Off Season

This past December I posted several of my favority Christmas cookie recipes, but I did not actually document every cookie I made. Each year I try to make a mix of traditional family favorites, and new recipes we are less familiar with. One of those new recipes this year came from a good friend of mine.  My friend Elizabeth over at Food-Ramblings brought some of her ricotta cookies over to my house one night to snack on while we watched TV.  After giving them a try, I knew I had a new cookie recipe to try. When Christmas rolled around, my family definitely concurred.  At one point my brother and his girlfriend were rationing the ricotta cookies in the little box of cookies I gave them to bring home.

The great thing about these cookies is that they are a good neutral.  They have a light, fresh taste with a small dollup of easy frosting: perfect!  Last week I was asked to make a few cookies for a “coffee break” event at my school and I thought these would be a perfect addition to the cookie tray.  Since they are more plain in flavor, they work really well as a compliment to coffee and tea, but they are also tasty enough to stand on their own. Needless to say, these were a big hit at the coffee break! It’s proof that they work twelve months a year!cookie tray

Ricotta Cookies

Yeilds about 80 cookies depending on size (halve the recipe for a more managable amount), from Food Ramblings

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese (basically a whole small container)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Frosting

  • 2 Tbs butter, melted
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbs milk (I actually used almond milk and it worked great)
  • 1 Tbs vanilla
  • food coloring (I have made these in pink and green)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Use an electric mixer to cream together the butter, ricotta, and sugar.  Once that mixture is uniform, light, and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time.  Then add the vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the flour and baking powder.  Slowly add the flour and baking powder mixture to the wet mixture.  Mix until combined but try no to over mix.
  4. Portion the cookie dough out with a small ice cream scoop or teaspoon.  These cookies are (in my experience) made pretty small, and they do puff up a little when they bake.  Place the small balls of cookie dough on a parchement lined cookie sheet and bake about 12 minutes until they are just looking set and ever so slightly golden brown.right out of the oven
  5. While the cookies are cooling, whip together the frosting ingredients.  Make sure the cookies are completely cool before you frost them. Otherwise, they frosting will just slide right off.delicious

 

Do you have any Christmas cookies that you like to make year round?

One More for Good Measure

I hope Santa was good to everyone this year.  He was certainly good to me!  Christmas was nice and low key this year.  I enjoyed that it was on a Tuesday because it created a four day long weekend of celebration.  In my house that means lots of cooking, baking and several shopping trips with and without various family members.tree

Even though Christmas has already passed, I would be remiss if I did not post about chocolate pixie cookies.  These are an absolute staple in our household during December.  Most people know them Chocolate Crackles, but my grandmother has always called them pixies, so I do the same.flowers

Since these are such popular cookies, and there are several recipes available online, I have took the opportunity a couple years ago to shop recipes and find the best one.  While I love my grandmother’s cookies, there is a chance that an expert like David Rocco over at the Cooking Channel might have some good ideas about cookies.  His addition of espresso powder makes all the difference in this recipe, and develops an optimal chocolate flavor.

You should make these even when it’s not Christmas.

Chocolate Espresso Pixie Cookies

Yields about 20 cookies, from David Rocco

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 2/3 c packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 c plain flour
  • 1/4 c cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp instant espresso coffee granules
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 Tbs milk
  • confectioner’s sugar

Method

  1. Cream together butter and sugar.  Add egg and cooled melted chocolate.
  2. In a separate bowl sift together flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture.  Add milk.  The mixture will be sticky and pretty stiff.  It’s like a delicious stiff brownie dough!
  4. Allow dough to chill for at least 1 hour.  I typically stick it in the freezer overnight for best results.
  5. Preheat oven to 350.
  6. Put a cup or so of confectioner’s sugar in a small bowl.
  7. Roll dough into small balls, probably a little smaller than a tablespoon.  Drop the balls in the bowl of sugar, and coat them.  Tap off excess and place balls on parchment lined cookie sheet.
  8. The cookies will spread so give them a little space.
  9. Bake 12-14 minutes.  Allow to cool and enjoy!pixies

A Christmas Classic

Happy Christmas Eve!  There are about three or four Christmas cookie recipes that get made every December in my household.  Gingerbread cookies are one of them.  And this is a recipe I do not mess around with.  Sometimes I’ll try variations of my favorite Christmas cookies to make sure I’m making the best possible version, but not with these.  This recipe is basic and hits the spot every time.

One special thing about these cookies is that baking them is a tradition with my brothers and me.  The three of us typically find some time over our Christmas vacation and we make these.  My mom or I usually make the dough ahead of time, and when my brothers and I find a moment, we break out the cookie cutters.  We usually divide and conquer.  I am in charge of rolling out the dough and doing most of the cookie cutting.  Then one of my brother’s is in charge of egg washing the cookies, and the other decorates them with sprinkles.

Warning: this dough is best if it’s chilled overnight, you should just make it when you have a minute, stick it in the freezer, and pull it out later that week/month when you’re ready to bake them off

Gingerbread Cookies

Yields a lot, this is a big batch, From my mom

Ingredients

  • 1 cup molasses (NOT blackstrap)
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda (dissolved in ½ cup water)
  • 2 eggs
  • 5-6 cups flour (sometimes I put in some whole wheat flour)

Method

  1. Cream together molasses, shortening, and sugar.  Add eggs and baking soda dissolved in water.  Mixture will look a little curdled at this point.wet part
  2. In a separate bowl combine 2 cups of flour with the spices, and salt.
  3. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet.  After combined, continue to add 3-4 more cups of flour until the mixture is pretty stiff.batter up
  4. Allow dough to chill in freezer overnight.
  5. Let dough defrost on counter for about an hour, or move it from the freezer to the fridge when you wake up in the morning.
  6. Preheat oven to 375.
  7. Use flour on your surface and rolling pin.  Roll out cookies in batches and use cookie cutters to cut them out.  Try to put cookies on baking sheets that are of similar sizes.  I usually categorize by big cookies, medium size, and tiny ones, and I’ll do a couple trays of each.  You can choose to do an egg wash and apply sprinkles before they go in the oven, or frost after the bake.
  8. Bake 12-15 minutes until a little puffy and firm to the touch.  Allow to cool and decorate as you see fit.yum

expertly decorated