I recently posted a cookie recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies https://theorangebee.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/one-batch-of-cookies/#more-2356 and talked about how I wanted to bake more cookies for the Christmas season. I did it! I had an ulterior motive for baking cookies, not that we don’t like to eat cookies around here, I needed a gift for a Chinese gift exchange, not a gag gift. I decided instead of the usual suspects, candles, tchotchkes, kitchen towels, picture frames and such to gift a Christmas cookie jar full of homemade treats. This was a big hit and below are the recipes I used to fill the jar.
I spent an entire Sunday afternoon baking cookies with Christmas music playing in the background, hot chocolate to sip and later, after 5, a glass of Cabernet to help me finish that last batch of cookies. I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon of holiday baking and the cookies turned out pretty good too!
I had my timing down by mixing the shortbread and chocolate doughs and chilling them as I made the biscotti and baked it. Next up I baked the shortbread, then moved on to the sugar cookies and when I was done with those and had poured that glass of cab the chocolate dough was ready to go in the oven. Chocolate and red wine are a delicious combination – don’t you know?
This was my first experience with baking biscotti. I’m not sure why I’ve never made it before. It was very easy and makes the perfect dunking companion to a hot cup of coffee. Right up my alley. The flavors of orange and chocolate mixed with those pumpkin seeds, yum-me! Next time I make the chocolate crinkles I’ll do as I have in the past and use the recipe with cinnamon added. These are good but I like them better “Mexican” style. The gingered biscotti, dunked in chocolate and rolled in nuts turned out to be my man Dan’s favorites. The ginger is balanced by the chocolate and they are a very nice cookie. Last but not least, the cracked sugar cookies have never received anything but rave reviews. They are one of our favorites around The Orange Bee kitchen.
Christmas is less than a week away! Are you ready?
Cracked Sugar Cookies
Gingered Shortbread Cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1/3 cup chopped pecans or pistachios (I used pecans this time)
In a medium bowl cream together butter and sugar; cream until smooth. Mix in vanilla. In a second medium bowl combine flour, salt, ginger, and cinnamon. Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture; mix well until combined. Press dough together to form a log, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat oven to 350*F. Place parchment paper on baking sheets. Cut cookies from log and place on parchment paper. Bake cookies 8-10 minutes or until cookies are light brown. Remove cookies from baking sheets and place on racks to cool. When cool, dip cookies in melted chocolate and then into chopped nuts. Place cookies on parchment to dry.
Orange Chocolate Biscotti
1/2 stick of butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tbsp. finely grated orange peel
1 tsp. baking powder
4 large eggs
2 cups flour
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup lightly salted, toasted pumpkin seeds
Heat oven to 350*F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
In a large bowl with mixer on high-speed, beat butter, 1 cup of sugar, orange peel and baking powder, until well blended. Beat in 3 eggs. On low-speed, beat in flour just until blended. Stir in chips and nuts.
Turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface (dough is sticky). Divide dough into quarters. Roll each portion into a 9-inch log.
Place logs 3″ apart on prepared baking sheet. Beat remaining egg in a small bowl with a fork. Brush on logs, then sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup sugar.
Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Let cool on sheet set on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Loosen with a spatula and remove to a cutting board. Wipe cookie sheet with a paper towel.
With a long, sharp knife, cut each log diagonally in 1/2 inch slices. Arrange slices upright on cookie sheet. Bake 15-17 minutes longer until crisp. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Cookies will get more crisp.
Store airtight at room temp for 3 weeks or freeze up to 3 months.
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder, sifted
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, sifted
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
In a mixing bowl mix together the vegetable oil, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the cocoa powder. Blend the flour and baking powder and add to the wet mixture, blending until smooth.
Chill the dough for four hours in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out dough by teaspoons full and roll into balls with hands, roll each ball generously in powdered sugar. Place balls on cookie sheet 2 ” apart. Bake for 12 minutes, remove from pans and allow to cool on racks.
Store all cookies in airtight containers or freeze (except for chocolate crinkles) until ready to serve.