Friday, December 19, 2008

My December 2008 AV Press Food Column

I've never posted one of my food columns before, and I've been writing them, and doing the food photography monthly for over three years now! So, for the first time online, here it is...

Cookie Exchange

I was invited to a cookie exchange today. We’re pretty well into December now, and I was getting a little worried that I wouldn’t be invited to one. I love cookie exchanges. Making a lot of different cookies takes so much more time than making a ton of the same ones. I have to be honest though and say I have been disappointed by cookie exchanges a time or two in the past. You know what I’m talking about. You spend hours making these particularly labor-intensive cookies, and excitedly show up, cookies in hand, anxious to see what everyone else brought. What do you find? Rice Krispie treats, and no-bake chow-mein noodle concoctions. I’m not saying everyone needs to exhaust themselves slaving away in the kitchen for days, but c’mon… a little effort please. I like a quick and easy cookie recipe as much as the next girl. All that matters is that it’s delicious. But when these “no-bake” treats arrive, I feel like implementing a new cookie exchange rule… “If someone wants some of your cookies, only then can you get some from someone else.” Then when no one chooses theirs, they can go back home with their puffed rice creations. Okay, I’d never have the nerve to do that, but we all have bold imaginations. Just remember that if you show up with some half-hearted cookie, people may be all smiles and Christmas spirit on the outside, but don’t count on an invitation next year. I want to help you avoid that social stigma. Here are some cookie recipes that probably won’t even make you break a sweat, but they’re delicious, and will win you accolades rather than embarrassment. Now, we’ll see if I get a call revoking my invitation to the cookie exchange for fear of my judgment. And, people will definitely be expecting me to put my money (or cookies) where my mouth is, so I’d better get to work. Merry Christmas!

Cowboy Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
¾ cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.
Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium-high until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
Reduce speed to low, and slowly add flour mixture, beating until just incorporated. Beat in oats, chocolate, pecans, and coconut until combined.
Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a small spoon, drop dough onto baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart.
Bake until edges of cookies begin to brown, 11 to 13 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to wire rack, and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks. Let cool. (Cookies can be stored up to 3 days.)
Makes about 5 dozen.
-Adapted from Martha Stewart

Cranberry Orange Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate (undiluted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped fresh cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg until well blended. Mix in orange juice concentrate and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the orange mixture. Mix in cranberries and if using, pecans, until evenly distributed. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Cookies should be spaced at least 2 inches apart.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes in the preheated oven, until the edges are golden. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.
In a small bowl, make glaze by mixing together 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate, milk and confectioners' sugar until smooth. You may need to add more confectioners’ sugar or milk in order to reach desired consistency. Drizzle glaze over the tops of cooled cookies. Let stand until set.

Ginger Cookies
“To make these a little more festive, you could drizzle with an icing made from confectioner’s sugar and a little milk. Even people who don’t think they like gingerbread cookies rave about these.”

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons fresh (or jarred) crushed ginger
2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together the flour, ground ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the molasses mixture. Use a 1 ½ inch scoop or shape into walnut-sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they appear dry and begin to lightly brown on the edges. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Makes 2 dozen.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

“My grandma, Beverly, made these cookies every year for as long as I can remember. They were perfect for Christmas since they looked like little snowballs.”

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting hands
1 cup pecans, chopped into very small pieces
Extra powdered sugar for coating baked cookies

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar at low speed until it is smooth. Beat in the vanilla. At low speed gradually add the flour. Mix in the pecans with a spatula. With floured hands, take out about 1 tablespoon of dough and shape into a ball. Continue to dust hands with flour as you make more cookies. Place onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 40 minutes. When cool enough to handle but still warm, roll in additional powdered sugar. Cool on wire racks. Sift more powdered sugar over the top before serving if desired.
Makes 2 ½ dozen.


Cherie said...

Oh the guilt Kim! I, CHERIE, MADE RICE KRISPY TREATS FOR A COOKIE EXCHANGE!!! But mind you, I have an excuse. These were my FAVORITES growing up, and the weren't JUST rice krispy treats. They were peanut butter rice krispy treats with Christmas colored M&M's delicately mixed (so they wouldn't smoosh) and spread thin in a baking pan. Then I drizzled them decoratively with chocolate and butterscotch and they were dang good. I love them, but now I feel slightly laughable. Oh well!!! I didn't stay for the cookie exchange (it was my aniversary), so if no one took my silly rice krispy treats I'll never be the wiser! Thanks for making me laugh! I'm totally going to try your cranberry orange cookies. They look delish! Maybe I'll bring those next year instead...hehe.

Cherie said...

Update. I went to my second cookie exchange this week and I decided to make some fancier cookies, just for your sake! Loves! -Cherie

Cherie said...

Update. I went to my second cookie exchange this week and I decided to make some fancier cookies, just for your sake! Loves! -Cherie