Here we are with Part 2 of the Holiday Cookie Exchange from Grace-Marie’s Kitchen at Bristol Farms. If you are looking for something to bake at the last minute, you’ve come to the right place. The cookies this year were extra delicious and I’m going to tell you about four of the recipes today. Two were made by Grace-Marie and two were made by students who brought their own favorite cookies from home to share. I love cookie exchanges, don’t you? All those different cookies to take home, and with none of the work. What could be better.
You can see the cookies from Part 1, Hazelnut-Nutella Kisses and Cranberry Delights and the recipes by clicking here. You should check these out. They’re really good.
On the left are Grace-Maries Peppermint Shortbread Thins and right are Cherry Shortbread Cookies made by Sue Carlin. I have never had cookies with finely ground peppermint in the dough, so the Shortbread Thins were an interesting delicious surprise. Sue’s Cherry Shortbread Cookies also had a surprise when you bit into them: that little ping on your tongue from the dried cherries along with the sweet crispiness of the cookie. Both of these are refrigerator cookies that were rolled into logs, chilled and then cut into slices to bake. So easy. Plus the logs can be frozen for future use.
Grace-Marie’s cookies had hard peppermint candies that were pulverized in the processor before being added to the dough. Above you can see Grace-Marie demonstrating how to drizzle the icing over the cookies with a fork. And, no, those are not cookies, they’re container tops. Just keeping you on your toes.
On the left are Grace-Marie’s White Chocolate Cranberry Blondies and right are Starlight Mint Surprises made by Jennifer Mayer. The Blondies were a cornucopia of white chocolate, with whole chunks in the dough and melted white chocolate in the cream cheese frosting. These were dusted with powdered sugar, but you could also drizzle melted chocolate over the top. Oh yes, they were really decadent. Jennifer’s Mint Surprises were just that. Unassuming to look at, and a lovely Andes Mint hiding inside. I took a bite and went, Oh Wow!
Here you can see Grace-Marie, who looks so happy when she’s baking. The White Chocolate Cream Cheese frosting is spread with a large offset spatula and the dried cranberries are sprinkled on top. We were advised to push the cranberries down into the frosting with the flat of our hand so they wouldn’t fall off later, a big pet peeve of Grace-Marie. I want you to look at how she sliced the Blondies, with a finger on each side of the knife and firmly pressed against the bars. This way the knife comes out clean, which I think is just a brilliant maneuver. I always learn some technique like this when I go to Grace-Marie’s classes.
I Wish You Wonderful Cookie Baking and Happy Holidays!
For additional recipes from Grace-Marie’s Kitchen, look under Categories in the right-hand column.
Peppermint Shortbread Thins
Makes about 28 cookies
12 hard round peppermint candies, unwrapped
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Make the glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons milk
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
¼ teaspoon red paste food color
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a food processor, place peppermint candies. Cover and process until finely ground.
3. In large bowl of electric mixer, beat butter and ½ cup powdered sugar on medium speed 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.
4. On low speed, beat in ground candies, flour and salt until blended. Shape dough into 8×2-inch log and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.
5. Unwrap dough and cut into ¼-inch slices. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
6. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 20 minutes.
7. In a small bowl, mix 1 cup powdered sugar, milk and peppermint extract. Divide glaze in half. Tint half of glaze with red food color. Using a fork, or ziplock bag with corner cut off, drizzle red and white glazes over cookies. Store loosely covered at room temperature.
Cherry Shortbread Cookies
By Sue Carlin
Makes about 6 dozen cookies
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup corn starch
1 cup chopped, dried cherries
1. On day of baking, preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line cookie sheet with parchment.
2. In mixer bowl, beat butter, sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract until combined.
3. Stir together flour and cornstarch, and gradually mix into butter mixture until well combined. Mix in cherries.
4. Divide dough into 4 portions. Roll each portion into an 8 to 10-inch log and wrap in parchment paper. Chill in refrigerator over night. (or freeze).
5. Heat oven. Slice cookies about ½-inch thick and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
6. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until edges are golden. Cool on wire rack.
Optional: Roll in colored sugar before slicing or drizzle with chocolate after cooling.
White Chocolate Cranberry Blondies
¾ cup butter, cubed
1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
]1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup dried cranberries
6 ounces white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest, optional
3 ounces white baking chocolate, melted
½ cup dried cranberries
3 ounces white baking chocolate, for drizzling, optional
Powdered sugar, for sprinkling, optional
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 13×9-inch baking dish.
2. In microwave, melt butter and stir in brown sugar. Transfer to large bowl and cool to room temperature. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Gradually add to butter mixture. Stir in cranberries and chopped white chocolate (batter will be thick).
4. Spread batter into greased baking dish. Bake for 18 to 21 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean (do not overbake). Cool on wire rack.
5. For frosting, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and orange zest, if desired, until blended. Gradually add 3 ounces of melted white chocolate and beat until blended.
6. Frost Brownies and sprinkle with cranberries. Drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate, if desired, or sprinkle with powdered sugar.
7. Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator.
Starlight Mint Surprises
By Jennifer Mayer
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, unbeaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 box Andes Mints, cut in half
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Measure flour, soda and salt together. Cream butter, gradually adding sugars.
3. Add unbeaten eggs, vanilla and blend in dry ingredients. Refrigerate 2 hours.
4. Form small ball of dough around mint. Bake on ungreased baking sheet for 9 to 12 minutes.