Dec 17, 2013

My Favorite Christmas Cookies Part 1

For me, a big part of Christmas is baking. I love baking cookies and treats, roasts for Christmas Eve, big breakfast casseroles for Christmas morning, turkey and stuffing for Christmas night. There’s a lot of kitchen fun this time of year. This upcoming weekend’s project is baking cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. Cookies are the perfect hostess gift for those holiday dinner parties with a bottle of wine, the perfect thing to give the neighbors, the perfect thing to pull out with coffee or tea for friends stopping by. I thought I would share my favorite cookie recipes, broken into two parts, since there are so many. Today I’ll focus on the classics - sugar cookies and chocolate dipped gingerbread.

Sugar Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 ¼ cup sugar
3 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
3 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
3 teaspoons vanilla
6 cups all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on high for 30 sec. Add sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl, then add eggs, milk and vanilla, mixing until combined. Beat as much flour as you can with mixer, then stir in the rest with a spoon. Divide dough into thirds and chill for at least an hour. Chilling the dough allows the flour to soak up the wet ingredients and results in a better consistency.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out and cut into desired shapes. Place on ungreased cookie sheet 1” apart. Bake at 375° for 7-8 minutes or until edges are firm and golden. Cool on a wire rack and frost with icing.

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
Food coloring

Mix milk and sugar, add corn syrup and extract. Stir until it reaches a smooth, spreadable consistency. Add additional corn syrup and milk, a little at a time, if too thick. Divide into separate bowls, add food coloring and brush onto cookies with a pastry brush.

For lemon icing replace the milk and vanilla extract with lemon juice.

Gingerbread Cookies

6 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
1 cup unsulfured molasses
1 bag of chocolate chips, melted (with an optional 1 tbs light corn syrup)

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder, set aside. In a separate large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses. Add flour mixture; combine on low speed. Divide dough into thirds, wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour.

Heat oven to 350°. On a floured work surface, roll out dough and cut into desired shapes. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets, bake until crisp but not darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cookies cool on wire racks, then decorate with icing or dip into melted chocolate.

To Melt Chocolate:

There are a couple tricks to successful chocolate dipping. The first is good chocolate without a lot of wax. I stopped using Tollhouse and definitely skip anything from Hershey’s. I like the Ghiradelli chocolate chips - they melt smoothly and set well. When melting chocolate, either use a double boiler or go very slowly in the microwave so you don’t burn (and turn) the chocolate. If you use a double boiler, make sure you don’t get the chocolate wet and stir frequently. In the microwave, melt the chocolate in 60 second intervals and vigorously stir in between. To help the chocolate set post-dipping, you can mix in 1 tablespoon corn syrup or 1 tablespoon of butter - though adding this will turn inferior chocolate.

Tomorrow I'll share my other favorite cookie recipes, stay tuned for part 2.

No comments:

Post a Comment