Friday, December 20, 2013

December 20, 2013

Another week behind us, and not many days left in 2013.  This week we didn't make any new dinner, breakfast or side-dish recipes.  We did make some new cookie recipes, and we whipped up a few batches of hot chocolate to give to teachers and friends.  I was invited to a cookie exchange and in preparation I made a 4 different types of cookies and prepared plates for some of our friends.  They ate them and voted on taste, appearance, and best overall.  2 cookies were the favorites, Peppermint Snickerdoodles and Peppermint-filled Chocolate cookies.  I ended up making the peppermint-filled ones for the cookie exchange, but don't ask me about exchange itself unless you want to hear a tale of flat tires and tow trucks! 

All 5 of us are now on vacation for the remainder of the year!  Hooray!  This time together could lead to trying lots of new recipes, or just lazing around together and making old favorites.  We will have to see how it pans out!

Happy Cooking!

New Recipes
Hot Cocoa
Peppermint-filled Chocolate Cookies
Peppermint Snickerdoodles

Hot Cocoa Mix (from Alton Brown)

* 2 cups powdered sugar
* 1 cup cocoa powder (dutch process if possible)
* 2 1/2 cups powdered milk
* 1 tsp salt (popcorn salt, pickling salt, or table salt)
* 2 tsp cornstarch
* pinch cayenne pepper

1. Combine all the ingredients in the work bowl of your food processor.  Process for 1-2 minutes or until very well mixed.
2. Store in an airtight canister or glass mason jar in the pantry.
3. Use as you would use store bought hot cocoa mix.  Add enough mix to hot water until you reach your taste preference level.

Owen said this was the best hot chocolate he'd ever had!!!  We made a few batches to give to teachers for the holiday break, and we tried it ourselves to make sure it was delicious.  It is!  We did have popcorn salt on hand so we used it.  The recipe just wants to make sure you use the finest salt possible in the mix.  The pinch of cayenne was not noticeable because the recipe makes 5.5 cups of mix.  I imagine it just added a hint of complexity in the overall flavor, and since we didn't find it overpowering, we will continue to make this hot chocolate as Alton Brown directed. 

Peppermint- filled Chocolate Cookies

* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup light brown sugar
* 6 oz butter, softened
* 1 egg
* 1 1/2 cups AP flour
* 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (dutch process if available)
* 1 tsp salt
* 1/2 tsp of baking soda
* 24 miniature peppermint patties, unwrapped and chilled
* 6 oz white chocolate, melted
* peppermint candy or candy cane dust

1. In an electric mixer cream the butter and sugars for 4 minutes.  Then add the egg and beat for another 2 minutes.
2. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda), and then incorporate into the butter mixture.
3. Lay dough on plastic wrap, wrap up and chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
4. Preheat the over to 350 F. Line the baking sheets with parchment.
5. Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces, and then each piece into 2 pieces.  Flatten each portion, and then place a peppermint patty on one of the flattened pieces.  Cover the patty with the second portion of the dough.  Mold the dough around the candy, seal and smooth the edges making sure there are no holes.  Place the cookie dough on the baking sheet.
6. Cook for 11 - 12 minutes, remove from the oven and cool on wire rack.
7.  When the cookies are cooled drizzle with the white chocolate and then sprinkle on the peppermint dust.

I used my kitchen scale to ensure each amount of cookie dough was the same.  This helped ensure that the cookies baked uniformly and that I was able to get 24 cookies out of each batch.  Although these cookies were more work then your typical cookies, it is the holiday season!  I made these for an annual Christmas cookie exchange. 

Peppermint Snickerdoodles

* 2 cups sugar, divided
* 2 tsp ground cinnamon
* 1/2 cup finely crushed candy canes or peppermint candies
* 1 cup butter, softened
* 2 eggs
* 2 tsp vanilla extract
* 2 3/4 cups AP flour
* 1/4 tsp salt
* 2 tsp cream of tartar
* 1 tsp baking soda

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Mix 1/2 cup sugar, the cinnamon and the crushed peppermint candy.  Combine well and set aside.
3. In a large bowl cream the butter and remaining sugar for 4 minutes.  Scrape down the sides, and cream one more minute.  Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing for 1 minute after each addition.  Then add in the vanilla.  Scrape down the sides.
4. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, cream or tartar and baking soda.  Add to the butter sugar mixture and mix until fully incorporated.
5. Shape the dough into 1 inch balls and roll in the sugar mixture.  Place on the baking sheet.
6. Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes or until the edges are set and they begin to turn very lightly brown.  Cool for 3 - 4 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to completely cool.

Very festive for the holidays!  Not overwhelmingly minty, just a hint.  Delicious!