Entries in christmas cookies (21)
We love to stuff. We stuff our stockings. We stuff our bras (or at least we did when we were 13). Why not stuff our cookies?
These cookies--and yes, it brings me a shiver of joy to say it--are stuffed with peanut butter. Delicious, creamy, dreamy, peanut butter. This means that when you grab one of these cookies, you're already excited, I mean, cookie! right? But then, when you bite into it, you find that the crumbly exterior gives way to a soft and gooey peanut buttery center. And that is the point which, in some sort of sweet and slightly salty and rich and peanut buttery bliss, you think "it would be OK if I died right now, because I've had this moment".
Am I talking them up too much? Go ahead, find out for yourself. Here's the recipe.
Peanut butter filled cookies
Makes about 20 cookies
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 jar peanut butter (I used Mighty Maple peanut butter by Peanut Butter and Company) (you won't use quite the whole thing)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Combine the flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed. Once nice and creamy, add the sugar and beat for 3-5 minutes; it will become somewhat fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract, mixing until combined. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again to ensure everything is mixed in.
- Add the flour mixture in 2-3 increments, mixing at low speed after each addition until combined, and pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl with each addition. The mixture will come together to form a soft, malleable dough.
- Pull a piece of dough, about 2 tablespoons worth, from the bowl. Form a 2-3 inch flat but fairly thick, circle of dough (you can do this one at a time, or make all of your rounds and then proceed).
- Place a spoonful of peanut butter on top of the circle of dough. Pull the sides of the dough over the filling to form a soft dome, making sure the dough is covering the peanut butter on all sides (it can melt through if not--you might overload the first one but you'll get a handle for the right amount fast). Pinch the top to seal the cookie–it will resemble the shape of a Hershey’s kiss. You can also seal the cookie flat on top, just do make sure it’s sealed.
- Place the cookies on the prepared sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart to accommodate slight spreading. Bake for 14-18 minutes, or until with a dull finish on top (a golden touch on top is fine, but don’t let them get completely golden or browned). Let them cool on the pans.If desired, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Once they have set for about 10 minutes, you can serve. Keep stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Have you ever made stuffed cookies?
It's been proven time and time again in my life: cornmeal in cookies is a Very Good Idea.
By "time and time again" I mean every time I go to a bakery that has cornmeal-containing cookies. Momofuku Milk Bar and Amy's Bread in NYC are two places I can suggest reliably fantastic cornmeal cookies. They're not the only bakeries that sell cornmeal cookies; in fact, I can't think of a time I haven't enjoyed a cornmeal cookie that I purchased.
I have made cornmeal cookie bars before, too. Were they ever good.
In my opinion, the success factors are as follows: the corn-ishness adds a natural sweetness that is a pleasant departure from just sugar-sweetness, and the pleasingly slight gritty texture adds intrigue.
I know I'm not the only cornmeal cookie fan out there, so it's very likely that this recipe will be a welcome addition to many a corn cookie lover's repertoire. These corn cookies have a leg up on most because in addition to sweet cornmeal, they also include pecans, which makes them a touch crunchy. And I don't know why I haven't rhapsodized about the combo of pecan and corn before--united by a buttery front, these are twin quasars of awesome in every bite of these cookies. I want to make cornbread with pecans now! Corn and pecan everything!
I served the cookies with a side of coconut oil chocolate dipping sauce. It was a very good decision.
Oh, and it's also a good cookie recipe to use up egg yolks if you've been making meringues or another recipe that only contains whites!
Cornmeal Pecan Cookies
Makes about 40
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cups butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment.
- In a large-ish bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together. Set to the side.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until nice and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix until blended, about 1 minute.
- Reduce speed to low, and mix the flour in, until just incorporated. Fold in the nuts.
- Scoop out heaping tablespoonfuls of dough, and form into balls. Place on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned on the edges and set in the center. Let cool on the racks for about five minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, dust with confectioners' sugar. These cookies will keep for a couple of weeks in a sealed container at room temperature, or up to several months in the freezer.
Do you like cornmeal cookies?
If you need a little Christmas, right this very minute, then this peanut butter snowball recipe is just the ticket to get you on a one way trip to holiday tastiness. It's also my latest creation for Peanut Butter and Company.
These cookies share the classic shape and crumbly texture of snowballs (also called Russian teacakes, Mexican wedding cakes, Armenian sugar cookies, bullets, and, oddly, moldy mice), but they have a taste that is full of peanut buttery goodness. Using crunchy peanut butter ensures good structure and offers enough bulk that they hold their shape; the lack of eggs and leavener keeps the cookies delicate, and distinctly different in character from the type of peanut butter cookies which are cross-hatched with the tines of a fork.
These cookies are a classic kissed with peanut butter to create a true holiday delight. Truth be told, though, I doubt anyone would turn these away at any time of the year!
Let's be honest. When we share our baked goods with others, it's not *only* to unselflessly share sweetness and love.
It's also to show off. And for a cookie that is really good for showing off, look no further than these stained glass cookies.
Guaranteed you'll get "oohs", maybe some coos, and a lot of questions about how on earth you did it. You don't have to tell; I'm not the boss of you.
But I will tell you how to do it, right here, right now. You start with a cutout cookie, fill it with crushed candy, bake it up, and voila. Total magic. And they taste good, to boot: buttery cookies with a sweet candy middle in whatever flavor you could possibly desire.
How's that for a Christmas miracle?
Stained Glass Cookies
Makes about 36 2 ½” cookies
- ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 6 to 8 ounces assorted translucent hard candies, such as Life Savers, divided by color and crushed finely
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add in the granulated sugar and continue to beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 more minutes.
- Reduce speed of the mixer to low, and stir in the egg, vanilla and salt. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary using a rubber spatula. Stir until combined.
- With the mixer still on low, mix in the flour in 2-3 increments, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Once it’s all been added, only mix until the dough comes together and there are no powdery traces of flour left. The dough may feel crumbly, but it should be easy to clump together.
- Divide the dough into two halves, and flatten into two disks. Wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until quite firm, at least three hours or up to overnight.
- Near the end of your cooling period, heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Work with one disk of dough at a time to keep the dough from softening too much. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough to an approximately 1/8″ thickness. Using 2″ to 2 1/2″ cookie cutters, cut the dough into shapes and place on your parchment-lined sheets. Using smaller cutters, cut the centers from each cookie.
- Note: If the dough is too firm to roll directly from the refrigerator, let it soften for a few minutes and then try again. It should become easier to roll after a few minutes at room temperature.
- Spoon about 1 teaspoon of crushed candy into the center of the cookie (a little more or less depending on the cutout size). You want to evenly cover the cutout portion with crushed candy, so that you can’t see the parchment below the candy and so that it reaches every nook and cranny of the cutout. If any candy-powder gets on the top of the cookies, dust it off.
- Bake until just golden at the edges and set on top, 7 to 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring with a spatula to wire racks to cool completely.
Store the cookies, layered between sheets of waxed or parchment paper, for up to a week in an airtight container.
I love love.
I also love cookies.
And furthermore, I adore a good story.
Naturally, I gravitated toward this recipe, since it combines all of the above in one tasty form. Adding to its intrigue was the fact that is was an award-winner: these bars are featured in the new book Holiday Cookies: Prize-Winning Family Recipes from the Chicago Tribune for Cookies, Bars, Brownies and More.
These so-called "H-Bars" have a mysterious story:
Victoria Weisenberg won first place in 2012 for this recip and her tale of using them to woo "a very special man". Weisenberg created the recipe as a Hanukkah give for her former beau and said the "H" stands for the first letter of his first name, though she opted to leave that name a mystery.
This story is what intrigued me about the bars, which I might have otherwise passed over owing to the fact that they are made with a raisin filling. This t-shirt design sums up my thoughts on raisins in cookies:
Luckily (great timing!) I just received a package from the California Dried Plum Board (no, really). It didn't take me long to decide to swap the prunes for the raisins. I'm glad I did: they add a wonderful moisture and mellow flavor to the bars.
The only other thing I did differently is I baked the bars in a loaf pan rather than the size specified in the recipe. Doing such, I had to increase the bake time by about 5 minutes. I have left the instructions intact though; if you want to make them look like mine, use a loaf pan, increase the bake time, and slice into fingers instead of bars.
- Yield: 20 bars
- Prep time: 30 minutes
- Bake time: 37 to 40 minutes per batch
- 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup flour
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 4 ounces chopped dried plums (original recipe calls for ⅔ cup golden raisins)
- ½ cup flour
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- ½ stick (¼ cup) unsalted
- butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Icing (I omitted this)
- ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1½–2 tablespoons milk
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
Grease or coat with cooking spray a 7½-by-11-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
For the shortbread, combine butter, flour and granulated sugar in a medium bowl until crumbly. Pack into the prepared pan; bake, 15 minutes.
For raisin layer, stir together flour with the baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. In another bowl, beat brown sugar, eggs and vanilla together until blended. Stir in dry ingredients and dried plum bits. Pour over the baked shortbread layer.
For the topping, combine ingredients in a bowl until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the middle layer. Bake, 22 to 25 minutes. Cool.
For the icing, combine confectioners’ sugar, 1½ tablespoons milk and vanilla in a small bowl. Add more milk, if needed, until you get a smooth, easy-to drizzle mixture. Drizzle over the top. Cut into 20 bars.
Food processor method: You do not have to wash the bowl of the processor between steps. Combine ingredients for the bottom layer with a few pulses until crumbly. Pack in pan. Bake as above. Prepare topping in the processor in the same way. Place in a bowl and set aside. Then, place brown sugar, eggs and vanilla in processor bowl and process until blended. Add dry ingredients and pulse a few times. Stir in raisins. Continue as above.
Do you like raisins in baked goods?
Somehow, it's happened: you find yourself in need of a batch of homemade cookies, STAT. It might be for the cookie swap you thought was tomorrow, not today, or the school party you totally forgot, or maybe you just want to whip up something sweet in record time.
As these cookies prove, a time crunch need not mean that you sacrifice all the fun of baking--they are actually made from "doctored" refrigerated sugar cookie dough. They're assembled in less than five minutes and baked in about 10 minutes--even with cooling time, the process of going from mere ingredients to "let's party" all happens in about 30 minutes.
ALL YOU NEED:
All you have to do? Mix that dough with mint and chocolate chips (they're easily found in the baking aisle this time of year), a teaspoon of peppermint extract and maybe a few drops of green food coloring. Roll into balls and bake as specified on the package. They bake up like a minty, buttery, sweet Christmas miracle!
Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies Using Refrigerated Sugar Cookie Dough
Makes about 24
- 1 tube refrigerated sugar cookie dough
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1 cup mint and chocolate chips, mixed together
- 4-5 drops green food coloring
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, break up the refrigerated cookie dough by hand. Add the food coloring and peppermint extract. Combine well.
Add the morsels, mixing by hand to knead them evenly but gently throughout the dough.
Divide the dough into 24 equal parts. (First divide in two, then those two pieces into two to make four, then break each of those parts into three pieces, then divide those in two. You'll have 24. Don't get confused.)
Bake for 8-11 minutes, or until soft in the center but lightly browned on the edges. I don't know how to say it other than this, but the middles might not look 100 percent set. They will bake a touch more when you remove the cookies, though, so it's ok.
Note: At this point, instead of baking, you can freeze the dough balls on the sheets if you prefer not to bake right now (if you want to do it in the morning, say). Just don't forget to turn off the oven and remember to preheat it again before you bake.
Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 6 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Use a spatula for the transfer; if the cookies seem too soft, wait another minute or two before transferring.
One of the most wonderful things about a recipe is all the places it can go.
Take, for instance, a recipe for two-tiered Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies that appeared in a women's magazine in the early 1980s. How could the recipe developer have known what a role this recipe would end up playing in the Spy family's lives?
After all, it was this recipe that struck the fancy of my mother (you know her as SpyMom) and intrigued her enough to bake a batch. And the whole family loved them. They were buttery and lightly crumbly but so soft and just ever so slightly chewy in the center, and the walnuts and pistachio and chocolate just worked so perfectly together. We all loved them so much, in fact, that the next year, she made them again. And the year after that. A tradition was born.
But somewhere along the line--was it when her children went to college, moved away, began having their own lives?--the cookies stopped being made. Every year someone (usually me) would lament the fact that they were missing from the festivities, but year after year, they did not make an appearance.
But this year, we brought the recipe out from hiberation. SpyMom found the handwritten recipe and told me that this was during her "penmanship phase", when she would stay up at night practicing perfect penmanship, trying to will her handwriting into something more perfect than it was.
Since then, her handwriting has reverted back to its old, slighly messier, but in my opinion, more charming form.
But how wonderful to encounter this little slice of the past, complete with doodlings (mine? My little sister's?) and speckled with baking debris from years past.
I baked the cookies while my parents were out, and when they returned, my mother shrieked. "What?" I cried out, thinking that perhaps she'd seen a mouse. But no. "They're just like I used to make!" she said. And I may be getting a bit flowery here, but I think that she and my dad both had a little moment, thinking sweet memories. And that made me extremely happy, in turn.
How's that for season's sweetings?
Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies
Makes about 24
- 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 package (3 3/4 ounces) instant pistachio pudding (NOT sugar-free)
- 6 ounces (half a bag) semisweet chocolate chips, plus 20-30 chips for garnish
- confectioners' sugar, for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or lightly grease them.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
- In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until smooth, 2-3 minutes on medium speed. Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla; blend until creamy. Add the flour mixture in 3-4 increments, mixing until a stiff dough forms. Remove 1/4 of the dough to a separate bowl; add the walnuts.
- To the remaining dough, add the pudding mix and stir until completely combined. Fold in the 6 ounces of chocolate chips.
- By rounded teaspoonfuls, form the green dough into balls, and place 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared sheets. Using the back of a teaspoon or a floured drinking glass bottom, gently flatten the tops of these dough rounds.
- Grab the small bowl of walnutty dough. Form the dough into marble-sized pieces, and place a ball of this dough on the top of each pistachio dough mound. Sort of like a two-part snowman.
- Place a single chocolate chip on top of each of the cookies, pressing gently to make sure it will stay in place.
- Bake in your preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until set. It's going to be hard to see if they have become golden on the bottom, so mainly just look for a matte finish and an ever so slight golden color around the bottom edge. Remove from the oven and let cool on the rack for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, dust with confectioners' sugar.
It's been days, absolutely days, since the Thanksgiving feast, and you're looking awfully skinny.
Luckily, we have officially entered Christmas Cookie Season, so it won't be hard to remedy this situation. My esteemed sugary suggestion? Holiday Magic Cookie Bars with a Shortbread Crust.
Now, if you already know what a Magic Cookie Bar (or 7-layer bar, or Hello Dolly Bar, etc) is, then you know that these decadent bar cookies, made with a buttery graham crust topped with a slurry of condensed milk, nuts, chocolate and/or butterscotch morsels, and coconut, are pretty much heaven on earth.
But there's always room for more magic, right?
I got the idea for these bars when I spied Nestle Toll House Holiday Morsels (have you ever seen them? I hadn't!) in the grocery store, accompanied by recipe cards. Naturally I thought the bars would look adorable all dressed up for the holidays, and considering I still had a ton of shortbread from Walker's Shortbread (who sent me samples, and with which I've already made one of my new favorite things, Million Dollar Shortbread Bars), I decided to do a recipe mashup.
And I can now report that yes, the bars get even better when you swap the graham crackers for crushed-up shortbread cookies in the crust. This magical union of shortbread, butter, and all of the delightful toppings makes for a sort of no-holds-barred extreme richness on all sides that will make your mouth and soul happy.
These are an ideal morsel for a cookie exchange or holiday party, as they're decadent to eat and festive to look at, too. As for the coconut haters? Sorry, but they're just not the same without!
Here's the recipe, adapted lovingly from "Yuletide Layer Bars" by Nestle Toll House.
Holiday Magic Cookie Bars with a Shortbread Crust
Makes about 24 - Active time 10 minutes, total time 1 hour 30 minutes, includes cooling
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- Shortbread crumbs (about 2-3 boxes' worth of Walkers Shortbread (I used this kind); less for a thinner crust, more for a nice fat crust)
- 1 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used a mix of almonds and walnuts)
- 1 1/2 cup flaked coconut
- One bag Nestle Toll House Holiday Morsels
- 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Melt butter in a 13x9" baking pan in oven; remove from oven. Sprinkle shortbread crumbs over the melted butter; stir well, and press onto bottom of the pan (it might get hot, so press with a sheet of waxed paper or the back of a rubber spatula). Sprinkle the nuts and coconut (make sure they are evenly distributed). Gently, so it doesn't disturb your carefully laid-out toppings, pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over top in an even layer. If you need to distribute the milk, tilt the pan rather than stirring, as the crust might be torn up if you are too vigorous. Sprinkle the morsels on top.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until light golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing into bars with a very sharp knife.