Saturday, January 14, 2012
Let me guess. Christmas is the last thing you want to think about right now. Ornaments and decorations have been dutifully dismantled and packed away. You've begrudgingly payed off your December credit card bill. You're eating prudently, trying to trim back those post-holiday wastelines. Your New Year's resolutions are in full swing. Don't worry, I get it. But I still want to tell you about Christmas cookies.
I know, I know. I'm sorry. But everyone knows that the holiday season is the very best time of the year for baking, but since I was all but consumed by my last finals as an undergraduate (!!) at the beginning of December, I wasn't able to start my holiday baking until right before Christmas. Then came a whirlwind of post-Christmas colds, the new year, moving back to Berkeley, and starting a new job. Sharing these lovely holiday treats with you took a backseat while life hurtled forward. Can you forgive me?
Know that I made up for missing an entire month of decadent cookie baking by spending an entire day (which I lovingly dubbed the Christmas Cookie Extravaganza) baking all of the goodies that I'd been admiring all December long. I chose my cookies carefully and purposefully to contrast colors, flavors, and textures. There were ginger cookies. There were bourbon balls. There were homemade marshmallows (something that my dad was never able to fully grasp. "Did they run out of marshmallows at Vons?" he asked upon learning that I was making them). I then arranged all of them on a platter for our family's Christmas dinner and they were happily devoured with warm mugs of coffee.
I know these treats are coming to you about a month too late, but I hope you can appreciate them. Plus, there are some great uses for these cookies outside of the holiday season. Linzer cookies? With heart shaped cookie cutters, a Valentine's day classic! Chocolate crinkles? A perfect birthday present for the choco-fanatic in your life! But more generally, do cookies really need an excuse to be made? No. Holidays or not, these cookies are delicious treats that stand alone. So whatever the cookie baking occasion, Valentine's, Christmas 2012, or just Wednesday, I hope you enjoy.
Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows
These would also be great with peppermint of hazenut. Just replace the vanilla extract with the flavoring of your choice. Recipe found on Smitten Kitchen.
Loved the strong bourbon flavor! A decadent twist on classic rumballs. Recipe found on the LA Times.
Beautiful special occasion cookies. There are lots of recipes out there, but I found one I liked from Southern Living. It calls for pecans instead of more traditional hazelnuts, which I found was much more economical and still gave a rich sweetness to the dough.
These were a big hit! They're beautiful cookies with the texture of a rich chocolate brownie. Used the recipe from Simply Recipes, and chose to omit the espresso powder.
Frosted Ginger Cookies
These are my favorite holiday cookies. I love the combo of ginger, molasses, and the lemony glaze. These are bright, chewy, and sure to go fast, no matter the occasion. The recipe comes from Sunset, but you can read more about them in a blog post I wrote a few years ago.
Friday, January 6, 2012
Now I quite adore oatmeal raisin cookies. I suspect that many of you still feel a little wary of cookies that contend to have some health qualities to them, but I find them deeply satisfying and believe that they can be perfect cookies in the right moment. I love the rich, molassesy flavor of the brown sugar, the hearty chew of the oats, the tart sweetness of warm raisins, and the woodsy smell of cinnamon. I love oatmeal raisin cookies that are thick, chewy, not too sweet, and that taste heavenly piping hot from the oven with a glass of ice cold milk.
Now I'm not trying to win any cookie converts here. If you are sworn against oatmeal raisin cookies, I have no doubts that I can do little to persuade you otherwise. But, if you like oatmeal raisin cookies, even if you just like them a little bit or only sometimes, you will love this recipe. This recipe yields the type of oatmeal raisin cookies that all oatmeal raisin cookies, and I daresay, ALL cookies aspire to be. They are warm, comforting, make your house smell heavenly, and bring back nostalgic smiles to peoples faces. The recipe, as do many fabulous recipes, comes from Smitten Kitchen, and if you follow the recipe's very simple instructions, these cookies are hard to mess up. Is it possible to say that these cookies are perfect? I think you'll have to be the judge of that.
Note: I have MANY Christmas cookie recipes to share, but alas, I left my camera at my parents' house over the holidays. Updates coming soon.