For today’s “Cookies in the Cottage” I thought it would be fun to list the cookies I’m planning to include on this year’s Christmas cookie plates (that aren’t really plates anymore- I bag the cookies up and put them in small dollar store bags because I think they stay fresher).
I’m including my thoughts on these (didn’t think you’d get a break from that, did you?) and any links if I can find them. I will also be posting some of the recipes as I make them over the next few weeks.
And if you make it to the end of the post, I’ve got a few pictures of a new caramel bar I made today as a test- read on to see how it went, a-hem.
Here are our favorite the cookies/treats that will be in the cookie bags for sure:
1. Cranberry Ecstasy/Bliss Bars: These are just like the ones from our favourite (not-to-be-mentioned) coffee place and I’ve been making them for about 3 years now since The Oregonian developed the recipe. They are moist, gingery, cranberry, white chocolatey goodness.
2. Quadruple Chocolate Brownies: You will not believe how good these are- or how much chocolate, butter and eggs this recipe requires! The recipe makes two 13×9 pans, which is perfect for the holidays. Definitely once-a-year brownies, but oh, so over-the-top-good.
3. Lemon Meltaways: I’ve aways got to have a lemon cookie, and these are really lemony, just the way I like ’em. Another great recipe I found in The Oregonian back when they regularly had great recipes…but that’s another story. My daughter and I fight over these little guys.
4. Truffles: I like the basic bittersweet chocolate and cream truffle and I like to dip them in chocolate and present them in a little white box from the craft store. I might make a peanut butter kind this year, too.
5. Cranberry Shortbread: There’s always a shortbread cookie in my goodie bags, but each year it’s been different- brown sugar shortbread dipped in chocolate, fudge-topped shortbread, shortbread hearts, fingers, stars, and so on. I just went to a Christmas tea and the cranberry shortbread they served made me want to make it this year. I think I’ll like this recipe from the current Ladies Home Journal because they have you cut the dried cranberries with powdered sugar in a processor. I’m thinking it will be better than the clump of berries I’ve gotten in the past trying to chop the berries.
6. Butter-Mint Pillows: This is a new candy recipe I’ve not tried, but I love those little mints and I’d like to be able to make them with ingredients I can control. They seem pretty easy, too.
7. “Moose Munch” and “Candy Cane” Caramel Corn: I use to make plain caramel corn (the recipe I like is from an old Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook), until I started seeing all these types they sell at Christmas. It’s really easy to make them at home. I make the caramel corn, let it cool, and add melted chocolate to half, let that cool and mix the two halves together again. For the Candy Cane type, I use melted white chocolate (please not almond bark-real white chocolate like Ghiradelli) and sprinkle crushed candy canes on before the chocolate dries. I forget every year how good these are until I taste them again. UPDATE: see this post for the complete Moose Munch recipe!
Here are the new things I’m planning to try:
8. Peppermint Crunch Cookies: I saw these being sold in a catalog, and am going to try to replicate them at home this year. I have a chocolate wafer recipe I’ll make, then frost with melted real white chocolate and sprinkle the tops with crushed candy canes. The catalog was selling them for $22.50/lb. – I should be able to make them cheaper than that.
9. A chocolate-covered thing like rice crispy squares (seen in a catalog for a lot of $$ also!), pretzels, or marshmallows. I’ll let the kids pick what they’d like to do.
10. I’ll probably make some chocolate chip cookies for Brian. I learned years ago not to ask if he likes all the different cookies I make at the holidays. He just wants to know where the “regular” cookies are.
OK, so you made it to the end! You get to see that it’s perfectly normal to have cookie fails (just what you wanted, huh?). The following pictures are of the cookie bars I made today, seduced by the picture in this month’s Ladies Home Journal. Find the recipe here, but sorry, there’s no picture there to seduce you, you’ll have to get by with these:
Here’s the shortbread-like crust after being baked.
I made the caramel topping and poured it onto the crust, just like I read to do and I let it sit for more than 2 hours- the recipe said “at least 2 hours.”
Then I cut them. So far, so good. They’re tasty, and actually look like the yummy picture I saw in the magazine.
Uh-oh. What’s happening in the background? The caramel is starting to ooze over the sides, that’s what.
Ugh…that’s why I did a test batch. They looked like a cookie that would not stand up to being cut and delivered to people. And I was right.
About 5 minutes after taking the above picture, I went and looked at the cookies I had cut and the sides were completely covered in caramel. So it’s a no-go for these.
But the kids will be really happy to help dispose of them.