Category: Christmas


Finally getting around to writing about the Christmas cookies I baked this year!  I know, I know, it’s March.  But cookies are good any time of year.

I made seven different kinds this year, and only one was a variety I had made before:

Not so "easy" when it comes time to take them out of the pan...

“Easy” Layer Bars from a 1970s utility company cookbook. I REALLY should have lined the pan with parchment.

They don't turn pink when you use organic cherries

Cherry Blossoms from Flour On My Face

These were one of my favorites!

Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies, adapted from Go Bold With Butter (no coconut or nuts in mine)

The recipe made about a billion of these!  My freezer is still full of them.

Orange Cardamom Crinkles, also from Go Bold with Butter. Next time I’d probably double the cardamom.

I need more cooling racks.

So many cookies!

mmm...Nutella!

The only kind I’d made before: Nutella Lava Cookies from Kirbie’s Cravings. These are pretty much the Best. Cookies. Ever.

Plus I made Almond Cloud Cookies (unfortunately I seem to be lacking a picture of those), and that’s not even counting the Tangerine-Ginger-Vanilla Sugar Cookies and Nutella Chip Cookies that I made with some friends of mine earlier in December.  There were so very many cookies this year!

But I couldn’t go without making up my own cookie recipe, so my friends and I brainstormed flavors that would go well together and eventually decided that it would be really awesome to find a way to combine the flavors of habanero, lime, and dark chocolate all together in one cookie.

But how to do it?  I thought the flavors might get lost if they were just directly added to a chocolate dough.  So I needed some sort of filling.  Cheese is my go-to answer for almost every cooking question, so I figured, why not mix the habanero and lime with some goat cheese?

it looks Christmasy!

The filling, just waiting to be mixed…

Upon further reflection, it made sense to add cream cheese to the mix, because goat cheese can be a bit crumbly in texture, so it turned into a cheesecake filling, with cream cheese, goat cheese, lime zest, lime juice, very finely minced habanero, and powdered sugar.  I don’t actually know how much powdered sugar I ended up adding.  I started off with every intention of measuring and added a quarter cup, but upon tasting, it really wasn’t sweet enough and didn’t seem like a dessert, so I added more, a little at a time, until it tasted right.  So when you make these, just be sure you add the powdered sugar slowly until you’re satisfied with the flavor.  You need just enough to take it over the line from savory to sweet, but be careful not to go too sweet, since you’re already surrounding it with chocolatey cookie goodness.

They're big cookies.

 

Cheesecake Cookies!

Dark Chocolate Habanero Lime Cheesecake Cookies
(makes approx. 34 cookies)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1.25 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2.25 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1.25c bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 8oz (1 package) cream cheese
  • 4oz goat cheese
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 habaneros, seeded and finely minced
  • 1/4 cup + extra (to taste) powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together the butter and sugar until they’re light and fluffy (this may take a couple minutes).  Add the eggs, one at a time, and then add the cocoa powder and mix it in gently.  Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder, and then slowly add them to the wet ingredients, about a third at a time, and mix until just combined.  With a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl, blend together the cream cheese, goat cheese, lime zest, minced habaneros, 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, and half of the lime juice.  Taste it, and add more powdered sugar and/or lime juice until you’re satisfied with the taste of the filling.  Be careful not to over-sweeten: the chocolate cookie dough is fairly sweet, so just add the powdered sugar a little at a time.

Scoop up about 2tbsp of cookie dough, roll it into a ball, and then flatten it to a disk in your hand with a slight indentation in the middle.  Scoop a bit of the filling into the middle, and then wrap the cookie dough around it, sealing in the filling.  Roll it back into a ball, and put it on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Space cookies about 2 inches apart, and bake for 14-17 minutes.  Cool on the sheet for a few minutes, and then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!

PS. You may have extra filling left–it makes an excellent mini cheesecake!  Just take a ramekin, mix a little melted butter with some graham cracker crumbs (or cookie crumbs…whatever you have) in the bottom and then load in the filling and bake at 350 degrees til it’s set.

mmm...leftovers!

Leftover filling mini-cheesecake!

Cookies!!!

One of the very first things I learned how to do in the kitchen was to bake Christmas cookies.  My mom and I would put on matching aprons, and I would help her measure out the ingredients, roll the cookies into balls, press them into cookie molds, and decorate them.  It was an annual tradition to flip through the old gas and electric company cookie books from the 60s and even earlier to decide which cookie recipes to make this year.

I always had a tendency, though, to pick out the unusual or “fussy” cookie recipes and so I often got vetoed in favor of the traditional chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, etc.  This year, though, armed with a functional kitchen of my own, two cookie sheets, two cooling racks, an assortment of mixing bowls and an antique pastry blender, I decided to search the internet for some brand new cookie recipes to experiment with.

When we found Aarti’s Garam Masala-Chocolate Gingerbread cookies we were intrigued.  My fiance, who loves Indian food, really wanted to make a garam masala cookie, but since I’m not a big fan of gingerbread, we googled around until we found these Indian spice cookies. They don’t look like much, but they’re soft and have a delightful spiced aftertaste.  Definitely a recipe to repeat next year!

Then I headed over to In Jennie’s Kitchen to see what kinds of cookie recipes she had and did I ever find some good ones!

I started off with these Chipotle Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies which turned out to be a great favorite everywhere I brought them. If you’re making them, do make sure you use actual chipotle powder though. I couldn’t find any, and thought that it would work to buy dried chipotles and just grind them up. But dried chipotles have the consistency of sun-dried tomatoes–they don’t willingly turn into powder! Not even with the chopping attachment on my immersion blender (don’t have a food processor) or the mortar and pestle! I did finally get enough sufficiently small pieces to (almost) comprise the half teaspoon called for by the recipe, but in the end you couldn’t really taste the chipotle in the cookies because it just wasn’t evenly distributed through the batter. But they were still good!

Chipotle Orange Chocolate Chip!

Then I found these Deep Chocolate Cherry Cashew Cookies. The dough looks like brownie batter. And they have dried cherries in them. You should make these cookies.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew

I also made sugar cookies–nothing fancy about them, but I’m pretty sure that cut-out, decorated sugar cookies are the very definition of a fussy cookie.  But they are good!  I just flavored mine with almond extract, but if you wanted to fancy them up you could add in different flavors of extract, orange zest, or other spices!  I also frosted a few–I basically made a variation on one of the many cookie icing recipes out there using some homemade chocolate mint syrup that I had in the fridge from my mom.  But I think I need to work on my cookie icing recipe…it was way too runny.

And then we come to the ultimate cookie.  The combination of all of my most favorite dessert flavors (almond paste, cream cheese frosting, and chocolate!).  My own version of chokladbiskvier.

The most delicious cookies EVER!!

Now I had seen almond macaroon recipes many times, including in some of those old gas company cookbooks, but until I stumbled across this newspaper recipe contest winning recipe it had never occurred to me that a simple almond macaroon could become oh so much more!

Originally I had intended to make the recipe as it appeared in the article.  But, as you see, the buttercream filling calls for pasteurized egg yolks.  And I could not for the life of me find pasteurized egg yolks.  Or pasteurized whole eggs.  I did actually find pasteurized egg whites, but that didn’t do me any good.  I thought about pasteurizing my own eggs, but lacking a candy thermometer, it seemed like a recipe for disaster, and plus I wasn’t sure how the extra liquid you need to add to the yolks to pasteurize them would affect the buttercream recipe.  And while I was fairly certain that my eggs were not contaminated with salmonella, having once *had* salmonella, I was just not willing to take the risk of using them raw.

And then I realized–I’m not actually that huge of a fan of buttercream anyways…why not substitute my favorite frosting instead?  But then that created a whole new series of questions–would it adhere to the macaroons?  Would I be able to dip them in the melted chocolate without it falling off?  And what kind of proportions would I need?

I ended up using the almond macaroon part of the original recipe (it’s the same as pretty much every other almond macaroon recipe–almond paste and egg whites!) and then I made a half batch of this cream cheese frosting recipe from all recipes. Instead of dipping the cookies upside down into the chocolate, I just spooned it over the top. In retrospect I didn’t need all of the chocolate called for in the original recipe, and actually I could have just drizzled the chocolate to make the cookies prettier (and easier to eat), but they definitely tasted good!

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So if you’re looking to branch out and make some delicious and different cookies next year, give some of these recipes a try!  I promise they’re all tasty!  And if you don’t have a stand mixer or even a hand mixer?  Don’t worry!  All of the above cookies were made completely by hand using my trusty, wooden-handled antique pastry blender that I inherited from my grandma, a cheap yet sturdy whisk, and a wooden spoon.  All that’s required is a little muscle and a little patience.

(Though I must admit, I’m super excited to try out the new electric hand mixer I got for Christmas!)

Clockwise from top left: chipotle orange chocolate chip, sugar cookies, Indian spice cookies, a stray sugar cookie, and dark chocolate cherry cashew cookies.