Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Cookie EXTRAVAGANZA!!!!!!!!!

I love Christmas!  It means family, friends, and lots and lots of baking.  Which we all know makes me a very happy girl. 

I baked a cake the other day for a coworker to take to church for a Christmas party and it was so much fun.  It had been awhile since I've actually decorated a cake for real and it felt really good to get back into it. 

I've got a few parties/get-togethers coming up too, so I'll of course be baking for those.  (Is it kind of sad that all of my "holiday" parties this year are on or after Christmas?  I think so.  But I digress.) 

And of course, we have the Christmas Cookies.  I've sort of made it my tradition to bake a bunch of cookies and give them to friends as gifts.  I started doing this in college and have been doing it (almost) every year since.  I try to mix it up every year, make a different assortment of cookies and candies.  I think this year may be the best, due to all of the blogs I've been reading and recipes I've been bookmarking.  It took me almost a full day to narrow down the recipes, but I think I found some winners! 

I don't think I took a picture of the actual cookie boxes (shame on me), but I used small shirt boxes that you can buy at Target ($2 for a pack of 4).  They have cute little Christmas designs on them, and you don't have to wrap them or anything.  I used stick-on gift tags to label who they go to, and to separate the treats inside, I used Christmas treat bags (also from Target, $1.99 for a pack of 20).  I made labels out of brown cardstock.  I cut them out with pinking shears, then wrote the name of the cookie with a red Sharpie, punched a hole in it, and attached them to each bag with the twistie tie.  I kind of randomly thought of it yesterday and I think it looks SO freaking adorable. we go!  12 hours of baking (yes, 12) condensed into one post.  I didn't take a TON of pictures, but you'll get the idea. :) Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!!

Striped Peppermint Meringues with Chocolate Ganache

These cookies are so cute!  I saw them on 17 and Baking awhile back and knew they would be perfect for Christmas.  I've never made meringue cookies before (although I've made meringue cake- see Sans Rival- and it turned out great!) and I was a little apprehensive.  Elisa did warn in her post that if you use peppermint extract that includes peppermint oil in the actual cookies, they will deflate (the whole rule about egg whites deflating with any little smidgen of fat).  Hers didn't get as puffy, although if you look at her post, they're TOTALLY cute.  She suggested that if you can't find peppermint extract without the oil, put the extract in the chocolate ganache, instead of in the cookies.  Which is what I did, and the cookies still have a great peppermint flavor.  You can't even tell if it's in the cookies or the chocolate.  I've adapted the recipe to reflect all that.

I also think I made my cookies a bit on the small side.  That's okay- they're bite-sized.  Next time I make them I'm going to use a larger piping tip, but they still turned out pretty cute. :)

I love fluffy meringue.

Striped Peppermint Meringues with Chocolate Ganache
Makes about 5 dozen

3 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
Red Gel food coloring (I used Wilton no-taste Red)

Chocolate Ganache
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 1/2 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used chocolate chips and found I had to add more to get the consistency I needed.  Just eyeball it)
1/2 tsp pure peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 175 F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Whisk the egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer over a pan of simmering water.  Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm and smooth between your fingertips, about 3-5 minutes.  Transfer the bowl to the mixer and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form. 

With a small, clean paintbrush, paint 3 stripes of food coloring inside a pastry bag fitted with an open star tip.  Then fill with 1-2 cups of meringue and pipe small, 3/4" high stars onto the sheets.  If you need to refill the pastry bag (or use a new one), repaint the food coloring. 

Bake the cookies until crisp, but not brown, about 1 hour 40 minutes.  Cool completely on wire racks before sandwiching with ganache.

To make the ganache: bring cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Pour over the chocolate in a small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes.  Add in peppermint extract.  Stir until smooth and let cool to room temp, stirring occasionally.  The ganache should be thick enough to hold its shape (I had to refrigerate mine for a few minutes).  Fill ganache into a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip and pipe a small mound of ganache onto one meringue, then top with another. 

Store cookies in a single layer in an airtight container at room temp for up to 2 days.
Glazed Sprinkle Cookies

I was going to make cut-out, iced, decorated sugar cookies.  Then I decided I'm making way too many other things and that would just take even more time to do.  I saw this recipe and they were cute and looked delicious.  Still festive, and were pretty easy.  The cookies aren't too sweet, which is a good thing, since the glaze is.  That's about all I have to say about these.  Except I may have gone a little overboard with some of the sprinkles.  Is that a bad thing?

Glazed Sprinkle Cookies
Makes 2 1/2-3 dozen

3 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup shortening
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon extract

For the glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs on high 3-4 minutes until pale.  In another large bowl, whisk together flour, powdered sugar, and baking powder.  Work in shortening with a pastry cutter.  Stir in extracts until crumbly.  With the mixer on low, add flour mixture into eggs.

Roll the dough into 1" balls and place 2" apart on cookie sheets.  Bake 12-14 minutes or until very lightly browned.

In the meantime, make the glaze.  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla.

Once the cookies are cool, dip each one into the glaze.  Pour the sprinkles on top and let dry.  Store in an airtight container. 
 Chocolate Sandwich Cookies (Homemade Oreos)

Aaaah!!!!  I saw this recipe on a blog and I feel like such a dinkus that I can't remember for the life of me which blog it was.  :/  Although I do remember that person got the recipe from ANOTHER blog,  so let me just say: I AM NOT PLAGIARIZING THIS RECIPE.  IT IS NOT MY OWN.  Just in case. 

These cookies definitely take some forethought and planning, and I wish I had read the entire recipe beforehand to know that I had to refrigerate the dough for 2-3 hours.  I would've made these first had I known that.  Whoops.  The dough is a little tricky to work with.  Straight out of the freezer, it's too hard and cracks.  If it gets too soft, it sticks to your cookie cutter and gets all gloppy.  It has to be just right.  But let me say, these are SO worth the trouble.  They're even BETTER than Oreos.  And I'm an Oreo expert.  So if you have the patience, make these.  I'm definitely making them again.  Oh: and the filling?  Ohmigod.  I'll just leave it at that.

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies (Homemade Oreos)
stolen from a blog I can't remember the name of
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen sandwich cookies

For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling:
1/2 stick butter, at room temp
1/4 cup shortening
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then beat in egg yolk and vanilla.  At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches just until a dough forms.  Divide dough in half and form each piece into a 6-inch square, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Roll out 1 piece of dough between sheets of parchment paper into a 14x10 inch rectangle (1/8 inch thick).  Freeze dough until firm, about 10 minutes.  Repeat with remaining dough.

Cut out as many rounds as possible with a 2 inch cutter, reserving and chilling scraps, then quickly transfer cookies to baking sheet. 

Bake cookies until baked through and slightly puffed, 10-12 minutes.  Cook on sheet on rack for 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to rack to cool completely (cookies will crisp as they cool).

Make more cookies with remaining dough and scraps.

To make the filling: beat the butter and shortening together at medium speed until combined and smooth.  Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in sugar and vanilla.  Increase speed to high and beat for 2-3 minutes until the filling is light and fluffy.

To assemble the cookies, pipe a heaping teaspoon of filling onto the flat side of a cookie.  Top with another cookie to make a sandwich.  Store in airtight container at room temp.
Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies
I made little tags and baggies for these too, but by the time I was done with these, I was DONE.  I wasn't taking any more pictures.  You can see how half-assed my white chocolate glaze is.  These cookies were the biggest pain in my ass.  The dough is so sticky and turns EVERYTHING, including your hands and kitchen counter, red.  The dough looks like bloody meatballs.  I had eaten so many cookies and samples of dough and icing that I was about to be sick, so these cookies disgusted me sort of.  Until this morning when I had one for breakfast and it was awesome.  :) 

These cookies are a total pain in the ass.  I doubled the recipe because it said it made 10 giant cookies.  I was going for a few dozen smaller cookies.  So if you make these, maybe you should go for the giant cookies.  They'll probably be a lot easier to make.  They are delicious, though.  Especially for breakfast.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies
makes 10 giant cookies

1 box red velvet cake mix
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

For cheesecake filling:
4 oz cream cheese, room temp
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

For white chocolate drizzle
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips, melted

To make filling: Using a mixer, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla.  Mix until smooth.  Using a teaspoon, scoop out cheesecake filling and place on a plate.  Continue scooping out cheesecake filling into balls until you have 10.  Place plate in freezer and freeze for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  To assemble the cookies, take 1/4 cup cookie dough and flatten in your hands.  Place a cheesecake filling ball in the center and wrap dough around filling.  Gently roll into a ball and place on baking sheet.  Bake only 3 cookies at a time, as they will spread.  Bake 11-13 minutes or until cookies begin to crackle.  Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack and cool completely. 

Melt white chocolate chips in the microwave. Drizzle over cooled cookies (I used a ziploc back with the corner snipped off).  Let cookies set until chocolate hardens.
So there you have it.  I also included a family candy recipe in my cookie boxes, which I will share later.  Now I have to go clean my kitchen and bleach all the red off my counters.  Merry Christmas!


  1. These cookies are so insanely pretty! I love the meringues best--you've inspired me to make my own.

  2. Yay! Let me know how they turn out. I had never made meringues before this and I was a little scared, but they turned out really well! :) Enjoy!