December 1: Oreshki

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Well folks, here we are again at the start of another December. I’m proud to say this is my 15th year doing this crazy cookie thing–it may not have always been documented, but it’s always been baked!

Before I get into today’s cookie, the kick-off cookie, the cookie that starts it all (you get the picture), I want to let you know of a style change I’ll be making. Instead of putting the recipe at the end of the post, I’ll be putting it at the start. Why? Because I’ve *also* scrolled through cooking/baking pages looking for the recipe, just like you do, and it’s annoying. While I hope you stick around and read my color commentary on the cookie at hand, I want to make sure you get what you need out of this first.

Oreshki (from Alonya’s Cooking)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter softened
  • 6 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • FILLING:
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter softened
  • 1 14oz can dulce de leche
  • 1 tsp sour cream

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Make the filling first, as it needs time to set; beat together the filling ingredients and refrigerate until needed.
  2. TO MAKE ORESHKI: In a medium bowl beat the eggs and sugar until pale and frothy; set aside.
  3. In a separate small bowl beat the butter until smooth then add the mayonnaise and mix to combine. Set aside.
  4. Dissolve the vinegar with baking soda and set aside.Sift together the flour and cornstarch into a large bowl.
  5. Add the egg mixture, butter mixture and soda mixture and beat everything together until a soft dough forms.
  6. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour before handling.
  7. Once dough is cold enough to work with; scoop out 1 teaspoon full of dough into each oreshki mold.Lightly mold in the dough into the cookie iron.
  8. Cover mold with the lid and bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven for 30-35 min or until golden.
  9. Invert cookies onto a tray and continue to work with remaining dough chilling the dough in-between the handling.
  10. Cool cookies completely before filling.
  11. TO ASSEMBLE ORESHKI: Fill each cookie half with the filling mixture and combine the cookie halves to form a walnut shape cookie.
  12. Refrigerate shells and serve cold at all times. Enjoy!

Okay, now to the good stuff.

So I have a very cool grocery store within walking distance of my house. (Not that I walked there, no, it’s December and I’m not in the South anymore.) It looks boring enough from the outside, like most grocery stores do. However, inside it’s like an international vacation without ever pulling out a passport. They have Asian things, they have Hispanic things, they have Kosher and Hebrew things, and they have Russian and European things.

On this last point, there are a lot of countries in Europe represented here, but there is more Russian/Eastern European things in this grocery store than anything else. (And yes, I know Russian is in Asia.) There’s a large Russian/Eastern European population near where I live…though I don’t know if I’d know this without help of this grocery store.

My point is, they have cool stuff there in other languages that look amazing. I saw these a few weeks ago and haven’t stopped thinking about them.

They looked like walnut shells, but baked, and apparently you fill them with things. As I was contemplating Googling that exact phrase, I saw the name Oreshki on the package and instead Googled that.

I literally saved myself hours in doing that.

I found a number of recipes for this cookie, generally considered a Slavic cookie, and in all of them, the recipe talks about getting a special pan to make these cookie shells. In fact, every recipe I saw talked mostly about how to prepare the cookie part of this, and the filling was mainly an afterthought.

I brought out my Santa mug to soften my first butter of the season.

As I already had the cookie handled, I went straight to the filling. (Though I’m now intrigued with this pan and it’s on my Amazon list.)

Once I found a recipe I thought I could handle, I assembled the filling. In this case, it was literally three ingredients: Dulce de Leche, butter, and sour cream. All things I love.

Mix, chill, and plop.

Or so I thought. I mixed. I chilled. And I plopped…and then discovered I put too much filling in each and had to scoop out a spoonful from half my shells.

Live and learn.

Once I was able to assemble these cookies without a Dulce de Leche lava trail, I sprinkled them with powdered sugar and put them in the fridge. This recipe says specifically to keep them there. I have no problem with keeping these cold, but I live with 2.5 teenagers (my youngest is 12 and a half). Things in the fridge tend to disappear quickly, without a trace, and with no one taking responsibility for the disappearance.

Therefore, these will live safely in the trunk of my car.

December 8: Nate’s Eggnog Cookies

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I’ve been doing this cookie thing for a long time now. The first official year of 24 Days of Cookies was in 2004, when my now 16 year-old son was a precocious two-year-old. He was an only child at that point (and he’d joke that those were the good ol’ days) and was the cutest little dude you ever did see. 

Because 2004 was about a million years ago, I don’t have those pictures digital on my computer, but I do have this picture of Nate when he was 3, so just imagine this dude a year younger. Precious.

Anyway, Nate has been my longest-running taste-tester, beater-licker, and cookie-sampler. Nowadays, he’s also my bus boy and world’s greatest dishwasher. Let’s just say he doesn’t have the same enthusiasm about 24 Days of Cookies ever since he was upgraded from garbage to dishes, but he doesn’t complain. Much. 

Last week, he sent me a text from upstairs (because: teenagers), with a cookie recipe. He’s never suggested a cookie before. They grow up so fast. 

Here he is now, at drivers ed last week. Doesn’t he look thrilled to be taking a picture with his mom?

So, for Nate, I made Eggnog Cookies today. The recipe looked pretty good and tasted even better. 

I creamed together the butter and sugars, and once again, the recipe called for it to be pale and fluffy. What’s with that? It’s got brown sugar in it too, so I wasn’t sure how pale this would end up. 

After adding vanilla and rum extracts to this, I added the pièce de rèsistance:

This is a hot commodity in our house. My middle son has been asking for eggnog for awhile, and so I bought two quarts early in the week. Aside from a glass or two by other people, he drank both quarts on the sly, and then complained all evening of digestive disturbance. Even with those natural consequences, I had to buy this secretly and hide it. 

After adding all the dry ingredients, I put the dough on my parchment-lined baking sheets and baked them as directed. Because I think my oven is a few degrees cooler than normal (hi landlord…), it took a few minutes longer, but ultimately turned out pretty well.

I then got started on the frosting, which also calls for rum extract and eggnog. And butter, and a crapload of powdered sugar. 

Can anyone make frosting without making a mess? I seem to just have a knack for the mess, and I hope there are others out there like me. 

Once frosted, I topped the cookies with a shake or two of nutmeg. Nate emerged from his den of adolescence and ate one. He gave his seal of approval and said they tasted just like eggnog. 

That’s his professional opinion, of course.

Nate’s Eggnog Cookies

(adapted from Cooking Classy)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg , plus more for topping
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter , at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp rum extract
  • 1/2 cup eggnog

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter , at room temperature (I used 1/4 cup salted and 1/4 cup unsalted butter)
  • 3 – 5 Tbsp eggnog
  • 1/2 tsp rum extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon for 30 seconds, set aside. 
  2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. 
  3. Mix in egg yolks one at a time, blending just until combined after each addition. Mix in vanilla extract, rum extract and egg nog. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until combined. 
  4. Scoop dough out by the heaping tablespoonfuls and drop onto Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 2-inches apart. 
  5. Bake in preheated oven 11 – 13 minutes. Allow to rest on baking sheet several minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely then frost with Eggnog Frosting and sprinkle tops lightly with nutmeg.

For the Eggnog Frosting:

  1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter until very pale and fluffy. Add in rum extract and 3 Tbsp eggnog and mix in powdered sugar. Add additional eggnog to reach desired consistency.
  2. Recipe Source: slightly adapted from allrecipes.com and inspired by Parent Pretty

December 7: Italian Sand Cookies

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Yesterday was my last day of the semester, so now it’s just grading to get done and I’m free until January! Well, minus my other gigs and parenting and general adulting. But I’m not worrying about those things today. Today, it was sleeping in, cleaning, and making Italian Sand Cookies. 

I found the recipe for this years ago on Pinterest, and ever since, they’ve been a staple in my December cookie baking. However, during the three Louisiana years, they didn’t turn out quite right. I’m not sure if it was the humidity or my own distraction (you know, leaving the mixer on too long while I write another paragraph about Elizabeth Barrett Browning), but they spread out way too much there. We still ate them, so I’m not exactly sure what I’m complaining about. 

Again, the recipe amuses me. It lists all of the ingredients, and for the directions, it says, “Creaming method.” If you don’t know what that is, it’s mixing together the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. 

It’s pretty simple really. Then you add the cornstarch and flour, and mix it all together. Again, I needed more flour than the recipe calls for…I used about another 1/3 of a cup. And when I was all done mixing, I looked for my beater-lickers, but alas, they were all at school.

So I guess I had to do it. It’s a sacrifice I was willing to make.

I piped them with a star tip onto my baking sheet and put them in the over. I also kinda burst the bag because I don’t know my own strength, and then had to put my finger over that part so the dough wouldn’t come out there. These are the behind the scenes things you don’t get with professional baking blogs.

They baked up wonderfully and looked the way they were supposed to look.  After they cooled, I dipped them in melted chocolate (chocolate chips with a little crisco to make it thinner), and topped them with sprinkles. These take a while to dry, so I set them outside on my back step for 15 minutes. (Thanks 21 degree Illinois day!)

Italian Sand Cookies

(courtesy of Chef Tess Bakeresse)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour (we used AP)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar *
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 eggs
*(we also liked 3/4 c. conf sugar & 1/4 c. granulated which made them a slight bit sweeter)

Directions:

Creaming method. Put through bag with large star tip. Bake @ 375 F for 12-15 minutes or until lightly brown. Decorate with choc chips, sprinkles or leave plain and dip half in melted choc., etc.

December 4, 2017 — Soft and Chewy Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I’m in the throws of finishing a beast of a paper, so instead of telling you how I made something, I’m just going to post a few pictures and the recipe. It’s that sort of week around here.

The Best Soft & Chewy Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies (from thedomesticrebel.com)

Ingredients
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract (I like to use Madagascar Bourbon)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar & white sugar with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and egg to combine. Lastly, beat in the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and pinch of salt until a soft dough has formed. Stir in the cranberries and white chips by hand.
  2. Refrigerate the cookie dough for AT LEAST 1 HOUR. You can chill it overnight if you’d like, but one hour chill time is mandatory to prevent cookies from spreading and to create that light, soft and chewy texture.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicone liners or mist lightly with cooking spray. Remove chilled dough from fridge and roll into Tablespoon-sized balls. Place onto the cookie sheets about 1-2″ apart from one another.
  4. Bake for approx. 8-10 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time to ensure an even cook. Cookies may appear slightly undone, but do not over-bake them! They will continue to set up more as they cool. Allow cookies to set on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes or so before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. If you’d like to make them prettier, garnish cookies with additional white chips on top of still-warm cookies before serving.

December 3, 2017–Cherry Divinity

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In every cookie blogger’s life, a little sugar must fall. Or in my case, Cherry Divinity.

I’ve never made this before, but I had some marshmallow fluff leftover from the night before (it’s a long story) and google was there for me this morning with the answer to “Christmas Cookie with Marshmallow Fluff.”

Enter Cherry Divinity.

I supposed Divinity is more a candy than a cookie, but I make allowances for butter mints and toffee, so Divinity is given a pass.

The recipe seemed simple enough, though there was a glaring typo that I was ready to pounce on. Joke’s on me though, because this one didn’t quite turn out the way it should have.

I did everything right up until the 10 minutes of mixing, when I left to go write some of my research paper. When I returned, the substance in the mixer looked a little grainy. But I thought maybe it would be okay.

It wasn’t really.

Divinity isn’t supposed to look like this. I don’t know what it’s supposed to taste like, but this is SUPER sweet. However, my kids have been snacking on it all day long, which tells me maybe there’s a market for this treat. I’m just not it.

And Dixie Sugar, it’s “loses” not “looses,” but after my experience, it’s clear that maybe I’m the loser on this one.

Cherry Divinity (from Dixie Sugar)

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Line countertop with wax paper.
  2. Place marshmallow fluff in stand mixer bowl and attach the paddle attachment. Set aside.
  3. In a large sauce pan over medium-high heat, combine sugar and water whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and let boil for 3 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and slowly pour sugar mixture into the marshmallow fluff with the mixer on medium.
  5. Bring the speed up to medium-high and beat until the mixture thickens and looses it’s glossy sheen (and looks more matte), about 10 minutes.
  6. As soon as it’s the right texture, stir in vanilla and candied cherries. Working quickly, drop the divinity onto parchment paper using two large spoons: one spoon to scoop it and one spoon to push the candy off the other. Place a cherry onto the top of each piece of divinity.
  7. Allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

December 1, 2017–Italian Sand Cookies

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Whoa, is it that time of year again? My tree is up, Elf is on prime time, and I have a pile of final exams to grade. Yup, it must be December!

It was a little up-in-the-air whether or not I’d do this, and in the spirit of openness, the way I was feeling in December, I didn’t know if I could ever get in the Christmas Spirit again. But I’ve prevailed against the doldrums, and here I am.

I’m starting the season off with one of my favorites–Italian Sand Cookies. I got this recipe a few years ago off the internet and they are always a crowd-pleaser.

Tonight, as I was starting to bake, I couldn’t find cornstarch. So, despite my best efforts, I was not prepared, and back to the store I went. Sigh.

Mixed it all together and piped it on a cookie sheet (I also didn’t have parchment paper, which I discovered after I got home from the store for the second time today. I was not about to return for a third.)

Now, when I lived in Wisconsin and made these, the piping came through a lot better.

See?

Now, I don’t know why it is that these have spread out so much the past few years, but my inclination is that it has something to do with humidity and general Louisiana-ness. (50th in everything, except humidity.) If you happen to know the real reason, please let me know.

To celebrate my first day (night?) of holiday baking, I picked up a little something at Albertsons when I went for corn starch.

No, not the cat. That’s Zelda, and she’s a new addition. I’m talking about the glass of Prosecco, also a new addition of sorts.

When they were cooled, I melted some milk chocolate with a little coconut oil and dipped them, and then added the mandatory sprinkles.

My best friend once caught a glimpse of all the sprinkles on my shelf via FaceTime and made me count them for her. There were 20 different kinds. This was a few years ago, and the collection has indeed grown. I don’t have a problem; I can stop any time I want!

Welcome to December friends. Now would anyone like to write a 20 page paper for me this weekend?

SAND COOKIES

(from www.cheftessbakeresse.com)

1 1/2 cups flour (we used AP)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar *
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 eggs
*(we also liked 3/4 c. conf sugar & 1/4 c. granulated which made them a slight bit sweeter)

Creaming method. Put through bag with large star tip. Bake @ 375 F for 12-15 minutes or until lightly brown. Decorate with choc chips, sprinkles or leave plain and dip half in melted choc., etc.

Soft Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies

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When I think of the flavors I love, the top two are lemon and caramel. (What, you don’t sit around and think what two flavors you would want if you could only have two flavors for the rest of your life? Yeah…me either…) And since I live in the south now, sometimes I am blessed with a bag of lemons straight from someone’s tree. img_0028

(You can grow LEMONS and other citrus fruit down here! It still blows my Northern Girl mind!)

Mini- Me’s friend’s grandma gave us a bag of lemons and satsumas before Thanksgiving, and I thought there had to be a recipe out there for a deliciously lemon cookie.

I found one on Pinterest and went to work. Though as tasted the dough, I realized that it was not lemony enough for my liking. And then this Northern Girl realized that the lemons that grow down here are Meyer Lemons, and not as sour as your everyday lemons. Oh well.

To try and rectify my sourpuss sensibilities, when it came time to make the lemon icing, I improvised a little. Instead of just powdered sugar and water, as the recipe calls for, I tried to make a sour lemon icing with the juice from the Meyer Lemons and sugar, boiled and reduced in a pot, and then added to powdered sugar.

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The result? Lemony icing, but still not sour enough. Oh well. They still taste good to the non-lemon flavor purists out there, and that’s a success in my book.

 

Soft Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies

(from Swankyrecipes.com)

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 – 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Icing (as they wrote it, not my 24daysofcookies.com variation)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup powdered sugar

Combine butter and cream cheese in a bowl fit with a paddle attachment of a mixer. Cream together for about 1 minute. Add granulated sugar and continue to mix. Add egg and vanilla extract and continue to beat on medium to high speed until light and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes. Add half the flour, all the baking soda, salt, cornstarch and lemon zest. Add lemon juice and the remaining flour. Mix to combine until the dough starts to form like a ball. Add a little more flour until slight ball starts to form. Cover and refrigerate dough at least 2-3 hours or up to a few days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheet and spray with cooking spray or parchment paper. Using a cookie scoop, scoop about 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie dough. Roll cookie dough between hands to get a nice round ball and place on prepared cookie sheet.Bake for 8-10 minutes, removed from oven and while still hot, slightly press down if desired. Allow cookies to cool down completely before transferring. Cookies will slightly harden overnight a little more so don’t bake them much longer.

To make the glaze, combine powdered sugar and water together in a small bowl. Whisk fast until ingredients are combined with no lumps. Dip cookies upside down into icing or drizzle icing over the top and allow to harden.

Cesca’s White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies

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I made these last year–another Pinterest find–and when I brought an assortment to the hungry hungry grad students, my friend Cesca tried a few and then got to this one. Well, since then, whenever the conversation turns towards cookies (and because she and I now share an office, it often does) I hear about “those ginger cookies,” often in a lyric detail only a poet could describe them, and always with the ending sentence, “And I don’t even like cookies that much.”

So, I’m sorry Pinterest and site where this recipe originated, I have changed the name of these to Cesca’s White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies, after their biggest fan and bad-ass poet/songwriter/journalist. I hope these hold up to her memory from last year!

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White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies

(from http://www.cookingclassy.com)

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups white chocolate chips
  • 3 Tbsp shortening
  • sprinkles

Directions:

  • In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg for 20 seconds, set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar until well blended. Mix in egg, then blend in molasses and vanilla. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees during last 10 minutes of chilling.
  • Scoop dough out about 1 1/2 Tbsp at a time, shape into balls then roll in remaining 3 Tbsp granulated sugar. Transfer to Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 2 inches apart (keep dough chilled that is not currently baking), flatten tops just slightly (to evenly level). Bake in preheated oven 8 – 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • In a microwave safe bowl, melt 1 cup white chocolate chips with 1 Tbsp shortening at a time in microwave on HIGH power in 10 second intervals, stirring between intervals, until melted, smooth and fairly runny (I did batches of it because it will cool as your dipping, plus its easy to burn so you don’t want to work with too much of it at a time. Then once you’ve used it up melt more, you may not need all 3 cups). Dip half of each cookie in melted white chocolate mixture then run bottom of cookie slightly along edge of bowl to remove excess, then return to Silpat or parchment paper to set at room temperature.
  • Sprinkle sprinkles on top, after the long journey to decide which ones to use

 

December 17: Gingerbread Wookie Cookies

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There’s a fad on FB (and probably other forms of social media and internet-ing) where someone takes a recipe and does a fast-action shoot of it. They’re interesting. I’ve never made a recipe from a video like that. But that all changed.

This fast little video amused me so much, I had to try it.

Because the video already exists (and in viral form), I decided not to take pictures of the actual making of the dough. That, and I forgot. But here’s when I took it out of the fridge to start cutting out my wookies.

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I did what I was supposed to…stretch out the gingerbread men. I found that starting with the legs one at a time was easier, but as the dough warmed, I could stretch them head first. (This kinda sounds like a mafia how-to.)

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I pricked them with a butter knife and baked them for 10 minutes at 350. Every time I pulled a batch out of the oven, I just laughed. I was baking Wookies!

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When it came time to decorate them, I lined them up like playing cards and went to town. Melted chocolate chips makes for a good medium.

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Insert Chewbacca roar.

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And, in case you are wondering, they are delightfully Chewie. 😉

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Gingerbread Wookie Cookies

(from http://www.buzzfeed.com)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Once dough begins to form a ball in the center, dust generously with flour. Separate into three sections to make rolling easier. Cover dough with plastic wrap or wax paper and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Dust a smooth surface with flour, and roll out a section of the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Use a gingerbread man cookie cutter, or a knife to slice out your Wookiees.

Wookiees are tall, so you may want to stretch out the head and feet! Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet, and score the cookie’s surface to look like fur.

Bake at 350˚F/180˚C for 10-12 min. Your Wookiees will puff up quickly! Next, with melted chocolate in a piping bag, add the bandolier, eyes and nose.

 

December 16: Stroopwafels

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Truth be told, these are the fanciest cookies I make. They are also the ones that take longest to create. They are ALSO my personal favorites of any of the cookies I make, and if you get one, it’s because I really, really like you. Actually, with this economy, I’m going to need to bump that up to love now.

(They are also the cookie that got me an award and some serious poetic street cred because I wrote a poem about making them. But we don’t need to talk about that.)

(I can see you’re not going to let this go…here’s the link.)

I don’t expect any one to have a pizzelle iron at home (or even better, an actual Stroopwafel one), but on the off hand chance you do, well, let me introduce you to my favorite of the favorites.

This one needs yeast. Don’t be afraid of yeast. Just make sure the water you’re using is warm, not hot. You don’t want to kill the yeast.

IMG_4556While my yeast was yeasting, I went to get my flour. I was digging at the bottom of the barrel (bucket) for this recipe, but thankfully, I had enough.

(Also, I keep flour and sugar in food grade buckets. Write a cookie blog sometime and tell me you won’t do the same.)

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You have to cut the butter into the flour, and I find it’s easier if you cube the butter first.

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Anytime I bring out my pastry cutter, I think of my friend Jenny B., who once had some very important questions about using such a device. You don’t need one–you can do the same thing with two knives–but I’ll tell you it’s easier to use the pastry cutter.

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After I added in all the other ingredients, I mushed it into a ball and let it rise for an hour.

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And through the magic of the Internet…

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Time to make the heavenly filling for the Stroopwafel. It’s pretty easy–butter, brown sugar, dark Karo syrup, and cinnamon. This is the Karo syrup, in my Pampered Chef measuring cup–a measuring cup that has paid for itself many times over because of it’s syrup-measuring (and peanut butter, and mayonnaise) abilities.

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Let it boil until it reaches the soft ball stage. Don’t let it go any further than that, or you will have crunchy cookies that take your fillings out.

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Once the filling is done, I like to pour mine into an extra large measuring cup.

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The dough needs to be made into cookies. I take biggish balls (okay, 8th grade boy…) and press them until they are juuuust lightly golden. It takes a few tries. You want it just on the brink of being fully cooked.

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I take a serrated knife and cut through the cookie. This is why you want the cookie to be just almost done. It helps you find the sweet spot in the cookie without tearing the whole thing apart. I would have had a picture of this for you, but I’m a safety gamble using two hands doing this, and I wasn’t about to try it with one, just so there’d be a picture.

(Adulting kind of blows, btw.)

I filled the cookies with the delicious insides. I don’t know why this picture is sideways. Deal with it.

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And then I quickly put the tops on the cookies, pressing lightly.

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As you can see above, these cookies make my counters look like there’s been a struggle. Or neglect. Or both. But all in the name of good cookies.

It’s recommended that you put a Stroopwafel on top of a hot cup of coffee or tea to really get the insides gooey. This was a coffee cup I painted at one of those “Paint your own ceramics” places a few years ago. It’s holiday-themed and says exactly what you think it does.

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Again, you are only getting my stash if I love you.

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Stroopwafels

(from http://www.food.com)

Ingredients

Waffle cookies

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water

Filling

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons dark corn syrup

Directions

Preheat a pizzelle iron.
To Make Waffles: Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Cut butter into the flour. Mix in the sugar, cinnamon, eggs and yeast mixture. Mix well and set aside to rise for 30 to 60 minutes.
Roll dough into 12 small balls; Squeeze each ball into the preheated pizzelle iron and bake for about 30 seconds. Cut the waffles into two thin waffles and spread with filling.
To Make Filling: In a saucepan boil the brown sugar, the remaining one cup of the butter, cinnamon (this is a must-have ingredient), and dark corn syrup until it reaches the soft ball stage (234-240°F, 112-115°C), stirring constantly.

To Assemble: Cut each waffle (only if home-made waffles) into 2 thin waffles and spread with filling. Repeat this process until all the filling is used. If using store bought, simply spread about 1 tablespoon of filling on one waffle cookie, let it cool about 1 minute, and squeeze a second cookie on top.