Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Christmas Cookie Chronicles, Part I

It's that time of year again: strings of lights are aglow, carols are sung for the thousandth time, and of course, sugary goodness awaits you. Cookies and Christmas are as inseparable as Bert and Ernie - you can't have one without the other. ‘Tis the season to be a baker, and I baked a LOT of cookies. Nothing can beat the smell of fresh-baked sweets on Christmas morning (they are, after all, Santa's favorite). 
Cookies, in my opinion, are one of the most versatile of the dessert categories. You can alter flavors with simple add-ins, such as flavored extracts or dried fruit and nuts, and change the shapes with cookie cutters or by hand. These cookies made for one sweet holiday season!
I went out on a limb for this first recipe: Mint Chocolate Chip Brownies. I had purchased two bags of Nestle® Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsels, a seasonal variety, and began searching for dessert options. I couldn’t shake the idea of mint chocolate brownies, and thus chose to employ my favorite chocolate chip brownies recipe, substituting these chocolate chip and ½ tsp mint extract.
Mint Chocolate Chip Brownies
Adapted via
Yields: about 15 brownies 

- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup butter or 1 cup margarine (2 sticks)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
- 1/2 teaspoon pure mint extract 
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 (12 ounce) package Nestle® Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsels 

Place the semisweet chocolate chips and the butter in a saucepan on very low heat, and stir, until melted, being careful not to scorch. Allow melted chocolate to cool to room temperature.

Mix together eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl; stir in vanilla and salt. Sift flour, and add in small portions to egg, mixing well after each addition, until thoroughly blended. Stir in cooled chocolate and mix well; then fold in half the bag of Nestle Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsels.

Pour batter into a greased 9x11-inch pan and spread evenly; sprinkle the remainder of the chocolate and mint morsels on top. Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 25-30 minutes, then allow brownies to cool in the pan on a wire rack; cut into squares once cooled. 
The second recipe is the “original” Christmas cookie itself: Big Soft Ginger Cookies. While I chose to exempt the traditional shape of gingerbread men, they were too delicious for anyone to notice or care.
Big Soft Ginger Cookies
Adapted from 
Yields: about 2 dozen cookies

- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup margarine, softened
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. 

Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
If you're baking lots cookies, then you have to make this third recipe: Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. These fail to "get old", and one is never enough. I bought a bag of brown sugar and found this recipe on the back. If anyone knows how to make a good cookie, it would have to be the Domino® sugar company. Enjoy! 
Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Adapted via Domino®Sugar
Yields: about 3 dozen cookies

- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup firmly packed Domino® Light Brown Sugar
- 1/2 cup - butter or margarine, softened
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon - vanilla
- 1/4 cup - milk
- 1 cup - rolled oats*
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

* Old fashioned or quick-cooking rolled oats may be used

Preheat oven to 375°F.
In small bowl, combine flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda; set aside. In large bowl, combine brown sugar and butter; beat until creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Stir in milk. Add flour mixture and rolled oats separately to creamed mixture, blending well after each addition. Stir in raisins and nuts.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

No comments:

Post a Comment