Tag-Archive for ◊ Christmas Cookies ◊

20 Dec 2014 Minty Malty Hot Chocolate

You HAVE to try this!  It’s delicious, and it’s mild and smooth and warm and comforting, and sooooo Christmassy!.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t like bitter hot chocolate (Starbucks!), and I don’t like hot chocolate that is so strong I can hardly finish it (Starbucks!), or so rich I feel sick after drinking it (Paris!).  This hot chocolate is perfect. Mild. Creamy. Totally Yummy. Totally Christmassy.  Serve it with a candy cane stirrer or crushed candy canes sprinkled on top of the whipped cream. I served it at my Christmas party and it was a big hit.

Make it to watch your favorite Christmas movie with, or to read your favorite Christmas book with, or to just sit under the Christmas tree and watch the lights.  Make it for after a long walk in the snow (or, in California, in the rain), or for the Christmas Carolers (there’s so few of them now). Or to celebrate having finished all your Christmas shopping. Or make it for Santa and leave it out with the cookies–with testers for the whole family, of course. Make it for Christmas morning, to open the presents with, or make it for Christmas night to end the day with.  Just make it.  You’ll love it.

There is a problem though, finding Chocolate Malted Milk Powder.  I had to order it from Amazon.  The first time I made it, I made it with Vanilla Malted Milk Powder though, which is easily found in any grocery store, then I added cocoa powder and sugar to taste. It was great! (I used 1/2 cup Vanilla Malted Powder…, and just kept adding equal amounts of cocoa powder and sugar until it tasted right.)

The original recipe starts with a gallon of milk, and leftovers do keep well in refrigerator and warm up well in the microwave, but if you want to make half a recipe, I have written the recipe with easy to half measurements. If you are making for a party, mix everything on top of stove, then pour into a crockpot to keep warm.

Trust me!  This is delicious.  Let me know how you like it.

Minty Malty Hot Chocolate

  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 1 11 oz pkg (about 20-22) chocolate-covered cream filled mint patties (Mini York Peppermint Patties)
  • 1 ½ cups chocolate malted milk powder* (order from Amazon)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Whipped cream, marshmallows, mini candy canes or crushed peppermints topping (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a pan on top of the stove, stir  until mint patties melt.  Stir occasionally, and watch like a hawk. Once milk gets hot enough to boil over, there’s no stopping it.  Just gently heat the milk and melt the mint  patties. (Can be made a few days in advance.) Beat to combine well.  Serve from pan, or place in crock pot to keep warm up.  (Can keep in crockpot for at least 2 hours.) Top with whipped cream, marshmallows, mini candy canes or some crushed up peppermints…, or serve “as is”.

*Or sub ½ cup vanilla malted milk powder and enough cocoa powder and chocolate to taste. I did this once, delicious, but don’t remember the quantities…, just a bit of this and a bit of that. Then a bit more of this, a bit more… Until it tastes delicious!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today,

08 Mar 2014 Kipferls (Vanilla Hazelnut Butter Cookies)

kipferl2

I had never, ever heard of Kipferls before.  Then, in two weeks they came into my life twice!  First, my friend Priscilla made some in the Culinary School Pastry Arts program she is enrolled in. I didn’t try one because I don’t like nuts.  I dislike nuts so much that the name of the cookie didn’t even register.  Then I read “The Book Thief” and Kipferls are important in one chapter.  Since I was hosting book club this month and since the author had contributed his mother’s recipe for Kipferls to “The Book Club Cookbook” that my friend Kayte  gave me for my birthday last year, I decided to make the cookie. I had to do a Google image search to see what they looked like! Then came the hunt for Hazelnut Flour.  It’s out there. I found it at Sprouts.  I was shocked by the price.  I told the cashier that there must have been a mistake.  She said she doubted it.  I asked her to call for a manager for a price check.  YEP.  She was right.  There was no mistake.  It’s $16.95 for a 14 oz. packet of Hazelnut Flour (aka Hazelnut Meal). After creating such a fuss, and with my book club in less than seven hours, I bought the dangblasted expensive and pitifully small bag of Hazelnut Flour. BTW, you don’t have to buy this flour to make these cookies.

How to avoid using expensive Hazelnut Flour:

1. Make your own.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 6 ounces (1 1/4 cups) of shelled hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake 8–10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the hazelnuts are fragrant and brown. Remove the nuts from the  oven and let cool slightly. While still warm, though, fold the nuts inside a clean kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove their skins. Place skinned nuts in a food processor fitted with the stainless-steel blade, and process until they are finely ground.

2. Substitute Almond Flour or Almond Meal for the Hazelnut Flour.  Almond Meal is about one-third the price of Hazelnut flour.  My German friend Karin said she always makes her Kipferls with Almond Meal, but her German relatives grind their own nuts.

To continue with my saga…Upon returning home with my $16.95 package of Hazelnut Flour, I got out the recipe and got started.  No! Two vanilla beans?  TWO?  For 36 cookies?  It is now clear to me that I am making World’s Most Expensive Cookie and I am thinking these better be good.  (They were, thank goodness. So good I might have to make them again, and again, and again…)

This recipe is based upon Markus Zusak’s recipe for Kipferls as published in The Book Club Cookbook.  I made some changes to the method and to the ingredients.  Mr. Zusak’s mother mixed her dough by hand, I tried it for a bit, then resorted to my electric mixer.  I split the use of the vanilla beans, putting one in the cookie and one in the powdered sugar, Mr. Zusak put both in the powdered sugar. I had to quadruple the amount of powdered sugar to cover all the cookies, and I covered the cookies with the powdered sugar while the cookies were still warm* so get a crackly, almost melted sugar coating on the cookies. (*Let the cookies cool a little, to firm up a bit.  If you toss hot cookies in powdered sugar, the cookie will break.)

Kipferls

Crisp German Vanilla Hazelnut Butter Cookies

For the cookies

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups Hazelnut Flour or Hazelnut Meal or alternative (see above)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 14 tablespoons (1 ¾ sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, split in half, and insides scraped off with a knife.  Discard the outside of the vanilla bean

For the vanilla sugar

  • 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces (different preparation than above)
  1. Make the vanilla sugar first.  Place the powdered sugar with the chopped up vanilla bean in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Process until the vanilla bean has been incorporated into the powdered sugar, several 10 second bursts.  Place a fine meshed sifter over a small bowl and sift the powdered sugar to remove the unblended pieces of vanilla bean.  Pour vanilla sugar into a large Ziploc bag. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two baking sheets lightly with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  3. Combine all purpose flour, hazelnut flour/meal, and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces and add to flour mixture. Scrape the inside out of the split vanilla bean and add to bowl.  With an electric mixer, mix dough for 3-4 minutes or until a soft dough is formed.
  4. Pinch off small pieces of dough (1 T; 1/2 oz; 15 grams) and mold gently between your palms to form 3-inch ropes, thicker in the middle and tapered at the ends.   This took a bit of doing to master.  I rolled the dough to the length of my three middle fingers.  I rolled the dough a bit more firmly with my ring and index finger so the ends of the dough would be thinner. Fashion each piece of rolled dough into a crescent shape and place onto the prepared trays, see picture above.
  5. Bake in preheated 350º oven for 15-20 minutes or just until the cookies are beginning to turn brown.  Mr. Kusak says that once the Kipferls are brown, they are over cooked.
  6. Remove cookies from oven.  Cool just slightly and then toss into the Ziploc bag with the vanilla sugar–tossing the cookies while they are still hot creates a slightly melted-on, and truly special coating.  Toss  cookies in vanilla sugar.
  7. Remove cookie to a cooling tray and repeat with remaining cookies and vanilla sugar.  If you have vanilla sugar left over, you can re-coat the cookies.
  8. Let cool completely before eating. The cookies will crisp up as they cool.

 Yield: About 3 ½ dozen cookies

Kipferls1

I hope you enjoy the World’s Most Expensive Cookie!  They ARE good and worth the cost and the effort. Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

PS…I am making another batch of these cookies to take to a Tahoe retreat this weekend.  One bag of that dangblasted expensive Hazelnut Flour does make three batches of these cookies…AND, Costco sells vanilla beans now.  Note my friend Sally’s point, put the vanilla beans in the powdered sugar as soon as you get them.  Once you are ready to make the cookies, remove the beans and use as outlined above.  The benefit is that some of the essence of the vanilla beans will have soaked into the sugar…yummmmm.

09 Dec 2012 Skibo Castle Crunch

This cookie is something you’ve never tasted before.  There’s no chocolate, no caramel, no peanut butter, no nuts, no oatmeal, no coffee, no mint, nor is there any jam in this cookie, so how can it be good?  I don’t know, but it is.  Damn good.  Two bites and you’ll be addicted and you won’t know why.

I don’t know why I made this cookie in the first place.  I found it in “The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe From Each Year 1941-2009” by Gourmet Magazine.  This was billed as the best cookie of 1999.  Maybe I made it because it was made famous in Scotland and I have a fondness for all things Scottish.  Maybe because it was a 15 minute bar cookie recipe and I had all the ingredients on hand.  Nevertheless, I made it, and this odd, crunchy ginger cookie has become one of my favorite all time cookies.

I had to change the recipe though.  The first year I made it, I loved it, but it was ODD, downright ugly and temperamental (no two batches turned out the same).  So I twiddled with it a bit and then , sadly, had to let it go as an “almost great” cookie.  This year,  I found the recipe again,  on Epicurious. com…, with twenty-five comments!  So I tried the recipe again and incorporated some of the suggestions.  Success!  This is the cookie I am taking to my Cookbook Club’s annual Christmas Cookie Exchange (my yoga group already gave it 10 thumbs up–and they got to taste both years’ versions).

The biggest change was doubling the recipe, but baking in the same size pan as the original recipe.  The second big change was using a food processor to make the base.  The third big change was cutting the cookie into squares before the cookie cooled. So here is the recipe for an odd, crunchy, ginger-y cookie that takes 15 minutes to bake and is totally addictive.

If you want more ginger flavor, add 1/2 cup minced candied ginger to either the shortbread base or sprinkled on top of the glaze.

Skibo Castle Ginger Crunch

For Shortbread Base:

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into pieces

For Glaze-like Topping:

1 1/2 cups butter
2 tablespoon Lyle’s Golden Syrup (British cane sugar syrup-try World Market or an Indian Grocery or Amazon.com…or sub dark corn syrup)
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F . Line  a 13″ by 9″ baking pan with parchment paper.

Make shortbread base:
Place the dry ingredients in a food processor and whirl to combine.  Add in and blend in butter  and whirl until mixture resembles coarse meal and just starts to hold together.  Pour mixture into parchment lined baking pan. With your fingers, press mixture evenly into bottom of pan.  Do this lightly.  If you press too hard the shortbread will suffer.  Bake shortbread in middle of oven until golden and crisp around the edges, 25 to 30  minutes.  Keep  your eye on this.  The shortbread can go from perfectly done to over baked in a minute.

Just before shortbread is done, make the topping:
Five minutes before the shortbread is to be taken out of the oven, melt the butter in a small saucepan.  Whisk in remaining ingredients until smooth. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer, stirring, for one minute. Remove shortbread from oven and pour topping over, tilting pan to cover shortbread evenly.

Cool in pan on a rack for about 20 minutes, then cut the Skibo Crunch into small squares or rectangles.  Let the Skibo Crunch cool completely before removing from pan.  Then…WOW your guests with this seriously odd cookie.

Let me know if it becomes one of your favorites, too.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

 

14 Sep 2012 Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

ChocPB cookies good Stack

I have been meaning to post this recipe forever, I just never had a good picture of the cookie.  The recipe only makes 32 cookies, and around here 32 cookies lasts approx 32 seconds.  My friend Josee made these for a Christmas Cookie Exchange two years ago (that’s how long I have wanted to post this recipe). I gave a dozen of these to a friend, Becky,  for a “Craft it Forward” exchange and I promised the recipe to her ONE year ago. (Bad Polly, bad, bad, bad, bad.)  But finally, I  made a batch that didn’t get scarfed immediately.  I made them for my Yoga Group, and they are too polite to eat a half dozen each at one sitting (but it could have been that I had them so busy bagging stuff for an upcoming fundraiser and they didn’t have any hands free to eat cookies!)  They did sing praises for the cookies they did eat though and encouraged me to post the recipe ASAP.

Now getting back to the first time I encountered this cookie.  It was my favorite cookie that year, maybe my favorite cookie in all the years of our exchange (of which there have only been three).  Oddly enough, I made my cookie that year from same cookie magazine Josee used, and I never even considered making these!  Even now, if I just looked at the recipe, I would not be inclined to make it. This is one cookie that tastes much, much better than it’s list of ingredients.  It tastes much, much better than it looks, too and, no matter how good the picture looks above  (do you like it?  I got a new camera!), it still doesn’t do the cookie justice.  Take a bite!  There’s a layer of peanut butter inside!  As one of my friends said, who shall remain nameless, “So how did you get the peanut butter IN there?”

So here it is, at long last, the recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies (originally published as “Peanut Butter Munchies” in the Better Homes and Gardens “100 Best Cookies”, 2009).

One more note,  I often loose track of how many balls I have, so now I line up a chocolate ball with a peanut butter ball before I start rolling.  One time I ran out of peanut butter balls! I have no idea how that happened.  So I just cracked open another bottle of wine and made another half batch of the peanut butter batter, and all was fine. Hic.  (Just kidding.  I don’t drink.  Ever.  Really!! No, REALLY, I don’t!!!)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

For Chocolate Cookie

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup butter (one stick, 4 oz), softened
  • ¼ cup peanut butter (I always use creamy)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar (I use light brown sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of milk or cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For Peanut Butter Filling

  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar

For Sparkle

  • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl of an electric mixer combine butter and peanut butter.  Beat for a minute or so. Add in both sugars and beat for another minute or so.  Beat in egg and milk.
  4. Slowly add the flour-cocoa powder mixture to the butter-peanut butter mixture and beat just until combined.  Roll ball into a snake shape and refrigerate for a short while (to make it easier to handle) while you mix up the peanut butter filling.
  5. Beat peanut butter and powdered sugar together until well combined.  Roll dough into 32 equal balls.
  6. Divide cookie dough into 32 equal portions.
  7. For each cookie, flatten a piece of chocolate dough and top with a peanut butter filling ball.  Wrap Chocolate cookie dough around the peanut butter filling, making a ball in the process.  Place balls on a cookie sheet, about 1 inch apart.
  8. Rub a bit of leftover dough or a very slight bit of butter onto the bottom of a glass.  Dip glass in sugar.  Press cookies flat with sugar coated glass. (redip glass in sugar before pressing down on each ball).
  9. Bake cookies in preheated 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, until the sides are just slightly cracked.  Cool on cookie sheet for a minute or so and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Becky, I hope you are reading this…, I’m sorry that I took so long.  Josee, thanks for introducing me to this excellent cookie! Everyone else, ENJOY!  This is one great cookie!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today, come back again soon!  Now that I am learning how to master an SLR camera, I will probably be posting more frequently 🙂  I have a terrific parchment wrapped salmon recipe and a long time favorite gazpacho recipe just waiting in the wings!

21 Dec 2010 Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Tomorrow we’re making Christmas sugar cookies then heading out to see the Christmas lights.  It’s finally beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here–after two weeks of relentless pounding.  First external with a broken pipe and the yucky clean up mess under the house, then internal with some sort of stomach ailment and tomorrow I have to deal with some expensive car issues… But it’s nothing that decorating a few Christmas cookies and then going out to look at some wonderful Christmas lights won’t cure!

I’ve only been using this recipe for sugar cookies for one year, but my “Gild-the-lily” friend Louise has been using it for a many years.  It’s quite a gift she is giving us, sharing this recipe from King Arthur Flour. Click here for the source recipe http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/sugar-cookies-recipe The cookies are supposed to have “crisp edges and soft middles” and they do! Last year my daughter and I decorated these cookies with royal icing (see picture above), but we actually preferred to eat the cookies undecorated!  How shocking is that! I suppose a  light sprinkling of colored sugar would fancy these up, but I wouldn’t over do it. This cookie is very good “as is”; chewy, buttery and sweet!

We used an intricate snowflake cookie cutter last year, and the dough handled it well. No problems cutting out the shape, and the dough kept the shape and proportions when baked.  Not all sugar cookie doughs do you know!  I rolled the cookies out in a mixture of powdered sugar and flour and then baked them on parchment paper (I found out the hard way that cookies rolled out in powdered sugar stick to the cookie sheets).

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

3 ½ cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 ¼ cups sugar
¼ cup cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp almond extract (I used additional vanilla because I don’t care for almond flavor, and I am sure lemon, orange and rum would all work)
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 375ºF. In medium bowl mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. With mixer cream butter, sugar and cream cheese until light and fluffy, usually about 5 minutes. Beat in extracts and egg. Add flour mixture. Mix until moistened. Form dough into discs, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill 1 hour before rolling and cutting into shapes. Bake 8 minutes until just golden at edges.

Thanks so much for stopping by my kitchen today! Sing with me now… “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…” La, la, laaaa!

11 Dec 2010 White Chocolate Spice Cookies

Cut out cookies are as much a part of Christmas as eggnog, gingerbread, and peppermint.  What’s a cookie platter without decorated trees, stars, ornaments,  santa hats, snowflake, stocking and mitten?  I have a variety of cut out cookies to share with you.  I’ve already posted a gingerbread cookie recipe, which is decorated with white Royal Icing.  Later in the week I will post a cream cheese cut out cookie recipe, which can be decorated with colored icing and sprinkles.  Today I am sharing a White Chocolate Spice Cookie.   The cookie deliciously spicy from black pepper in the dough, and deliciously decadent from the white chocolate decoration. It’s a cut out cookie for grown ups, although my 2 year old grandson likes them as much as I do. His mom is the one person I know who doesn’t like these cookies.  She says they are “weird”. Hmpff. I think she’s weird.

My friend Kayte introduced this cookie to me in December of 1996.  I still have the original recipe, which was clipped from a Sunset Magazine from that same month and year.  I changed the method of making this cookie. Sunset’s directions said to mix the cookie in the food processor.  I didn’t like that at all.  The dough didn’t feel right at all, and the cookie was a bit tough so I have changed the recipe to reflect the more traditional method of mixing cookie dough.

White Chocolate Spice Cookies

2 cups flour
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (make sure you have fresh pepper, the stuff from last year won’t produce the result you want)
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, cubed, at room temperature
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
6 oz. high quality white chocolate, chopped (the cookies pictured above were decorated with melted Ghiradelli White Chocolate Chips)

  1. Combine flour, brown sugar, ginger, pepper, baking soda, cocoa, cinnamon, salt and allspice in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat softened butter for a minute or so.  Add in brown sugar and beat for an additional 3 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, combine water, lemon peel, and vanilla.  Then add to the butter-sugar mixture and beat until combined.
  4. Slowly add flour-spice mixture to butter-sugar-lemon mixture. Beat with electric mixer until all the flour has been incorporated.
  5. Divine dough into three balls, then flatten into a disk. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for an hour or so or until dough is firm enough to work with.
  6. Preheat oven to 325ºF and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Roll dough into sheets approx 1/4 inch thick (use minimal amount of flour) and cut with cookie cutters.  Place on parchment lined cookie sheeets
  8. Bake at 325ºF for 15 minutes or until cookie is a pale brown color .  Remove cookies to rack to cool.
  9. Melt chopped white chocolate on 50% power in MW for 2 or 3 minutes.
  10. Dip each cookie into chocolate, covering 1/3 to 1/2 of the cookie.  When all cookies have been dipped.  Use a fork to flick remaining white chocolate over undipped portion of cookie.
  11. Chill to harden the white chocolate.
  12. Store cookies in an airtight container.  Can be frozen for longer storage.  Makes 5-7 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the cookie cutters used.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today! I hope you enjoy this cookie, it’s been one of my favorites for thirteen years now, so I heartily recommend it!