Saturday, December 31, 2011

Apple Cider Snickerdoodles

Just when I thought I was finished making Christmas cookies for the year, I realized Violet and I never made any to leave out for Santa! While I know she won't remember making them for the next several years, I will, and I love creating traditions with her. 

While Skyping with my sister in Geneva, she told me I should make Apple Cider Snickerdoodles, she saw the recipe pop up in the Food Network's 12 Days of Cookies. It just so happened that I had 1/2 gallon of apple cider in the fridge to use up, these cookies were meant to be! 

I strapped Violet in the Bjorn and we got to work!

These cookies were delicious. The apple cider added such delicious, fresh flavor, which can be hard to get in a cookie. Thanks for the recommendation, Becky! Santa loved these cookies.

Apple Cider Snickerdoodles
adapted from Food Network

1 1/2 c. apple cider
2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter at room temperature
1/2 c. granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. apple pie spice (or 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ginger, 1/8 tsp. cloves, 1/8 tsp. nutmeg)

Preheat oven to 400*
Bring apple cider to a boil in a small sauce pot, reduce to medium and simmer until reduced to about 2-3 tbsp. of syrupy liquid.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar.
Scrape down sides, add apple cider and egg, beat until mixed well.
Add remaining ingredients except apple pie spice.
Beat on low until mixed dough comes together.
Mix 1/4 c. granulated sugar with apple pie spice in a shallow dish.
Break dough into walnut sized balls and roll in sugar, place on cookie sheet lined with parchment, and press gently.
Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake cookies for 12 minutes, cool on pan for 2-3, then on a wire rack until they're at room temperature.
Store in a cookie jar, or on a plate for Santa!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gingerbread Loaf Cake

Last weekend, my husband and I hosted an Ugly Sweater Christmas Party. I told everyone there would be a prize for the winner. After the votes came in, my husband won! However, I didn't want him to get the prize, so I gave it to his two friends tied for second. When I told them what the prize was, a loaf of delicious gingerbread, they were less than excited. Crazy talk, right? 

JJ told them that it was really good, and they should at least try it. He cut them each a piece, and of course, they loved it! Silly boys - what's not to love, spicy ginger and cinnamon, tender cake all topped with cream cheese frosting and bits of candied ginger. This loaf cake is reminiscent of my favorite Starbucks loaf cake, but it's a bit less dense. Perfect to whip up with simple ingredients from the pantry and spice rack. I love it as a holiday breakfast treat without the icing, but it's a little more fancy and dessert worthy with it. 

Old Fashioned Gingerbread
adapted from

1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 egg
1 c. molasses
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 c. Guinness or hot water

Cream Cheese Frosting
(cream together 2 oz. cream cheese with 2 tbsp. butter, add 2 c. powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla, whip until incorporated, thinning with milk if necessary)
Candied ginger pieces

Preheat oven to 350*
Grease a loaf pan, line with parchment.
In a stand mixer, cream sugar and butter.
Add egg, molasses and vanilla, mix until light and fluffy.
Turn mixer off, add flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt, turn mixer on slow until flour is just absorbed, add the Guinness or water and mix until it's absorbed, do not overmix!
Pour batter into loaf pan and place in the oven.
Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove and cool on a rack until room temperature.
Smear with frosting and dot with ginger pieces.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sell Your Soul Pumpkin Cookies

When browsing through "Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar" for Christmas cookie recipes, I flipped past this recipe without giving it much thought. Then I saw the picture that accompanied the recipe, and had second thoughts. The cookies looked chewy and dense, not cakey and round like more pumpkin cookies. After reading the description, the author claims to make a chewy pumpkin cookie, you can sell your soul, or you can reduce the moisture content in the pumpkin - genius! 

These cookies are a bit of work because you have to cook the pumpkin down, but they're so worth it. I quadrupled this batch, and put the pumpkin in the crock pot to reduce all day while baking other cookies, but the original recipe calls for cooking out the moisture in a pan. Either method works, it just depends on how much attention you have for the pumpkin. 

My sister, the one I made the Nutella Thumbprints for, already told me these are her new favorite. Add some cinnamon ice cream and make yourself an amazing fall/winter flavored ice cream sandwich!

Sell Your Soul Pumpkin Cookies
from "Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar"

1 c. canned solid pack pumpkin
1/2 c. earth balance (or butter, for the non-vegans)
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 c. oat flour (put some oatmeal in a blender)
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. baking powder
 1/2 tsp. salt
Pumpkin seeds, shelled, for garnish if desired

First, reduce the pumpkin.
Either place in a crock pot on high for several hours, stirring occasionally, or place in a saucepan over medium heat for about 45 minutes, stirring often. You can either weigh or measure, you want to reduce the pumpkin by half, ending with 1/2 c. or 4 oz. Cool to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350*
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a stand mixer, cream earth balance with the sugars, when soft and fluffy, add the vanilla and pumpkin, mix until incorporated.
Add all remaining ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
Chill dough for 30 minutes.
Spoon walnut sized balls and roll in your hands, then press lightly on a cookie sheet.
Press pumpkin seeds on top, if desired.
Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden and no longer glossy in centers.
Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. 
Yield 24 cookies

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nutella Hazelnut Thumbprints

When I make my Christmas Cookie list each year, I keep a few traditional favorites, but then try to include some new cookies. I always keep my recipients in mind, and look for cookies I know they'd enjoy. My older sister is a Nutella fiend, so I thought rather than make my traditional jam thumbprints, I'd use Nutella. When I was contacted by Oh Nuts! to choose a few products to assist in my holiday baking, I decided on Hazelnuts because I thought I'd combine the nuts with Nutella somehow. I google searched Nutella Hazelnut Thumbprints, and this recipe popped right up! It was exactly what I was looking for, really showcasing the delicious Hazelnuts as well as the Nutella. The Hazelnuts get toasty in the baking process and encrust the cookies perfectly. Not a traditional Christmas cookie by any means, but I'm guessing Kristine will hope they stay in the rotation for years to come! 

Hazelnut Nutella Thumbprints
slightly adapted from The Curvy Carrot
(I quadrupled this recipe and got about 70 cookies!)

1/2 c. (1 stick) salted butter at room temperature
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg, separated, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. unbleached, all purpose flour
1 c. Hazelnuts, chopped (I like bigger chunks, it's up to you how finely)
1/2 c. Nutella (or any other chocolate hazelnut spread)

Add butter and sugar to a stand mixer, beat until light and fluffy.
Add the egg yolk and vanilla, beat until incorporated.
Scrape down sides, add the flour and beat on low until absorbed.
Cover with saran wrap and place bowl in the refrigerator for an hour.
Beat the egg yolk until it's frothy.
Add hazelnuts to a shallow dish.
Preheat oven to 350*
Pull off walnut sized dough balls, roll in egg white, then coat in nuts.
Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
Repeat until all cookies are rolled in nuts, gently press a small divot in the center of each cookie.
Place in the oven and bake for 8 minutes, remove, press hole again, and bake for another 8 minutes, or until nuts are golden brown.
Cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
Press again in the center, if necessary.
When cookies have cooled, add Nutella to a piping bag and pipe a mound in the center of each cookie.
Cool for an additional hour or two, until Nutella has set, before placing in a cookie jar or packaging.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Cookies 2011

As always, I spent a December weekend baking dozens of cookies, and mailing them out to friends and family. I also have a few friends who purchase them as gifts. One of my loyal customers put in a special request this year, vegan cookies! I've never baked vegan cookies before, so I spent some time researching recipes and learning how to cut the butter and eggs. The end result was 7 batches of cookies that were fantastic! 
After each batch was baked, my husband and I sat down and did a taste test, as photographed above! The vegan cookies seemed a bit more dense than their dairy-full counterparts, but I don't think you'd realize their vegan unless you were told so. 

I'll be posting a few new recipes in the next few days, and linking to my trusty old recipes below. 

Merry baking to all :) 

Vegan Cookies, beginning with bottom left and going clockwise:
-City Girl Snickerdoodles
-Chocolate Chunkers
-Sell Your Soul Pumpkin Cookies
-Roll and Cut Sugar Cookies
-Gingerbread Men
-Cherry Coconut Oatmeal (adapted from Oatmeal Raisin Cookies)
-Blackstrap Gingersnaps
all recipes are from "Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar"

Christmas Cookies, 2011 (non linked will be blogged soon!):
-Butterscotch Walnut Chunk
-Cherry Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip
-Hazelnut Nutella Thumbprints
-Sell Your Soul Pumpkin Cookies