Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Eggnog Sprinkle Refrigerator Cookies



I usually plan ahead a little bit better but this year it seems like I did 90% of my Christmas baking over two days. While I love to bake, it just isn’t as much fun when you have so many things to accomplish in a day. This type of cookie, a refrigerator cookie, can really help save the day because you make the dough when you have a couple of minutes one day, and then bake them up at your convenience.

I love eggnog so I was thrilled when Peabody posted these on Facebook the other day. They looked so festive and I hadn’t yet picked an eggnog cookie for this year. I knew that my husband would be thrilled if I had eggnog left over for him to drink, so he gladly went to the store with me to get the eggnog and sprinkles that I needed for this recipe. I had snowflake and candy cane sprinkles, but I thought they would be a little weird in a cookie.

These came together beautifully and the only challenge is cutting them in even slices. These baked up so well and they just looked perfect when they came out of the oven. I decided not to glaze them since they did look so perfect! These perhaps aren’t the fanciest cookies ever, but they sure look festive!

Eggnog Sprinkle Refrigerator Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
½ cup eggnog
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup holiday colored sprinkles
  
In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and powdered sugar on medium until light. Add the egg nog and vanilla and stir, don’t worry that the mixture may look a little curdled. In a medium bowl combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and nutmeg. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture. Stir in the holiday sprinkles. 

Divide the dough in two halves and shape into to logs, each about 10” long. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

Remove the cookies from the refrigerator and peel away the plastic wrap. Slice ¼” thick and place on the prepared baking sheets. 

Bake for 10 minutes, until puffed and slightly golden brown on the bottom.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Boozy Chocolate Orange Hazelnut Balls



It’s been a couple of years since I’ve made rum balls at Christmas. My husband sent me this recipe, when I was planning my holiday baking and I initially said that I wouldn’t make them because they aren’t cookies. They are more of a no-bake truffle, but I looked at the recipe and they have a lot of things in them that I really love. Since my Christmas baking did not go at all as planned this year, and I really thought these sounded good, I made them anyway.

Hazelnuts can be expensive, and I thought about making of half recipe of these. It’s especially hard to find blanched hazelnuts and I’ve not had much luck blanching them myself. I was at Pike’s Place Market and there is a vendor there that I like to visit and thankfully he had blanched hazelnuts. The skin on the hazelnuts can be terribly bitter, so make sure you don’t use hazelnuts with the shell. You could also substitute almonds for the hazelnuts, but the flavor will be different.

When I made this mixture, it was never 100% smooth, but that’s ok. I rolled mine in powdered sugar since I don’t like the texture of cocoa powder. These turned out really great and I made mine on the small size so I made about 3 dozen. You could make them bigger but they are quite rich so I think smaller works. These get better with age, so make these early and give them a chance for the flavors to come together.

Boozy Chocolate Orange Hazelnut Balls
3½ cups blanched hazelnuts
1 teaspoon orange zest
1¾ cups sugar
¼ cup honey
½ cup water
4 tablespoons Frangelico
4 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon hazelnut extract
¼ cup cocoa powder
Powdered sugar

Place the hazelnuts and orange zest into a food processor and process until very finely ground; set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, honey, and water. Heat on medium high and bring to a boil. Boil for 6 minutes, stirring frequently, for 6 minutes. You may need to occasionally lift the pan off of the burner to ensure the mixture doesn’t boil over.

Pour the hot sugar syrup over the ground hazelnuts in the food processor and process for two minutes. Add the Frangelico, Grand Marnier and hazelnut extract into the mixture and again process for 2 minutes. Add the cocoa powder and process for several minutes until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the bowl from the refrigerator and using a small cookie scoop, shape the mixture into balls. Roll the balls in powdered sugar and then place them in a container. Store the balls in the refrigerator. The flavor of these balls will improve with time. They can be stored for two weeks in the refrigerator. 

Recipe from Nourished Kitchen

Friday, December 12, 2014

Cranberry Pistachio Caramel Flapjacks



I know these are called flapjacks, and I imagine that they aren’t exactly what you were thinking of. While here in the States we think that flapjacks are pancakes, in the UK they are a type of oat bar cookie. That’s what these are: an oat bar cookie topped with caramel, pistachios, and dried cranberries. The original recipe called for topping that were more reminiscent of fall, so I changed them a bit to make this a Christmas cookie.

The hardest part of this recipe is knowing what caramel to use. This recipe assumes that you use premade caramel sauce, but I’m not sure that what we can buy here in the States is quite the same as what is available in the UK. I had caramel sauce from the Sonoma Syrup Company, and it is fairly thick but maybe not as thick as it could be. When I made the caramel topping and you are supposed to cook the mixture until it thickened, mine cooked a long time and didn’t get terribly thick. It still worked, but make sure you choose a very thick caramel sauce for this recipe.

I think that my flapjacks were a little too thick, so next time I would use a slightly larger pan or use a little less of the oat mixture. Mine were very crumbly, which make them very difficult to eat. I love the caramel, pistachio and cranberry topping; it’s a great combination of flavors. The caramel, since it isn’t super thick, is a bit runny and sticky, but hey, that’s not such a bad thing!

Cranberry Pistachio Caramel Flapjacks
9 ounces butter
6 tablespoons caramel
2 ounces sugar
12 ounces oats
3 ounces self-rising flour*

10.5 ounces caramel
2 ounces butter
2 ounces pistachios
2 ounces dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 320 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, caramel, and sugar over low heat. Remove from the heat. Place the oats and self-rising flour in a large bowl and then pour the melted butter mixture in the bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. Firmly press into the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Make the topping: place the caramel and butter in a medium saucepan and heat on medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens. Pour the caramel topping on top of the baked flapjacks. Allow the caramel to set for about 10 minutes, and then top with the pistachios and cranberries. Allow to cool completely.

Lift the bar from the pan and peel away the foil. Cut into bars.

Recipe from BBC Easy Cook

*I make my own self-rising flour by combining 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, and ½ teaspoon salt

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Rugelach



This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is from rugelach, or more specifically, The Rugelach That Won over France. I’m not exactly sure why this rugelach was supposed to be so good. I’ve made rugelach before, and I really like it. You can use whatever fillings you have on hand. This recipe called for coconut, chocolate, pecans, and dried cherries. I used dried cranberries instead, since that was the first thing I found in the cupboard. I did my best to follow the recipe, but I have to admit that I struggled with this recipe.

I read on the Tuesdays with Dorie site that others were having trouble with this recipe. The dough was so thin, the filling fell out when you rolled the cookie, etc. I think I had all of the same troubles, despite trying my best to follow the recipe exactly. I could roll my dough thin enough to make a 12” square, so I made about a 10” square. I processed my filling in the food processor to make it less chunky. I really tried my best. I hadn’t made a jelly roll style rugelach before; I’ve always rolled the dough in a circle and made crescent shaped cookies. I think I will go back to that style.

This recipe made tiny cookies, because my rolled up dough was tiny. I also had trouble cutting them in pieces without shattering the thin dough. I let them sit at room temperature for a few minutes and that helped some, but these just weren’t going to turn out well. I baked up what I could and they fell apart even worse in the oven and some of the filling got burned. There were a couple that didn’t look horrible, so I photographed those few acceptable cookies.  They didn’t taste too bad, but boy they didn’t look good! I give myself a pass on this one, I did my best! 

Recipe from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan, pages 301-302

Friday, December 5, 2014

Cranberry Bliss Cookies



I have made Cranberry Bliss Bars before; based on the cookie they sell at Starbucks this time of year. They are probably one of the biggest favorites and work and I always get asked when I am making them again! When I came across this recipe for a cookie version of the bar, I knew it would be on this year’s list of Christmas cookies. I was really excited to make these, and they ended up being served at a party that we had at work.

Since these were being served at a party, I made them on the smaller side. This recipe made 5-1/2 dozen cookies, which is a really big batch. You could halve this recipe and still make quite a nice batch of cookies. The cookies themselves are easy to make, but the frosting is a little more complex. White chocolate is fairly difficult to melt, as it can seize really easily. I did melt mine in the microwave, in 30 second increments, which worked this time, but sometimes that is too hot for the white chocolate.

Frosting 5-1/2 dozen cookies is very tedious, but it was worth it in this case. These cookies are a little different than the other versions of Cranberry Bliss Bars; these don’t contain any ginger, but they are excellent and just perfect for the holidays. Cranberries and white chocolate is such a great combination, and the cream cheese frosting makes these cookies even better!

Cranberry Bliss Cookies
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. Add the vanilla and stir to combine. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture. Stir in the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries with a spatula. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

Shape the dough into 1-1/4” balls and place on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until very lightly browned along the edges. Allow to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting: in a large mixer bowl, beat the cream cheese and melted white chocolate until smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Add two cups of powdered sugar, and then add more powdered sugar if you need to thicken the frosting.  

Spread the frosting on the cooled cookies and top with chopped dried cranberries.

Recipe from Gimme Some Oven