Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Cookies!!!

Merry Christmas once again.  This time, the blog is devoted to the Christmas cookies!!  It is tradition that my grandmother and I bake the cookies that are eaten on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  I look forward to this time of year, every year.  The time I get to spend with my grandma and grandpa, the QC of the cookies ... I mean come on, do you really think we can wait until Christmas Eve???

Every year there are specific cookies that have to be made:  Candy Cane cookies, My Nana's Icebox Cookies, Biscotti, and Bourbon Balls.  Here are the recipes for the each cookie - passed down through the family and made with love every time.

The Bourbon Balls seem to get stronger every year.  The Candy Cookies are the best part about Christmas.  The Biscotti are perfect with coffee or tea any time of the day.  And the Icebox cookies are the best tribute to my Nana.

Enjoy and happy baking!!

Grandma’s Anise Biscotti

6 eggs
1 c. sugar
2 Tbsp Anise
¼ tsp yellow food coloring
1 heaping tbsp baking powder

batter after 10 minutes of beating (frothy)
Preheat oven to 350*.  Beat eggs, sugar, coloring, and Anise for 8-10 minutes (until frothy) on high speed.  Add flour and baking powder.

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper.  Pour the mixture on the sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.  Turn onto pastry board or hard surface (remove wax paper immediately).  Cut in ½ lengthwise and then into 1 ½” slices on the diagonal. 

Place back onto cookie sheet and return to oven for toasting (about 10 min.)

Heat chocolate in a double boiler with some karo syrup or butter and then dunk the cooled biscotti into the chocolate and let cool on a wire rack.

Gingerbread Men Cookies
(~ 21 doz. mini cookies or ~ 8 doz. regular size)

1 tsp salt
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp cloves
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 c. sifted flour

1 c. shortening
1 ¼ c. brown sugar
1 large egg
1 c. molasses, slightly warm

1/3 c. hot water
1 1/8 tsp. baking soda

4 to 5 cups flour

Sift together in large bowl:

ground nutmeg
powdered ginger
sifted flour

Preheat oven to 350*.  Cream shortening and brown sugar in a mixing bowl.

Work flour mixture and shortening/sugar mixture with a pastry blender until light and fluffy.  Add egg, beaten, alternately with the slightly warmed molasses.  Blend thoroughly.

Now add the hot water with the baking soda. 

Stir in 4 or 5 cups of flour into the mixture (I used about 4 ½ c.).  Chill dough in fridge for 8 hours or stick in freezer for 2 hours until chilled.  Roll out a small portion at a time to 1/8 inch thick.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes on a cookie sheet.

Nana’s Ice Box Cookies

3 eggs
1 c. butter
1 c. sugar + 1 c. brown sugar
4 c. sifted flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 c. chopped nuts (walnuts)

Cream butter and sugars.  Add eggs.  Add sifted dry ingredients.  Stir in nuts.  Roll out dough into a log form, wrap in seran wrap, and freeze for several hours (at least 3).  When firm, slice and bake in 400* oven for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Candy Cane Cookies

½ c. butter, softened
½ c. shortening
1 c. sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 egg
1 ½ tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ c. flour sifted
1 tsp salt
Red food coloring (8 drops)

Preheat oven to 350*.  Cream butter, shortening, sugar, egg, and extracts.  Sift flour and salt together and add to the mixture.  Divide the dough in half and add the red food coloring to half the mixture. 

Take a small ball from each half and roll into strips, braid them into twists and shape into candy canes and place onto the cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with a little sugar.  Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, until slightly golden brown on the edges.

Bourbon Balls

1 box of Nilla Wafers, crushed into very small bits
1 c. confectioners’ sugar
1 c. walnuts, frozen and crushed
3 Tbsp. light Karo syrup
½ c. Bourbon (can use ¼ - ⅓c.)

Combine all into a large mixing bowl and combine until incorporated.  Roll into small balls, then roll into confectioners’ sugar.  Store in a tin container.

Reese's Cupcakes


The best time of year has officially arrived.  It has been a long time since I have posted, but I have been baking and saving up pictures to bombard the site.  My sister's birthday is December 21st and I was in charge of the cake.  She had a birthday party the 20th with 14 of her friends and I decided to make cupcakes.  Not cupcakes that I have made before, but a new recipe ... sort of.  I made my chocolate cupcakes and made a peanut butter frosting, topped with a mini reese's cup.  They were adorable and gobbled up!!

The frosting was creamy and peanut buttery, without overpowering the rich chocolate flavor of the cupcake.  It is a must try frosting - I promise, you will not be disappointed.

On another note, for her birthday cake, I made the same chocolate cake recipe with a white chocolate buttercream frosting.  It was a two layer chocolate cake with a ganache filling.  It was moist and rich from the ganache with a slightly sweet frosting that balanced the not so sweet cake.  The first attempt I made on the frosting did not work out at all.  For some reason the consistency was more gooey than fluffy.  I had to run to the grocery store with like an hour before we had to leave for the restaurant.  Thankfully, the second time around was a success!!  Unfortunately, since I was rushed, I do not have a picture of the cake.  But everyone loved it ... even the servers at the restaurant ... there was a little left over so we gave them the rest.

Enjoy these recipes and happy baking!!!

Chocolate Cake/Cupcakes
(adapted from Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake)
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water + 2 tsp. instant espresso granules

Heat oven to 350°F. Line muffin cups with paper bake cups. Set aside.

Sift together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. 
Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla in another bowl; beat with a mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes. 
In a liquid measuring cup, pour the hot water and add the instant espresso to the hot water, stir to dissolve.  Pour the water/espresso mixture into the batter and stir to combine.  The batter will be very thin. 

Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely.  

* For a 2 layered cake: grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.  Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely

Peanut Butter Frosting

(adapted from Ina Garten)
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup milk (a little less or more depending on consistency)
Mix the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the milk and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.