Monday, December 24, 2012

Cookies, Cookies, and more Cookies!

Happy Nom Nom Monday, and Christmas Eve! I know what a lot of people will be cooking tonight, COOKIES!!!  To save money this year my brothers and I are exchanging cookie instead of presents.  I love trying new recipes, and today I'm going to share the three cookies I baked for our cookie exchange.  

Chocolate Drop Cookies:
-  1 cup of granulated sugar
-  1/2 cup of butter (softened)
-  1/3 cup of buttermilk
-  1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
-  1 egg
-  2 ounces of unsweetened baker's chocolate
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
-  1/2 teaspoon salt
-  1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-  1/2 cup pecan pieces
-  2 ounces unsweetened baker's chocolate
-  2 tablespoons butter
-  2 cups powdered sugar
-  3 tablespoons hot coffee
-  1/2 cup of pecan pieces (for garnish)

Preheat the oven to 400ºF, and grease a cookie sheet.  Using a double boiler melt the baker's chocolate.  Once fully melted let cool to room temperature.  In an electric mixer, beat together the sugar, butter, buttermilk, vanilla extract, egg, and melted chocolate.  After those ingredients have fully combined, add in the flour, salt, and baking soda.  This should make about 36 cookies.  I know not everyone is a big fan of nuts, so I baked half the cookies at this stage, and mixed in the nuts to the leftover dough, and finished baking the rest of the cookies.  The cookies should bake for about 8 to 10 minutes.  

After the cookies have cooled make the icing.  Melt the chocolate and butter together in the double boiler.  Then stir in the powdered sugar and hot coffee.  Spread the icing on the cookies, and for the nut cookies top with the pecan pieces.  

Pignoli (Pine Nut) Cookies:
-  2 cups almond paste (16 ounces)
-  1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
-  1 cup powdered sugar
-  1/2 teaspoon salt
-  2 large egg whites
-  2 tablespoons of honey
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
-  1 1/4 cups pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 325ºF, and line the cookie sheets with parchment paper.  This is a recipe that really needs parchment paper.  Normally I try to skip this step to be more green, but I had to adjust the recipe to make it work without parchment paper.  Another problem I had with this recipe is that the almond paste only came in 7 oz. packages, and I didn't want to buy three packages only to use two ounces out of the third one.  If I didn't have enough things working against me I also added an extra egg white for some odd reason.  This resulted in the dough being beyond sticky, so I wasn't able to roll it into balls.  To fix this problem I left the dough in the fridge overnight, and then in the morning I added about a cup of flour by 1/4 cup increments.  

To prepare this dough mix together the almond paste, both sugars, salt, egg whites, and honey.  If the dough isn't to sticky at this point, and you would be able to roll it into 1.5 inch balls go for it.  However if it is too sticky, or if you accidentally added an extra egg white, or if the cookies are sticking to the pan after baking then add in the flour.  Once the dough reaches the desired consistency, it is ready to be rolled into 36 balls, and before being placed on the cookie sheet they can be rolled in the pine nuts.  Then bake for 15 to 18 minutes.  I also didn't buy enough pine nuts, so I used those sparingly, and had to substitute with toffee bits on a few of the cookies.  

Peanut Butter Pillows:
Chocolate Dough:
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
-  3 tablespoons of milk
 - 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons black unsweetened cocoa powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt

Peanut Butter Dough:
- 3/4 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In an electric mixer combine the oil, sugar, maple syrup, milk and vanilla extract.  Slowly add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Once that is completely mixed together, stick in the fridge while mixing the other dough.  

Mix the peanut butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla together.  Preheat the oven to 350ºF, and grease the cookie sheets.  Then form the peanut butter dough into 24 balls.  Next, remove the chocolate dough from the fridge, and form into a flat disc.  Then place a peanut butter ball in the center, wrap the chocolate dough around the peanut butter ball, and then roll into a ball.  Place about two inches apart on the cookie sheets.  

Bake for about ten minutes.  Let cool for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to complete cooling.  

I'm amazed by how easy these were to make.  I was certain they would be the hardest.  That's why I left them for last, but now I'm considering making another batch!  I made an extra cookie (or two) to taste, and they are killer.  The original recipe from Post Punk Kitchen is vegan, but I didn't have non-dairy milk or natural peanut butter, so I used what I have, and it turned out great.  

I hope my brothers and their ladies enjoy these cookies as much as I enjoyed my adventure in baking them.  (Again) Happy Nom Nom Monday, and Christmas Eve, chris!