I don’t know how it started. I belive it may have been a single sandwich bag wrapped gingerbread man that I’d distribute to friends. And since then, I’ve been trying to top myself each Christmas in the treat baggies I gift to my friends:
What new packaging could I use?
What kinda baking should I do?
And more importantly, how can *I* create my own empire of food and fund and be JUST like Martha Stewart?? (minus the jail time)
And every year I go through the same self loathing cycle of hating myself for a couple months as I hibernate in the kitchen covered in butter, egg, flour, and 289389 baking pans, then patting myself on the back when I finish it all and I get to see my friend’s expressions when I give ’em away. This year was no different.
In retrospect, I guess it would’ve made more applicable sense to you readers if I posted my Christmas baking during the Christmas season, in hopes of giving you guys some ideas for your own. (*jots down note to be better blogger for Christmas 2012*)
Every year, I try to make something different when I do my Christmas baking. But at the same time I like to revisit some of my favorites, and then there’s some items I pretty much make every year, like my double chocolate chip cookies.
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
As Harry Potter is associated with his lightening bolt scar, then so are these cookies to me. It’s my thing, my fallback, my “go to recipe” if I need to whip up something quick, and it’s become something I’ve been “known” to make. I’ve used it so many times I can usually whip out a batch within a half hour from start to finish, and the recipe sheet is completely tattered. I pulled the recipe off allrecipes.com eons ago, and I believe it to be a recipe from Reese’s; however I was unable to locate it again when I had searched it recently for someone. So for anyone who is interested in making these, here is the recipe:
-2 cups all purpose flour
-3/4 cups cocoa powder
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp baking powder (my own addition)
-1 1/4 cups butter, softened
-2 cups white sugar
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 2/3 cups chocolate chips or whatever kind of chips you like. (The original recipe had Reese’s peanut butter chips)
-You guys are smart enough, you know the drill. Combine the wet ingredients until it’s all mixed together. Sift together all the dry ingredients. Mix the two together. Then add in the chips, and seriously, dump as many in as you like. That’s what I always do. Mix it up into a mad mess.
-Drop them in with a small ice cream scooper thing onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake ’em for about 9 minutes, shorten it to about 8 minutes if the oven gets hot as you’re baking. Nevermind if the cookies come out super soft and looks under done, it’s perfect. Let them cool and they will be the chewiest cookies EVAR.
Another type of cookie I’ve made in the past was a shortbread cookie recipe I found off Martha Stewart’s website. I absolutely love this recipe and it’s always gotten rave reviews. It’s one of Justin’s favorite cookies.
It’s a pretty straight forward recipe, but I discovered a few tricks when making this recipe over the years that will help in achieving great shortbreads.
Tip #1: Do not make the shortbread too thick when pressing the dough into the pan. Thinner shortbread I found taste better because the heat goes through the dough better, giving the baked cookies a more buttery aroma and taste. I learned that the hard way when I doubled the recipe yet still fit the dough in the same sized pan as a single recipe. Bricks, anyone?
Tip #2: I found the best way to smooth out the surface of the dough after pressing it into the pan is to take a semi flexible spatula, cover it in plastic wrap (or a sandwich bag) and to drag it along the surface of the pressed dough. It doesn’t stick or anything and it gives you a nice smooth surface.
Tip #3: Definitely cut out the cookie lines in the pan before you bake them. Don’t just score the surface, but actually cut through the dough. And once the cookies are baked and come out of the oven, take a knife and run it down the same lines while the cookies are still hot and soft. I find that it makes it easier to cut crisper lines than if you waited till they cooled.
And once the shortbreads are cooled, I like to dip them in a double boiler of melted chocolate, and lay them onto parchment paper to set.
These cookies keep GREAT, and as the recipe states, they get better as they “age.”
Every Christmas I also make sugar cookies of some kind, but change up the shapes. This year I decided to do candy canes (which I’ve never done in the past), and Christmas trees (which I have done in the past, but not decorated in this particular fashion.)
I followed this Williams-Sonoma sugar cookie recipe, which I happened to find an electronic version of right here.
Rolled out the dough, cut out the shapes, and baked them up.
And the decorating…
Again, these guys keep so great thanks to the incessant amount of sugar in these guys. I typically freeze my cookies but find that these can go a good few weeks without being in the freezer, so long as you keep ’em in an air tight container and keep it in a decently cool place (basements are great)
Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll finish up the rest of my Christmas 2011 baking, which will include reindeer and tanned men (oh my.)