Friday, December 16, 2011

Serving Up {Cookies}: Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

Over the past two weeks I have shared some of my favorite cookie recipes - those that I have taken to my annual cookie exchange that I participated in when I used to live in Las Vegas.  Today's recipe is the recipe that never was...had we not moved last year, this would have been the cookie that I would have taken to last years exchange.  I LOVE chewy gingerbread cookies!  Leave it to Martha to add chocolate to a favorite and  make it that much more irresistible!

One of my favorite ways to dress up a cookie is to drizzle melted chocolate over the top of it, or to dip half of the cookie into melted chocolate. Here is this cookie done both ways...

I saw this darling idea on Pinterest (I never should have logged on!).  They used peanut butter cookies, but I immediately thought of this recipe to use to make these darling reindeer cookies with the kids.

(recipe from Martha Stewart)

7 ounces semisweet chocolate (or chocolate chips)
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour
1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 Tbs. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 Tbs. freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Line two baking sheets with parchment. Chop chocolate into 1/4-inch chunks; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and grated ginger until whitened, about 4 minutes. Add brown sugar; beat until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined.
In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in 1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water. Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture. Beat in baking-soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture. Mix in chocolate; turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Pat dough out to about 1 inch thick; seal with wrap; refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or more.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Roll dough into 1 1/2- inch balls; place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Roll in granulated sugar. Bake until the surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Serving Up {Cookies}: Melt Aways

Cookies with only four ingredients and no eggs! Crazy but true!  Trust me.  In fact, you have to trust me because as you begin to blend the ingredients together you will doubt that I wrote the proportions correctly, but turn up that mixer and just wait.  Magically the dough will come together and you will be left with a buttery, crumbly yummy cookie that gets all the better when topped (generously) with cream cheese frosting.

I took these cookie to my annual cookie exchange the year before my last year to participate.  Then last year I got a sweet note from one of the participants...she had made these cookies for last years cookie exchange.  It may be the only "repeated" cookie in all the years of the exchange.  I felt like having my recipe present somehow kept my presence there despite me physically being hundreds of miles away.  Thanks Sue!

printable version

1 cup butter
1/3 cup powdered sugar
¾ cup corn starch
1 cup flour

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Form into small balls, about the size of a quarter (and no bigger – they will grow as they bake). Bake fro 12 minutes.

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla (almond extract is delicious!)
Food coloring

Make frosting by mixing beating all ingredients until well blended. Frost cookies when they are completely cool. Be generous with the frosting.

Eat the cookies in one bite, as they crumble once bitten into.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Serving Up {Cookies}: Brownie Roll Out Cookies

I have been sharing cookie recipes that I have taken to my annual Christmas Cookie Exchange.  If you have ever wondered what twelve dozen cookies look like, this photo may give you an idea!

The final year that I participated in the cookie exchange was the year that I hosted the event.  It would probably have been a good year for me to choose an easier cookie, but I thrive under unrealistic pressure that I place upon myself, so I chose a cookie that had to be rolled out, cut and baked.  And then I chose to dip each and every cookie in melted white chocolate and sprinkle with crushed candy cane.  It was over the top when multiplied by 12 dozen, but was worth it for every single bite!

This recipe would make a REALLY good crust cookie if you were thinking of making homemade ice cream sandwiches.  In fact, they would be REALLY, REALLY good if you were thinking of making said ice cream sandwiches in the next couple of weeks when you can get seasonal peppermint ice cream found only in the month of December.  Yum!  Enough drooling, here is the recipe...

(recipe from Smitten Kitchen)
printable version

3 cups flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
1cup butter ( ½ cup salted, ½ cup unsalted)
1 ½ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup cocoa

Whisk dry flour, salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and cocoa in mixer. Gradually add flour mixture and mix until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out cookies on floured counter. Cut into desired shapes. Bake on parchment lined baking sheet for 8-11 minutes until the edges are firm and the centers are slightly soft and puffed.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Serving Up {Cookies}: Holiday Mint Cookies

I am half way through my walk down memory lane...cookie recipes that I took to my annual cookie exchange when I used to live in Las Vegas.  These are truly some of my very favorite.

This recipe was one that I found on the Good Things Utah recipe website.  It calls for cookie dough to be wrapped around miniature mint patties.  The mint melts into the center of each cookie, but when you bite into the cookie there is a thin layer of chocolate remaining and a delightful mint flavor that pleasantly surprises.  The first time I made these cookies they brought back a definite memory, but to this day I have not been able to place the memory - I almost wonder if my mother or one of my grandmothers made a similar cookie.  I'm not sure but if any of my relations make these and have the same recollection, please let me know.  Maybe we can unravel the mystery together :)

I dressed these cookies up for the cookie exchange by drizzling them with some melted chocolate.  Really simple but I think it adds a lot to their appeal.

printable version

3 ¼ cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 stick butter
½ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbs. water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 package mini chocolate mint patties (like York Peppermint Patties)

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In mixer, cream butter and shortening; add sugar and brown sugar and cream until mixed thoroughly. Add eggs, water and vanilla.
Blend in dry ingredients.
Chill dough.
Open package of chocolate mint wafers and unwrap. Enclose each wafer in cookie dough. Place on greased baking sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Once cooled, drizzle with melted chocolate chips if desired.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Serving Up {Cookies}: Premier Cheesecake Cranberry Bars

The first time I ate these Cheesecake Cranberry Bars was at my mom's home when I was visiting.  I knew after the first bite that they would be the next "cookie" that I would take to my annual cookie exchange.  As I packaged 12 dozen plates of them, I realized that they were a bit more labor intensive than some of my other choices, but they were worth it.  I was confirmed that they were worth it when a couple of days after the cookie exchange the hostess for that year called me directly to tell me how much she loved them.  This meant a lot coming from this individual as she was a known entertainer and an amazing cook!

If you need a real "knock your socks off" dessert this holiday, this may be just what you are looking for.

(recipe from Linda W.)
printable version

2 cups flour
1 ½ cups quick-cooking oats
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
12 oz. pkg. white chocolate chips
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
14 oz. can sweetened condensed. Milk
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce (I prefer Trader Joe's "fresh" sauce sold in the refrigerated section)
2 Tbs. cornstarch

Combine flour, oats and brown sugar in large bowl. Cut in the butter until crumbly. Stir in the white chocolate chips. Set aside 2 ½ cups of this mixture to be used as topping. With floured fingers, press remaining mixture into a greased 13x9x2 inch pan.
Beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add condensed milk, lemon juice and vanilla; mix until smooth. Pour over crust layer.
Combine cranberry sauce and cornstarch and spoon over the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle reserved morsel mixture over top of all.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until the center is set.
Cool completely on wire rack. Cover and refrigerate up to one day. Cut into bars.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Serving Up {Cookies}: Loaded Chocolate Crinkles

I am posting the recipes for my very favorite cookies over the next couple of weeks - cookies that have "represented" me at my annual cookie exchange.  The best of the best!

These may look like your standard chocolate crinkles, but the key word her is LOADED.  And when I say "loaded" I mean loaded with good things like chocolate chips and chunks of candy cane kisses (like hershey kisses/hugs but sold at Christmas time - white chocolate and peppermint swirled together).  These are good enough to warrant your eyes rolling back into your head, or maybe that is just me.

Whether you are looking for cookie exchange inspiration or something to leave out for Santa to enjoy - these will definitely fit the bill.

(recipe from Karen S.)
printable version

¾ cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
¾ cup cocoa
2 ½ cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 pkg. Hershey’s Hugs (try candy cane kisses for an awesome twist)
½ pkg. milk chocolate chips

Chop the Hugs into large, coarse pieces.
Mix together well: butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs, & cocoa.
Stir together flour, baking powder & salt, then add to chocolate mixture.
Stir in chopped Hugs and chocolate chips.
Chill dough for a couple of hours.
Form dough into balls and roll in powdered sugar. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
When cooled, they can be dipped halfway in melted white chocolate for a fancier look.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Serving Up {Cookies}: Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cup Bites

Prior to our move to Oregon we lived in Las Vegas for nine years.  For eight of those years I participated in a Cookie Exchange with a group of ladies from my church.  It was something that I totally looked forward to every year - not because of the cookies (although that was a bonus) but because we treated it as a ladies night out and I could not ask for better associations.

Our cookie exchange consisted of twelve women.  Each participant baked 12 dozen (yes, twelve) and packaged them in 12 containers of one dozen each.  We would get together at the hostess' home (which we switched each year) and have a delicious dinner.  When the evening ended we would then each present the cookies we baked and give each participant one container.  We would then return home with 12 dozen cookies of all variety.  I don't know what others did with their cookies, but I would always promptly go home, eat one of each kind and then freeze the remainder.  Throughout the month of December, whenever someone came over I would pull out of the freezer a variety of cookies to serve.  It worked great!

The cookies that I baked each year are some of my favorite so I thought that I would share the recipes for my cookie exchange cookies over the next couple of weeks.  Of the eight years, I attended seven exchanges, yet can only remember the cookies I baked for six of the years.  Yes, it is really bugging me that I can't remember!  You would think after baking 12 dozen it would be etched in my memory.  Super annoying, but I have no choice but to move on :)

The very first year of the cookie exchange I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with my second child and thought I would go for a less labor intensive cookie.  I baked Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cup Bites, which use a refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough and peanut butter cups.  Could not get any less labor intensive than that.  I distinctly remember sitting on a bar stool while I unwrapped 144 peanut butter cups (plus a few more to reward my efforts :)

The chocolate chip cookie dough is placed in mini muffin tins and baked until done. 
(I prefer slightly under done for this recipe)
When the muffin tins come out of the oven, immediately press an unwrapped peanut butter cup into the center.
(I keep my peanut butter cups in the fridge after unwrapping them so that they aren't soft for this step)
The peanut putter cup will melt but as the cookie cools, so will the chocolate.
Delicious & Easy!


1 package of refrigerated Tollhouse Cookie dough
1 package miniature peanut butter cups

Unwrap the peanut butter cups and set aside (preferably in the refrigerator).
Use a cookie scoop and place cookie dough into greased miniature muffin tins.
Bake at time and temperature as directed on cookie dough package.
Remove cookies from oven and place a miniature peanut butter cup in the center of each cookie and press into the center.
Allow to cool slightly before removing from muffin tin.  Place on cooling rack to cool completely.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Serving Up {Candy}: Peppermint Oreo Bark

There is something dangerous about a recipe that only requires three ingredients and tastes THIS GOOD! Consider yourself warned...

I received a bag of this Oreo Bark upon the birth of my third child.  A friend that I went to church with brought over dinner and included this candy treat.  The problem was that my husband loves mint and chocolate and he didn't realize how dangerous this candy would be.   One bite and he was hooked - until it was gone. Now take into consideration that I had just had a baby and was hormonal. I'm embarrassed to say that I was MAD that he had eaten all the candy. Hadn't I been the one that had had the baby?  

Luckily we made it past that little incident and I secured the recipe for myself.  I have since been able to make this recipe many times, and haven't had to have a baby each time :)

This is a perfect treat to give out at holidays.  I like to use green food coloring at Christmas or St. Patrick's Day.  I've used red for Valentines day as well as for baby showers for little girls.  This batch was made in yellow, pink and green and was given as an Easter treat at church.  Super fun and easy and well received.

(recipe from Julie R.)
printable version

3 11-ounce bags of white chocolate
3 sleeves (one box) OREO cookies
peppermint extract
food coloring (optional)

Break OREO cookies into fourths and place into a large bowl.
Melt white chocolate in double broiler over low heat.
Once chocolate is completely melted, add 6-8 drops of food coloring, if desired.
Add 1 generous cap full of peppermint extract and stir well.
Pour chocolate over the broken OREOs, stir to mix together and spread mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Place in a cool spot and allow to set for 5-6 hours.
Once the chocolate is firm, break into bite sized pieces.