Holiday Cookies

The end of the year is always crazy, and this year is no exception. Between holiday parties, shopping, and decorating, throw in a job in an industry that has a lot to get done at the end of the year, plus end of semester school-work, and you’ve got one busy lady. But enough about me, this post is about cookies!

This past Sunday I had the pleasure of attending the second annual cookie exchange party hosted by my co-worker’s sister. Last year, I made yummy choco-hazelnut cookies that were a huge hit. This year, I decided to make something a little more simple, but still different. I’ve had RecipeGirl’s Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies recipe hanging around in my recipe folder for over a year. Since I still had a can of pumpkin left, and am not yet ready to say goodbye to pumpkin season, I figured these cookies would be a perfect last hurrah. Not to mention, until only a few weeks ago I had never had a snickerdoodle cookie (I don’t like sugar cookies – they’re boring). So, the idea of adding pumpkin flavors to a cinnamon and sugar cookie seemed perfect. Maybe next year I’ll get creative and make my very own cookies. But I knew I was in good hands with RecipeGirl, as she’s yet to let me down!

We had the cabinets and flooring in our kitchen completely gutted and re-done on Saturday, so the day was spent laying in bed, running, and doing homework. Since I was banished from the kitchen all day, this meant I needed to wake up early on Sunday to prep my cookies for the 1pm party. My fiancé came downstairs to the smell of cookies baking in the oven – what a perfect way to wake up! Aside from having to let the dough chill in the refrigerator for an hour, the recipe was pretty straight forward. I’m still counting down the days until I have a KitchenAid stand mixer though; my hand mixer just isn’t cutting it!

I tried my best to make the cookies as cylindrical as possible by using a pint class to flatten the balls of sugary dough, but I definitely had a few that were misshapen. The cookies were only partly about presentation, though, because we all know everyone is at a cookie party to eat! And now that I have a solid 10 cookie recipes to add to my ever growing arsenal, eating is just what I’ll be doing over the next few weeks when I try to recreate these! But before that, I have to cook and bake for our Festivus Party this coming Saturday. I’m sure there will be epic stories about that to come.

But in the meantime, if you have some canned pumpkin laying around and are in need of a sweet treat, take a stab at these Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies!

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
– From the delicious RecipeGirl.com

Cookie Ingredients:
2 sticks butter (1 cup), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Rolling Sugar Ingredients:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and pumpkin puree and beat well. Mix in egg and vanilla, scraping down sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and ground cinnamon. Beat flour mixture into liquid mixture a little at a time until incorporated.
3. Cover dough with plastic and chill at least an hour, or until dough becomes slightly firm.
4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (or spray with nonstick spray). Mix rolling sugar in a small bowl.
5. Remove cookie dough from refrigerator. Use a medium cookie scoop (1 1/2 Tbsp.) or a large spoon to scoop out dough and roll into balls. Use your hands to roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar and make sure they’re coated really well. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Use a glass with a nice, flat bottom to dip in sugar and flatten the balls.
6. Bake at 350°F. for 10 to 14 minutes, or until they are slightly firm to the touch. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes or so, then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: About 3 dozen

Holiday Cookie Exchange

Yesterday I went to my first ever cookie exchange party! I actually hadn’t heard of them until recently, but they’re a pretty neat idea. Almost like a Tupperware party, but with baked goods you get to take home, with recipes to try them yourself!

One of my good friends at work invited me to her sister’s cookie exchange, which immediately made me nervous; what type of cookie was I going to bring?! What if they didn’t turn out good? What if I picked something someone was allergic to or didn’t like? All that aside, I was looking online earlier in the week for some inspiration, and found one of Betty Crocker’s Holiday cookie recipes. This particular recipe was actually from a contest, so I figured they would be good.

The cookies were Choco-Hazelnut Latte Cookies. And let me tell you, you can taste the chocolate, the hazelnut and the latte without a doubt! Since I’m an absolute chocolate and coffee fanatic, I knew these would definitely be delicious. To top off the appeal, they used sugar cookie mix, which cut down about half of my prep time, making it much easier to make Sunday morning for the party later that afternoon.

After getting all of the ingredients, I set to work. I think the hardest part was mixing all of the ingredients together, and then getting them onto the pan without breaking. They were super soft and mushy, which for me is a favorite quality of cookies. After the mixing, I really just had to wait… and wait. It was worth it though! They are so rich and delicious, that I definitely think more than one or two would be way too much. But I recommend them to everyone! You can find the recipe below 🙂

As for everyone else’s treats, there were some really interesting and delicious cookies. There were lemon zest sugar cookies, lemon bars (made with tofu!), cream cheese cookies, Snickers cookies, peanut butter blossoms, Chinese chews, peanut butter chocolate balls, and more! The best part was that I got to bring a sampling of each home in cute little goodie bags. My boyfriend definitely liked that part!

Below you’ll find some pictures, as well as my recipe and some of my favorites from the event!

Choco-Hazelnut Latte Cookies (courtesy of Betty Crocker):

Ingredients:

1      pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
1/3   cup unsweetened baking cocoa
3      tablespoons instant coffee granules or crystals
1/2   cup butter or margarine, softened
3      tablespoons hazelnut-flavored syrup for beverages (from 12.7-oz bottle)
1  egg
1 1/2   cups toasted hazelnuts, chopped*
1  cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
2/3   cup Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy chocolate frosting (from 1-lb container)
4 1/2  teaspoons hazelnut-flavored syrup for beverages (from 12.7-oz bottle)

Directions:
1.     Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir together cookie mix, cocoa and instant coffee. Add butter, 3 tablespoons syrup and the egg; stir until soft dough forms. Stir in 1 cup of the nuts and the chocolate chips.
2.     On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough with rounded 1 1/2 tablespoon-size cookie scoop or by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart. Press each mound to flatten slightly.
3.     Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Cool 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
4.     In small bowl, stir frosting and 4 1/2 teaspoons syrup. Spread about 1 teaspoon frosting on each cookie. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup nuts.

*To toast hazelnuts, heat oven to 350°F. Spread nuts in ungreased shallow pan. Bake uncovered 6 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until light brown

The results:

My other two favorite super simple cookie recipes (though they were all good!) are below:

Chinese Chews:

Ingredients:
2 cups Butterscotch bits
1 cup chocolate bits
1 can Chinese noodles

Directions:
In double boiler, combine the butterscotch & chocolate bits till melted. Remove from heat & add Chinese noodles. Drop 1/2 teaspoon of mixture onto waxed paper, cool 2 hours.

Cream Cheese Cookies:

Ingredients:
1/4 cup of butter
8 oz. package of cream cheese
1/4 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 egg
1 package of cake mix (yellow)

Directions:
Cream together cream cheese and butter, followed by all other ingredients
Bake at 375 for 8-1 minutes

Happy Holiday baking everyone!