Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Cookies

I have been busy baking three different kinds of cookies over the last 24 hours: 2 old stand-bys, and an experiment, that worked out pretty well.   
Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
This was the wild card.  Last year I made a similar recipe from Bon Appetit, but it was hard to find the perfect line between undercooked and overcooked, and when overcooked, they became cakey, when I was hoping for chewy.  I also thought the icing on the top was overkill.  So, I took some things I liked about the recipe- crushed candy canes, espresso powder, peppermint abstract- and merged them with another recipe, courtesy of Martha, for flourless chocolate cookies.  The first time wasn't perfect, but it was the right step toward the cookie I was seeking: chewy, a little crisp, minty.  And, they're gluten-free and dairy-free to boot.

3 cups confectioners sugar
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon course salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
4 large egg whites, room temperature (try 3?*)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
6-ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
4 candy canes, crushed

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa, salt, and espresso powder. Add egg whites, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract, and stir until incorporated.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Use a teaspoon to drop silver-dollar sized rounds onto greased, parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake at 325 until cookie tops are cracked, about 12 minutes.  Immediately top with crushed candy canes, pressing them gently into the cookie before it hardens.  Transfer to wire racks and let cool.  Makes about 2 dozen large cookies, but if you want small to normal-sized cookies, it'll make twice as many. 
*Next year, I might try 3 egg whites instead of 4, per recipes found on King Arthur Flour and Recipe Girl to see if that makes them slightly less crispy, and more chewy.  It's a work in progress, but after so much 11th hour baking, I've decided to wait until Christmas comes around again to perfect it. 

Snowball Cookies
These are quick and easy, and I often double the recipe.

2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
confectioners sugar

Mix flour and salt in a separate bowl  Cream butter, sugar, vanilla and egg.  Gradually add flour mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.  Roll into teaspoon-sized balls (if they're too big, the middle may be doughy), and bake at 350 until the bottom is lightly brown, 13-15 minutes.  Cool and shake on confectioners sugar.  Makes over 2 dozen.

Meringue Cookies
My mom always made this cookie when we were growing up.  They are spectacular.  I used Corn Chex instead of corn flakes this time around.  I also used bittersweet chocolate chips instead of semisweet.  These also happen to be gluten-free and dairy-free cookies.  Double the recipe; you'll be sorry if you don't.

2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup confectioners sugar (sifted)
pinch of salt
2 cups of corn flakes, or Corn Chex
1 cup coconut
1 6-ounce package of chocolate chips 

(Sidebar: Why do recipes always call for a 6-ounce package of chocolate chips? I've never seen one.  That's 1/2 a 12-ounce package of chocolate chips to most of us.)

Beat egg whites, salt, and vanilla until soft peaks form.  Gradually add confectioners suger, beating until peaks are stiff. Fold in corn flakes, coconut, and chocolate chips.  Drop by heaping teaspoons on well-greased cookie sheets.  Bake at 300 for 20 minutes.  Let cool before removing from the pan.  Makes 2 dozen.
Wishing you all a sweet holiday!

1 comment:

Tortla Dot said...

Those meringue cookies are the best! I remember them from childhood - my favorite. My sister would make them and would have to hide them or they would be gone in 2 minutes!