Peanut Butter Pretzel Fudge

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I have one more Christmas treat to share with you and it’s a super simple, easy, and tasty recipe. Before I go any further though, I have to make a comment about the title of this dessert. It is deemed “fudge,” but I know the fudge purists out there (i.e. my beloved Aunt Khaki) will cry foul. It is not boiled or made with cream; but it is still a great addition to your holiday dessert tray. So there you go my sweet fudge queen, Aunt Khaki. You have taught me the true candy-making ways.

Now- onto this dessert. One of my favorite things about this fudge is that it’s no-bake and it only took about 15 minutes of total active time in the kitchen. That, and the fact that the combination of salty, crunchy pretzels and peanut butter go so well with the flavor of bittersweet chocolate.  This is the perfect thing to make with only 5 days before Christmas. Minimal fuss in the kitchen means there is plenty of time to spend with the ones you love the most, which is usually a good thing. :)

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Peanut Butter Pretzel Fudge

Ingredients

  • 5 ounces (2 cups) salted thin pretzel sticks, broken into ½-inch pieces
  • 12 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1½ cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) powdered sugar
  • 2 ounces (½ cup) bittersweet chocolate chips (semisweet or milkchocolate is fine, too)
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Directions
1. Line an 8×8 inch pan with foil. Spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

2.Process 1 cup of the broken pretzels in a food processor until finely ground. Combine pretzel crumbs and the 12 tablespoons melted butter in a bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit for 5 minutes.
3.Add the peanut butter, vanilla and salt to butter mixture and mix on low speed until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until peanut butter mixture comes together. Add remaining 1 cup broken pretzels and mix until just combined.

4.Transfer peanut butter mixture to the prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5. Microwave the chocolate and corn syrup in 30 second intervals, stirring after each 30 seconds. Continue to put in the microwave for 30 seconds until fully melted. Stir until smooth. Pour over top of the chilled peanut butter fudge and spread evenly. Cover pan and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days. This fudge also freezes really well for a few weeks.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen Best-Ever Christmas Cookies

 

 

Soft Cut-Out Cookies with Fluffy Buttercream Frosting

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What are your all-time favorite Christmas cookies? I adore a lot of them, but the top spot in my heart goes to soft cut-out cookies with fluffy icing. The whole process brings back a lot of happy memories from
my childhood. If my mind serves me right, my mom usually made spritz, snowball, and cut-out cookies at Christmas time. I always loved helping frost the cut-out cookies and eating the icing when my mom wasn’t looking. One Christmas, I ate so much, I ended up with a bad stomach ache. Or maybe that was the Christmas when everyone in our family came down with a nasty bout of gastroenteritis? Nothing says “Merry Christmas” quite like spending the night curled up in the fetal position on the bathroom floor. Happy memories… and a great topic for a food blog.

Anyways, back to these particular cookies…

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I used one of my favorite drop cookie recipes for sugar cookies and decided to see if the dough would hold up as cut-outs. Boy, does it ever. The cookies are soft on the inside, but have enough of a sturdy exterior that they can be topped with frosting. And the frosting is just lovely. It’s fluffy, pillowy, and it pairs so well with the cookies.

I should point out that the cookie recipe calls for a lot of vanilla and baking powder, so make sure your pantry is well-stocked. This recipe can also be doubled and it freezes great. It’s perfect for making a few weeks in advance.

I hope you will fall in love with these cookies as much as we did.

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Soft Cut-Out Cookies with Fluffy Buttercream Frosting 

Ingredients

For the Cookies

  • 4½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 5 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 3 sticks + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream (or milk)
  • 2 teaspoons  pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Directions

1. Make the cookie dough ahead of time: beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in the vanilla and mix until combined.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Slowly add the flour to the butter mixture, just until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure the dough is evenly mixed. Chill the dough for a hour.

3. While dough is chilling, make the frosting. Place the butter, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Whip the butter at medium speed until it is pale yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time until well-combined. Add in the cream and mix well. Add in desired food coloring.

4. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.Roll out the dough on a lightly-floured surface with a rolling pin until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out with desired cookie cutters.  Transfer to baking sheet and dpace the cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake about 8-9 minutes or just until set. Be careful not to overbake – they should barely browned on the bottom. Let cool on the baking sheet for several minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely,

5. Decorate cooled cookies with frosting using a knife, offset spatula, or piping tips (I used Wilton 233 tip for the Christmas trees). Top with sprinkles, if desired.

Source: Cookies- Annie’s Eats (originally adapted from Hostess with the Mostess), Frosting- barely adapted from Sweetapolita 

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Date Nut Pinwheels

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When I was planning what cookies I was going to bake for this Christmas season, I perused through my cookbooks and surfed my Pinterest boards and found myself in absolute sensory overload. I couldn’t decide, so I asked Bert what his favorite Christmas cookies are and after brief deliberation, he decided on date nut pinwheels. I was kind of surprised to learn this little fact about the guy I have grown to know so well that I can (and, so annoyingly, do) finish his sentences. My husband, who has declared chocolate chip the supreme cookie of all time and holds a classic double chocolate cake as his most revered birthday treat, had revealed to me a side of him that I never knew. The lad loves the underrated and often overlooked date nut pinwheel. My heart swelled with pride and I marked my notebook in pen; date nut pinwheels were a must for this holiday season.

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These cookies are a little more time-consuming in that you have to allow plenty of time to make and cool the filling, and chill the dough two separate times. The actual rolling up of the pinwheels can be a little intimidating, but the folks at America’s Test Kitchen included great instructions on how to do it simply with parchment paper. I was feeling a little sassy and festive on the day I was baking these and decided to have Bert and Smith record me rolling up one of the pinwheel logs . I always learn better by watching a video over a series of pictures, so I’ve included the video here. It’s very homemade, but I hope you find it helpful.

Have a wonderful week, everyone, I am going to be posting more holiday treats on the blog as Christmas nears. It’s going to be extra sweet around here, but I have some lighter recipes to share in a few weeks, as well.

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Date Nut Pinwheels

Yield: America’s Test Kitchen says 40 but I got around 48

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped fine
  • 9 ounces pitted dates, chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) packed brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. Bring the pecans, dates, 1/2 cup sugar, and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir frequently and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 1 hour.

2. Use the paddle attachment in a standing mixer to beat together the butter, brown sugar, and remaining 1 cup of granulated sugar. Beat for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, soda, and salt. Set aside. When your butter mixture is nice and fluffy, turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the eggs, one at at time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowls and mix again. Next, add in the vanilla and mix until well-combined. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the flour mixture, in about 3 additions, until the dough is just sticking together. Turn off the mixer and divide the dough into two equal-sized hunks. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

3. After the filling is cooled and the dough has chilled, place one of the hunks of dough on a lightly-floured piece of parchment paper. Roll the dough into a 9×13 inch rectangle and spread half of the date filling on the dough using a rubber spatula. Pull up on the long side of the parchment paper that is facing you and slowly peel and roll the dough while pulling up on the parchment paper to form a log (see video above). Repeat with the other hunk of dough. Place the logs on a cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 1 day. You can also speed up this process by freezing the dough for about 1 hour.

4. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with greased parchment paper or silicone mats. Carefully slice the logs using a sawing motion as to not flatten the pinwheels into rectangles. Gently adjust the sliced cookies with your fingers to make them rounder. Place on baking sheets, about 2 inches apart, and bake for 14-16 minutes**, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove from the oven and let cookies cool completely.

**America’s Test Kitchen provides a baking time of 18-22 minutes, but I found that my cookies were a little overdone at this time. My advice would be to do a test cookie and see which duration works best for you.

SourceAmerica’s Test Kitchen Best-Ever Christmas Cookies

Homemade Peeps: Version 2.0

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To celebrate this beautiful Easter weekend, I attempted to make homemade peeps again. My first attempt was last spring. Visions of beautiful, sparkling marshmallow treats danced in my head. I had seen several versions on Pinterest and I knew it was destined to be a hit. I was so young and naive.  As you can see in the picture below, the magical peeps I had envisioned ended up looking like it belonged perfectly on a Pinterest Fail blog with the caption, “Nailed It.”

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Not only did the marshmallow I piped on parchment paper turn into a pastel and turd-like blob, the said blobs stuck to the parchment paper even after cooling and there was no salvaging this mess. I was a bird with a  broken wing.

When spring rolled around again this year, I came down with peep fever; and I decided it was time to try again. This time I stuck with a homemade marshmallow recipe I had used before. To prevent the little devils from sticking, I lightly sprayed the parchment paper with cooking spray. Though my homemade version featured a very diverse array of imperfect peep shapes and looks (morbidly obese, two-headed, evil eyes), I was much happier with this year’s version.

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I will definitely be making these bad boys again next year, hopefully with my little sous chef by my side.

Happy Easter, everyone!

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Chocolate Pecan Pie

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I’ve obtained several cookbooks and baking books since I got married 6 and a half years ago. During the days of low carb dieting in my past, I would peruse longingly through the beautiful pictures in the Barefoot Contessa’s cookbook series or Taste of Home magazines. It was cathartic in a strange, carb-obsessed way. However, now the “dark ages” without carbs are only a distant memory (bread is the meaning of life), and my culinary literature collection continues to grow.

I love all the books on my shelves, but there is only one that I have of which I want to make every single recipe. That book? Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours. Talk about sensory overload. Everything sounds, looks, and reads positively scrumptrulescent. It’s really quite overwhelming. Even better, since owning this precious classic, every recipe of Dorie’s that I have made has become an instant favorite of mine. She really knows her stuff.

The most recent recipe of hers that I have made is her chocolate pecan pie. I happened to have a leftover pie crust in my fridge a few weeks ago and the urge to bake hit me on a Sunday afternoon. This pie popped into my mind as I had been thinking of making it for awhile, and away I went. The end result was a nice spin on what I consider traditional pecan pie. The chocolate and cinnamon are a really delicious addition and this treat would be a great addition to any Thanksgiving menu (well, actually, not great for people with nut allergies so check on that first!).  It would be even better with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Printable Version

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 9-inch single pie crust
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (7 ounces) pecan halves or pieces
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used chocolate chips because I didn’t have baking chocolate)

Directions

1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a pie plate on a cookie sheet lined with parchment  paper and set aside.

2. Whisk together the corn syrup and brown sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Carefully whisk in the butter, followed by the eggs (one at a time) until well-combined. Next, add in the cinnamon, vanilla, and salt and stir to incorporate. Tap the bowl against the counter to remove air bubbles and then mix in the chocolate and pecans.

3. Carefully roll out the pie crust and gently mold into the pie plate. Pour the filling into the crust and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. While the pie is baking for the first 15 minutes, make a foils shield for the crust by cutting out the center of a 12 inch square of aluminum foil (directions here).

4. After the first 15 minutes of baking, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and place the foil shield on top of the pie crust to prevent over-browning. Bake the pie for an additional 2o minutes, or until the pie no longer jiggles when gently tapped. Remove the pie from the oven and cool on a baking rack until it reaches room temperature.

SourceBaking: From My Home to Yours by: Dorie Greenspan

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

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Last Friday night I was procrastinating and not cleaning our house before Robert’s parents arrived, so I decided to make some homemade Easter Peeps from a recipe I found on Pinterest. It was a gloriously fun time. I was singing my own made up songs (“Everybody Chunk Out Tonight,” sung to the tune of “Everybody Wang Chung Tonight,” is my current personal chart topper) and life was grand. Then I became a little impatient. Instead of letting the candy fluff cool, I decided to just keep things moving along and pipe it. It didn’t go well. My visions of beautiful, hand-crafted Peeps turned out looking like neon blobs of dog excrement in reality.

Nailed it. 

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So instead of putting peeps on the blog today, I made carrot cake whoopie pies. Fortunately, these cookies are a delightful spring treat. They’re chocked full of shredded carrots and a great spicy blend of cinnnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Because my Peeps were an utter failure, I am bringing these bad boys home for Easter instead. When one door closes, another opens.

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Happy Easter, everyone!

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Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

Printable Version

Yield: About 16 cookie sandwiches

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots

For the filling

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp milk or heavy cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Set aside 3 cookie sheets lined with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

2. Place the butter and sugars in a bowl of an electric stand mixer and beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, spices, soda, powder, and salt in a separate medium bowl. Turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn it back on at low speed and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in the vanilla. Carefully add the dry ingredients, about 1/2 cup at a time,  and beat just until combined.  Lastly, add in the grated carrots and mix until just mixed.

3. Using a small 1.5 inch cookie scoop to place the batter evenly onto the cookie sheets, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart.  Use your fingers to lightly press down on the dough to ensure a smoother cookie. Bake for about 12-14 minutes, or until the cookies spring back when gently pressed. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to parchment paper to cool completely.

4. To make the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the milk and vanilla and beat well. Gradually add the powdered sugar until the frosting is well mixed.

5. Spread or pipe the frosting onto the flat side of one of the cookies. Place the flat side of another cookie on the icing and store in an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer.

Source: Cookies- Tracey’s Culinary Adventures; Filling- Old Thyme Cookbook

Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies

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I adore Valentine’s Day. The colors, the excessive hearts, the candy. It’s all glorious. But I don’t just view this as a holiday for couples, I see it as a day to celebrate all of the people you love in your life (I know, I know- it sounds sickeningly cloying, but it’s really how I feel). I decided to celebrate by baking these cookies while listening to my eclectic Pandora radio stations. It was a good Saturday, folks.

I first eyed this marbling method with royal icing last year, and I’ve been waiting to try it ever since. I’ve had some practice with decorating sugar cookies (with my favorite sugar cookie and royal icing recipe), but I still have a lot to learn. What I have picked up so far is that it’s most important to plan ahead.  Most sugar cookie doughs require at least some chilling time and the royal icing is stable enough to be made a few days in advance. It’s also helpful to have all of the tools you need ready to go to make the process as efficient as possible.

Here’s what I like to use:

  • Disposable piping bags
  • Round piping tips
  • Good quality food coloring (I use Wilton or Americolor)
  • Plastic squeeze bottles (for flooding icing)
  • Toothpicks
  • Plastic containers with lids (for icing storage)
  • Baking racks

And here is how I decorated the cookies:

1. Outline the cookies

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2. Thin the icing with water and flood

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3. Pipe dots

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4. Drag a toothpick through the dots

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5. Allow cookies to dry completely and enjoy :)

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Source: Decorating method vis Annie’s Eats

Soft Sugar Cookies

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My mom has a Christmas scrapbook that she has been updating for the past 25+ Christmases. Every year she puts it out on my parents’ coffee table and I love to peruse through it. There are lots of pictures of my siblings and me, bleary-eyed and full of excitement at the anticipation of Santa’s arrival. When I see those snapshots frozen in time, I can still remember how we felt at those very moments. The holidays bring about such strong memories and the old soul in me loves to recount the stories.

When my sister and I got married, my mom gave us a similar scrapbook for each of us to fill out as we start our traditions with our own families. We only have a few pages filled out, and I am looking forward to seeing what will fill future pages of our scrapbook. I have a feeling these soft sugar cookies may be a recurring guest.

These cookies are a new to me, even though the recipe has been circulating around food blogs for several months. They are the type of cookie that becomes a family favorite and, in my opinion, the ideal treat to leave out for Santa. The cookies are perfectly soft without being too delicate and the vanilla flavor really shines through. I’ve made these cookies several times now and I know I will be making them in Christmas future.

Merry Christmas! May all your days be merry and bright.

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Soft Sugar Cookies

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

Ingredients:
For the cookies

  • 4½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 5 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoon) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 7-8 tablespoon milk
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Sprinkles (optional)

Directions

1. Make the dough ahead of time: beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in the vanilla and mix until combined.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Slowly add the flour to the butter mixture, just until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure the dough is evenly mixed. Chill the dough for a hour.

3. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Use a 2 inch ice cream scoop, roll into a ball, and flatten the ball slightly and place on the baking sheets. Space the cookies at least 2 inches apart. Bake about 10-12 minutes or just until set. Be careful not to overbake – they should barely browned on the bottom. Let cool on the baking sheet for several minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

4. To make the icing, place the sifted confectioner’s sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk in the melted butter, vanilla, and milk and mix until smooth. Add more milk as needed. Use desired food coloring to make the icing extra festive. Frost cooled cookies and decorate with sprinkles.

Source: Annie’s Eats, originally from Hostess with the Mostess

Gingerbread Graham Crackers & Gingerbread Houses

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I made a few adjustments to my favorite graham cracker recipe to make it more festive for the Christmas goodies I sent out this year. Instead of honey, I used molasses and I added in grounder ginger and cloves for a little extra spice. The result was a crispy and a little bit crunchy cookie that I will be definitely be making again.

These gingerbread graham crackers are great with coffee or they would be even more wonderful as the base for holiday-inspired s’mores- perhaps with peppermint marshmallows or Andes mints or a peppermint patty? Oh man… already brainstorming for next year! Another bonus- they’re sturdy enough to be sent in the mail and they also freeze well.

Now- onto the next topic…

Two of my favorite girlfriends and I got together to decorate gingerbread houses a few weekends ago; because, as you can see, we are wild and crazy twenty-somethings living life in the fast lane.  Jess invited Chelsea and me over to live it up and we had a fabulous afternoon listening to Christmas music and overdosing on sugary candy while we created our masterpieces.

Jess so graciously made the gingerbread framework for us. She’s an expert gingerbread builder… and a hard-core icing piper (if that’s a word?).

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The key to a good gingerbread house, and a good sugar coma, is a wide variety of candy.

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Chelsea and her home. Chelsea is supermodel beautiful, intelligent, thoughtful, my favorite carpool buddy/navigator and she recently acquired the ability to fix a kitchen sink. This girl’s a jack of all trades. I’m so lucky to have her in my life.

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Jessica: she’s outgoing,  gorgeous, fun-loving, adventurous, a hardworking go-getter, and my Broadway musical mentor. As you can see, she’s also a fabulous hostess and baker/chef. A wonderful friend, indeed.

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How sweet it is to be friends with these women. They truly enrich my life and I am so very thankful for them.

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Gingerbread Graham Crackers

Printable version

 

Yield: About 2 dozen graham crackers

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups whole wheat graham flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • cinnamon sugar (1 teaspoon cinnamon/3 tablespoons sugar), for sprinkling (if desired)

Directions

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy- about 2 minutes. Slowly add in the molasses and mix until combined.

2. Whisk together the flours, soda, salt, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir until just combined. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently knead together into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or up to 5 days.

3. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Make the cinnamon sugar in a small bowl.

4. Unwrap the dough and roll it out on a lightly-floured until about 1/8 inch thick. Use your prefered cookie cutter shape to cut out the cookies. Place them on the baking sheets, about 1 inch apart, and poke with a fork. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake another 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for 3 months.

Source: Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, originally from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones

Chocolate Chunk Espresso Cookies

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You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why: Christmas cookie baking is in full swing. Woohoo! I spent a good amount of this last weekend in a kitchen whirlwind and these chocolate chunk espresso cookies were one of the first items that popped out of the oven.

While they aren’t a traditional Christmas cookie, they are definitely something to celebrate. The flavor of chocolate (as the Barefoot Contessa will tell us) is amplified with two flavors: vanilla and coffee; and these cookies have both. The coffee flavor comes from espresso powder, which can usually be found in the coffee section of most grocery stores (I used Megdalia D’oro).

These bad boys are rich, dense, and go fabulously with a chilled glass of milk. Leave them under the tree on Christmas eve and Santa will surely lick the plate clean.

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Chocolate Chunk Espresso Cookies

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, plus one large egg yolk
  • 7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces white chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a small bowl mix together the espresso powder and vanilla. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the egg and egg yolk, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix in the vanilla/espresso mix and beat until well-combined.

4. Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt) in a medium-sized bowl. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture until just combined. Gradually fold in the chocolate pieces.

5. Drop the dough in even spoonfuls (I used a 1.5 inch ice cream scoop) onto the cookie sheets and flatten slightly with your hand. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cookies are just set. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack before transferring to parchment paper to cool completely.

6. Store in an airtight container for 1 week or freeze for 3 months.

Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart