{C} christmas cookies

at the beginning of the summer, my mom made a very strong case for me to make christmas cookie tins for our neighbors. something small, nothing too insane (after all, I only really have weekends to bake, and as she is a very social lady, our list just kept growing and growing!)

at first, i embraced the idea, but never really thought it would come to fruition.

but, as the weeks went on, the weekly conversation consistently moved to what kinds of cookies would be included IF we made the tins – would they be classic christmas flavors like gingerbread and peppermint or something completely unexpected?

finally, over thanksgiving weekend, it was decided that i would, in fact, be making cookie tins for our neighbors, but also to my family’s co-workers and family as well, with each tin including 5 different cookies!

we landed on a mix between the classics and some new favorites – chocolate chip, ginger molasses, chocolate peppermint, shortbread, and a honey ginger.

so, we packed up and ventured over to costco (hello, sample saturdays! calories don’t count when it’s a sample, i’ve decided.) where we proceeded to buy 12 pounds of butter, 10 pounds of sugar, 20 pounds of flour and 48 eggs. (yes, you read that right!)

i’ve done some bulk cooking in the past while i worked in restaurants, and i have to admit – bulk ingredients kinda gross me out. nobody needs to see what a 5 lb box of mayo looks like, amiright?

but there’s something about bulk baking ingredients that’s completely different. 12 pounds of butter has no negative effect on my desire to eat cookie dough straight out of the mixer! i can’t decide if this is a good sign or bad sign for my health in the upcoming years. i’m leaning towards a bad sign.

anyways…because my mixer can really only handle one batch of cookies at a time, i was forced to make each dough, one by one – mixing, scooping, freezing, cleaning, and starting on the next one. all in all, the ‘mixing’ stage was completed over the course of 2 or 3 days to get all 5 doughs made and flash frozen! 25 batches done.

the next step was obviously baking – this took about another 3 full days (and 80 trays in and out of our little oven) in order to bake off all 700-something cookies! also: all these cookies made our house smell like straight butter for approximately 2 days after the ovens were turned off.

we got all the cookies in their tins within a few hours, and the whole project was done, just like that! tins were delivered within a week and i’m sure the cookies were consumed just as fast.

i hope you all have a wonderful christmas weekend – next week we tackle the d’s (i’m currently riding on a HUGE cookie sugar high and should probably stop snacking on cookies, but can you blame me??)


ginger molasses (courtesy of gimme some oven)

  • 1 ½ cups butter, softened to room temperature (not melted!*)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat together butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl if need be.  Mix in the eggs (one at a time) and molasses, and beat on medium-low speed until each is combined. Gradually add in the dry ingredient mixture and beat until combined.
  4. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the dough (so that it’s touching the entire surface and preventing air from getting in) to completely cover it.  Then refrigerate dough for 30-60 minutes, until it is completely chilled.**
  5. Roll the dough into small balls, about 1-inch in diameter. Fill a small bowl with sugar, and roll each ball in the sugar until it is completely coated. Place on cookie sheet at least 1 inch apart, then bake for about 8-10 minutes, until the cookies begin to slightly crack on top.  (They will probably crack more while cooling.)  Remove from the oven and let cool for a minute or two. Then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
  6. Serve immediately or store in a sealed container for up to 1 week.

chocolate peppermint (adapted slightly, courtesy of pinch of yum)

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 2/3 cup all purpose flour (more if it’s too sticky)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup crushed candy canes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla and peppermint extract until creamy and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until just incorporated.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the creamy butter mixture and mix until incorporated, adding the milk gradually as you go. The dough should be thick and sticky, but dry enough to touch with your hands without making a huge mess. If it’s still too sticky, add more flour. Stir in the chocolate chips and crushed candy canes.
  4. Roll the dough into even balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack right away. They will be underdone and super puffy, which makes them perfectly soft, thick, and fudgy when cooled.

viennese whirl shortbreads (adapted slightly, courtesy of the bbc)

  • 200g slightly salted butter, softened
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • colorful sprinkles
  1. Heat oven to 350 and line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment. Put the butter and icing sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric hand whisk for about 5 mins until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat again until fully incorporated.
  2. Sift in the flour, cornstarch and baking powder, and fold into the mixture using a spatula until combined (the dough should have a tacky consistency). Spoon the dough into a piping bag fitted with a large star-shaped nozzle. If all the mixture doesn’t fit, do it in 2 batches.
  3. Pipe swirly circles 5cm diameter onto 2 baking sheets making sure there are 3cm spaces between each swirl. Cover with sprinkles.
  4. Bake for 10-12 mins, swapping the trays over halfway through the cooking time so the biscuits are evenly baked, until pale golden and cooked through. Leave to cool on the baking sheets for a few mins, then transfer to wire racks.

honey ginger (adapted slightly, courtesy of rachel ray)

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 3/4 cups unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups crystalized ginger chips

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger and ground cardamom. Set aside.

3. In a mixer set to medium speed,  beat together butter, sugar and egg until smooth. Add in honey, vanilla extract, lemon juice and zest and beat until combined. Switch mixer to low speed and gradually add in flour. Continue to mix until just combined. Add in crystalized ginger chips. Do not over mix. Cover mixer bowl in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 1/2-1 hour.

4. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll it into walnut sized balls. Place onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart from each other. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until very lightly golden brown. Cookies will appear puffy and pale in color. Resist the urge to bake them longer. Remove cookies from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from baking sheets with a thin spatula. Store in an airtight container on your counter for up to 5 days.

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