Friday, December 6, 2019

Candy Cane Kiss Bars: 12 Days of Cookies Day 4

Following the theme of different flavors of Christmas baking, this is the first Christmas cookie of the year with peppermint. I do like peppermint in baked goods, and these bars use Candy Cane Kisses, which is a favorite of my friend at work. I have found a couple of different recipes using Candy Cane Kisses: a thumbprint cookie and one where you melt the Kisses to make icing. All of them are good and I was excited to find a bar cookie that used the Kisses.

These bars are not hard to make. It is hard, however, to unwrap Kisses and finely chop them. I counted out the Kisses first, and then unwrapped them for the cookies. This took time and I think I poked my hand when I was chopping them. I have to be more careful! Thankfully I got a little bit of a brake before I had to deal with the Kisses that accompany the frosting, and I did a better job chopping up the batch of 20 Kisses. Still, you should be careful when chopping. I wonder if I could chop them in a food processor. Yes, I am lazy.

While I typically make bar cookies a day ahead so that they have time to cool properly, I think you could make these bars in an evening. They bake quickly (except for chopping the Kisses) and take little time to cool. I forgot to set the time on my bars, so I’m sorry about not having a more specific baking time. You can tell then they are done as they are golden on the top. The frosting is cream cheese icing, and the question is whether it needs to be refrigerated. I would say it wouldn’t hurt to put it in the refrigerator overnight, but cookies seldom last that long for me!

Candy Cane Kiss Bars
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
50 Candy Cane Kisses, finely chopped (1-1/2 cups)

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-3 tablespoons whipping cream/milk
20 Candy Cane Kisses, finely chopped (1/2 cup)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium until light. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix on medium to combine. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Then the dough has almost come together, add the chopped Candy Cane Kisses and stir on low until the dough comes together. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 22-25 minutes, until the bars are golden. Allow the bars to cool before frosting.

Make the frosting: in a large mixer bowl beat the cream cheese and butter on medium until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and stir to combine. Add heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time, until the frosting is of spreading consistency. Spread the frosting over the cooled bars and top with the ½ cup chopped Candy Cane Kisses.

Remove from the pan and cut into bars. Refrigerate for longer storage.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Soft Glazed Gingerbread Bars: 12 Days of Cookies Day 3

I really like to bake with ginger, it’s one of my favorite ingredients. I have made all sorts of ginger cookies, and the Triple Ginger Cookies that I made are my favorite. I was recently asked to submit a recipe for my school’s faculty newsletter and those were the ones I chose. I made another batch, as you can never have too much ginger.

When I was looking at cookies to make for Christmas, I was honestly shocked that I hadn’t made these before. I searched and searched, but I hadn’t so I was thrilled! The cookie base is thin and baked up in a few minutes. They aren’t thick and cakey like other bars. It is a challenge to spread the dough in the pan, so I used damp hands to help. The dough was too sticky to use a spatula, so just wash your hands and use them.

The glaze for these bars is simple, and the biggest challenge is to wait for the bars to cool. Thankfully, that happens quickly since the bars are so thin. This is my favorite type of glaze- a thin drizzle- as you don’t need to worry about the glaze being perfect.These bars are so good and are a can't miss for your Christmas baking!

Soft Glazed Gingerbread Bars
½ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup powdered sugar
1-3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium until smooth. Add the molasses and egg and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture. Mix just until combined. Pat the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake for 14-17 minutes, until set. The bars will be a little soft when they are removed from the oven but will set as they cool. Cool completely.

Make the glaze: in a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons milk. Add additional milk in required to make the glaze of drizzling consistency. Drizzle on the cooled bars. Allow the glaze to set before cutting into bars.

Recipe from Chocolate with Grace

Monday, December 2, 2019

Cranberry Swirl Cookies: 12 Days of Cookies Day 2

When choosing cookies to bake to help celebrate Christmas, I like to include cookies that include cranberries in some manner. These cookies fill the bill, as the filling is a combination of cranberries and cherries. When picking cookies this year, I swear that I picked the fussiest cookies possible. I know I would get a lot better at rolling out dough if I did it more often, but I don’t, and I always feel I could do better with that.

The cookie dough for these cookies must be rolled to an 8” x 12” rectangle. I was able to do that, as I felt like I had enough dough. Still, it took quite a bit of measuring. I thought that there could have been more of the cranberry filling, as it was a very thin layer. The dough is sticky, so trying to roll up the dough wasn’t easy. I was eventually able to do it, but like I said, it was fussy.

I refrigerated these cookies here and there, mainly when the oven was heating. I think it helped, but I’m not really sure. I baked the cookies for 30 minutes and let them cool. You are then supposed to cut them into slices, but that’s where I had the most trouble with this recipe. The dough layer was so thin, as was the filling, and when I cut them into slices they started to fall apart. I hoped they would come together during the second bake, and they looked ok. Glazed they looked better. I’m still not sure that they are worth all of the fuss, but it was nice to make a different recipe.

Cranberry Swirl Cookies
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup cherry preserves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a food processor, process the cranberries, preserves and cinnamon until smooth. Set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium until light.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix on medium to combine. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour, baking powder, and salt. 

Divide dough into halves, roll each half into a rectangle 8” x 12”. Spread half of the cranberry mixture onto the dough. Starting on the short side, roll up the dough jelly roll style. Repeat with the remaining dough. Chill the dough while the oven heats.

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.

Place the rolls on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool the logs for 5 minutes before proceeding.

Transfer the logs to a cutting board, and slice into ½” slices. Place back in the prepared baking sheet, standing the cookie up on the edges. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, until the centers of the cookies are firm. Allow the cookies to cool before glazing.

To glaze, place the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over the sliced cookies. Allow the glaze to set before serving the cookies.

Recipe from Taste of Home