Cookies with friends

Cookies with friends

In keeping with my fairly new tradition, Ellen, Christine and I are doing our holiday baking together this weekend. The past two weeks have been a flurry of emails filled with interesting cookie recipes. There was also talk about making gingerbread. No telling what the three of us with sugar, butter and a bag of flour will end up creating.

There are a few tools that make cookie production easier. First, I love my stand mixer. It’s nice to have free hands so the eggs can be whipping while I’m measuring the flour. Second, I also almost always use parchment paper. It helps with clean up and is a foolproof way not to have any stuck cookies. I find I can usually use the same sheet a couple of times. Finally, I always use a bowl scraper. I find it very satisfying to scrape every last bit out of the bowl. I usually manage to get enough dough for an extra cookie or two.

I love to freeze the dough. I make a double batch and I put the uncooked cookies on a cookie sheet and place them in the freezer for about an hour. Then I place the frozen dough balls in a freezer bag. With a bag of homemade ready-to-bake cookies on hand, I can just grab a couple, pop them into the oven (follow the baking recipe for cooking times and temperature) and have just the right amount of fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies whenever I want.

You can also roll the dough into a log for homemade slice and bake cookies. Wrap the log in wax paper and then wrap in either plastic wrap and/or foil. Frozen cookie dough is also a great gift idea. My friend Bonnie did this one year for her son-in-law. In fact, I believe it has become an annually requested gift. It doesn’t work so well wrapped up and set under a tree, but I bet you would be a big hit if you snuck some cookie dough in a friend’s freezer. Sure it is great to get home baked cookies for the holidays, but it may be even more welcomed in the dead of winter when there is a foot of snow on the ground and all the eggnog is a distant memory.

Happy baking (and cookie eating)!

Chocolate CookiesMini Dark Chocolate Melts

There is only one word for these cookies: decadent. They are modified from Shirley O. Corriher’s recipe in Bakewise. I like to make these bite-sized because they are super rich.

7 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter
12 ounces (one bag) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1⁄2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoons almond extract
1⁄2 cup all purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Melt chocolate and butter together, this can be done using a double boiler or in the microwave on 50 percent power for about a minute.

Beat eggs and sugar. Stir in the chocolate-butter mixture and vanilla and almond extract.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the batter.

Spoon a teaspoon of dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. These cookies will spread so don’t crowd them.

Bake on center rack in the oven for 8 minutes.

Let them cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer them to a wire rack. Makes three dozen mini-cookies.