It’s that time of year again – cookie baking time! I love baking cookies, but due to my sweet tooth and ever-expanding derrière, I try to keep cookie baking to a minimum. The holidays, however, mean that I get to bake for other people! Perfect! This year, I made cookies for Adam’s co-workers, and friends of ours.
I titled this post as “Holiday Cookies”, because I actually baked 2 types of cookies that are Christmas-y (Peanut Butter Blossoms and Cranberry Bliss Bars) and 2 that are more Hanukkah-like (Coconut Macaroons and Hamantaschen). The coconut macaroons did not go as planned, and are not featured in the photo. This is the first time that Ina Garten has failed me. She recommended a cooking time that was way too long, and an oven that was way too hot. I burned them – burnt sugar bottoms and crispy coconut – not completely charred, but I did not want to give them away as gifts.
I started off with the Peanut Butter Blossoms. They are one of my favorites, and I make them every year. I love the crisp sugary outside and the chewy center paired with the added bonus of the Hershey’s chocolate kiss! Chocolate and peanut butter are a blissful match & a crowd pleaser!
Next up, the Cranberry Bliss Bars, which I found on this website. They were inspired by the Cranberry Bars served at Starbucks during the Holiday season. These bars are sinful! There are white chocolate chunks and cranberries mixed into the batter, cream cheese frosting, and a drizzle of chocolate on top (I used semi-sweet instead of white chocolate). Truly decadent! I am definitely going to keep a few pieces for just Adam and I!
Last but not least, Hamantaschen. Adam’s favorite “Christmas cookie”. Hamantaschen cookies are traditionally served during the Jewish celebration of Purim. We do not typically celebrate Purim, but feel that Hamantaschen should be enjoyed throughout the year! Hamantaschen are buttery cookies filled with fruit or sometimes even a poppy seed mixture. Adam and I prefer apricot Hamantaschen. I made a few huge ones, and a bunch of smaller cookies.Cranberry Bliss Bars recipe adapted from A Year in the Kitchen Printable Recipe
Cake: 1 cup butter, softened 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed 3 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup diced dried cranberries 6 ounces white chocolate, cut into chunks
Frosting: 8 ounces cream cheese, softened 3 cups powdered sugar 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Drizzle: 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, or white chocolate 1 tbsp. half & half or heavy cream 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, ginger, and salt; beat well. Gradually mix in flour until smooth. Mix 3/4 cup diced dried cranberries and white chocolate into the batter with spatula. Pour batter into a well-greased 9×13-inch baking pan and spread evenly. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until cake is light brown on the edges. Let cool.
Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth. When the cake has cooled, spread frosting over the top of cake. Sprinkle cranberries over top. In a double boiler, or in a bowl resting on a pot of simmering water (not touching the water), add chocolate and half & half for the drizzle, melt whisking continually. Drizzle over the top layer using a fork, chill for 4 hours. Slice into triangles, makes 16-20 triangles.
Peanut Butter Blossoms Printable Recipe
1 bag Hershey’s Kisses
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup creamy Peanut Butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for rolling
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons half & half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates – start with half the bag. Beat butter and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Wait 1 minute, and then press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.Hamantaschen adapted from Mele Cotte Printable Recipe
½ cup shortening
½ cup unsalted butter or unsalted margarine
l ¼ cups sugar
¼ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
(scant) 4 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
Egg Wash of whole egg & milk or cream
Apricot filling (or fruit filling of your choice)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside.
Cream the shortening and sugar. Add eggs and blend until smooth. Stir in milk and vanilla, then in flour mixture until a firm (but soft) dough forms. Form into a smooth disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll out dough on lightly floured board to a thickness of 1/8th inch. Cut dough into 3-inch rounds. Fill with a heaping teaspoon of filling, and fold three sides towards into center, pinch sides together. Brush pastries with egg wash. Bake 18 minutes, or until golden brown. (Makes 48-60 cookies, depending on size)