turn into new favorites. This idea came to me when I was lying in bed one night and couldn’t sleep – I started thinking about cookies and somehow apricots, white chocolate and coconut kept popping up. I knew both of our dads (and my mom, too) love white chocolate and coconut, and I thought chewy, dried apricots would be a nice compliment – so the next day, I got in my kitchen and these cookies were born!
I thought I was pretty lucky for my first time out – these really turned out exactly how I wanted them to; perfectly chewy and soft, but with lots of texture, a little tanginess from the apricots and lots of sweetness from the white chocolate chips. Both of our parents loved them (as well as my dog, who, while we were in the next room, decided to jump up on my dining room table and scarf down as many of these as she could before getting caught!)! The only thing I might do differently next time would be a little lemon zest to really bring out the apricots – other than that, I won’t change a thing. I decided to name these “The Amelia”, because, well, that’s me – plus, I really couldn’t think of anything clever. Maybe I’ll just start a whole line of named cookies – from now on, I could give each new cookie I create a person’s name to go with it – just so I can keep them all straight, you know? I love trying out and creating new and exciting cookie recipes – the possibilities are endless and on top of that, it’s so much fun! Plus, I always have plenty of willing guinea pigs – ready to try anything I throw at them!
The Amelia (Apricot, Coconut and White Chocolate Cookies)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened is fine)
6 ounces white chocolate chips
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs, almond extract, and vanilla extract and blend. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt and slowly add to the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the coconut, white chocolate and apricots.
Drop by rounded spoonfuls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until cookies are golden brown – about 15 minutes. Makes approximately 30 cookies. Enjoy!!