Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Baking, Part 2

I like the Christmas candy recipes that I posted yesterday, but I LOVE these cookie recipes. I guess I'm more of a cookie girl at heart.

Gingerbread Cookies
This recipe is AMAZING. I've tried many different gingerbread recipes, and I invariably find ones that taste great but don't hold their shape well, or hold their shape beautifully but taste like cardboard. I thought this one was easy to work with and had a great dark gingerbread taste. Next time I'll add orange zest, and it'll be just perfect. This is now my default gingerbread cookie recipe.

Chocolate Crinkles
I actually made these twice, because the first batch was nasty. I used a recipe I heard about on NPR (tip: don't take baking advice from a radio news program) and the result was flat, ugly, grainy, overly sweet cookies. Tragic! Fortunately the friendly internet provided me with another recipe that turned out much better. Crunchy on the outside, chewy and fudgy inside, with a robust chocolate flavor. The only downside is that they don't keep well. I tasted one today (two days after baking) and it definitely tasted stale. I guess this means I'll have to eat them faster in the future!

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies
Without a doubt, my favorite Christmas cookie. I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit a few years ago and made them one Christmas with my mom. We've both been making them religiously ever since. Ultra-chocolately cookies sandwich a minty buttercream frosting, and the edges are rolled in crushed candy canes. Even my boss, who (allegedly) hates mint, loved the combination of chocolate and peppermint in these cookies. These are also fab using other flavors of buttercream in between the chocolate cookies. I've done them with lemon, coconut, berry, and plain vanilla, and they are always delicious.

As always, the recipes are below. Merry Christmas to all, and to all happy eating!

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
From Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

Place the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler placed over (not touching) barely simmering water. Heat, stirring often, until the butter and chocolate melt. Remove from over the water and set aside to cool slightly. In a bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, granulated sugar, and vanilla. Using a wire whisk, beat until light in color and thick, about 3 minutes. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture with a wooden spoon until blended. Add the dry ingredients and beat until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is firm enough to roll into balls, about 2 hours. [I rolled them into balls after 1 hour, then refrigerated the balls overnight. This worked really well.]

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 325 degrees. Line 2 rimless baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat baking mat. Sift the confectioners' sugar into a small bowl.

To form each cookie, roll a rounded tablespoon of dough between your palms into a 1 1/2 inch ball, and roll the ball in the confectioners' sugar. Place the cookies 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Make sure to set them firmly onto the baking sheets so they stay in place.

Bake the cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until the tops are puffed and crinkled and feel slightly firm when lightly touched, about 13-14 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

From Bon Appetit, Dec 2005
* 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
* 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup sugar
* 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1 large egg
* 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
* 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
* 2 drops (or more) red food coloring
* 1/2 cup crushed red-and-white-striped candy canes or hard peppermint candies (about 4 ounces)
For cookies:
Whisk flour, cocoa, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Beat in egg. Add dry ingredients; beat until blended. Refrigerate dough 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out dough by level tablespoonfuls, then roll into smooth balls. Place balls on prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Using bottom of glass or hands, flatten each ball to 2-inch round (edges will crack). [I usually form it into a long log, wrap it well and refrigerate it until firm. Then I slice off rounds, which yields even pieces and is much faster.]

Bake until cookies no longer look wet and small indentation appears when tops of cookies are lightly touched with fingers, about 9-11 minutes (do not overbake or cookies will become too crisp). Cool on sheet 5 minutes. Transfer chocolate cookies to racks and cool completely.

For filling:
Using electric mixer, beat powdered sugar and butter in medium bowl until well blended. Add peppermint extract and 2 drops food coloring. Beat until light pink and well blended, adding more food coloring by dropfuls if darker pink color is desired. Spread 2 generous teaspoons filling evenly over flat side of 1 cookie to edges; top with another cookie, flat side down, pressing gently to adhere. Repeat with remaining cookies and peppermint filling.

Place crushed candy canes on plate. Roll edges of cookie sandwiches in crushed candies (candies will adhere to filling). (Cookie sandwiches can be made ahead. Store in single layer in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 weeks.)

Gingerbread Cookies
Adapted from Gourmet magazine. If you don't like strong gingerbread, reduce the spices by half and use molasses that is not robust.

2/3 cup robust molasses
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of one orange

Bring molasses, brown sugar, and spices to a boil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, and remove from heat. Stir in baking soda (mixture will foam up), then stir in butter 3 pieces at a time, letting each addition melt before adding next, until all butter is melted. Add egg and stir until combined, then stir in 3 3/4 cups flour, orange zest, and salt.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead, dusting with as much of remaining 1/4 cup flour as needed to prevent sticking, until soft and easy to handle, 30 seconds to 1 minute. [I didn't use any additional flour]. Halve dough, then wrap 1 half in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.

Roll out remaining dough into a 14-inch round (1/8 inch thick) on a lightly floured surface. [I rolled between two sheets of parchment]. Cut out as many cookies as possible with cutters and carefully transfer with offset spatula to 2 baking sheets covered with parchment, arranging them about 1 inch apart.

Bake cookies in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are slightly darker, 9-10 minutes total (watch carefully toward end of baking; cookies can burn easily). Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies with remaining dough and scraps (reroll once). Decorate with frosting if desired.


  1. Your cookies Look So good! I have another round of baking today myself. I just made those chocolate crinkles yesterday they are good!

  2. crumb fairy3:07 PM

    Your 'boss' must be crazy!!! Peppermint and chocolate is the best combination EVER ;[)

  3. My boss IS crazy, but that's why I love her! I myself, on the other hand, am completely sane...

  4. Can't wait to try them … too have collected some yummy recipes from Sur La Table.

  5. Looks like a bunch of winners there... those candy cane cookies look like they'd be my favorites.

  6. Can I have one of each? Happy holidays!

  7. It's still Christmas around here, and I'm still whipping up cookies! Love the looks of those Candy Cane Cookies, and I'm one that really doesn't love mint...