Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holiday Cookeis Galore: Gingerbread, Sugar, Eggnog, and Dark Chocolate

Christmas and cookies go hand in hand... and this year... I kind of blacked out with the whole baking thing. It started out as a small batch of Bourbon Dark Chocolate Crack cookies for my spirits-enthusiastic team of co-workers. I halved the recipe and everything to ensure nothing went to waste.

Then things got kind of shaky. I saw few other recipes that I wanted to try... and after all... it would be rude to make only one type of cookie should someone in the office not like chocolate (rare but it happens!). Oh and the in-laws are visiting this upcoming weekend too so why not make a few more to share... 

You can see where this is going. 

There were sugar pearls, food coloring, and icing everywhere! The end result included Gingerbread, Sugar, Eggnog, and Dark Chocolate Cookies. Woops?

Bourbon Dark Chocolate Crack Cookies

These little bomb-bombs of flavor are versatile and addictive. There are several variations posted on White on Rice Couple's site and they all scream amazing. My favorite part about this cookie is the texture- the outside has a slight crisp so your instinct is to anticipate a dry filling. Wrong! This recipe is aptly named.

If you're not into Bourbon, it's totally fine to leave it out though I could not taste it in the cookie. Heat burns out alcohol. For those that are looking for a really boozy flavor, mix a splash of the bourbon with confectioners sugar to create a glaze and lightly drizzle on top.

Melt in Your Mouth Eggnog Cookies
from Cooking Classy

This cookie is for the eggnog lovers of the world... which excludes myself. I never had an issue with nog until I learned what's actually in it. It doesn't make sense- I love sushi but raw egg freaks me out? Okay kiddo. 

What really makes this cookie stand out in flavor is a touch of rum in the batter and the frosting. I don't care for drinking (though Kahlua is still king) but the rum acted more like extra strong vanilla extract; it really complimented the spices and created a lovely fragrance. 

Also, if you're looking to cut back a little on the sugar intake then omit the frosting; the husband actually preferred it without.

Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
from The Kitchn

Sugar cookies will always reign in the decorating department thanks to their clean and flat surface. They're generally not my favorite kind of cookie but I have found that recipes that incorporate almond extract and lemon zest are best. This recipe incorporates both! 

To decorate, I used this recipe as well as a combination of pre-made frosting writers for the finer details. I enjoyed this version of icing frosting more than traditional royal icing because it doesn't dry as quickly. They're not the same but it can get the job done. My heroine of the cookie scene, Sweetambs,  has same great tips, guidance, and inspiration!

The Most Wonderful Gingerbread Cookies
from Gingerkitten

Last but not least, my new-found love is gingerbread cookies. It was not until last year that I learned that gingerbread is actually all sorts of wonderful. For some reason, I had it in my head that they would be dry and over-saturated in flavor... sort of like authentic pumper-nickle bread on your first bite. Then a family friend made this recipe and my socks were knocked off. 

The key to these cookies is to not over-bake them to ensure that they stay moist and soft. I find that the 7 minute mark is perfect for all shapes and sizes 

Get in the holiday spirit and bake some cookies! Pre-make the dough so that they're ready to bake at a moment's notice (make sure they fully cool though or the frosting will run right off), set up your decorating station, and let your family and friends go nuts. It's a win-win for everyone!

As a recap, you can find the recipes here:

The Most Wonderful Gingerbread Cookies
Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
Eggnog Cookies
Bourbon Dark Chocolate Crack Cookies 

From Our Home to Yours, Happy Holidays!