Gingerbread Cookies

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Gingerbread Cookies by twocarolines.com

3 cheers for the smell of baking ginger and molasses in your house and a gorgeous plate of gingerbread cookies to share with your neighbors and friends.  To me, holiday cookie decorating is all about the kids, so I searched to find a recipe that gave me all the gingerbread flavor I wanted, but not quite as much bite as the most traditional cookies so little kids wouldn’t complain that they are “too spicey” as my 3 year old put it last year.  These ones are called “light spice” but they are HEAVY on delicious holiday flavor and with some bright and festive royal icing they tasted like everything that rules about Christmas.  I hope you enjoy!

For the Cookies:

  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

For the Icing:

  • 3 ounces pasteurized egg whites*
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • food dye (I enjoy the gel kind to keep your consistency, but liquid dye will work) and whatever sprinkles you like

Directions:

  1. For the cookies: In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, shortening, sugars, baking powder, spices, and salt until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg and molasses, and beat well.
  3. Mix about half of the flour into the butter mixture. When well combined, add the cornstarch and the remaining flour.
  4. Divide the dough in half, flattening each half slightly to make a disk. Smooth the edges by rolling the disk along a lightly floured work surface. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour (or longer), for easiest rolling.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  6. Take one piece of dough out of the refrigerator, and flour a clean work surface, and the dough.
  7. Roll it out as thin or thick as you like. For slightly less crisp cookies, roll it out more thickly. We like to roll these cookies 1/8″ to 1/4″inch thick. Use flour under and on top of the dough to keep it from sticking to the table or rolling pin.
  8. Alternatively, place the dough on parchment, and put a sheet of plastic wrap or another piece of parchment over it as you roll, pulling the plastic or parchment to eliminate wrinkles as necessary when rolling; this will keep dough from sticking without the need for additional flour.
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    rolled out gingerbread by twocarolines.com

  9. Transfer the cookies to ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets.
  10. Bake them just until they’re slightly brown around the edges, or until they feel firm, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  11. Remove the cookies from the oven, and let them cool on the baking sheet for several minutes, or until they’re set. Transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  12. For the icing: In large bowl of stand mixer combine the egg whites tiny pinch of salt and vanilla and beat until frothy. Add confectioners’ sugar gradually and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture is shiny. Turn speed up to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add food coloring, if desired. For immediate use, transfer icing to pastry bag or heavy duty storage bag and pipe as desired. If using storage bag, clip corner. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.  I split mine into multiple colors by mixing them in dixie cups and piping them with disposable piping bags.  *Royal icing does contain raw eggs, I’ve never had a problem with this, my husband worked for a huge egg distributor for 5 years and as long as they are pasteurized and not super old, you are likely to be fine, but if you have a crazy sensitive stomach there are other icings you can find.
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    Christmas Cookies by twocarolines.com

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour light spice holiday cookies and Alton Brown Royal Icing Recipe.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

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This time of year we want ALL the spices. Cloves, allspice, cinnamon and—my personal favorite—ginger! And that’s not just because I get called “Ginger Lady” when I visit Turkey. I want all the ginger drinks and edibles! These cookies are the product of two recipes that I really, really like. So I thought they’d make the ultimate “power cookie”. They are super soft and chewy but you can bake them a little bit longer if you want more of a crisp cookie experience.  -CK 1.0

1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 egg

2 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
7 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (I use 70% cacao Lindt bars, but you could use chocolate chips in a pinch)
Sugar for rolling

  1. Chop chocolate into 1/4-inch chunks; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together dry ingredients.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat brown sugar, oil, ginger and egg, until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined.
  3. Slowly combine the wet and dry ingredients until just combined. Mix in chocolate chunks; turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Pat dough out to about 1 inch thick; seal with wrap; refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or more.
  4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into 1 1/2- inch balls; place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Roll in granulated sugar. Bake until just before the surfaces crack, but not too doughy—about 7 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Derby Pie

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Dark Chocolate Derby Pie pc @summer_elevate twocarolines.com

I first posted this Dark Chocolate Derby pie last spring on the Elevate Everyday blog, and I’m sharing here now because it’s the perfect addition to any holiday meal.  My need for things of the chocolate mint variety this time of year is insatiable – and this one is the best versions of chocolate, and mint, plus it has a grown up taste that feels so fancy.   With one bite you taste a refreshing hint of peppermint followed by a deep, rich, complex and incredible chocolate flavor that is so smooth and dreamy it just melts in your mouth.  If you don’t enjoy rich desserts please move to the next pie recipe on the list, but if you’re a chocolate kid like me, stock up on some serious bittersweet chocolate and get to chopping, this beauty has 12 ounces of that business and I’m loving every bite!

1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I subbed about 3 ounces semi-sweet just to make sure it wasn’t too bitter and it turned out amazing)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (stick to this – a little goes a long way)
2 tablespoons bourbon (I had never used it before, but you cook it than bake it so you won’t get drunky and it adds a very complex amazing flavor.  You could probably omit it and be fine though)
cocoa powder for dusting

  1. 1 pre-baked 9 inch traditional pie crust.  Our recipe is super easy and perfect for this pie.  Pre-heat oven to 325.
  2. Combine the milk and cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring just to a boil. Put your chopped chocolate into a large bowl and once you see those bubbles coming up with your cream mixture pour it over the top of your chocolate.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Next add salt and whisk steadily until all the chocolate is melted.
  3. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and whisk.  Slowly stream a small amount of the chocolate mixture into the eggs, whisking as you pour.  Continue until the egg mixture feels warm to the touch, and then mix it back into the chocolate mixture.  Add the peppermint extract and bourbon (if using) then whisk until smooth.
  4. Strain the filling through a fine-mesh sieve directly into your pie shell.  Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30-35 minutes rotating at around 20 minutes for an even bake.  The pie is finished when the edges are set about 2 inches in and puffed slightly and the center is no longer liquid but the filling will continue to cook and set after the pie is removed from the oven.  Allow to cool completely on a wire rack 2-3 hours.  Before serving dust with cocoa powder.

Recipe adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book 2013

 

 

Pfeffernüsse

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Every Christmas growing up, my mom would painstakingly make cookies that we called Peppernuts. They were a household favorite, but the only thing we didn’t like about these cookies is that they have to “age”—it’s pretty much the only cookie that gets better with time. So we would have to wait a week, while looking at that pastel pink glass dish, waiting for the time that we could dig in, but oooooh was it worth it!

Little did I know that years later, I’d be living in Germany, supposedly the home of the Peppernuts, or more accurately, Pfeffernüsse. I have scoured Christmas markets two years in a row now, looking for a freshly baked, truly German Pfeffernüsse cookie to no avail. I’ve quizzed many a German about this and they said they’ve never had a homemade one and they have only seen them in stores. I bought a bag and was sorely disappointed. So, this year I have taken matters in my own hands to make a traditional German cookie that a lot of Germans have never had—funny how things work sometimes.

I did make some adjustments, I added cardamom, since it seems to be such a traditional holiday spice around these parts. The sauce that was always the really hard part was going to be too difficult for me to make with my lo-fi kitchen, so I went with what I saw in every other recipe and did a powdered sugar coating, rather than a divinity glaze like my mom would make. Additionally, these are her favorite cookies in the world, so that is the best endorsement you could ask for! – CK 1.0

Pfeffernüsse cookie batter:
2 ½ cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon  cardamom
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans (it’s hard to find pecans, so used almonds)
Powdered sugar for dipping

Sift flour with cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, pepper, and baking soda. In large bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat 2 eggs and brown sugar until light and somewhat glossy, about 5 minutes. At low speed, beat in flour mixture and nuts until well combined. Dough will be a bit sticky.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with baking paper. With wet hands, pinch off dough by tablespoonfuls. Roll into 1-inch balls. Place on prepared cookie sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes, until the tops are just barely cracking. Remove to wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. In two batches, place cookies and a good amount of powdered sugar in a large plastic bag. Roll cookies around until well coated then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks and try to let them age a few days before gobbling them up!

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***IF you want to be ambitious and make the divinity glaze, you will want a stand mixer that you can leave on for 10-15 minutes.

Divinity Glaze:
1 cup water
3 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream tartar
2 egg whites

In large saucepan, combine sugar, and 1 cup water. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring, 5 minutes, or until mixture forms a 2-inch thread when dropped from spoon or to 235 degrees on candy thermometer.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, with electric mixer at medium speed, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Pour syrup in continuous stream slowly into egg whites beating constantly. Beat until mixture thickens slightly and starts to lose shine, 6-8 minutes. Drop cookies a few at a time into glaze; with fork, turn to coat all over. Lift out and, using two forks, place on wire rack (with cookie sheet beneath to catch drips) until dry. Store in tightly covered container at least one week before eating.

Salted Dark Chocolate Pecan Fudge

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Salted Dark Chocolate Pecan Fudge by twocarolines

Fudge is such a staple of my family’s Christmas tradition, for weeks around this time of year my Mom kept a 9×13 on the back porch (where it would stay cool, but not dry out like it would in the fridge) and the intention was to make pretty plates of it for friends and neighbors, but my brothers and I were always sneaking pieces so, to everyones delight, she would end up having to make it a number of times.  Momma May makes the most incredible, rich dark chocolate nutty fudge EVER!  This is not the stuff on the back of your marshmallow cream label, it’s a unique and spectacular fudge experience for sure.  I think the secret is the unsweetened chocolate, that’s what gives is such insane chocolate flavor.  I traded out walnuts for pecans because I’ve been on a pecan binge lately and I added flake salt to the top.  I’m not going to lie, I am deep deep in love with the way it turned out.

 

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups sugar

1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk

1/3 pound of butter (ends up being about 1 stick and 2-3 tablespoons)

2 cups chocolate chips

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate – chopped (I used 7 but who’s counting)

1 container (7 ounce)  marshmallow cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups pecans coarsely chopped

flake salt

 

  1. Have all your ingredients ready – this is a must for candy making as things happened fast and are often timed so finding and measuring is not something you’ll have time for as you go.  Grease a 9×13 baking dish (I use pyrex) with cooking spray or butter.
  2. In a large saucepan (with a heavy bottom – or at least a good thick one) mix sugar, milk, and butter.  Bring to a boil stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula.  As soon as it boils start a timer for 5 minutes and stir while it’s boiling for the full 5 minutes.
  3. Take off the heat and add unsweetened chocolate and chocolate chips, then marshmallow cream and once there are no more white streaks vanilla and nuts stirring the entire time.
  4. Pour into your greased 9×13 and sprinkle with flake salt then let cool.  Don’t slice until cooled down, but if you wait too long slicing is a little trickier to do cleanly.  I slice after about an hour of cooling for clean small squares.  I recommend keeping your servings small because it’s crazy mad rich.  Do not keep in the fridge or it will dry out your fudge.

 

King’s Spritz Cookies

IMG_0324Tradition is all the rage this time of year, so we’ve been loading you up with some of our very favorite holiday foods, for us these are the things that Christmas tastes like, and Spritz Cookies are very much one of those things.  I will warn you that the big tin of “Danish butter cookies” you get from a nice Auntie or neighbor every year will probs go in the trash after you start making your own spritz, or maybe you can just re-gift those when you run out of Spritz because you ate them all!  I think you’ll find that these are not only buttery delicious, but super fun to make and share!

Note: In order to make Spritz you need a cookie press.  We use this Kuhn Rikon one that works great – but there are a number of choices on the interwebs these days so you shouldn’t have any trouble tracking one down.

Ingredients: IMG_9834

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

2 1/3 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

decorative sugar 

Heat oven to 400.  In a large bowl beat sugar, butter, vanilla, and egg until light and fluffy.  Stir in flour and salt, blend well.

Fill cookie press; press onto ungreased (or silpat covered) cookie sheets.  Sprinkle with desired toppings and bake 7-8 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.