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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Russian Tea Cookies - A favorite around the holidays!

I know, I know - another dessert, right? But it's the holidays! And well, one New Year's resolution of mine is to start working on HEALTHIER desserts. But it's not quite the new year yet! I've got the meals pretty much down, but when it comes to desserts, watch out! I'm a monster with a sweet tooth!

This is a dessert everybody loves! My mom used to make these all the time around the holidays... Russian Tea Cookies!

Now I will admit, I have never really liked these cookies. BUT let me tell you, that all changed after making them ...for my first time.... As soon as you take these lovely cookies out of the oven, you take the cookies from the baking sheet and dip them directly into a bowl of powdered sugar to coat the outside of it. Well I decided to use tongs for this process... and let's just say there were a few fragile ones :) I made a rule: the broken ones were mine! And boy were they tasty!

David's work had a potluck on the day of Christmas Eve so I made cookies for him to take to work: Russian Tea Cookies and Gingerbread Men Cookies.

Russian Tea Cookies

Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped finely
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cream butter, sugar, & vanilla.
  3. Gradually stir in flour and salt.
  4. Add nuts and stir until well blended.
  5. Roll into 1-2 inch balls on a greased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake 10-12 min or until bottoms are light golden brown.
  7. Roll in powdered sugar as soon as they come out of the oven AND after they have cooled.
Enjoy &Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I recently found out one of my neighbor's is going to be having a baby girl! Totally excited for her, I wanted to do something special. I just think making baked goods for others is so much fun! I love to share my passion with others and they always make great little gifts!

I remembered I had some leftover buttermilk in the fridge from previously making red velvet cake to celebrate Liz's graduation and birthday. So I thought, PERFECT... I will make red velvet cupcakes! This time I had the right amount of red food coloring (2 oz) to go into the recipe though!

I decided to go with a cream cheese frosting, compared to the previous frosting I used (beautiful thick white frosting). Yum! I made up a cute little plate for my neighbor and delivered it to her shortly after! She was definitely surprised! I'm glad she was happy though! Since it was just before Christmas too, I decorated the rest of the cupcakes with holiday sprinkles, which went to another neighbor and David's work! Everyone loved them- so sweet, moist, and delicious! Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Freshly baked muffins for Jacki's special, and may I add incredible, Christmas Day stuffing! Yum!

So last year Jacki, David's mom, made this fantastic stuffing to go with the turkey for Christmas Day dinner. I was so excited about it that I just had to ask her how she made this stuffing. Turns out, she had seen one of Rachael Ray's stuffing recipes where she had added some flavorful muffins to her dish. So Jacki decided to use this idea into her own stuffing! Using a combination of stale bread and moist muffins, as well as the essential stuffing ingredients, the stuffing turned out wonderful!

 
Since I just loved Jacki's stuffing so much last year, I asked her if she would make it again this year! She was happy to do it, but this time I asked if I could help out by making the muffins she would be adding to the stuffing. I decided to make a variety of muffins: Cornbread - of course, the sweet kind; apple cinnamon with walnuts, thanks to Baking Bites; and cranberry orange with walnuts, thanks to For the Love of Cooking, a blog I recently started following. To the basic stuffing ingredients of sauteed onions and celery, seasoning, butter, and broth (rather than the normal chicken broth, she used a white wine and herb broth), Jacki also added a couple of cinnamon streusal muffins, chopped apples, spices (cinnamon & nutmeg) and walnuts. She decided to only use muffins this time (rather than a combo with stale bread), and the moistness of the muffins made up for a lot of the chicken broth she normally adds to her stuffing. Well the stuffing turned out great! The stuffing came out of the oven and not only smelled delicious, but had a nice, crisp top layer. And yes, I attacked it on Christmas day :)

 
Here are the recipes for the muffins used in the stuffing:

 
Apple-Cinnamon-Walnut Muffins (Original Recipe)

 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and shredded
  • 1/2 - 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 3 tbsp coarse sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease (or line with paper liners) a 12-cup muffin tin .
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and egg. Whisk in melted butter, vegetable oil and vanilla. Working in two or three additions, alternately stir in flour mixture and buttermilk, ending with an addition of flour and mixing only until no streaks of flour remain visible in the batter. Stir in shredded apple and chopped walnuts.
  4. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups filling each to the top, or slightly over.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together coarse sugar and additional 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon. Sprinkle generously over muffins.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.
  7. Cool muffins on a wire rack.
  8. Makes 12. 
Cranberry-Orange-Walnut Muffins (Original Recipe)
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (6-oz pkg) dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 - 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp orange rind
  • 1/4 cup canola
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 - 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • Coarse raw sugar
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (see note*). Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Place the dried cranberries and the freshly squeezed orange juice in a small sauce pan and heat over medium heat for 5 minutes. This helps plump up the dried cranberries.
  3. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and orange rind together until well mixed. In a separate bowl, add the orange juice, cranberries, canola oil, and egg and mix together. Pour this mixture into the dry mixture and stir until combined. Fold in chopped walnuts.
  4. Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle a bit of course raw sugar on each muffin top. Place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for a few minutes.
* Note: I do not recommend baking these muffins at 400 degrees F due to higher risk of burning outer part of muffins before inner portion is completely baked. Recommended temperature: 350 degrees F, but will require a longer baking time of 20-25 minutes.

 
Links to Rachael Ray's Stuffing:
Cranberry Orange Stuffing
Corn Muffin Stuffing

 
Thanks again Jacki for making a fantastic stuffing!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Gingerbread cookies for your furry little friends!

While I was baking like crazy this holiday season, I thought about Bella, my spoiled rotten dog... wouldn't it be nice if she could get a special treat during the holidays?

Ah-ha! A couple months back, David's mom had sent me a link for dog recipes. I had tried frozen doggy treats from this website, which Bella LOVED, so I subscribed to the newsletter. Sure enough, in a recent newsletter, there was a recipe for gingerbread dog treats! Yay! New treats for Bella, and an excellent Christmas/Hanukkah gift for my other friendly pooches out there!




Gingerbread Dog Treats

Ingredients
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the molasses, honey, water, and oil in a medium bowl.
  3. In another large bowl mix the flour, the baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Combine well. Divide this dough in four sections and roll each piece into a ball, wrap each ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 – 5 hours.
  5. After the dough is well-chilled, put dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll dough out into 1/4" thickness. Cut dough with a cookie cutter into gingerbread men or other fun shapes. 
  6. Bake 10 – 15 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned around the edges and firm.
Now, this recipe yields A LOT of dog treats! I recommend either freezing them, cutting the recipe in half, or passing them out to friends for their furry loved ones! 

This recipe is a lot of fun because you can use all kinds of cookie cutters! It's not like your furry friend will notice a difference, except for maybe the size, but these cookies end up making nice little gifts for other people who own dogs. The small holiday tins sold in craft stores are perfect containers for these treats! Since it's the holidays, I used a few different cookie cutters: gingerbread men, christmas trees, candy canes, stars (small and large); and for basic dog treat shapes, circles (small and large).

I didn't taste these treats, but I can definitely speak for Bella... she LOVED them! As soon as she smells the ginger, her tail starts wagging frantically!

 

 

 

 

 

Cookie Exchange 2010

Click here to view this photo book larger

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays! Homemade Gingerbread!

Happy holidays to all! I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and holiday season! I have been filled with WAY too much holiday spirit this year, but it has been a lot of fun!

This year David and I decided we wanted to make our very own gingerbread house! It was a perfect decoration for my holiday cookie exchange too!

Of course, I wasn't going to buy one of the kits stores were selling, so I went on the search to find a gingerbread recipe. Sure enough, Allrecipes had my attention again (AND David's, for that matter)! I didn't realize how much he liked gingerbread! But hey, we never stop learning about our loved ones :)

 
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until smooth. Stir in molasses and egg yolk. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg; blend into the molasses mixture until smooth. Cover, and chill for at least one hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until firm. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. Frost or decorate when cool.
David designed our gingerbread house patterns. He did a great job! I should have taken pictures of the patterns, but completely forgot about that... I will do better next year!

 
The platform of the gingerbread house was made by pressing dough into a mini cookie pan, then baked for the given amount of time. We left the gingerbread in the pan, let it cool, then began to build our gingerbread house on top of it.

The items we used to decorate our gingerbread house:
  • Nilla wafers
  • Mini candy canes
  • Pull and peel licorice
  • Swedish fish
  • Dots
  • Pretzel rods
  • Sugar cone
  • Sprinkles
  • Confectioners' sugar
  • Glue, to hold our house together (recipe follows)
  • Buttercream icing (recipe follows)
The neatest trick I found on the web was making an evergreen tree! It is an upside-down sugar cone, then you just pipe it with frosting! It was a lot of fun!

Gingerbread House "Glue" a.k.a. Icing (Click to view original recipe)

Ingredients
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 (16-oz) bag powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Directions
  1. Beat all ingredients with electric mixer until still peaks form. 
Frosting for Gingerbread House (Click to view original recipe)
  
Ingredients
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 5 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • food coloring
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, cream together the confectioners' sugar and shortening until smooth. Gradually mix in the milk and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth and stiff, about 5 minutes. Color with food coloring if desired.  
Building and decorating our gingerbread house was so much fun! We had a few mishaps along the way, but hopefully next year we will be able to master the art of gingerbread house building! 

David destroying our gingerbread house....

Once we admired our fabulous gingerbread house for quite a few days, we decided it was time to crack into it! As you can see, David got a head start! The gingerbread was delicious! The spices were perfect and it was very moist! David and I liked it so much that I decided to make gingerbread men cookies for David's work - they were having a little holiday luncheon, so I thought these cookies would be appropriate!

I got a little carried away with the decorating, but it was a lot of fun! I used a basic butter cream frosting, which follows.

Frosting used for gingerbread cookies:
Buttercream Icing (Click to view original recipe)


 Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and vanilla. Blend in the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the milk, and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Keep icing covered until ready to decorate.
** Note: Can substitute all butter for half and half (shortening and butter).

 
 Happy holidays everyone! 
"NO! Not the buttons! Not my gumdrop buttons!"
-Gingerbread Man from Shrek


Thursday, December 23, 2010

To Liz: Happy Birthday to the Newest Grad!

  
The newest grad, Liz, and her proud auntie, Arabrab!
Happy Birthday Liz! Congrats on your amazing accomplishments!

The double events for Liz called for a little celebration! And oh boy, did we celebrate! Eh hem, Auntie Barbie, yes I'm referring to you and your "wine" celebrating! We decided to make a nice dinner, and of course, end it with some delicious cake! Yum!

This was a perfect opportunity to attempt the art of Fondant! Oh boy, this was going to be a challenge, but knew I may as well start practicing now since my mom, sister and I will be making Heather's (my other sister's :)) wedding cake! Time to start practicing!

So for those of you who don't know what fondant is, it's a type of hardened "icing" on a cake. Its consistancy is very similar to Play-doh!

To learn more about fondant, here are some links to check out:

I found a fondant recipe on Allrecipes. It's actually not the typical fondant used, but it seemed fun and easy for a first attempt at it! This is a marshmallow fondant. I happened to have jumbo marshmallows that I decided to use! The original recipe calls for a package of miniature marshmallows, but since I have a scale the jumbo ones were used!

Marshmallow Fondant

Ingredients 
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 16 ounces marshmallows
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds confectioners' sugar, divided plus more for kneading!
Directions
  1. Place the butter in a shallow bowl, and set aside.
  2. Place the marshmallows in a large microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on High for 30 seconds to 1 minute to start melting the marshmallows. Carefully stir the water and vanilla extract into the hot marshmallows, and stir until the mixture is smooth. Slowly beat in the confectioners' sugar, a cup at a time, until you have a sticky dough. Reserve 1 cup (plus more) of powdered sugar for kneading. The dough will be very stiff.
  3. Rub your hands thoroughly with butter, and begin kneading the sticky dough. As you knead, the dough will become workable and pliable. Turn the dough out onto a working surface dusted with confectioners' sugar and continue kneading until the fondant is smooth and no longer sticky to the touch, 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Form the fondant into a ball, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. To use, allow the fondant to come to room temperature, and roll it out onto a flat surface dusted with confectioners' sugar.

So a small issue with my fondant: after two pounds of confectioner's sugar was added to make the  dough, I realized I still had a very sticky dough. As I was kneading the dough, it just clung to my hands! So I decided it would be a good idea to add more confectioner's sugar! Sticking to my hands like crazy, I went to grab for more confectioner's sugar, and everything I touched had dough on it... I should've taken pictures! It was on the microwave, on the confectioner's sugar container, all over the counter-top... I mean everywhere! But the addition of more confectioner's sugar solved my sticky dough problem!
I let the dough refrigerate overnight and during that time started making the cake! I decided on a red velvet cake, something I had never tried before!
I found the recipe for red velvent cake on Allrecipes and made slight changes based on the reviews!
Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ounces red food coloring
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
Directions
  1. Grease and flour two 9 inch round pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Make a paste of cocoa and food coloring. Set aside.
  2. Combine the buttermilk, salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the cocoa mixture. Beat in the buttermilk mixture alternately with the flour, mixing just until incorporated. Stir together baking soda and vinegar, then gently fold into the cake batter.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
When I began making this cake, I decided to weight out the amount of food coloring  the recipe called for. Well, after emptying two small containers of red food coloring and only having a total weight of 0.5 ounces, I was thinking something was wrong! So rather than using the full 2 ounces the recipe called for, I stuck with the half ounce, thinking it was more than enough food coloring! 

Birthday girl cutting the cake and smirking
because of something Arabrab said!

The cake turned out beautifully! Allowing the cakes to cool before frosting, I began on the traditional frosting used for red velvet cakes, which turns out, is not cream cheese frosting! The traditional frosting is cooked over low heat with milk and flour, then once it thickens and cools, it is stirred into a creamed mixture of sugar, butter and vanilla extract. BUT I had a problem - after making this frosting TWICE and having the same outcome - the butter and milk separating - I decided I would have to go with a different frosting recipe! Completely upset about my frosting error that not only happened once, but twice, I began reading up on what I could have done wrong! Here is the first issue: the type of milk you are using. This recipe needs whole milk, which I didn't have. The second issue is that this frosting needs to be kept refrigerated. It has a tendency to separate at room temperature. Ok, absolute frosting FAIL!

So I began looking for a new recipe and after hours of searching for the right one, I found it!!

The Perfect Frosting for Red Velvet Cake (click link to view website)
Beautiful Thick White Frosting

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 egg whites (at room temperature) 
Directions
  1. Combine sugar, cream of tartar, salt and water in heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is clear. Cook until mixture reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer (soft ball stage).
  2. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Let mixer continue to run and slowly pour the sugar mixture in a thin stream down the side of the mixer bowl (don't let the sugar mixture come into contact with the beaters). Continue beating until stiff peaks form and frosting thickens to desired consistency. 
The frosting was used for the filling between the two cake layers and to frost the top and sides of the cake. Frosting the cake before laying the fondant down helps the fondant stick to the cake better! Make sure it is a thin layer of frosting, or else your fondant will look distorted once it is layed on the cake. And you only get one chance to lay the fondant on the cake!

Believe me, I am speaking from experience! Luckily, I had more than enough extra fondant, because I had to do it all over again after ripping the fondant off the cake with half of the frosting the first time because of too much frosting on the tops and sides of the cake. It was such a mess and it made the fondant not have a very "smooth" appearance. So trial number one's rolled out fondant was trashed, and trial number two cooperated much better for me!

After all my hard work on my first try at fondant, it was a success. The cake was delicious and I'm glad I could share it with loved ones!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Delicious Fruit Dip!

So I just LOVE fruit! I eat it every day and it's just so delicious by itself - naturally sweet and quite healthy! BUT I made a little exception... I served a yummy bowl of assorted fruits at my cookie exchange and spiced things up a little bit by making a special dip to go along with the fruit! Ok, yes, I know, not quite so healthy, but it is amazing!

I found this tasty recipe online... don't ask me where because I really have no clue! The day of the cookie exchange I went looking online for the recipe I had found a couple of days prior. Yup, NO clue where I had found that recipe, I forgot to save it, and after 30 minutes of searching and hoping it would show up, I couldn't find it. LUCKILY - the ingredients were still stuck in my head and I ended up putting together a fabulous dip! Yay!

Fruit Dip

Ingredients
  • 1 (8-oz) package reduced fat strawberry cream cheese
  • 1 (7-oz) jar marshmallow fluff
  • Juice of 1 orange (2-4 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup lite cool whip
Directions
  1. Blend cream cheese, fluff, and orange juice. 
  2. Fold in cool whip.
  3. Keep refrigerated. 
  4. Serve with assorted fresh fruit.



Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hawaiian Angel Food Cake

Angel food cake is one of the healthier cakes out there, but fair warning: it still has quite a bit of sugar in it! It is so delicious, light, and airy with that perfect amount of sweetness. I have this fabulous angel food cake recipe from Allrecipes, but I thought I would add something new to it this time. I added crushed pineapple and flaked coconut to give it that "Hawaiian" flare. With the addition of these ingredients, this may increase your baking time because the cake becomes a bit denser. Just be sure to watch your cake carefully toward the end of the baking time. 

Fresh fruit and a dollop of cool whip (or whipped cream) accompany this cake so well!

One other note: It is very important to have your egg whites at room temperature before mixing them. This allows them to become fluffier much faster and form such nice stiff peaks!

This recipe also requires a stand mixer or hand mixer. Mixing the eggs whites takes quite a few minutes for them to form into stiff peaks. I am fortunate to have a KitchenAid mixer, which allows me to multitask while the egg whites are mixing! I  can just step back and let the mixing take over!
Hawaiian Angel Food Cake

Ingredients
  • 12 eggs (1 1/2 cups egg whites (egg beaters))
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 (8-oz) can crushed pineapple, with juice (optional)
  • 1/2 - 1 cup coconut, flaked (optional)
  • Fresh fruit, cut-up (optional)
  • Whipped cream or cool whip (optional)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Separate eggs; discard yolks or refrigerate for another use. Place in a mixing bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, sift confectioners' sugar and flour together three times; set aside.
  4. Add cream of tartar, extracts and salt to egg whites; beat on high speed.
  5. Gradually add sugar, beating until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form.
  6. Fold in flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time.
  7. Carefully fold in pineapple and coconut until just incorporated.
  8. Gently spoon (or carefully pour) into an ungreased 10-in. tube pan. Cut through batter with a knife to remove air pockets.
  9. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Immediately invert pan; cool completely before removing cake from pan.
  10. Serve cake slice with fresh fruit and a dollop of cool whip!





Homemade Hot Cocoa!

I love winter time! The weather is a bit cold but gives you a good excuse to stay inside and keep warm! Ok, so I know this is Florida, but it has been a little cold down here! Who doesn't love those chilly days where you can just curl up on the couch with a big blanket and sip hot cocoa? That warm, comfy feeling just puts a smile on my face.

As I am always the one to use the Swiss Miss hot cocoa packets, I decided I wanted to try to make this wonderful, comforting drink from scratch!
 
 
A perfect opportunity to make this was on the day of my cookie exchange: lots of cookies to sample, fresh fruit, coffee, tea and of course, HOT COCOA!
 
I found a great recipe from Diana's Desserts:
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup hot water
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream, or 1 additional cup milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Miniature marshmallows (optional)
  • Semisweet chocolate, grated (optional) 
Directions

  1. In a heavy saucepan, stir together the cocoa powder and sugar. Gradually whisk in the hot water. Stir in the milk, cream, and salt, and set the pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until just steaming (do not boil).
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. For a frothy beverage, beat the cocoa with a hand-held electric mixer for about 1 minute. Ladle the cocoa into mugs, top wih marshmallows and grated chocolate, if desired, and serve immediately.
  3. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
This hot cocoa recipe was a hit at the party! I only made one batch, thinking not many people would want to drink it, but I was wrong! Everyone love it! And it was gone within the first half hour! I did not use cream in the hot cocoa I made, but instead I used 2 cups lowfat (1 %) milk and 2 cups nonfat milk. The hot cocoa still turned out great with a healthier option! 

Now there is always room to make modifications! Different flavors, healthier choices, different toppings... So a few days ago, I decided I wanted to make this recipe even healthier! I decided to substitute Equal sweetener (8-9 packets) for the cup of sugar. And instead of vanilla, I used ¼ - ½ teaspoon peppermint extract. And yes, this is even better when topped with a generous amount of mini marshmallows! Delicious!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Special Thanks

I wanted to give a special thank you to our townhome's maintenance and management crew! It's a perfect time to make baked goods, and they deserve it for all their hard work! I decided to make the chocolate, chocolate chip cookies Meagan made for the cookie exchange - they were OH so good! But I made some slight changes compared to Meagan's cookie. I crushed up a bunch of candy canes and mixed them into the cookie dough! And well, they are gigantic! Yummy!

David also brought some of these cookies to his work. He said everyone loved them, BUT there was one slightly negative comment... they look like cow patties! Ok, so I know they're ugly but it's hard making any baked goods pretty when you have double chocolate - brown and more brown. I guess I could of decorated the tops of them a bit with candy canes or sprinkles, but I'll keep that in mind for the next time :) Sorry for the ugly cookies! At least the appearance relates nothing to the taste.

Jumbo Double Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, softened 
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • cup cocoa powder 
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup candy canes, crushed
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; stir into the butter mixture until well blended. Mix in the chocolate chips and candy canes. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. 
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes in the preheated oven, or just until set. Cool slightly on the cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
  4. Yield: Well, that's a tough one... it depends on how big or small you want your cookies to be. I wanted my extra large so I did not end up with as many :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cheers to a successful cookie exchange!

Thank you again to everyone who participated in my first cookie exchange! Hopefully this can become an annual tradition! I'd love it! It is so much fun learning about others' favorite cookies too! Yum! So this blog is dedicated to all of my special guests!

First off, I want to give a special thanks to my sister Michelle for helping me out! She heard I was having a cookie exchange, and even though she couldn't be at the event, she chose to make cookies anyway! When I saw her during Thanksgiving she gave me a HUGE box of cookies plus a small tub of them. She told me I was allowed to taste some of the cookies out of the tub while we were together - I didn't realize she just wanted me to "taste" because before I knew it, the whole tub of cookies was empty - oops! Hey, can you blame me? They were good!!

So here are the cookies she made:

Cookie #1: Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (by Michelle Gilman)
Source: Allrecipes

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
"So I heard that my sister Rachel was going to be having a cookie exchange. Well as much as I wanted to be there with her and help her plan everything, it just wasn’t possible. I decided, however, that I still wanted to be a part of this cookie exchange, but I didn’t want to make the same old cookies that everyone is used to. So I started researching on various websites some different kinds of cookies and I came across Banana oatmeal cookies. So I thought about it and as I was going over the ingredients, but I just felt like it was missing something. My first batch that I made was with raisins due to the fact I was thinking too much of oatmeal raisin cookies not really remembering that the recipe called for bananas as well. As I told Rachel my idea to add raisins she wasn’t that thrilled about it, but I was WAY too excited, so being the good sister she is she just went a long with it. My first batch was complete and I couldn’t wait to try them out….yeah not so good. Not a horrible cookie but I thought it could be better."

"So I went back to the drawing board and thought what mixes well with bananas, and then it hit me…OF COURSE…chocolate chips! So I called Rachel and said ok maybe raisins weren’t such a good idea…but how about chocolate chips? Well then she goes on to tell me 'yeah I think chocolate chips would be delicious, I am not that big a fan of raisins with banana bread.' Well then I was just laughing because I asked her why she couldn’t tell me that BEFORE I made a batch with raisins."

"If you love banana bread, you will love this recipe. It’s pretty much banana bread in disguise as a delicious cookie. It is definitely different, but it’s very YUMMY."

"Please enjoy these cookies and I hope everyone has a very happy holiday!!" - Michelle

Ingredients 
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, heaping
  • ¾ cup butter, softened (or shortening)
  • 1 cup white sugar 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 cup bananas, mashed (2-3 ripe bananas)
  • 1 ¾ cups oats (quick or old fashioned)
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips  
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). 
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. 
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Add egg, banana, oats, nuts, and chocolate chips. Mix well. 
  4. Add dry ingredients, mix well and drop by the teaspoon on ungreased cookie sheet. 
  5. Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 15 minutes or until edges turn lightly brown. Cool on wire rack. Store in a closed container.  
Thank you Mishkie for making these delicious cookies! They completed my cookie exchange! You better be here next year! Love you!

I hope you enjoy the rest of these recipes! I'm so glad my guests were able to share these with me!


Cookie #2: Hermit Cookies (by Sue Schick)

Hermit Cookies
"My story about making Christmas cookies when I grew up is that we would spend 2-3 days doing nothing else but baking dozens of cookies, including the cut outs and the spritz cookies. Then through the holidays, we always had a tray of cookies that were available all through the day and after dinner every night, we would replenish the tray and enjoy fresh cookies with milk or coffee for desert. My mother was a great cook and she kept all her cookies in Christmas cookie tins all over the house. They lasted for weeks and were usually gone by the New Years Day. " - Sue

Ingredients
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup dates
  • ¾ cup walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons hot water 
  • 2 ⅔ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ½ tablespoons milk
  • 2 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Directions 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
  2. Combine raisins, dates, walnuts and hot water. Set aside.
  3. Wisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
  4. Beat butter, brown sugar, and sugar on medium speed until very fluffy and well-blended.
  5. Add eggs, milk, vanilla, and orange zest until well-combined.
  6. Stir half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture until well blended and smooth. Stir in the raisin mixture, followed by the remaining flour mixture until well blended
  7. Drop the dough by teaspoons onto the greased baking sheet spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart.
  8. Bake 9-12 minutes. Remove from rack and let stand until cookies firm slightly, then transfer to cooling racks (9-10 minutes in usually enough, otherwise they are a little dark around the edges).

Cookie #3: Peanut Butter Cup Cookies (by Jenn Rodriguez)
Source: Allrecipes

"I wanted to try something new and came across this recipe. I only saw great reviews about this cookie, so I knew it was a keeper. Happy holidays!" - Jenn 

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
 Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 15 miniature chocolate covered peanut butter cups, unwrapped 
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream the butter, white sugar, brown sugar, and peanut butter together. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture.
  3. Drop by tablespoonfuls into the cups of a muffin tin. Cups should be about ¼ full. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and immediately press a peanut butter cup into the center of each cookie. Allow the cookies to cool completely before removing from their pan.

Cookie #4: Classic Spritz Cookies (by Peggy Reynolds-Devorak) 
Source: Wilton

Classic Spritz Cookies
"Baking brings back funny memories of when I was a newlywed… all those times I greased up pans when I wasn’t supposed to. Oops! It’s always nice to get a good laugh around the holidays."
- Peggy

Tools
  • Cookie ProTM Ultra cookie press
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Thoroughly cream butter and sugar. Add egg, milk, vanilla and almond extract; beat well.
  3. Stir together flour and baking powder; gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing to make a smooth dough. Do not chill.
  4. Place dough into Cookie ProTM Ultra and press cookies onto greased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. 
  5. Remove cookies from sheet; cool on rack.
  6. Makes 7-8 dozen cookies.

Cookie #5: Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies (by Meagan Strouse)
Source: Allrecipes 
 
Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies
"Whenever I bake cookies, I always take them out a minute or two before the minimum time on the recipe. The cookies will be gooey and moist, so they won't get dry and crunchy as fast as when you bake them the normal time. Brownies work with this trick too, but instead of a couple I bake them about 5 minutes less, since they have a longer bake time. To me, there is nothing like a rich, gooey cookie or brownie. You can't attack them straight out of the oven because they're too soft, but it's worth the wait to have several days of delicious cookie or brownie joy!" - Meagan
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, softened 
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • cup cocoa powder 
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 
  • 2 cups semisweet or white chocolate chips 
  • Peppermint extract (optional)
  • ½ cup candy canes, crushed or peppermint baking bits (optional)
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped (optional) 
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 
  2. In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; stir into the butter mixture until well blended. Mix in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. 
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or just until set. Cool slightly on the cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. 
  4. Recipe Yield: 4 dozen

Cookie #6: Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies (by Tammi Wooten & Erica Koch)
Source: Tammi’s Grandmother
 
Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies
"There isn't any one particular memory associated with these cookies, but many wonderful summers that my brother, cousins, and I spent at my grandmother’s house making these cookies with her. They really have that old fashion taste, and are really easy and fun to make."
- Tammi

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 cups quick oats
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Directions
  1. Melt butter and cocoa in sauce pan. 
  2. Add sugar, salt, and milk, and boil for one minute. Remove from fire and add quick oats, peanut butter and vanilla. 
  3. Drop on wax paper.
  4. Eat when set, about 1 hour.

Cookie #7: Chocolate Raspberry Sprinkle Dip Cookies (by Cathy)
 
"Unfortunately, I do not have family cookie recipes since my family was not homemade people when it came to desserts. Bakery bought items – that is what we all did in my home neighborhood The Bronx, New York."
 
"The cookie I have chosen has been an all time favorite of mine for over 30 years (ask all my childhood friends). There were at least 5 bakeries in a two-block radius. Every cookie, cake, and pastry you could ever imagine."
 
Chocolate Raspberry Sprinkle Dip Cookies
"But the chocolate raspberry sprinkle dip was the bomb. A bite of cookie, jam, chocolate and sprinkle all in one bite. Everyone ate it the same way: nibbling the sprinkles, savoring the chocolate, then the cookie. Even when I speak to old friends from the Bronx this simple cookie brings back great memories of what old Mom & Pop bakeries were all about."
 
"I hope you enjoy them." - Cathy 

Ingredients
  • 1 package sugar cookie mix
  • 1 jar raspberry jam (seedless)
  • 1 jar/package melting chocolate
  • 1 packaged multi-colored sprinkles 
Directions
  1. Mix packaged cookie mix as directed. 
  2. Bake at 375 degrees F for 8-9 minutes. 
  3. Let cookies cool.
  4. Spread jam and squeeze together.
  5. Dip cookie into melted chocolate.
  6. Dip into sprinkles.
  7. Refrigerate cookies to harden chocolate for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Enjoy. 

Cookie #8: Cranberry Cream Cheese Snickerdoodles (by Cathy)
 
Cranberry Cream Cheese Snickerdoodles
Ingredients 
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup butter, margarine or spread, softened 
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 egg
  • Snickerdoodle cookie mix
  • 1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • Cinnamon sugar
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Mix cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  3. Add water, egg, and cookie mix to cream cheese mixture until soft dough forms.
  4. Stir in cranberries.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Drop dough 2 inches apart on ungreased sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
  7. Bake for 8-9 minutes.

Cookie #9: Old Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies (by Jacki Simpson)
Source: Libby's Pumpkin
 
"Growing up, I don’t recall baking cookies for the Christmas Holidays. But, it seems like it has always been traditional to have the aroma of fresh baked cookies in the house during the November and December holiday season. The aromatics of the spices used to bake cookies add to the feeling of cheer as families gather together in the kitchen to bake and enjoy cookies. The gloominess that comes with the change of the season is more tolerable when you have the warmth and smell of freshly baked cookies and spices throughout the house."
 
"I began making cookies during the holidays the first year in housekeeping. It became traditional to bake many types of cookies during this season to share with others, leaving some for Santa on Christmas Eve, and eating some with hot chocolate or Russian Tea. Cookie types included: decorated sugar cookies, oatmeal cookies, and our favorite chocolate chip cookies. Through the years a few more types were added including the soft pumpkin cookie being shared today."
 
"As the children came along, all three (Daniel, David, and Elizabeth) would become a part of this festive time of baking. They would help mix the cookies, taste the batter, lick the beaters, cut out the cookies, decorate sugar cookies, but most of all---eat the cookies. All three liked to be a part of the activity. Each had the opportunity to leave cookies for Santa. Santa always got at least 2 cookies left for him on Christmas Eve (except for one year---the idea of cookies was not tolerated and a plate of carrots was left instead…). I think Santa preferred visiting when cookies were left on a plate with a glass of milk, after all the cookies were gone except for some crumbs and the milk was almost empty except for a few sips." - Jacki
 
Ingredients
    Old Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies 
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup Libby’s Solid Pack Pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Glaze (recipe follows)   
Directions
  1. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl. Cream butter and sugar in large mixer bowl. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla, beat until light and creamy. Mix in dry ingredients until well blended.
  2. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto greased cookie sheet. Smooth topes of cookies.
  3. Bake in preheated 350ยบ oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Drizzle glaze over top.
  4. Glaze: Combine 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract into small bowel until smooth.  
** For variation: stir any of the following into batter: 1 cup raisins, 1 cup chopped nuts, 1 cup rolled oats, ½ cup crushed pineapple (drained). 


Cookie #10: David’s Favorite Candy - Chocolate Mints (by Jacki Simpson)

Chocolate Mints
Ingredients
  • 1 lb confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 stick margarine or butter (softened)
  • 1 teaspoon flavoring (mint extract, etc.)
  • 4 squares semi-sweet chocolate
  • ½ stick paraffin wax
Directions
  1. Mix confectioner’s sugar, margarine & flavoring together. Use hands to form into a large ball. Refrigerate for a couple of hours. Form candies into 1 inch balls.
  2. In double boiler, mix 4 squares semi-sweet chocolate and paraffin wax. Melt & mix. Dip candy balls into chocolate sauce and place on waxed paper to harden.
  3. For best results, freeze the candy balls prior to dipping in chocolate.

Cookie #11: Ooey Gooey Chocolate Butter Cookies (by Barbara Roberts)
Source: Paula Deen

Ooey Gooey Chocolate Butter Cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 (8-oz) brick cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 stick butter (room temperature)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (18-oz) box moist chocolate cake mix
  • Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg. Then beat in the vanilla extract. Beat in the cake mix. 
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up so that you can roll batter into balls. Roll the chilled batter into tablespoon-sized balls and then roll them in confectioner’s sugar. 
  4. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 12 minutes. The cookies will remain soft and “gooey”. 
  5. Cool completely and sprinkle with more confectioner’s sugar, if desired.

Cookie #12: Rugelach (by Rachel Gilman)
Source: Diana's Desserts

If you are looking for a challenge, you have come to the right place! I didn’t know how time-consuming this special cookie was! It is worth it though! Rugelach is a Jewish pastry filled with nuts, cinnamon, sugar! This is a traditional kind of cookie served on Hanukkah! 

Since this was my first time making these cookies, I was a little worried about how the turn out would be. After approval from my neighbor, who grew up in New York and was in walking distance of several "mom & pop" bakeries, I knew all my hard work had paid off!

I do want to give a special thank you to my Aunt Karen. I decided to use her homemade "peach melba" jam for the filling in some of these cookies. The jam was perfect - the cookie couldn't have been more delicious!


Rugelach
 Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup (2 sticks/8 oz/226g) unsalted butter, softened 
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened 
  • ½ cup plus 4 teaspoons granulated sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1 cup jam (raspberry, blackberry, apricot preserves, or any jam of your choice)
  • 1 cup loosely packed golden raisins, chopped 
  • 1 ¼ cups walnuts (¼ lb), finely chopped 
  • Milk for brushing cookies 
Special equipment
  • Parchment paper 
Directions
  1. Whisk together flour and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat together butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until combined well. Add flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Gather dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap, then flatten (in wrap) into a roughly 7- by 5-inch rectangle. Chill until firm, 8 to 24 hours. 
  2. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line bottom of a 1- to 1 ½-inch-deep large shallow baking pan with parchment paper. 
  3. Cut dough into 4 pieces. Chill 3 pieces, wrapped in plastic wrap, and roll out remaining piece into a 12- by 8-inch rectangle on a well-floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Transfer dough to a sheet of parchment, then transfer to a tray and chill while rolling out remaining dough in same manner, transferring each to another sheet of parchment and stacking on tray. 
  4. Whisk ½ cup sugar with cinnamon. 
  5. Arrange 1 dough rectangle on work surface with a long side nearest you. Spread ¼ cup preserves evenly over dough with offset spatula. Sprinkle ¼ cup raisins and a rounded ¼ cup walnuts over jam, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar. 
  6. Using parchment as an aid, roll up dough tightly into a log. Place, seam side down, in lined baking pan, then pinch ends closed and tuck underneath. Make 3 more logs in same manner and arrange 1 inch apart in pan. Brush logs with milk and sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon of remaining granulated sugar. With a sharp large knife, make 3/4-inch-deep cuts crosswise in dough (not all the way through) at 1-inch intervals. (If dough is too soft to cut, chill until firmer, 20 to 30 minutes.) 
  7. Bake until golden, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool to warm in pan on a rack, about 30 minutes, then transfer logs to a cutting board and slice cookies all the way through. 
  8. Makes about 44 cookies. 

Cookie #13: Hello Dollies (by Rachel Gilman)
Source: Mom!
Hello Dollies

My mom always made these during the holidays when we were growing up! We could never get enough of them! It is really hard to eat just one. My sister, Michelle, and I would always watch my mom makes these, just waiting for her to finally say “Okay! You can have one!”

Ingredients
  • ¼ lb butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup nuts
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Melt butter in 3-quart glass pan.
  3. Press graham cracker crumbs into the pan.
  4. Layer the rest of the ingredients on top of the graham cracker crumbs.
  5. Cover with milk.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. 

Cookie #14: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies (by Rachel Gilman)
Source: Allrecipes

White Chocolate Macadamaia Nut Cookies
 Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces white chocolate, chopped (or 1-2 cups white chocolate chips)
  • 1 (6.5 ounce) jar macadamia nuts, chopped
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, stir into the creamed mixture. Finally, stir in the white chocolate and nuts. Drop cookies by heaping teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. 
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. When cool, store in an airtight container.    

Thank you again for all the fabulous recipes! I hope you all enjoy this special post! Happy Holidays!

For the guests of my first cookie exchange:
Rugelach, Hello Dollies, and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookies
plus homemade recipe booklets of all the cookies made for this special event.
Cheers!