I don’t think it’s a secret that I love food. If you didn’t know already, well now you do! And I also love giving cookies to friends and family. Nothing says love more than cooking/baking. At least that’s what my Italian grandmother says, and I happen to agree. So last week when it rained for five straight days, yes FIVE days in Southern California, I decided to head into the kitchen for some baking.
First, I always have to bake my Chocolate Peppermint Pizzelles. I’ve blogged about them before, but they are worth talking about again as they are ALWAYS a fan favorite. My recipe is a slight variation from this one found on the Food Network website.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder? (omit if you live in super high humidity like I do)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled to room temperature
Vegetable oil spray
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting cookies
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
8 ounces mint chocolates (I use Andies Dinner Mints)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Whisk the flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. In another medium bowl, briskly whisk the eggs, sugar and melted butter together until smooth and evenly combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg mixture. Gradually whisk the liquid into the flour to make a thick batter. When the pizzelle batter starts to clump up in the whisk, switch to a rubber spatula to finish mixing it together. (If you have a large pastry bag, put a big round tip in it, and fill with the pizzelle batter.) Preheat a pizzelle iron until a drop of water sizzles on the hot surface, about 10 minutes. Lightly spray the hot surface with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon about a tablespoon of the batter into the center of each cookie imprint. Close the iron and cook until whiffs of steam comes from the iron, about 30 to 45 seconds. Open and remove cookie from the iron, cool on a rack. Repeat with remaining batter.
To make the filling:
Chop the chocolate into smaller pieces if necessary then put it and the butter in a microwave safe bowl. Cover and microwave on medium power in 30 second intervals (stirring between each run)until soft and melted, about 3 minutes depending on the power of your oven; stir until smooth. Alternatively, put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1-inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl on the pan (without touching the water). Stir occasionally until melted and smooth.
To serve spoon a tablespoon of the mint filling into the center of half the cookies. Top with another cookie and press to sandwich them together. Finish with a dusting of powder sugar. Serve now or keep tightly covered for up to 1 week.
Next I moved on to these delicious little morsels I found in my Rachel Ray magazine, Peanut Butter Cup Stuffed Ginger Cookies.
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
36 miniature peanut butter cups, such as Reeses, chilled
Confectioners sugar, for rolling
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Whisk in the ginger, cinnamon, pepper and salt. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on high speed until smooth, light and fluffy, 2 minutes. Beat in the egg for 30 seconds, then mix in the molasses. Scrape down the bowl. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, mixing on low speed until just combined. Turn out the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Using the wrap to help, form the dough into a disk and seal tightly. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees . Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment. Working with 1 tbsp. of dough at a time, mold the dough around each peanut butter cup to enclose completely. Place 12 dough balls on each of the prepared pans. Bake until the tops are just set and slightly cracked, 12 to 14 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to a rack to cool for 5 minutes. Roll the cookies in the confectioners sugar, then return to the rack to cool completely. Roll the cookies in the confectioners sugar again before serving.
Then as if I didn’t already have enough sugar flowing through my veins, I moved on to baking these super easy Italian Christmas cookies. This recipe I found on The Life & Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch via Pinterest and is large enough for a huge crowd and easy enough to keep cranking out to please all of your loved ones this holiday season.
5 cups all purpose flour
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup shortening
3 teaspoons almond extract
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
3-3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup warm milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Using a heavy-duty mixer, beat eggs on high speed until light and foamy, about 5 minutes; set aside in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, confectioners’ sugar and baking powder; on low speed, gradually beat in shortening and extracts until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Gradually add beaten eggs (dough will be stiff). Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes (tops of the cookies will not brown, but bottoms should brown slightly). Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the confectioner’s sugar, milk and extracts until smooth. As soon as cookies are removed from the oven, quickly dip two or three at a time into glaze. Remove with a slotted spoon or tongs. Place on wire racks to drain. Immediately top with sprinkles. Let dry for 24 hours before storing in airtight containers.
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour 5 mins
Yield: 7 dozen
I hope I’ve given you a little inspiration to get into the holiday baking spirt. Now if you don’t mind, I should really get to the gym. 😉 Happy Baking!