Monday, December 15, 2008

Cookies, Cookies and more Cookies!

So this weekend was becky's annual cookie swap. It was a huge success and as usual I came home with too many good cookies. This is bad when I am trying to keep the weight down. Luckily, I bring them into work and they get devoured pretty quickly. If they didnt I would be in trouble! I couldnt decide which cookies to make so I decided to be an over achiever and make 3 different recipes that I had been eyeing.

Here was the result: Peppermint Bark (pretty dang close to the William Sonoma recipe), Orange Cranberry dark chocolate chip cookies, and Pumpkin Cream Cheese Truffles. I think they turned out really well and I think the 1/2 pound candy box was a nice touch to wrap them up for the party.

Peppermint Bark

  • 12 oz Chocolate Chips

  • 1 pound White Chocolate Chips

  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

  • 1/2 cup peppermint candy, crushed

1. Preheat oven to 250. Line a 9x13 pan with foil, letting it hang over the sides. Spray foil. Pour the chocolate chips in an even layer on the foil. Place in oven for 5 minutes or until almost melted. Remove from oven, smooth with an offset spatula or knife. Place in refrigerator until cold and firm, about 20 minutes.

2. Melt white chocolate chips in a double boiler or in a metal bowl over simmering water (don’t let bottom of bowl touch water), until chocolate is almost melted. Remove bowl from water and stir until completely melted, stirring in extract. Let cool a little bit so it does not melt the chocolate layer when you pour it on top. Pour this over chocolate layer, and, working quickly, spread to cover.

3. Sprinkle with crushed candy.

4. Chill until both layers are firm. Lift foil out of pan and shake off excess candy. Trim edges. Cut into 2” wide strips. Peel bark from foil and cut each strip as desired. Chill in covered container. Makes about 2 pounds.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Truffles

  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chunks

  • 2 cups white chocolate almond bark (4-5 cubes)

  • 1/3 cup ginger snap cookie crumbs, plus extra for garnish

  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree

  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs, plus extra for garnish

  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

  • 1/2 tsp orange zest

  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

  • pinch of fine salt

  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened

Melt 1/2 cup of chocolate in a double boiler over medium low heat. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining ingerdients ( minus the remaining chocolate) into the bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Transfer to a shallow bowl, cover and chill until solid enough to roll into balls, about 2 hours.

Line a large sheet tray with parchment paper. Melt remaining 2 cups white chocolate almond bark and transfer to a small, deep bowl. Roll 1 heaping teaspoon of the pumpkin mixture into a ball in your hands, then drop into the chocolate. Working quickly, gently spoon chocolate over to coat. Using a small spoon or fork, lift the truffle out of the chocolate, shake off excess and transfer to prepared sheet tray. Dollop a bit of extra chocolate on any parts that remain exposed, then sprinkle a few gingersnap or graham cracker crumbs over the top, if you like.

Repeat process with remaining pumpkin mixture and chocolate, then chill truffles until chocolate is completely set, about 1 hour.

Orange Cranberry Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 3/4 cup butter, room temp

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 egg

  • zest of 1 orange

  • 1 cup dried cranberries

  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar, beating with an electric mixer until light. Beat in egg and orange zest. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the flour mixture, stirring only until just combined. Stir in the cranberries and chocolate chips.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls (about 1 1/4-inch balls) onto prepared cookie sheets and bake for 9-12 minutes, until edges are very lightly browned.
Cool for 3-4 minutes on baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Finally I went to Jenn's house the night before the swap and helped her by making these candy cane cookies. I think these were my second favorite to the peppermint bark. They were fairly easy to make too. My nephew loved watching as he poured the red food color in and the dough was magically red! They didnt make a ton but enough to fill a cute plate.

Candy Cane Cookies

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons finely crushed peppermint candies
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Stir together 1 cup sugar, the butter, milk, vanilla, peppermint extract and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Divide dough in half. Stir food color into 1 half. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Heat oven to 375ºF. Stir together peppermint candy and 2 tablespoon sugar; set aside.

For each candy cane, shape 1 rounded teaspoon dough from each half into 4-inch rope by rolling back and forth on floured surface. Place 1 red and white rope side by side; press together lightly and twist. Place on ungreased cookie sheet; curve top of cookie down to form handle of cane.Bake about 9 minutes or until set. *Immediately sprinkle candy mixture over cookies. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.


Ok I just need to take a moment to complain about the weather. Normally this time of year I like it cold so you can really get into the holiday swing, but this morning it went to a whole new level! It was the coldest night in over 100 years in denver. Not including the windchill it was hovering around -19 degrees. I take the light rail to work in the mornings and with the traffic I was a few minutes later than normal making me miss my train by a mere minute. This did however make me have to wait in the now balmy -15 degree weather for over 10 minutes. I think my lungs now hate me. That and my face may have frostbite...I'm not too sure how long that takes to set in. Well here is too the winter weather and hoping it reaches the 9 degree high today.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Time is Here!

So I love this time of year. When the weather starts getting cold I can't help but want to bake. This is dangerous for pretty much everyone around me as then I start to push my treats on to anyone that is in the vicinity. My sister Becky has a cookie swap that I am involved in every year and to tell you how much I love to bake I am making three different recipes that I have been wanting to try. I dont want to post any recipes that aren't tried and true but one recipe that I found last year for the swap turned out to be one of my it is just fun to say APPLE DOODLES...I told you it was fun. My whole family loved these cookies so here is the recipes that is easy and fast to make, perfect for this time of year when we are all short on time.

Apple Doodles

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

* 2/3 cup butter-flavored shortening
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2 cups all purpose flour
* 2 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* ½ teaspoon salt
* 1 cup finely diced peeled tart apple (about 2 apples)
* ¾ cup chopped walnuts, optional

In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir half into the creamed mixture. Stir in the apple, walnuts (if desired) and remaining dry ingredients. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls 3 inches apart onto lightly greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield 3 dozen.