Experience the Holidays: Nonpareil Thumbprint Cookies! Ask my husband what his favorite candy is and without hesitation, he’ll respond “Nonpareils”. Think about it… dark chocolate buttons sprinkled with tiny beads of white candy. And they’re French! With today’s recipe, the nonpareil takes center stage crowned over a dark chocolate thumbprint cookie as rich as a brownie. Dusted in powdered sugar, it’s just the right size for nibbling.
NONPAREIL THUMBPRINT COOKIES
2 cups flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup powdered sugar for rolling
Preheat oven to 350°. Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a small bowl. Using a mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Reduce speed to medium, add yolks, cream, and vanilla. Beat in flour mixture just until combined. Roll balls using 1/2 tablespoon sized scoops of dough. Roll each ball in powdered sugar. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Press gently in the center to form an indentation. Bake 10 minutes or until set. Remove from oven. While cookies are warm, place one nonpareil in the middle of each cookie. Let cool before transferring to wire rack.
Experience the Holidays: Xmas Pizzelle Cookies! I’m obsessed with food that has eye appeal. That’s one reason I was drawn to pizzelles, a traditional Italian waffle cookie. I could make you crazy by telling you we’re going to make them from scratch, but hey, my time is in high demand just like yours. Besides, since I don’t own a pizzelle iron, sometimes it’s better to leave things to an expert. I’m here today to save you time when someone suggests a Holiday Cookie Exchange. Pick up a package of Classic Italian Pizzelles on your way home from work, dip the cookies in melted chocolate, and sprinkle with nuts. You can thank me later when you’re sitting back relaxing with a glass of wine.
XMAS PIZZELLE COOKIES
7-ounce package Vanilla Flavored Pizzelle Cookies
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 ounces pistachios, chopped
Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine semisweet chocolate chips and vegetable oil. Heat in microwave on 50% setting for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat in 30-second intervals until melted. Stir until smooth. Dip half of each pizzelle cookie into melted chocolate. Sprinkle both sides with chopped pistachios. Place on baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set.
Experience the Holidays: Mincemeat Cookies! When my friend, Ray, “gifted” me with a batch of his time-honored traditional homemade mincemeat, I felt as though I had received a portion of the Holy Grail. Could this secret from the past hold special powers? Would one bite provide happiness, eternal youth, and food in infinite abundance? You tell me. Ray carefully coached me on how to “season” the mixture by adding flavored brandy (I chose apricot) over a three-week period, stirring it occasionally in a covered clay crock. I was an awestruck student following his instructions to the letter. The results were phenomenal and elegant. Don’t let anyone tell you mincemeat is awful. When prepared correctly, some things are worth the wait.
Ingredients for Cookies:
2/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup mincemeat*
2 cups flour
1 cup pecans, chopped
Pecan halves for garnish
Ingredients for Icing:
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon apricot brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons warm milk, as needed
Preheat oven to 375°. Cream together butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add eggs and mincemeat. Gradually stir in the flour. Fold in chopped pecans. Drop by spoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes until tops of cookies are dry and set. Bottoms will be slightly golden. Remove from oven. Transfer to a wired rack. Frost while slightly warm. Top each cookie with a pecan half before frosting sets.
Instructions for Icing:
In a medium bowl gently mix powdered sugar and butter until smooth. Add brandy and vanilla. Stir well. As needed, add warm milk to create a thick consistency. Place a dollop of icing on each cookie. Garnish with pecan half.
*The “Elegant Homemade Mincemeat” recipe can be found in the 1972 Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook, page 371.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Xmas Crinkle Cookies! Shortcuts are the key to success for that next cookie-exchange the kids forgot to tell you about. “Oh yeah, Mom, sorry.” No worries. Head to the kitchen to clang some pans around, preheat the oven, and dust a little powdered sugar on your nose. They’ll be none the wiser. By the time the house begins to smell like a neighborhood bakery, you’ll have rows of cookies lined up ready to be boxed. And if you’re one of those organized parents, just so you know, these cookies freeze well. Arrange them in a freezer gallon bag, layered between squares of waxed paper. I have literally taken these crinkle cookies out of the freezer and handed them to a little girl to eat. Other than being slightly chilled, they retain a chewiness that makes them simply delicious. You deserve a pat on the back. You’re welcome.
XMAS CRINKLE COOKIES
1/2 cup powdered sugar, for dusting
15.25-ounce box strawberry cake mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350°. Place powdered sugar in a shallow dish. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine strawberry cake mix, vegetable oil, and eggs. Stir until a dough forms. Chill dough for 20 minutes. Shape dough into 1” balls. Roll in powdered sugar and place 2” apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 7-9 minutes, or until center is just set. Remove pan from oven; cool for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack. Dust with more powdered sugar.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Raw Honey Peanut Butter Cookies! No baking required. Wait, whaaat? These bite-size morsels are not only healthy as an energy snack, they can be made in a matter of minutes with ingredients you probably already have on hand in your pantry. So, what exactly is raw honey, you wonder. Most beekeepers will tell you it simply means the honey is strained right before it is bottled. That translates to nature’s sweetness with all its beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. By eliminating the intense processing stage of heat filtration, what you get instead is honey that comes from the bee hive to your home. No extra sugar is added either. To make sure you are getting raw honey, always check the label.
RAW HONEY PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES
1/3 cup raw honey
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter, creamy
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups whole grain oats
Sprinkles, for garnish
Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Pour sprinkles into a dish. Set aside. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine raw honey, creamy peanut butter, and vegetable oil. Microwave on High for 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat. Add vanilla extract. Mix well. Add whole grain oats. Stir to incorporate until cookie dough forms a large ball. Using a cookie scoop, press dough to make bite-size uniform cookies. Dip into sprinkles. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cookies will “set up” on their own. Transfer to a covered container for storage.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Java White Chocolate Mocha Cookies! Get ready for a cookie that combines three incredible cravings: chocolate, coffee, and cream. It’s the perfect mid-morning break, lunchtime nibble, mealtime morsel, or late night snack. There’s something about the slightly bitter taste of coffee that complements the sugary sweetness of chocolate. The creaminess of white chocolate is similar to adding a splash of milk to your morning cuppa joe. Unlock all the flavors in a single bite. Take things slow; pamper yourself. Savor the sweetness and focus on the texture. Isn’t it time to spotlight the things that make you happy?
JAVA WHITE CHOCOLATE MOCHA COOKIES
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
18-ounce box chocolate cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup sugar, for rolling
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
Preheat oven to 350°. In a small bowl, stir together espresso powder and vanilla extract until dissolved. In a large bowl, combine chocolate cake mix, espresso mixture, vegetable oil, and eggs until a soft dough forms. Fold in white chocolate chips and mini chocolate chips. On ungreased baking sheets, drop dough by rounded teaspoons, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake 9 minutes, or until tops appear dry. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and espresso powder. Set aside. Remove cookies from oven; cool 1 minute. Roll cookies in espresso sugar and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Eagle Brand Magic Cookies! One definition of the word magic is “wonderful; exciting”. That’s what these quick and easy holiday cookies are all about. The magic ingredient is the sweetened condensed milk. It may not be something you use everyday, but special occasions call for special ingredients. Homemade cookies are chocked full of sweetness in chocolate morsels, flaked coconut, and chopped pecans. How delightful and different. That’s what I call exciting. Create your own magical moment for the next festive gathering, after school snack, or weekend party-for-two.
EAGLE BRAND MAGIC COOKIES
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
7 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
3 tablespoons sweetened coconut flakes
2 tablespoons pecans, finely chopped
Sugar, for dusting
In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and sea salt. Set aside. Using a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the sweetened condensed milk. Beat until combined. Slowly add the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Fold in the mini chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, flaked coconut, and chopped pecans. Cover dough and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take a heaping teaspoon of cookie dough, roll into a ball, and place on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat. Bake 8-10 minutes; cool 2 minutes. Dust cookies with sugar and transfer to a wire rack. Enjoy!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies! Mention the word “cheesecake” and wait for an automatic human response. It might be a low sensuous moan or perhaps a catch of breath. Either way, the reaction is suggestive of a rewarding self-indulgence. Add chocolate for a superb combination. Now you can make your own bite-size cheesecake cookie that is worthy of bakery status. The cookie becomes a soft crust for the creamy vanilla filling. Can you imagine? If so, you’re only a few steps away from making it a dream-come-true.
DECADENT CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE COOKIES
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
18-ounce box Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake mix
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Fresh strawberries, for garnish
Ingredients for Filling:
8-ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large bowl, beat butter, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy. Add kosher salt and prepared chocolate cake mix. Thoroughly blend together, scraping sides, as needed. Refrigerate dough for one hour. While cookie dough is chilling, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350°. Remove chilled cookie dough from the refrigerator. Form tablespoon-size portions into a ball. Make an indentation in the center. Place onto ungreased baking sheet. Fill with one teaspoon of cream cheese filling. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Bake until edges are set, about 12 minutes. Allow cookies to cool completely, about 20 minutes, before removing from baking sheet. Transfer cookies to a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve with fresh strawberries.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: One-Bite Cookie Morsels! Years ago while traveling with my husband on a business trip, we had dinner at a popular local restaurant that extended a warm welcome to all who crossed its threshold. Before approaching the hostess stand, we were immediately greeted by the bakery-fresh aromas of homemade cookies. How delightful! On the dessert showcase, to our right, sat a plate of one-bite chocolate chip cookies with a table tent that said, “Please Take One”. I assure you, we didn’t hesitate as we munched away following the hostess to a nice, secluded corner booth. Talk about a memorable experience.
ONE-BITE COOKIE MORSELS
1 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips, plus more for topping
Preheat oven to 350°. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and sea salt. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Using a mixer, beat softened butter, brown sugar, and sugar on medium speed until well combined. Mix in egg and vanilla extract. Reduce speed to Low and slowly add dry ingredients. Mix until combined. Fold in mini chocolate chips. Scoop 1/2 tablespoon-sized mounds of cookie dough, form into a ball, press 2-3 mini chocolate chips into top, and place onto prepared baking sheet. Bake 5-6 minutes; remove from oven. Allow to cool for 2 minutes, then transfer cookies to a wire rack.