Holiday Cookies

Well, the Holiday Season is almost over, but it’s never too late to render and collect recipe favorites! This year, I spent some time adjusting some cookie recipes in order to make the cookies more balanced and flavorful. For starters, most cookie recipes over do it on the sugar, and underemphasize the flavors and quality of ingredients. Dull ingredients make for dull and uninspired cookies.

I don’t know about you, but enough sweets are passed around during the holidays, that the last thing I need is another flavorless lump of sugar. The following recipes are guaranteed to make the recipients ask for recipes and thank you profusely!

Holiday Oatmeal Cookies

These are always a crowd pleaser! I take the traditional recipe for oatmeal butterscotch cookies and turn the flavor up to a ten with the additions of dried cranberries, holiday spices, and orange zest.

Here’s the original recipe:

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 ⅔ butterscotch chips

One and a half cups of sugar is WAY too much sugar! We’re going to be adding sweetened chips and sweetened cranberries to this, so we’re going to scratch the white sugar altogether. We’re going to reduce the number of chips down to one cup and use white chocolate chips instead of butterscotch. Also, we’re going to zest an orange and use two tablespoons of orange juice concentrate. Finally, we’re going to up the spice profile by adding cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. The resulting cookies will remind you of the holiday season with every bite!

Here’s the new ingredient list:
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of: ground cinnamon,ground allspice, ground cloves, and ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
2 tablespoons of orange juice concentrate
Zest from one medium orange

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
In a large bowl beat the butter and brown sugar together. Add the eggs and vanilla, beating well.
Stir together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until blended. Stir in the oats, cranberries, and white chocolate chips. Allow dough to cool in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Drop by measured spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Gently press the cookies down to keep an even and round appearance.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until the edges begin to brown.
Makes approximately 24-30 small cookies.

Chocolate and Peppermint Crackle Cookies

These cookies are so easy to make, it’s kind of ridiculous. Plus, they are absolutely delicious! We take a shortcut by using store-bought brownie mix and making a small adjustment with the addition of more flour and topping with crushed candy canes. You will make new friends with these cookies, I promise.

Ingredients:
1 box of dark chocolate brownie mix (with or without chocolate chips–your call)
About six peppermint candy canes
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Directions:
Use a large bowl and follow the directions on the box of your brownie mix, then stir in the flour. Allow the dough to chill for at least an hour in the fridge. (This is important in helping you roll the dough properly). While the dough is chilling, gently crush the candy canes evenly inside a zippered freezer bag (on a cutting board) with a rolling pin or kitchen hammer. You don’t want to completely powderize the candy, but you don’t want huge chunks, either. About ¼” chunks is perfect. Once the dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and then roll out 1” balls of dough and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently squash them with your fingers until they are about ¼” thick, then sprinkle on some of the crushed candy canes. Bake for approximately nine minutes. The candy canes will be melted and the dough will no longer look wet.

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Once again, the most popular recipes you find online lack flavor. The original recipe tastes OK, but we don’t do “OK” around here. We want to make food that makes people say: “Wow! These are sooooo good!” In the case of these particular cookies, only three basic changes are needed. We double the amount of molasses, trade dull dried spices for fresh ground spices, and swap white sugar for brown sugar. That’s all we need to transform ordinary cookies into something much more memorable. These will be crispy around the edges, soft in the middle and bursting with flavor!

Here’s the original ingredient list:

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Additional sugar for rolling

Here’s the new list, modified for our purposes:

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons freshly grated ginger root
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon of freshly ground: cinnamon, cloves and allspice berries
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup Turbinado sugar for rolling

Directions:

In a clean coffee grinder, add one teaspoon of whole cloves, allspice berries, and 1 inch of crushed cinnamon stick. Grind in pulses until smooth, about one minute. Grate fresh ginger root into a small bowl. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, spices and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Chill dough for one hour in the fridge.
Roll into 1”. balls, then roll in turbinado sugar. Place 2 in. apart on baking sheets lined with parchmet. Bake at 350° approximately 9 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 2-1/2 dozen.

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