2019 Holiday Cookie Round Up

Here they are. This year’s batch of cookie exchange cookies. From left to right, matcha donut, cotton candy spritz cookies, coconut shortbread with coquito glaze, orange and lavender icebox cookies and Mexican drinking chocolate icebox cookies.

Well its cookie season back at the casa. So here’s the round up of this year’s cookie exchange recipes. I tried to keep things relatively simple this year and opted not to do heavily decorated and iced cookies. Instead I’ve got a couple of simple Spritz cookie recipes and come icebox cookies. The appeal with both of these is that I could make the dough ahead and freeze it to be baked off later. The icebox cookies can be baked right out of the freezer. The spritz dough needs to thaw overnight in the fridge then come to room temperature before it can be used. Fair warning, my spritz dough requires a cookie press, its too stiff to pipe.

Basic Spritz Cookie Dough

  • 2 ¼ cup sifted all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp salt

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until it is a pale yellow. Add in the sugar and mix until airy and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes). Mix in the egg and vanilla extract until combined. Add the salt to the flour and then add the flour to the wet ingredients, mix on low until dough comes together and all the flour has been incorporated. Fill the chamber of your cookie press and attach your die to the end, and press the dough onto buttered and chilled baking sheet. Leaving about a 1″ space between cookies. Decorate with sprinkles or sanding sugar before baking. Bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 8-10 minutes or until cookies start to turn golden brown around the edges.

Cotton Candy Spritz Cookie Dough

  • 2 ¼ cup sifted all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cotton candy flavoring
  • 2 TBS blue spirulina powder (2-3 drops of blue food coloring)

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until it is a pale yellow. Combine the blue spirulina* powder to the sugar, then combine the sugar with the butter and mix until airy and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes). The butter sugar mixture will be a vibrant blue color at this point. Mix in the egg until combined, then add the cotton candy flavoring and vanilla extract. Add the salt to the flour and then add the flour to the wet ingredients, mix on low until dough comes together and all the flour has been incorporated. Fill the chamber of your cookie press and attach your die to the end, and press the dough onto a buttered and chilled baking sheet. Leaving about a 1″ space between cookies. Decorate with sprinkles or sanding sugar before baking. Bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 8-10 minutes or until cookies start to turn golden brown around the edges.

*note; Blue Spirulina is an all natural blue green algae that’s commonly used for smoothies, the blue version is less briny tasting than green spirulina and is a vibrant blue color. Unlike butterfly pea powder, it does not change colors.

Orange and Lavender Ice Box Cookies with a light sprinkling of sanding sugar.

Orange Lavender Ice Box Cookies

  • 2 ⅔ cup sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp orange extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (softened and at room temperature)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • ¼ dried mandarine orange slices (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp dried lavender blossoms (crushed)
  • white sanding sugar

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until it is a pale yellow. Add in the sugar and mix until airy and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes). Mix in the egg, vanilla extract and orange extract until combined. Mix the salt, orange zest, lavender blossoms and dried orange slices into the flour. This will keep them from clumping up.  Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mix on low until dough comes together and all the flour has been incorporated. Divide dough in half, and form into logs or rectangles and wrap with wax paper or parchment. Place into a resealable plastic bag and store in the freezer. Dough can be stored for up to 2 months. To bake, slice off ¼” thick slices and place on baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Sprinkle with sanding sugar and bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 12-14 minutes or until just golden brown along the edges

Mexican Drinking Chocolate Ice Box Cookies are perfect for dipping into piping hot well…Mexican Drinking Chocolate of course.

Mexican Drinking Chocolate Icebox Cookies

  • 2 ⅔ cup sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 TBS cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup cocoa nibs (divided)
  • 1 TBS ground coffee
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (softened and at room temperature)
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼-½ tsp coarse sea salt (to taste)
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)

In a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, combine sea salt, cayenne, cinnamon, ground coffee and half the cocoa nips and grind into a fine powder and mix into the flour along with the 2 TBS of cocoa powder and whisk together to make sure all the spices and cocoa are well combined into the flour.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until it is a pale yellow. Add in the sugar and mix until airy and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes). Mix in the egg and vanilla extract until combined. Add the salt to the flour/cocoa spice mixture and then add the flour to the wet ingredients, mix on low until dough comes together then add the rest of the cocoa nibs and mix until all the flour and cocoa nibs have been incorporated. Divide dough in half, and form into logs or rectangles and wrap with wax paper or parchment. Place into a resealable plastic bag and store in the freezer. Dough can be stored for up to 2 months. To bake, slice off ¼” thick slices and place on baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 12-14 minutes or until just golden brown along the edges

Coconut Shortbread with Coquito Glaze

Coquito is a sweet coconut milk and rum drink generously seasoned with clove, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon. It’s ubiquitous during the Holidays in Puerto Rico and is frequently referred to as Puerto Rican Egg Nog. If you don’t happen to be on a Boriquen’s coquito gifting list, you can find my recipe here. Since I’m making a Mexican Drinking Chocolate inspired cookie it’s only fitting that I make one inspired by coquito.

Cookie Recipe

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp rum extract

¼ tsp coconut extract

½ tsp salt

1 ¾ flour

1 cup softened room temperature butter

¼ tsp each ground cinnamon, ground clove, ground nutmeg and ground allspice (divided)

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter until fluffy and a pale yellow. Add in extract and spices and blend until well incorporated. Mix the shredded coconut and flour together and gradually add into the creamed sugar and butter. Blend until dough forms into a ball. Pour dough out onto a sheet of waxed paper. Form into a log or rectangle and freeze until ready to bake. To bake, cut into ½ inch wide slices and space out onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 12-14 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Drizzle with the Coquito Glaze to serve

Coquito Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 tsp rum extract

2 tsp coconut milk

2 tsp corn syrup

½ tsp coquito spice mix

 

Green Tea Donuts dusted with powdered sugar and matcha powder and drizzled with a matcha glaze.

Matcha Donuts

¼ cup melted butter

⅓ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg lightly beaten

¾ teaspoon baking powder

⅛ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon matcha powder

⅛ teaspoon nutmeg

pinch of salt

½ teaspoon vanilla

1⅓ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup coconut milk

Topping

1 cup powdered sugar

1 TBS matcha powder

 

 

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, mix melted butter, sugar, nutmeg, salt and vanilla extract until combined. Add the beaten egg, and blend until combined. Add the baking powder, baking soda and matcha powder to the flour and lightly whisk to blend. Alternate adding flour mixture and coconut milk and blend between each addition until all the flour and milk is gone. Blend until all the ingredients are well incorporated. The dough will be sticky. Spray donut pans with cooking spray. Spray a large zip top bag or a disposable pastry bag with cooking spray and then fill with the donut dough. Cut of the tip and pipe the dough into the donut pan and cut off with clean kitchen scissors. Bake at 425F for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack. Place the powdered sugar and matcha powder into a clean large zip top bag. Toss cooled donuts in the matcha powdered sugar mixture to coat. Yield 1 Dozen Donuts

That’s how the cookie crumbles..

What’s better than milk and cookies?

I was having all sorts of technical issues this week, but finally go them resolved and was able to actually upload images again. So now that’s all taken care of for this weeks post I’m making cookies. Though this time around, I’m dressing up that timeless classic chocolate chip cookies. One of my co-workers gave me a package of Horlick’s Malted Milk Powder from her prized stash and it got me thinking that I don’t think I’ve ever seen Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies before. So after a little bit of testing here’s the recipe I came up with.

Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup/2 sticks of room temperature unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground coffee
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cup sifted All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup crushed malted milk balls like Whoppers or Maltesers
  • 2 oz of chopped extra dark chocolate
  • coarse salt and chopped dark chocolate for the top (optional)

In a large bowl, cream butter until it turns a light pale yellow then add granulated sugar and light brown sugar and beat for a couple of minutes until it is light and fluffy. Add in eggs, malted milk powder, coffee and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Slowly add in salt, baking soda and sifted flour until the flour is mostly combined. You may have to mix this by hand or use a stand mixer. Stir in the chocolate chips, crushed malted milk balls and dark chocolate. Form into golfball sized balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Let chill in the fridge for at least an hour before baking. To bake, preheat oven to 350F. Place dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet leaving 2″ space between cookies and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Peppermint Chocolate Layer Cake with Peppermint White Chocolate Buttercream Icing

Rich chocolate cake stacked high with layers of Peppermint White Chocolate Buttercream Icing and finished off with more buttercream, chopped up candy canes, and peppermint bark

I hope everyone had a relaxing Christmas Holiday, things are settling back down around the homestead and the marathon cookie baking and decorating has come to an end. Now that we’re heading into the New Year, things are also calming down at work and I should be back to having consistent days off which will hopefully allow the blogging schedule to fall back into place.

This week’s recipe came about because I was asked to bring a dessert for Christmas dinner.  I’ve been intrigued (read obsessed) with MilkBar’s layer cakes (and their corn cookie and crack pie). The gang over at MilkBar always seem to come up with these fanciful flavor combinations for their cakes and they have a distinct visual style with their unfrosted sides. It’s been ages since I’ve baked a layer cake, so I thought it would be kind of fun to try my hand at building a MilkBar style towering marvel.

Over the years via interviews and various cooking segments, Christina Tosi (the genius behind MilkBar) has shared how she goes about designing and assembling these cakes with the cake itself, the frosting and a textural element as the basic components. In this case because of the holiday I opted for crushed candy canes and crumbled peppermint bark for my textural elements. I also decided to use peppermint oil rather than peppermint extract, because it provides an intense wallop of peppermint flavor. You can certainly use peppermint extract, it just takes a lot more extract to provide the same intensity of flavor and that will impact the texture of the frosting. I was able to find food grade peppermint oil at a specialty shop, but you should be able to find it easily enough on the interwebs.

As it turns out, I must have given away our cake pans when we moved from NJ to CA. So I had to go out and buy new cake pans. I opted for 7″ inch springform pans figuring that the springform would come in handy for assembly, transport and unveiling. I lucked out and was able to find 3 identical pans at Homegoods.

There’s basically three stages to creating this cake, first its the baking of the cake, then making the buttercream and then the last part is the assembly of the cake itself. The whole process took about 8 hours, which includes the time the cake had to chill in the fridge so the icing could set up and help hold the.cake together so It could be transported to its destination.

Part 1…the cake

Ingredients

  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint oil
  • 8 oz. melted extra dark chocolate
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 8 tsp extra dark cocoa

Place a clean glass or stainless steal bowl over a pot of lightly boiling water to make a double boiler. Break the chocolate into small chunks and place into the bowl, stir until all the chocolate has melted. Set aside to let cool. While the chocolate is cooling, assemble the rest of the cake ingredients. In a large bowl, combine, flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cocoa and set aside. In another bowl, mix the oil, water, sour cream, vanilla extract, peppermint oil and eggs lightly until combined then slowly pour into the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined by hand or with an electric mixer. Slowly mix in the melted chocolate. Divide batter evenly between 3 prepared 8″ cake  pans and bake in an oven preheated to 350 for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Because I used smaller pans and filled them to about half full, the cake took closer to an hour to bake for me. Remove from the oven to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then remove from the pans and let cool completely before icing.

Part 2….the Icing

Ingredients

  • 1lb unsalted butter (softened and room temperature)
  • 12 oz white chocolate chips
  • 1lb powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp food grade peppermint oil
  • 2 TBS corn syrup
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream

Use a double boiler or microwave to melt white chocolate chips and set aside to cool. Once the white chocolate has cooled but is still liquid, whip butter in a large bowl or stand mixer with whisk attachment on high speed until the butter turns pale yellow. Scrap down the sides of the bowl and add vanilla extract and peppermint oil and whisk on medium speed until flavoring is incorporated. With the mixer on low, slowly drizzle in the white chocolate and add the corn syrup*. Turn the mixer off and scrap down the sides. Add ⅓ of the powder sugar and turn the mixer on to low, mix until the powered sugar is thoroughly incorporated, turn off the mixer and scrap down the sides between each addition. Continue until all the powdered has been added. You should hear the motor of the mixer slow down. Now gradually start adding the heavy whipping cream. Your looking for a nice spreadable/pipable texture that’s not too loose. The icing should be airy but still hold a peak so you may not need all the cream.

Part 3….Assembly

Some assembly required. A springform pan and a sheet of clear vinyl hold the cake together during assembly.

 

  • large spoon or piping bag with large tip to apply icing
  • 1 cake pan
  • 1 cake board
  • a 10″ wide strip of acetate of clear vinyl.
  • clear tape
  • crushed candy canes
  • broken up pieces of peppermint bark

Cut the acetate of vinyl so that the length is equal to the circumference of the cake pan with 1″ overlap. The acetate/vinyl is what will allow you to build up the layers of the cake.  Level all three cakes, crumble the tops and set aside, you’ll use them to form the bottom layer of the cake.

Place the cake board at the bottom of the cake pan, then form a cylinder with the acetate/vinyl and place it into the cake pan, making sure that the cylinder is snug against the sides of the cake pan. Tape the top and bottom of the cylinder.

Spread a thin layer of icing on the cake board and pack the crumbled up cake into the bottom of the cake pan and top with a layer of buttercream. I find that its easier to use a piping bag for this rather than trying to spread with a spoon. Sprinkle the buttercream with crushed up candy canes and peppermint bark. Continue layering cake, buttercream and candy until get to the top layer. Frost the top layer and sprinkle with more candy canes and peppermint bark. Place a layer of plastic wrap over the top of the cylinder and place in the fridge to chill for at least 6 hours or overnight. This will allow the frosting to firm up which will help keep the cake together.

To serve, tip the cake onto its side and remove the cake pan, keeping a hand on the cake board so that it stays in place, turn the cake back up upright and place it onto a cake stand or plate. Cut the tape and remove the vinyl/acetate cylinder.

Enjoy….

* The corn syrup is necessary for texture and to help stabilize the frosting. Honey or agave will not substitute in this case because they’ll solidify and turn gritty when the cake is chilled.

Holiday Treats Part III – Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Biscotti

Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Biscotti

For part three of my holiday baking series, I’ll share with you my recipe for biscotti. Like my other holiday treat recipes, this ones fairly easy and doesn’t require any special equipment or ingredients. You can make them with whatever you’d like. This variation is with pumpkin seeds and cranberries, but you can make them with just about any combination of nut and berries.

Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Biscotti
3 ¼ cups a.p. flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
½ vegetable oil
3 eggs
zest of one orange
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large bowl, mix the 3 eggs, orange zest, sugar and oil together. In a separate bowl or on a large sheet of wax paper, combine all the dry ingredients. Then slowly add them to the egg and sugar mixture. Mix until it stiffens into a firm dough. Add the cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Form into two loaves 1 ½ inch thick loaves and place on a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and remove from the cookie sheet to cool for an hour. Once the loaves are cool enough to handle, slice into ½ inch thick slices, place onto a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet and back at 325ºF for 8 minutes. Turn over and bake for another 5 minutes.

Holiday Treats Part II-Sugar Cookies and more

Snowman Cookie

As I mentioned in a previous post, the thing I look forward to the most during the holidays is baking holiday treats. Here are a couple of my favorite cookie recipes, a simple kid friendly sugar cookie and a chocolate variation of the same sugar cookie. I’ve made a video to show you just how easy it is to prepare the sugar cookies. I’ve also included, my recipe for icing as well as some pictures to show you some examples of different ways you can decorate the cookies.

Chocolate Snowflakes copy
Chocolate Sugar Cookies
3 oz grated bittersweet chocolate
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups AP flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder

Put the butter and chocolate in a large microwave safe bowl. Heat on medium power for 2 minutes. Take out and stir half way through the cooking time. Remove from the microwave and stir with a whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated with the butter. Add the sugar, egg and vanilla and stir until blended. Slowly incorporate the flour, baking powder and salt. Turn out on a board or counter that’s been dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Knead dough until its blended and forms into a square. Wrap with waxed paper. Seal in a plastic bag and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375f. Divide dough in half and return the unused portion to the fridge. Roll dough out until its between 1/8″ and 1/4″. Then cut into whatever shape you’d like. Lay out on a parchment lined cookie sheet (or you can use a silicone baking mat). Bake 8 -10 minutes for softer cookies or 10-12 minutes for crispier cookies.

Icing
2 TBS Softened Butter
2 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar
2 tsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 to 6 tsp light corn syrup
paste or powdered food coloring

With a hand mixer, soften the butter then add in the powdered sugar. Slowly add in the milk. Gradually add in the corn syrup. The amount of corn syrup will vary depending on the consistency of the icing you’re trying to achieve. The icing needs to be free flowing to flood the cookie surface, but not too loose or it will run off the sides. For piping and lettering it needs to be thicker but still able to flow through a #3 or 4 tip. This should make enough icing to ice 4 dozen 3″ cookies.

Here are some ideas for different ways you can decorate the cookies depending on the season.

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Plum tart… or pie or whatever you wanna call it.

Tarts and pies are a nice way to enjoy seasonal fruits. Since plum season is winding to a close, what better way to enjoy them, than a plum tart? I’ve used this crust recipe with pretty good success, but use whatever crust recipe works for you or store bought. Yes, I did just suggest store bought pie crust. Commercial crust is usually pretty thick and tough, so you’ll need to roll it out so its thinner and more pliable.

You’ll need a smallish tart pan 8 or 9 inches in diameter. If you don’t have a tart pan, you can use a pie plate you’ll just need more fruit to fill the plate and the “pie” will take longer to bake.

Plum Tart Filling
6-8 plums cut into 1/2 inch wedges
dash of salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp corn starch
2 TBS lemon juice
Zest of half a lemon
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line the bottom of the tart pan with the crust. Dock the crust and line with foil and then uncooked dry beans (don’t try to re-cook the beans they will never soften and be edible, but they’ll be great for blind baking crusts). Bake the crust ‘n beans in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the foil with the beans and let the crust.

In a large mixing bowl, combine plums, salt, brown sugar, lemon zest and the ground cinnamon. Put the corn starch into a small cup and add the lemon juice, stir with a fork until the corn starch is broken up. You may have a few lumps but thats okay. Pour the corn starch mixture in with the plums and stir until the plums are well coated. Let the mixture set for about 30 minutes, so that the natural juices start to come out of the fruit.

Pour the filling mixture into the shell and bake fo 40 minutes at 350ºF.

You can top the tart with a crumb topping or use another crust and make lattice top. I brush the lattice crust with cream or milk and dust it with a little sugar before baking. If you notice the crust or crumb topping is browning too much, cover it with foil.

Crumb (Struesel) Topping
1/2 AP Flour
1/4 Brown Sugar
1/2 stick unsweetened butter (softened)

Combine in a small bowl and blend with a fork until its crumbly…