Cookie Marathon!

Welcome to the blog I've been meaning to start for the past two years!  In honor of the season, I'm going to kick things off with a holiday baking post. 

This past weekend, I got together with my lovely friend Erica, and we made nine different varieties of cookies and candy.

Cacao nib shortbread from Orangette

Cacao nib shortbread
Cacao nib shortbread

Notes on cacao nib shortbread:
  • We used whole wheat pastry flour and they turned out beautifully.
  • These are hardy cookies - they would be great for shipping.

    Chocolate chip cookies (from Betty Crocker Cookie Book)

    Double chocolate chip cookies
    Chocolate chip cookie dough

    Notes on chocolate chip cookies:
    • We used half semi-sweet and half white chocolate chips, but any combination works (butterscotch, milk chocolate, and peanut butter chips would all be lovely).
    • We replaced half of the all purpose flour with white whole wheat flour.  I can't taste a difference and the amount of fiber is increased.

    Chocolate cranberry oatmeal spice cookies from Tasty Kitchen (and also i am baker)

    Chocolate cranberry oatmeal spice cookies
    Chocolate cranberry oatmeal spice cookies

    Notes on chocolate cranberry oatmeal spice cookies:
    • We replaced the apf with white whole wheat flour.
    • We made them with (organic, non-hydrogenated) vegetable shortening per the recipe, but next time I will try them with butter.  It's just more my style.
    • It will seem like a lot of ingredients to mix in at the end (chocolate chips, oats, dried cranberries), but it will work!  We recommend rolling the cookies into balls before baking so that the edges aren't ragged (the ones with ragged edges tended to break easily when we packed them into tins for gift giving).

      Sugar cookies from Bake at 350 via The Pioneer Woman

      Christmas tree cookie
      Christmas tree sugar cookie

      Gingerbread men from 101 Cookbooks

      Creepy-eyed gingerbread man
      Creepy-eyed gingerbread man

      Notes on sugar cookies and gingerbread men:
      • Both cookie recipes worked out beautifully.  The gingerbread cookies are not overly sweet, but both Erica and I really enjoyed their assertive spice.
      • For the icing, we discovered that we preferred to work only with the flood icing.  It was a lot more forgiving than piping.  I'm sure that with practice, the piping would be easier, but it was a pain.
      • Meringue powder can be tricky to find - Williams-Sonoma carries it (just ask Brad, who went to Williams-Sonoma 5 times in the days before we baked).

      Chocolate peppermint cookies (recipe, notes, and picture to come!)

      My Grandma's toffee bars (recipe, notes, and picture to come!)

      Butter toffee from The Pioneer Woman

      Butter toffee
      Butter toffee with chocolate and sea salt

      Notes on butter toffee:
      • We only put chocolate on one side of the toffee, and it was still delicious.
      • We topped some with sea salt and some with chopped pecans.  I forgot to toast the pecans, which I think would have improved the flavor.
      • Spread the toffee very quickly - it starts to set up immediately.
      • Spread both the toffee and chocolate very thin.  When breaking it apart after it was all set, the chocolate separated from the toffee in areas where it was thick.  In the above picture, both the toffee and chocolate are a little too thick.

      Peppermint bark (recipe, notes, and picture to come!)

      Making all of these treats (425 cookies and 425 pieces of candy) took us about 13 hours - one session of 9 hours to bake everything and then 4 hours to decorate the gingerbread men and sugar cookies.   Making them all at once is not for the faint-hearted...but it was a fun project that resulted in several gifts!

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