Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Cookies, Cakes and Gingerbread Houses...

Happy Christmas to all or should I say Happy Baking Season! 

My homemade Peppermint bark to rival Williams Sonoma

I am from a long line of 'fill the biscuit tin, in case someone pops in' women. Traditionally we also delivered Christmas biscuits (cookies) to a few lucky folks at Christmas time. So when the calendar hits December, I start big time planning. Who am I kidding, it happens long before December.

So you'll understand, we've been busy in this house over the last few weeks. Like many others, I love to give cookies at Christmas. The giving list gets longer every year; and despite having some tried and true Christmas cookie recipes I always feel compelled to try out a few new ones.

This year I am linking the recipes I have used alongside a few snaps of the final products. This is as much for me next year as it is for any readers so apologies for poorer grammar than usual. I'm in a rush to get back to the kitchen action.

Here goes:

My particular favored new recipe is for Peppermint Bark. I was determined not to pay $25 a box this year at Williams Sonoma, so found a recipe for me to make my own. Success!!

I have a ginger obsession at this time of year so one of the many recipes I use is the following Ginger Chocolate Chip Blondies. They are so good...

Continuing on the theme and desperately trying to harness my control frickery, my girls and I got up to gingerbread men and house making, using the following healthier recipe from Heidi at 101 cookbooks. These are wholewheat gingerbread men!

This is the girls playing with the scraps at the end

House components and little guys
Decorating time
The finished product; again an exercise in self control for me!
My Mum usually makes me my Christmas cake, in fact, I'm ashamed to say, I've never made one before. This year I was going to skip it as we are not having any family visiting. However Nigella got the best of me with her Chocolate Fruit Cake from Feast. It looks amazing, is soaking in Kahlua as I type and boasts one of my favorite combinations prunes and chocolate. Haven't tasted yet but can't imagine it will disappoint. It did take me a whole morning on my own to complete though; even the lining of the tin requited a lot of concentration and 25 minutes! 

These little fellas below are ready to go out; in the packages are Chocolate Crackle Cookies, a recipe. surprisingly, from McKormick spices. They include Roasted Saigon Cinnamon and Ancho Chile Pepper but are basically a double chocolate cookie with a kick. Yummy adult cookies but my kids love them too. They freeze amazingly too.

The other cookies in the packages are a recipe from the boys at Baked. The cookies are Oatmeal Cherry Chocolate chip from "Baked; New Frontiers in Baking". Very delicious.

Oatmeal Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today, Nigella linked to her Christmas Chocolate Biscuits, and they looked so easy and sounded so simple, I just had to give them a go:

They're similar little chocolate shortbreads with chocolate frosting...mmm
One last link; as yet I've only made the dough (it's sitting in the fridge) but no mention of Christmas cookies/ biscuits whatever you want to call them, is complete without these. This recipe for Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies was posted by me way back in March, but it is "Christmas in a cookie" for me.

Happy Baking!
Merry Christmas! 
Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 12, 2011

My favorite Cut Out Cookie Recipe...aka Jock Cookies!

Christmas Stars

A couple of years ago, our good friends visited us for Thanksgiving. Jayne is a great cook and also Northern Irish, so she came armed with many, goody stuffed Tupperware. The best of the best were these AMAZING sugar cookies that she had cut out in "Jock" (their dog) shapes and covered with melted butterscotch chips. Oh boy! They were so good. We (I particularly) could not stop eating them and I think even she was surprised how good the butterscotch tasted on a sugar cookie. If I remember correctly she was trying to avoid a supermarket trip so she used the butterscotch in a pinch. Anyway, Jayne was kind enough to fork over the recipe and now we need little excuse to whip up a batch in this house. So, it's time to share.

A wee bit of fun for the kids; Candy Cane Copycats

These cookies are in no way healthy; but they are not everyday cookies or lunch box snacks. They're for special occasions; it's up to you how many occasions you nominate special, after you taste them.

Cut Out Cookies

Sparkly Snowflakes


1 cup/ 1/2 lb butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. 
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium, until whitened.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat on medium until well incorporated.
  5. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture slowly. Mix until just incorporated.
  6. Take the dough out of the bowl and shape it into a disc approx 1" thick.
  7. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 30 mins
  8. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to approx 1/4" thick. 
  9. Cut out your shapes til your hearts content and re-roll as necessary.
  10. Be careful not to overwork the dough and if the scraps get too warm, wrap again and place back in the refrigerator for another 10 mins or so.
  11. Bake for approx 5 minutes then turn the tray around and bake another 5 minutes. 
  12. They will be done when they begin to turn golden around the edges. 
  13. Cool for 2-3 minutes on the tray before transferring them to a cooling rack
  14. leave to cool completely before decorating
This Christmas, I used the simplest of frosting/ icing, borrowed from Nigella. The ratios are as follows:

1 cup confectioners sugar
1 1/2  tablespoons hot water

This will give you a pretty runny icing which you can flood the cookie with. It will dry to hard in a few hours. 

The cookies will keep (unfrosted) for about a week in an airtight container and apparently they freeze too. I am testing that out; I've frozen a sample and will add a comment when I defrost them.

My Halloween Cut Outs this year