December 5, 2012
With Christmas fast approaching and all of your holiday baking about to begin, I wanted to share some of my winning cookie recipes with you to bake for your family and friends. My Christmas present to you!
The featured recipes are:
I love to bake cookies and give them as gifts. They are always enthusiastically received.
The smell of freshly baked sugar cookies, the first bite of a homemade chocolate chip cookies that’s still warm. That’s what scrumptious, magical memories are made of.
Cookies are the treat that never disappoints and are indeed one of America’s best-loved foods! Here are some of my favorites.
Sweet Pun’kin Pie Cookies
Yields: 50-60 cookies
My family loves pumpkin. During the holidays, after the pumpkin pie, pumpkin pasta, pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin fudge has all been gobbled up, we are in search of more pumpkin. Because most pumpkin cookies are just too bland, I conjured up a version that combines pecans, toffee chips and the new cinnamon chips. The judges “praised the texture and the inclusion of the toffee bits in the recipe, and all agreed it was a very likable cookie.”
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup toffee bits (Heath)
- 1 cup chopped pecans (toasted)
- 1 cup cinnamon chips (Hersheys)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Toast pecans until fragrant (approximately 10 minutes). Watch carefully, nuts can burn quickly. Set aside to cool then rough chop.
Beat butter in a large mixing bowl at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugars and next 4 ingredients.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture, mix well. Stir in toffee bits, pecans and cinnamon chips.
Drop by rounded tablespoons onto parchment lined ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes (just barely brown on edges). Cool on pan 2 minutes. Remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
These cookies are like a brownie and cookie in one. They have toasted macadamia nuts and almonds and are then rolled heavily in powdered sugar and baked until puffed and crinkled. The judges described them as “an adult cookie with a wonderful chocolately, velvet darkness!”
Makes about 25 cookies
- 12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
- 2/3 cup roasted salted macadamia nuts
- 2/3 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup cake flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- powdered sugar
Stir chocolate and butter in medium bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth; cool 10 minutes. Using on/off turns, blend macadamias and almonds with flour in processor until nuts are finely ground. Add baking powder and pulse to blend. Whisk eggs and 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl to blend. Stir chocolate mixture into egg mixture. Add nut-flour mixture; stir just to blend. Chill dough until firm enough to scoop, about 4 hours.
Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough by rounded tablespoonfuls between palms to form balls. Divide between prepared sheets. Chill until firm, about 1 hour. Do ahead – Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll dough balls in powdered sugar to coat thickly; return to prepared sheets. Bake until cookies puff and form cracks and tester inserted into center of cookies comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 18 minutes.
Cool cookies completely on sheets on racks. Do Ahead – Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
Fresh Fruit Jewels
These cookies are dainty and delicate and very delicious! A sweet cream-cheese layer rests on a crisp pistachio-crusted cookie; slivered fresh fruit and a citrus glaze tops them off. The judges described them “as a perfect party-buffet or dessert-platter cookie. In fact, they are kinda like a fruit tart you might purchase at a French bakery or bistro!”
Makes about 2 dozen
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted and divided
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1 cup finely chopped pistachios
- 1/2 cup orange juice, divided
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon each orange zest and lemon zest
- 1 peach cut into slivers (can use green grapes in place of peach)
- 1-2 plums cut into slivers
- strawberries cut into slivers
- blackberries (diced)
- blueberries (diced)
- raspberries (diced
Place butter, 1/2 cup of the confectioners’ sugar and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar in bowl of electric mixer; beat until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk, 1/4 teaspoon of the vanilla extract and almond extract. Beat well.
Mix flour, baking soda and cream of tartar in small bowl; stir into butter mixture. Shape into two 1-inch round logs; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm; at least 2 hours.
When chilled, heat oven to 350 degrees; unwrap logs. Brush each log on all sides with corn syrup. Spread pistachios in single layer on baking sheet. Roll logs in pistachios until well coated. Cut logs into 1/4-inch slices. Bake on parchment paper lined baking sheets until slightly brown around edges, about 10-12 minutes. Remove with spatula.
To make glaze, combine 1 tablespoon of the orange juice with cornstarch in small bowl; set aside. Heat remaining orange juice, lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar to boiling; stir in orange-cornstarch mixture. Cook over medium heat until thickened to a glaze; set aside.
To make cream-cheese topping, beat cream cheese, remaining 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar, orange zest, lemon zest and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy.
To assembly: Spread 1 teaspoon of the mixture on each cookie. Decorate with fruit pieces. Brush 1/4 teaspoon of orange glaze over each cookie with a pastry brush or small paintbrush; chill until glaze sets, 30 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap; keep refrigerated until 15 minutes before serving time.
Pecan-Mocha Crunch Bars
These cookies are a beautiful bar cookie and very easy to make. Have all your ingredients measured out and making them will go quickly. The judges said “the gorgeous no-bake bars was the most elaborate-looking entry this year and one judge called them “the perfect adult cookie”. They have a vanilla wafer, chocolately, nutty base, with a creamy sweet mocha topping.
Makes 16-20 bars
For the cookie layer:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
- 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
- 1/2 cup flaked coconut
- 1/2 cup English toffee bits (such as Heath)
For the creamy frosting:
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 3 tablespoons whipping cream
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 to 2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
For the garnish:
- 2 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
- 1 teaspoon butter
Prepare a 9-by-9-inch square pan as follows: Turn the pan upside down. Center a 14-inch-long piece of aluminum foil, shiny side down, over the pan. Press down on the sides and corners of the foil to shape it to the pan. Remove the foil. Turn the pan right side up, place the foil in the pan, and press it all over to fit it to the pan. You will have a nice overhang on each side of the pan to be able to pull the bars out before cutting.
Make the cookies: Combine butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla extract, salt and egg in a heavy saucepan, and cook over low heat (egg will scramble otherwise), stirring constantly, until butter melts and mixture begins to thicken (about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes after butter has melted). Remove from heat; stir in vanilla wafer crumbs, pecans, coconut and toffee bits. Press mixture firmly into ungreased, foil-lined pan. Cover and chill thoroughly.
Make the frosting: Mix espresso powder with whipping cream and set aside. Beat butter at high speed with an electric mixer. Add whipping cream mixture and vanilla extract and mix well. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until frosting is spreading consistency.
Spread frosting over chilled cookie mixture; cover pan and return to refrigerator to chill thoroughly.
Remove bars from the pan with the aluminum foil handles and press all the foil on each side away from the bars. Cut the bars into even squares and separate slightly.
Melt chocolate and butter in a small, heavy saucepan over very low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool. Spoon melted chocolate mixture into piping bag or zip-top plastic bag and snip a tiny hole in one corner with scissors. Pipe chocolate mixture in a decorative design on each cookie. Store in the refrigerator, covered. Remove about an hour before serving. These bars can be left out 8-10 hours, but store them in the refrigerator overnight.
I hope my collection of cookies will satisfy all your guests cookie cravings and that no crumbs will be left! MERRY CHRISTMAS!
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