Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Cookies 2012

Linzer Cookie

Checkerboard Cookies (This is last year's cookie batch, the recipe for checkerboard or "swirl" as it was last year is there)

Pistachio Apricot Nests (thumb print cookies)

Nusstaler (Chocolate Dipped Hazelnut cookies) 

Gingerbread with Lemon Icing 

Ultimate Ginger Cookie 

Healthy Chewy Gingerbread cookies (Spelt flour - agave - coconut oil.  No white flour or butter)

Finnish Meringue Cookie

Elfin Shortbread Bites

Greek Clove Melt in your mouth Shortbread

Candycane Meringue 

Chocolate Dipped Chewy Coconut Macaroon 

Chocolate Crackle Cookie

Sparkle Espresso Crackle Cookie

Salted Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Cookie

Pistachio Honey Cookie (Gluten Free) 

Cinnamon Sugar Pillows (Vegan)

My tips:

Baking is serious business, and in order to pull off a large amount/variety of cookies it requires organization.  Things you will need:

- Butter, lots and lots of butter! I'm sure that's a given with cookies, I just couldn't help saying it :D
If you're working on a large number of cookies in one day then try to estimate from your recipes how much butter you're going to use and then place it all on the counter to soften (if that's what the recipe requires)
Keep your eggs on the counter too to come to room temperature.

I used over 8 pounds of butter to make all the cookies!

- A stand mixer! I borrowed my mothers pink Kitchen Aid since mine is still broken for over a year and I haven't replaced it yet :(

- A clean/organized kitchen makes all the baking a lot easier so organize before hand and keep the dry ingredients away from the sink/moisture (which brings me to my next tip)
I will also add fridge space because you will be chilling doughs and removing them from the fridge, shaping and chilling..etc.

- Have a gentle hand soap on hand, you will be washing your hands a lot between batches and after 3 days of baking my hands are in a lot of pain (they dry out from washing!)  Moisturize hands well before bed to prepare for the next day of baking.

- Keep basic ingredients like flour/sugar/brown sugar accessible (I put them in large bins) the flour needs to be scooped in measuring cups and leveled so you need the space to do this. Keep a knife and measuring cup as well as a small scooper in the bag/bin of flour for easy measuring.

- I tend to think I'm pretty environmentally friendly and I don't waste money on plasticy things but at this time of year my biggest tip is to get some ziplock bags, the large ones (.. and Cling wrap)  I can't emphasize this enough because it will save your life!! After mixing up a batch of dough just throw the ball it a ziplock and if it needs flattening out you can just use a rolling pin right over the bag after sealing and removing the air.  It's my best trick.
For checkerboard cookies I even flatten it out evenly in the bag and then chill, then I simply tear the bag and slice the large flat square disk of dough into strips, same goes for both the chocolate and white and this makes it easy to assemble/stack and create a checkerboard in minutes. So simple!

Same for crumbly shortbread doughs, just toss in the bag and press down to bring it together.  Chill, tear the bag and slice into squares then bake.  You might want to leave some doughs on the counter to warm up a tad bit, it all depends on the dough. Shortbread could "crack" if it's too cold so let it warm up a bit before slicing with a big sharp knife for clean neat slicing.

You can also use ziplock bags as piping bags!

- Tons of parchment (it is your best friend!!!) and a good amount of baking sheets !

And finally keep hydrated!!!!! I get so distracted working that I tend to forget to drink (or eat.. or even sleep!!)  so next year I will whip up a big jug of something (ice tea?) or a thermos and just keep it on hand for drinking.

Thanks to Redpath for sending me their Agave Nectar, I put it to use in my healthy gingerbread cookies!

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