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Category Archives: Cookies

Flat and Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies

I love my children with all of my heart and every ounce of my soul. I really do. But, some days, I swear they’re going to land me in the looney bin.

Take the baby, for example, who is certain he’s signed up for the exclusive, all-inclusive, deluxe mommy package, which features uninterrupted day and night snuggle time. He’s been filing his very vocal complaints with customer service every time I place him down to wrap a gift or bake a cookie.

Then there’s my oldest. He’s four (and a half) now. And he’s bursting with Christmas spirit and big ideas involving my Christmas decorations and the pile of trash I just finished gathering. He’s like an eager elf with a sledgehammer and glue.

But, it’s my three-year-old who is going to sign the papers at the crazy house. This funny little fellow aptly took on the role of middle-child long before there was a baby to make it official. He is cute as a button and silly as a goose, but boy does he have a flair for the dramatics! He’s got a propensity for tantrums even on his best days and when he’s not feeling well…well, just be thankful you don’t need to be around him when he’s sick. He was sick last week, just in time for the Christmas rush…a little virus which led to a double ear infection, which caused a few miserable, feverish days. It put a bit of a kink in my carefully crafted schedule leading up to Christmas. But, such is life with a family. You take the challenges with the rewards and be thankful when the challenges are only as major as an ear infection and a few tantrums. He’s better now and back at school today, which means I can resume my elfing at double speed.

I’m about to run down to the grocery store now to start gathering provisions for Christmas entertaining. But first I have to share these cookies with you. I decided I needed to add some last minute chocolate chip cookies to this year’s collection, but I didn’t want the standard tollhouse cookie. I wanted something flat and chewy, with big chunks of chocolate and dried cherries. I thought that if I eliminated the baking soda, the cookies would stay flatter. A batch of those cookies proved me wrong. Turns out that the key to flatter cookies is a higher proportion of butter to the other ingredients. So, I reduced the flour, increased the sugar, and played around with the size and baking temperature until I came up with the perfect, flat and chewy chocolate chip cookie.

Trust me, Santa likes his chocolate chip cookies like this!

Flat and Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cherries, chopped

Directions

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until creamy. Then, beat in the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually blend the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips and dried cherries. Refrigerate for about an hour. (You can skip the refrigeration, but the dough will be much more manageable after a bit of chilling.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roll the dough into balls, just under an inch in diameter. (Refrigerate remaining dough between batces.) Place the balls at least 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake on the middle rack for 11-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

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Tutti Frutti Chocolate Fudge and Crispy Peanut Butter Snowballs

There’s less than a week until Christmas! Is anyone else absolutely buzzing with excitement? I mean, literally trembling with anticipation??? Or maybe that’s just the result of the extra caffeine I’ve been pumping into my system to give me enough Santa power to get everything accomplished in time.

I hesitate to admit it, but I may have taken on too much this time. I’m absolutely spinning in my to-do list. My kitchen looks like Pamplona post bull run. My guest room (which needs to be houseguest-ready by Wednesday), looks like Santa’s workshop in the 11th hour. There’s glitter permanently embedded in the baby’s scalp (you know that stuff never comes off) from the place-setting ornaments I decided to make for each of my sixteen Christmas dinner guests. And there’s still a googly eye hot-glued to my wrist from the small army of candy cane reindeer my sons and I prepared for their little schoolmates. Oh, and though I’ve been baking faster than the Keebler elves, I don’t think I’ve made enough to pass out to all of the people on my list.

It’s too late to turn back now. Onward we go.

I’ve been tossing around a few stories I’d hoped to pair with this post, stories about Christmas trees, wish lists, and snakes in my bathtub. Yes, snakes in my bathtub! But, I fear I may never get this posted if I don’t just get right to it! So, let’s just do this.

They say variety is the spice of life. Well, same goes for cookie platters. The key to a great cookie platter is variety of flavors, textures, and color. So, in addition to the standard mix of baked oatmeal chocolate chip craisin cookies, vanilla cherry drops, and sand tarts, I like to include a few other non-cookie type goodies…like chocolate dipped dried fruits or pretzels, truffles, and fudge. Like this simple and delicious tutti frutti chocolate fudge or kid-friendly crispy peanut butter snowballs!

If you’ve got even a little space left on your holiday to-do list, go ahead and pencil these in!

Tutti Frutti Chocolate Fudge

Ingredients

  • 3 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup fruitcake mix (finely chopped, mixed candied fruits), divided

Directions

Lightly butter two 8×8 inch baking dishes or one 13×9 baking dish. Combine sugar, evaporated milk, butter, and salt in a pan over medium heat. Bring to a full boil. Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low if the mixture bubbles up too vigorously. Remove from heat. Stir in the marshmallows and chocolate chips until melted. Stir in 3/4 cup of the candied fruit. Pour the fudge into the baking dish(es). Sprinkle the remaining candied fruit on top. Cool completely at room temperature. Then, refrigerate until firm. Remove the fudge from the baking dish and cut into small squares. Store in an airtight container in a cool place.

Makes 4 pounds

Crispy Peanut Butter Snowballs

Ingredients

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup crisped rice cereal (Rice Krispies)
  • 1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

Directions

Combine peanut butter, powdered sugar, and rice cereal until well blended. Roll into 1″ balls. Roll the balls in the shredded coconut to adhere. Store in a cool place until serving or adding to cookie platters.

Coconut Crisps

I mourn my lack of singing ability every time O Holy Night comes on the radio. Man, do I wish I could sing the bananas out of that song! Mind you, my lack of musical ability doesn’t even begin to stop me from belting it out at the top of my lungs. My poor, unfortunate children who have to listen to me sing!

It’s one of my life’s greatest heartaches; my longing for even a pinch of musical ability. I would have been a Broadway star. Or maybe taken Michael Flatley’s place as the fast-stepping star of Riverdance. At least I could have tried, if I’d had even an ounce of talent to pursue that path. But I’m resigned to simply sing along with the soundtracks and watch episodes of So You Think You Can Dance, with both admiration and envy in my heart. It just wasn’t the path my life was meant to take.

But, I can bake.

And I can play around with ingredients to create delicious treats, like these coconut crisps. O holy night, are these good! Thin, crispy, and buttery. We’re going coconuts over these cookies around here. It’s gonna take a lot of self-control to save some for our Christmas guests. I promise I’ll try.

Coconut Crisps

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut

Directions

Using a hand-mixer, blend together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the salt, vanilla, and egg. Beat until well-blended. Blend in the flour and the coconut. Form the dough into a ball and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, until firm and moldable. Form the dough in a log shape, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the log in the wax paper and roll the dough to make it as even and round as possible. Freeze for at least 2 hours, until hard.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the dough into 1/4 inch slices. Arrange the slices on cookies sheets, at least two inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown around the edges and on the bottom. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then carefully transfer to a cooling rack. The cookies will be soft initially, so you can somewhat adjust the shape, if necessary. Store the completely cooled cookies in an air-tight container.

Makes about 3 dozen

Cranberry Chipotle Cocktail Meatballs

I hosted a little cookie exchange this weekend. It was really just an excuse to engage in a bit of holiday cheer with a few of my best girl friends…as if we needed an excuse! We drank pomegranate champagne cocktails and warm mugs of mulled wine as we laughed by the light of the Christmas tree. Then we loaded up our trays with the assortment of delicious cookies and homemade bread before saying good night. I love the holiday season exactly for such festive gatherings.

Our evening was as educational as it was fun. We learned such things as:

  • When offering your guests mulled wine, it helps to say the word “mulled” slowly and clearly, so your guests do not believe you are offering them some sort of fancy French mold wine.
  • Carrots are not only delicious, but also an excellent source of small talk.
  • If your boot gets stuck on your foot as you pass through airport security, you will need to sit in the naughty passenger area until the boot can be pried from your foot. (Try to appear as if you’re ok with this situation.)
  • Alec Baldwin likes Word with Friends and Wegmans. And we still like Alec Baldwin.

I made a few snacks for my cookie party, including some spinach-gorgonzola triangles (think spanakopita, made with gorgonzola cheese instead of feta) and these cranberry meatballs. They’re inspired by a recipe I spotted in an advertisement for Ocean Spray cranberry sauce. Ocean Spray’s recipe calls for a combination of jellied cranberry sauce and chili sauce over frozen cocktail meatballs. It reminds me of the sweet and sour meatballs which my mom used to make with a combination of grape jelly and ketchup. It was one of her standard dishes to bring to potlucks and they were surprisingly delicious. You’d never have guessed the sauce was made from jelly and ketchup, of all things!

I knew there was something to this cranberry meatball idea. So, I made a few little tweaks to raise the homemade factor in the recipe and to kick up the flavor with a bit of chipotle heat. The result is sweet, savory, spicy, and surprisingly delicious. These tasty little meatballs are going to make a prompt reappearance on my Christmas Eve menu!

Cranberry Chipotle Cocktail Meatballs

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1/2 medium onion, very finely diced
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper

For the sauce:

  • 2 cans jellied cranberry sauce
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers (from a can of chipotle in adobo)

Directions

To prepare the meatballs: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ground turkey, onions, eggs, bread crumbs, salt and pepper until well-blended. Form into 1″ balls. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet which has been lightly rubbed with oil. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until cooked through.

To prepare the sauce: Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium/medium-low heat. (Use one chipotle pepper for mild/medium heat or two chipotle peppers for medium-hot.) Use a fork to smash up the cranberry sauce. Stir and cook for about 5-7 minutes until a sauce forms. Remove the sauce from heat and allow to cool slightly. Puree the mixture using a blender, immersion blender, or food processor. Pour the sauce over the cooked meatballs.

Meatballs and sauce can be refrigerated or frozen until use.

To reheat: Reheat the meatballs in a foil-covered baking dish in a 350 degrees oven, until the meatballs are heated through, about 25-30 minutes (frozen meatballs will take longer). Periodically stir the meatballs as they reheat. Alternately, the meatballs and sauce can be reheated in a saucepan over medium-low heat or in a slow-cooker.

Makes about 60 cocktail-sized meatballs

Tis the season for festive cocktails, like pomegranate champagne cocktails and mulled wine.

For the pomegranate champagne cocktails: Place a few pomegranate arils (the bright red seeds) into the bottom of a champagne glass. Pour a splash of pomegranate juice over the arils. Fill the glass with champagne. The arils sparkle like floating gems and are really fun to pop in your mouth as you enjoy your festive cocktail.

For the mulled wine: Mulled wine is warm, spiced and flavored wine…sort of a warm sangria. It’s typically made with red wine. The flavors and spices can vary. I combined 1.5 liters of Merlot with 1/4 cup honey, 1 cup of pomegranate juice, and two cinnamon sticks. Then, cut one navel orange in half. Squeeze the juice into the mixture, then place the orange halves into the liquid. Slowly warm the mixture to a very gentle simmer. Allow to gently simmer for about 20 minutes. Do not boil. Serve warm. You can prepare the wine on the stovetop in a saucepan or use a slow cooker.

No-Bake Ginger Fruit Cake Balls

Did you know that you can watch the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular on Netflix? I was beyond thrilled when I found it yesterday.

Growing up on Long Island, attending the Christmas Spectacular was just about an annual event. To me, it is the epitome of Christmas in New York City. I have been itching to make a trip down to NYC to share the experience with the boys, but for the cost of the good seats, they’re just not ready. We’ll definitely bring them in a few years, when all of their attention spans are a bit more predictable. If you ever find yourself in NYC during the holiday season (and I strongly suggest you make a point of finding yourself there at some point in your life), make sure you get yourself tickets to the show. And if you can’t get there to see it, check it out on Netflix. It’s really wonderful. I’m totally going to be a rockette when I grow up.

In between working on my kickline skills and practicing my sweet tap dancing moves, I started working on this year’s cookie collection. I baked eleven dozen Double Chocolate Peppermint cookies for a little cookie exchange I’m hosting tonight. And then I made these little no-bake fruit cake balls. Crushed gingersnaps and sweet molasses make up the spiced base, while tender bits of brightly colored candied fruit deck the balls with festive fruitcake flavor. And if you like your Christmas cookies spiked with a bit of booze, go ahead and soak the candied fruit in a bit of spiced rum for even more fruitcake flavor! Loving this new addition to my cookie collection!

No-Bake Ginger Fruit Cake Balls

Ingredients

  • 2 cups gingersnap crumbs (about 40 gingersnaps, very finely crushed)
  • 6 tablespoons molasses
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup candied fruit (fruit cake mix)
  • 1-2 tablespoons spiced rum (optional)
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips or candy melts

Directions

If desired, pour the rum over the candied fruit and allow it to soak for at least an hour. Combine the gingersnap crumbs, molasses, peanut butter, and candied fruit until well blended. The mixture should stick together when pressed, but not be overly wet or sticky. Add a touch more molasses if the mixture is too dry. Use your hands to form balls, about 1″ in diameter. It’s helpful to press the mixture into a rough ball shape before rolling in your palms. Gently melt the white chocolate chips or candy melts in the microwave or in a double boiler. Use a spoon or pastry bag fitted with a fine round tip to drizzle the melted chocolate over the fruit cake balls. Store in an air-tight container.

Makes about 40

Holiday Cookie Round-Up

Well, folks… The holiday season is officially upon us! And with that, the time to complain about the too-early Christmas displays and carols on the radio has passed.

But then, that stuff never really bothered me anyway. Quite the opposite.

In fact, the week before Thanksgiving, as I stood in line waiting to checkout at my local Target, I overheard a woman complaining to the cashier about how early the Christmas displays appear. I stood there, silently judging her, as I pretended to peruse the selection of batteries, mascara, and matchbox cars, cleverly arranged to attract impulse shoppers. Bah humbug, Ms. Scrooge!

I happen to enjoy the early holiday displays in the stores. (Now you’re judging me, aren’t you??) There’s something about the anticipation…seeing those decorations, but knowing it’s not time, not just yet. I look, I plan, I wait. As much as I love Christmas, I force myself to wait until after Thanksgiving to bust out my full festive cheer. Honestly, I can only focus on one holiday at a time. And we’ve still got a skeleton hanging outside our front door and leftover Thanksgiving green beans in the fridge.

It’s here though, for real now. There is no longer shame in the jingle bells I’ve left tied to my running sneakers or the shopping cart I intend to fill with glittery wrapping paper this morning. The scarecrows and skeleton outside my front door will promptly be replaced by a happy family of snowmen and a blinking reindeer. The holiday season is here and that also means it’s cookie baking time! Are you ready??

I’ve got a few new cookie ideas brewing for this year. But to get you started, here’s a look back at some of my previously posted cookie recipes.

**I’ve starred the favorites I’ll be remaking for this year’s cookie collection.**

Carrot Cake Cookies

Peppermint Patty Cheesecake Bars

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

**Sand Tarts**

**Cherry Vanilla Drops**

Rainbow Cookies

**Coconut Macaroons**

**Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies**

Choco-Cherry-Coconut Bars

**Pfeffernussen**

**Oatmeal Chocolate Craisin**

Lemon Ginger Sugar Cookies

Almost Thin Mints

**Chocolate Covered Spiders (Haystacks)**

**Peanut Butter Fudge**

Holiday Bark

Carrot Cake Cookies

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Yowzers! It’s sure been tough to find the time to write lately. Busy summer days with very busy little boys!

I’ve got an ever-growing backlog of recipes hanging out in the queue. They’ve all been taste-tested and photographed. Ingredients, quantities, and procedures have been drafted. Now if only I could find a moment to form a few semi-coherent thoughts to complete the posts. Coherent thoughts are hard to come by these days.

But, busy is good. Busy means happy, healthy, curious kids. Busy makes me tired, but busy is definitely good!

Hanging out alongside a tasty recipe for corn and bacon fritters and two separate grilled shrimp recipes were these cookies…carrot cake cookies. They’re sort of a cross between a chewy oatmeal raisin cookie and a slice of moist, delicious carrot cake. And they’re good! I made the first batch as a thank you gift for the midwives I saw throughout my pregnancy and a second batch for my son’s nursery school teachers. Who doesn’t love to receive homemade cookies as a gift?? And somewhere in between those two batches, I ate at least a dozen of these tender, sweet and spicy cookies myself. Mhmm…they’re yummy indeed!

Carrot Cake Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups Quaker oats
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, finely grated
  • 1 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • Confectioner’s sugar and water, for icing (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In another large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the vanilla and eggs to the butter mixture. Blend until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture to the bowl and blend. Stir in the oats, carrots, and raisins. Drop rounded spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet which has been lightly greased with cooking spray. Bake for 12-14 minutes on the middle rack. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

For the icing (optional): Combine about a cup of confectioner’s sugar with a few spoonfuls of water to form an icing. Add the water slowly. It won’t need much. The icing should be thin enough to drizzle, but thick enough to maintain it’s shape. You can add more sugar or water, as necessary, to achieve the desired consistency. Use a spoon to drizzle the icing over the cookies. Allow the icing to harden at room temperature.

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