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Tessa’s

CHRISTMAS COOKIES EASY RECIPES FOR THE BEST HOLIDAY TREATS TO ENJOY AND TO SHARE!

TESSA ARIAS


table of CONTENTS introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 getting started. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 COOKIE STORAGE & MAKE AHEAD DIRECTIONS. . . . . . . 10 TOP 10 COOKIE TIPS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

the recipes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 EGGNOG SNICKERDOODLES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 GINGERSNAPS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 CHOCOLATE CRINKLES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 CRANBERRY WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES. . . . . . . 25 PEANUT BUTTER BLOSSOMS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 EASY CUT OUT SUGAR COOKIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 BISCOTTI. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 RASPBERRY ALMOND THUMBPRINT COOKIES . . . . . . . . . 35 RED VELVET COOKIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 RUSSIAN TEA CAKES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39


BROWNED BUTTER PECAN PIE COOKIES. . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 OATMEAL APPLESAUCE COOKIES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 RUGELACH COOKIES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 SPRITZ COOKIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 TURTLE THUMBPRINT COOKIES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 HOT COCOA COOKIES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 GINGERBREAD COOKIES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 CHOCOLATE GINGERBREAD COOKIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 PEPPERMINT PINWHEEL COOKIES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 PEPPERMINT MERINGUE COOKIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 PEPPERMINT PATTIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 RUM BALLS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 SALTED CARAMEL APPLE PIE PIZZA COOKIES. . . . . . . . . . 69

decorating tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 packaging. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82


getting started COOKIE STORAGE & MAKE AHEAD DIRECTIONS In general, cooled cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 5 days. To keep the cookies soft, add an apple wedge or piece of bread to the container. To reheat them, place in a 350째F oven for 3 to 5 minutes, or until warmed through. I prefer to refrigerate or freeze my dough and bake off cookies as I want them because nothing beats fresh, still-warm cookies. Cookie dough can be stored in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 days. Let it sit at room temperature until warm enough to scoop. Balls of cookie dough can be placed on a cookie sheet then placed in the freezer until frozen. Remove the frozen balls to an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 6 weeks. Bake from frozen, adding an additional minute or two to the cooking time, or bring to cool room temperature and bake as directed by the recipe. In general, the colder the dough the thicker the cookies will be.


TOP 10 COOKIE TIPS 1. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Before you begin baking, read through the recipe entirely. Then gather all the ingredients and tools you’ll need. This is the first thing they teach in culinary school and it’s called mise en place, meaning “everything in its place.” It’s the key to success and fun in the kitchen! 2. Follow the recipe exactly. You may not want to hear this, but avoid making any changes to the recipe. Especially the first time you make it and especially if you’re not an advanced baker. The process of developing a recipe is painstaking and every element is included for a specific purpose. If you’ve read my other book, The Ultimate Cookie Handbook, then you hereby have my permission to make changes, but only one or two at a time!! 3. Measure carefully. The reason most recipes don’t turn out is because something wasn’t accurately measured. I’ve included weight measurements for the applicable ingredients in this book because using a scale will guarantee accuracy. If you don’t have one—BUY ONE! This is the one I use. If you must use volume measuring cups and spoons, make sure you aren’t under-filling or compacting your ingredients. 4. Watch your oven temperature. An oven thermometer is a necessity to make sure your oven is heating correctly. Many home ovens are off by 15 degrees, some by even 25 degrees or more! 5. Use high quality and fresh ingredients. This really does make a difference. Take extra care to ensure ingredients like baking soda and baking powder are fresh. 6. Make sure your butter is at a cool room temperature. When recipes call for butter “at room temperature,” it should only give slightly when you press your finger into it. It should hold its shape and be flexible without breaking or cracking. If you want to get really specific, the ideal butter temperature is about 67°F.

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the recipes


Who could resist a chocolaty treat completely coated in snow-like powdered sugar? Also referred to as Chocolate Snowcaps, these soft and fudge-like cookies are a must for any cold weather celebration.

chocolate

CRINKLES

- Makes about 18 cookies -

INGREDIENTS: • 1/2 cup (2.3 ounces) all-purpose flour

• 1/3 cup (2.3 ounces) granulated sugar

• 1/2 cup (1.8 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder

• 2 large eggs

• 1 teaspoon baking powder

• 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

• 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)

• 1 tablespoon milk

• 1/8 teaspoon fine salt

• 1/2 cup (2.2 ounces) powdered sugar, for coating

• 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter • 1/3 cup (2.3 ounces) light brown sugar, packed

DIRECTIONS: 1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, espresso (if using), baking powder, and salt. 2. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs until well-combined then mix in the cooled chocolate. On low speed, gradually add in the flour mixture then beat in the milk until just combined. Cover the dough with plastic and freeze until firm, about 45 minutes. 3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. 4. Using a medium, spring-loaded cookie scoop, shape the dough into 1 1/2 tablespoon rounds. Place the powdered sugar into a medium bowl and roll the dough balls in sugar two times, letting them sit in sugar between coatings. 5. Place on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake until the cookies have spread and powdered sugar is cracked, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days. TESSA’S TIP: The espresso powder in this recipe is totally optional and simply enhances the chocolate flavor with very little coffee flavor. Increase to 1 1/2 teaspoons for a more pronounced mocha flavor.

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I gave a festive twist to my favorite Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe! They’re as beautiful as they are tasty. Perfectly big, thick, and chewy with crisp edges and soft middles, everyone will be begging you for this recipe. Note the chilling period in this recipe!

CRANBERRY

white chocolate

CHIP COOKIES

- Makes about 24 large cookies -

INGREDIENTS: • 1 1/2 cups (6.6 ounces) all-purpose flour

• 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar

• 1 1/4 cups (5.6 ounces) bread flour

• 2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

• 2 teaspoons vanilla

• 1 teaspoon baking powder

• 3/4 cup (3.7 ounces) dried cranberries, chopped

• 1 teaspoon fine sea salt • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature

• 1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) white chocolate chips

• 1 1/4 cups (8.8 ounces) brown sugar, packed

DIRECTIONS: 1. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the vanilla. On low speed, gradually beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the cranberries and white chocolate chips. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or up to 72 hours. 3. Let the dough sit at room temperature just until it is soft enough to scoop. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper. 4. Using a large, spring-loaded cookie scoop, shape the dough into 3-tablespoon sized rounds and place onto prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between cookies. 5. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

TESSA’S TIP: You don’t have to chill the dough to get delicious cookies but chilling not only intensifies the flavor, but it makes the cookies thicker and chewier!

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biscotti

Customize your own biscotti! Below is a basic biscotti recipe for you to use as the base for your own creations. I’ve compiled many customization flavor options following the recipe, but feel free to get creative here. The possibilities are limitless! - Makes about 24 cookies -

INGREDIENTS: • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature • 3/4 cup (5.3 ounces) granulated sugar • 2 large eggs • 2 cups (9 ounces) all-purpose flour • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

DIRECTIONS: 1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 2. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar until light and wellcombined, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just combined. Mix in the flour and baking powder to form a heavy dough. 3. Form the dough into a 13-inch long, 3-inch wide log on the prepared baking sheet. 4. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Once cool enough to handle, use a sharp serrated knife to make 1/2-inch slices. Place the slices cut side up on the baking sheet and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 5. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 weeks.

Customizations, see following page

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raspberry almond

THUMBPRINT COOKIES

Buttery shortbread thumbprint cookies with a hint of almond flavor are filled with sweet raspberry jam and drizzled with a simple glaze. Does it get better than that? These cookies look like beautiful gems on any festive dessert platter. - Makes about 26 cookies -

INGREDIENTS: For the cookies:

• 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

• 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

• 1/2 cup raspberry jam

• 2/3 cup (4.7 ounces) granulated sugar • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (9.6 ounces) all-purpose flour

For the glaze: • 1 cup (4.4 ounces) powdered sugar • 1 tablespoon milk • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

DIRECTIONS: To make the cookies: 1. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until well-combined and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and almond extract and beat until combined. On low speed, slowly add in the flour and salt and beat until incorporated. 2. Shape the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill until firm, at least 4 hours. 3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. 4. Shape the cold dough into 1-tablespoon sized rounds and place on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Make a small indentation with your thumb or the end of a spatula handle and fill with 1/2 teaspoon of jam each. Freeze for 10 minutes, or until firm. 5. Bake for about 14 minutes, or until just lightly browned at the edges. Allow to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. To make the glaze: 6. In a small bowl, whisk together all the glaze ingredients. Remove to a small zip-top bag and snip one very small hole in the corner. Use it to drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies. Let set before serving. 7. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the fridge for 1 week.

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browned butter

PECAN PIE COOKIES


That characteristic nutty, toasted aroma of browned butter seems to amp up the flavor of any cookie recipe, but especially these pecan pie cookies. Between browning the butter, toasting the pecans, and using a heavy ratio of dark brown sugar, these cookies are absolutely bursting with flavor. They’re also ultra thick and chewy! Pure cookie perfection. - Makes about 24 large cookies -

INGREDIENTS: • 1 1/2 cups (6.9 ounces) chopped pecans

• 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, divided

• 1 1/2 cups (6.6 ounces) all-purpose flour

• 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar

• 1 1/2 cups (6.6 ounces) bread flour

• 1 cup (7 ounces) dark brown sugar, packed

• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda • 1 teaspoon baking powder

• 2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature

• 1 teaspoon fine salt

• 2 teaspoons vanilla

DIRECTIONS: 1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. 2. Line a baking sheet with parchment and add the pecans in one even layer. Toast in the oven, stirring once or twice, until fragrant, about 15 minutes. If baking immediately, increase oven temperature to 350°F. 3. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 4. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt 12 tablespoons of the butter. Swirling the pan occasionally, continue to cook the butter. It should become foamy with audible cracking and popping noises. Once the crackling stops, continue to swirl the pan until the butter develops a nutty aroma and brown bits start to form at the bottom. Once the bits are amber in color, about 2 to 3 minutes after the popping stops, remove from heat and stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter until melted. 5. Stir the granulated sugar and brown sugar into the hot browned butter. Let cool slightly before adding the eggs, yolk, and vanilla, stirring until combined. Gradually stir in the flour mixture. Stir in the toasted pecans. At this point the dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for at least 24 hours but no more than 72 hours. The flavor will intensify as the dough chills! 6. Line clean baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper. Divide the dough into 3-tablespoon sized balls and drop onto prepared baking sheets. 7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on the sheet for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. TESSA’S TIP: Don’t walk away while the butter is browning. It can go from brown to burnt fast!


An absolute holiday classic, my Gingerbread Cookie recipe yields incredibly soft and flavorful cookies that hold their playful shape as they’re baked. The decorating options are endless here and make for such a fun day in the kitchen!

gingerbread COOKIES

- Makes about 24 cookies -

INGREDIENTS: • 3 cups (13.5 ounces) all-purpose flour

• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

• 1 teaspoon baking powder

• 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

• 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) light brown sugar, packed • 1/2 cup (6 ounces) unsulfured molasses • 1 large egg

DIRECTIONS: 1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to combine. 2. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until well-combined and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the egg and molasses and beat until combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Shape the dough into a thick disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours or up to 2 days. 3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. 4. Remove the dough from refrigerator and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, or until warm enough to roll with ease. Place the chilled dough in between two large pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap on a work surface. Roll the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Use a gingerbread man cookie cutter to cut out shapes from the dough and place on prepared baking sheets, spreading at least a 1/2-inch apart. Reroll remaining scraps of dough into 1/4-inch thickness and cut out more shapes. If the dough becomes too soft, return it to the freezer or fridge until firmed before continuing with shaping. 5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are set and begin to brown slightly at the edges, rotating sheets halfway through. Let the cookies cool on the pans for 3 minutes then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

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decorating tips


If you’re like me, after you’ve already spent a good amount of time making batches of homemade cookies, the last thing you want to do is make an even bigger mess and spend painstaking hours decorating those cookies. That’s why I’m sharing my three favorite easy and homemade ways to decorate beautiful cookies. You’ll notice there’s no complicated methods or recipes here. I’m not even including royal icing, which is what professional bakers use for cookie decorating and is typically made with either whipped egg whites or whipped meringue powder. As I promised at the start of this book, I don’t want to take away from the holiday baking fun with difficult-to-find ingredients or disclaimers about consuming raw eggs. I don’t want anyone to feel like they need fancy artistic talents to create beautiful cookies. However, if you want to get a little more fancy and use your favorite royal icing, please feel free! The three methods you’ll find cover Easy Cookie Icing, Basic Buttercream, and Decorating with Chocolate. These methods are my favorite because they look beautiful and actually taste good. There’s nothing worse than a cookie that actually is too pretty to eat.

***

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easy

COOKIE ICING This icing works best with any sturdy and flat cut cookie, such as sugar cookies or gingerbread cookies. The icing keeps very well and can be stored in the fridge for several days. Return to room temperature before using. The iced cookies also keep very well, up to 10 days at room temperature! - Yield: enough icing for 1 batch of cut out cookies -

NOTE: SEE A STEP-BY-STEP VIDEO WITH TIPS AND TRICKS FOR USING THIS EASY COOKING ICING METHOD HERE.

INGREDIENTS For the border icing: • 1 cup (4.4 ounces) powdered sugar, sifted • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract • 2 tablespoons water or milk • Food coloring, if desired For the flood icing: • 1 cup (4.4 ounces) powdered sugar, sifted • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract • 3 tablespoons water or milk • Food coloring, if desired

TESSA’S TIP: The iced cookies will need to dry for 24 hours before they can be safely moved or packaged. Clear a workspace to leave the cookies untouched while drying.


DIRECTIONS For the border icing:

In a small bowl, use a fork to beat together all the ingredients except the food coloring. Beat in the food coloring, a few drops at a time, until colored to your liking. The mixture should be very thick but still pourable. Transfer the border icing to a squeeze bottle using a funnel. You can also scoop into a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip. Before you begin icing any cookies, take a few moments to practice on a piece of parchment paper to get the feel of the icing. Holding the bottle or bag tip directly over one corner of a cookie, begin tracing an outline of the cookie, squeezing gently and using both hands if needed to maintain consistent pressure. I prefer to allow a little slack in my icing line as I go. If you mess up, simply wipe the icing off and start again. Allow the icing to dry slightly before continuing with the flood icing. For the flood icing:

In a small bowl, use a fork to beat together all the ingredients except the food coloring. Beat in the food coloring, a few drops at a time, until colored to your liking. The mixture should still be pretty thick, but will drizzle more freely than the border icing. If needed, add additional

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packaging


Christmas cookies may just be the perfect treat. They’re fun and festive and can feature so many different flavors and textures. My favorite part, however, is that they’re easy both to make and transport. Their handheld nature makes them the perfect treat to share with your friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, students, teachers, or anyone else who could use a little sweetness in her life! Really, there is nothing better than a homemade gift. Especially as an adult when toys are no longer entirely appealing and you likely already have everything you truly need. A homemade gift means someone took the time and effort to create something out of nothing just for you. A homemade edible gift is the best kind because it’s not only thoughtful, but can be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone and everyone. That’s why I’m thrilled about the following pages in this DIY-themed chapter. I’m sharing my favorite adorable and creative ways to package and give homemade cookies to friends and family. You might already have many of the items mentioned on the following pages, but a trip to the hobby or craft store may be in order. If you’re anything like me, any excuse to pick up a few more craft supplies is welcomed. I tried to include the specific brand and store where I found everything to make it easy for you to recreate your own beautiful packaging. ***

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WIDE MOUTH MASON JARS Not only do Mason jars make for super adorable and easy treat packaging, but they’re also a gift in themselves! You can never have too many.

Make sure to use Mason jars with wide mouths so the cookies can fit through the lid. You can even add a piece of fabric in between the jar and lid for an extra special touch. Finish it with a decorative ribbon and gift tag for one impressive edible gift.


CELLOPHANE BAGS This is my go-to for gifting homemade goodies. They showcase the beauty of a stack of cookies and are so fun to adorn with ribbons, gift tags, and stickers. I love the Wilton Favor Kit cellophane bags because they come with base plates to ensure everything is sturdy and secure.

TESSA’S CHRISTMAS COOKIES

Plain, small cellophane bags found at any hobby, craft, or kitchenware store can also be used to wrap single cookies. Simply fill with a cookie and fold over the top, securing with a festive sticker. Perfect for giving out individual treats to a group.

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SMALL COOKIE BOXES I scored these perfectly sized cookie boxes from the Sunny Side Up brand at Hobby Lobby. They fit about one to three cookies perfectly, depending on their thickness, and even have a little window on top to sneak a peek. They almost look like teeny cake or pie bakery boxes, which I adore. Wrap them in some colorful baker’s twine and you have completed this too cute, yet simple look!

LARGE BOXES For when you want to fit more cookies in one box, especially a variety, larger boxes like this one certainly come in handy. You can even place the smaller cookie boxes inside a larger box to separate the various cookies. Some boxes, like the Wilton brand sampler boxes, come with removable trays to separate things as you please. I prefer to only line the box with simple tissue paper to allow the cookies to take the spotlight.


TINS

EGG CARTONS

I love using plain metal tins, with or without windows, for gifting cookies. They come in every shape and size imaginable and make easy work of packaging. Not to mention they look almost professional and are sure to impress all your friends and family. I pick up tins from The Container Store year-round and love that they are free of any holiday designs. That way, the recipient can reuse them for whatever she wants. Plus, the simplicity of a ribbon on a metal tin is just beautiful.

Whether you’re gifting candies or even mini muffins, cutting an egg carton in half and removing the lid makes for a perfect little tray to tuck tiny treats in.

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Tessa's Christmas Cookies by Tessa Arias