Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The World Needs Christmas Cookies



As I mentioned in this post, cookies did not come easily or naturally to me.  So a few weeks ago when I started having those Christmas baking stirrings, I decided to just tweak that recipe into a spice cookie. Ohhhhh my.  They are so good.  I like a lot, lot of spice so if your palette leans a little more conservative, you might cut this down. 
My photo assistant demanded the camera turn her way.
I've been a stage mom since day #1 so she knows to pose when she sees a camera and she'll get a treat.  
The only hard part of these cookies is the mixing and the waiting.  These are not instant gratification cookies.  These are completely my recipe—i.e. long and involved with delayed gratification.  The funny thing about them is that they truly are better when they have had the chance to sit overnight.  They’re fine after cooling about an hour, but they are otherworldly after sitting for about ten.  Between scooping and baking, they must rest in the freezer for at least two hours.  The only differences between this recipe and my last cookie recipe are the spices, blooming the spices in the melted butter, and the chunks are all white chocolate instead of mixed with dark.  I use lemon zest, the more traditional choice would be orange but I felt lemon would be best--I try not to take zest intuition in jest.  Forgive me.

“Gingerbread” and White Chocolate Cookies.
Makes 18 cookies
2 ½ cups AP flour
1 ¼ cups (2.5 sticks) butter
3 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/3 teaspoon ground clove
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons diastatic malt powder
1 Tablespoon whiskey
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 ¼ teaspoon salt, plus another Tablespoon or so for topping. 
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs (duck, if possible)
12 oz white chocolate
-Chop chocolate into ¼-1/2 inch strips.  Put in freezer
-Melt butter, add spices once butter coats the bottom of the pan and more of it is melted than not over medium-low heat.  Stir slowly for about two minutes until all the butter is melted and the spices become fragrant.  Take off heat.
-Fold in flour, diastatic malt powder, vanilla extract, salt, oil, and whiskey.  Once combined, set aside. 
-In bowl, combine brown and white sugar with egg and baking soda.  Once incorporated well, add spiced flour mixture to bowl and mix just until combined. 
-Fold in white chocolate chunks delicately.  You want the chunks to stay big. 
-Line sheet tray with parchment.  Scoop dough onto tray with 2” ice cream scoop.  Leave the balls just as they are!  No squishing of the balls! Sprinkle with salt. 
-Freeze for at least three hours. 
-Preheat oven to 400F on convection if you have it. 
-Once oven is sufficiently pre-heated (I let it go a little while longer than when it says it’s complete. You want it to be hot), transfer half (or less) of the dough balls to an ungreased, non-stick sheet tray.  I use these.  I have a big range oven, so I bake in two batches- 9 in each.  If you have a smaller oven, you might do three batches with six cookies each.  They bake quickly so it’s not a problem.  If you do not have as many sheet trays as you do batches of cookies, line the sheet tray with parchment and bake on that.  They can’t be moved until they are cool, so you can gently slide them off the tray in parchment and re-use the tray.  I only bake one batch at a time because I want the oven to stay hot and dry.  More than one batch would make the oven considerably more humid. 
-Bake nine minutes exactly.  Ovens vary so maybe yours bakes faster or slower.  Based on what you know of your oven, adjust baking time by about 30-45 seconds.  The beauty of these cookies is that they are gooey and underbaked in texture.  That is achieved by the diastatic malt powder and the process of freezing the dough.  If you were to skip the freeze, the butter would escape the dough and the cookie would flatten out.  We want all that damn butter in there! 
-Let rest about ten hours.  If you don’t believe me, have one an hour after baking and then another one the next morning and you will totally agree. 

I love these cookies because they are so easy, can be prepped (and baked!) way ahead, and they really do stand up as a dessert all their own.  One cookie per person is not the usual cookie to person ratio but these are substantial enough to stand alone.  
There were two other new posts published before this one. 

48 comments:

  1. LOVE it! Thanks for sharing.. it's on my list for cookie making next week.

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    1. Thank you! Make sure to order the diastatic malt powder if you don't already have it!

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  2. Maybe you already are aware of this, but recently (OK, 2008, but time flies) the New York Times had an article about the best chocolate chip cookies, via Jacques Torres, who says we should let the raw cookie dough rest 36 hours before baking!!! I have done this, and it indeed results in a superior cookie.
    Here's the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/09/dining/09chip.html
    Of course, cookie dough needs to be doubled for every two hours of resting. Just sayin'.
    Having been "gavé" with speculoos, I can no longer abide spice cookies. But the stirrings of Christmas cookie making are making themselves felt, and I fear I will soon be surrounded by various forms of sugar, flour and butter. Two years ago, my handheld mixer fried in the middle of a many-thousand-cookie spree, and I finished it by hand. NEVER AGAIN. I got my mother's '80s-era KitchenAid (back when it was entirely metal parts, made in the USA, completely over-engineered and likely to run for 500 years). Last year was a Christmas cookie madhouse, and this year I am TRYING to scale back.
    That said, my kid announced today that AMERICAN cookies are to be taken to English class next week. What should I make to knock the socks off a bunch of French teens?

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    1. Yes I remember that! I love a long rest for all doughs and batters. I always give my cake batters 24 hours in the fridge and it makes such a difference. I have a classic KitchenAid too and knock on wood it is just amazing. Never had a problem with it in...18 years I think. It was near the end of the American made ones. I think they might be back to making in America though. But mine is such a machine. I know the newer ones are more prone to problems. But wow they're a lot cheaper than they used to be. They often go for about $200 now. Go for a classic frosted American sugar cookie. For the frosting do a mix of 10x sugar (can you get that in France?) cream, cream cheese, vanilla, and then at the very end put in some granulated sugar. That little bit of grit is very good. You want to push the cream to almost being butter right when the flavor turns a bit. As a true expert on the American Heartland I can tell you they are quite classic! Go for a doughy sugar cookie as they probably have a lot of dreadful dry shortbread.

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  3. How YUM!!! Ugggh, stop it - you are a tease! I'm off of sugar so no cookies for a while. But when the time comes.....
    :) :) :)

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  4. The World Needs Christmas Cookies...does it ever!
    Thank you!

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  5. Barbie should audition for commercials - I can't eat just one cookie - never happened never gonna.

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    1. I've thought that! Haha she is so good at holding a pose. Naomi, I promise! They're a real dessert that's why I love them. If shipping hadn't gotten to fucking ridiculously expensive I'd overnight you some. Can you even do that with food? Probably not.

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  6. I HAVE THOSE PLATES.........A FEW ANYWAY.LIMOGE I Believe......or are they HAVILAND?
    YOU like SPICES!!!!!!!!!!
    NOW, I understand the TURKEY SOUP suggestions!BOY, BEST SOUP I had ever made with your suggested spices.
    BARBI, is BEAUTIFUL..............she STANDS at ATTENTION for the camera!
    How many collars does she own?

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    1. They are Selb Bavaria but sometimes the exact same ones are Haviland so who knows! Yes I love spice and don't know why people skimp so much on them! More is usually better! So glad the soup was so good! She has many!

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  7. These sound and look delicious. I can see how they'd taste better the longer you wait to bake and eat them. I'm like you; heavy-handed with the spices (not too much nutmeg). The recipe makes me think of my molasses cookies, though doctored up with your special touches. I'm sure they are scrumptious. My molasses cookie dough requires a rest in the fridge before forming into balls, dipped in granulated sugar and topped with 2-3 drops of water. I'm sure it makes the dough easier to handle. I suppose it would be perfectly fine to shape the cookies and freeze them to bake closer to Christmas? I'm thinking the flavors would be quite happy together in their cold rest. :)

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    1. It's me, Nicole in CA (here my full name appears as I needed to log in to Google Docs to see my daughter's edit-able Xmas list! Time to log out and go back to semi-anonymous. :)

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    2. Yes cookie dough freezes really well! Thank you! I put nutmeg in everything! Love it. Good luck with the Christmas shopping!

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  8. Okay, you and I are built from the same mold. And my offer of marriage still stands.

    Cookies, timing on parties, and commenting on people's drinking water or soda instead of alcohol are subjects which resonate with me.

    I'm just sorry that Ellie isn't here to read this trio of posts. She'd love it!

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    1. Thank you so much, Katherine! Are you back in France or still in New England for the holidays? Missing Ellie terribly. Hate it that she didn't get one more round of holidays...especially back in America.

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  9. ("I know you’re desperate to prove you’re relevant and interesting but you’re not and no one else is either." )Hahah! My fav SAJ quote. Love the plate the cookie rests on; Limoges? (sp.?). And the cookies sound delicious. It's hard to beat that spicy gingerbread flavor. Happy baking Stephen Andrew. Emily

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    1. Thank you so much! The red transferware is Johnson Brothers and the white is Selb which look quite a bit like Limoges! But I've been on a Limoges binge this week and have added...let's see...44 Limoges plates to my collection :)

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  10. I so agree with your title & Barbie looks so adorable.
    Will make up the mix on Monday 11/12 & freeze until Christmas Eve. I have 2 ovens ( I know overkill for 4 people but fantastic for moments like this or having my family over ( 16) or just the cousins... I can imagine with these cooking the house will smell fantastic. Den xx

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    1. Perfect!! Thank you and let me know how they turn out! Have you checked availability of diastatic malt powder in Australia? It might be hard to find. Let me know if we need to call Chica from Real Housewives of Melbourne! Haha

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  11. at first glance I thought they were macadamia nuts.
    but.. oooh white chocolate chunks and spices ... YES!
    nothing like gingerbread wafting through the house mingled with pine and oranges...
    and Barbie. so seriously waiting for a taste. I hope you gave her a WHOLE ONE of her very own!!!

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    1. Thank you! They are so good!! Unfortunately no cookies for Barbie! I am a mean dad and she never ever gets people food. My grandpa gave her some on vacation and oh my I think he's still having nightmares about when I saw it. He said "well I'm glad I had just signed a DNR" hahaha

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  12. Gorgeous! The cookies and Barbie. Spoiled by you with posts today and it's like opening wonderful presents. Thank you. Can't wait to bake these, I have a cookie-loving crowd of family staying for two nights over Christmas so you are going to make me a Star. Thank you Darling xx

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    1. Thank you so much, Dani! They will love them. I might try and make them GF and see how it goes.

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  13. Cookies be damned, I am a savory gal but let me jus say Barbie is a good looking a dog as I have ever seen! (And I am a cat person)

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    1. She says thank you! But I swear these are so good. You might like them for their strong spice!

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    2. Consulting with husband about the cookies, I may give them a try. We solidly support spice and any dessert with whiskey deserves a chance. How I wish my (German) father was still alive, he would have LOVED these!

      Let's talk about those duck eggs - I have a source (my cottage neighbor) hpbut we won't be at the cottage again until Dec 17. What makes duck eggs preferable?

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    3. That was me above, damn little phone buttons

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  14. These look so amazing. And I think Barbie is hoping you'll share one with her.

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    1. Thank you! Sadly no cookies for Barbie!

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  15. These are my favorite cookies my grandma used to bake for me. They are really good with a tall glass of cold milk.

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    1. I hate milk but they are wonderful with a White Russian! Haha

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  16. Oh, Barbie, what a sight for my sore eyes. How I miss my dear old Pudding. (Hey, I didn't name her, but she was sweeter than any dessert and good for my heart.) Your cookies sound amazing; I'm not sure if cookies will appear on my to-do list or not this year with all the elderly in my care needing attention. Last year I simply whipped up a bunch of sugar cookies, the kind you smoosh (there's a word you'd never use with your elegant baking, sorry!) with a water glass dipped in sugar and then slather on buttercream frosting with psychedelic sprinkles. Yes, that's right, I'm too lazy to even do cut-out cookies.

    My 'cookie to person ratio' for your delectable cookies would be considerably higher than one; goodness, you'd have to make a dozen just for me.

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    1. Thank you! No one could have a healthier appetite than me and I swear they are a one per sitting cookie! That's why I love them and serve them on a plate! They're a real dessert. Oh I'm sure you miss Pudding terribly. I know you have so much on your plate but might there be a dog on the horizon for you? I love a classic sugar cookie!!

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    2. One per serving for real? Oh, they would be just the thing for me, so delicious.

      Yes, someday I might take a chance on love again and another dog, but the chances of finding one like the nine year old, badly mistreated, nearly toothless, non-housebroken dog that was Pudding are next to nothing. I hate to admit that for the first month I was sorry I'd ever agreed to take her in, but the next five years were spent with the most loving canine I have ever known. She never took her eyes off of me; slept with her head resting on my foot when she wasn't in my lap. I've had the privilege of having had five dogs in my life, but Pudding was a one of a kind.

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  17. I ma definitely making these for Christmas!! There is just something about baking for Christmas that makes all the other worries just go away!! XO K

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    1. Thank you! Let me know how they turn out!

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  18. Ah, Christmas cookies. When I am able to quit my job for good I hope to get back to baking Christmas cookies again. Until then I would be making myself crazy to even try. But when I do this recipe will be at the top of the list.
    xoxo

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    1. Well the good thing about these is that you can mix them quickly one night, scoop and freeze them another, and then bake them another! Then serve them the next day.

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  19. so much to love about all this. barbie and those kitchen pulls and oh yeah the cookies.:) xo

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    1. Thank you! Yes brass comes and goes out of favor but I always love it!

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  20. Love your assistant. I'll have to have words with my Serena. She's not as cooperative as she ought to be.

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    1. Thank you! Haha I started the bribing early!

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  21. These sound so delicious! I'm going to make them for my father's neighbors for Christmas. I have them watching out over him, he's not aware and would be pissed if he knew, he's elderly and I live 3 and 1/2 hours away from him. Anyway, I love the tip about freezing cookie dough and even cake batter, I had no idea! I was wondering one thing though, concerning the whiskey. If I leave it out is that a problem? Does the alcohol dissipate in the process of baking? I have no idea if any of his neighbors would have a problem with having whiskey in there, that's why I ask. I will leave it in if we end up making any just for us. Thank you so much for another incredible recipe! Yes, the world needs Christmas Cookies! Merry Christmas everyone! Valorie

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    1. Oh how lovely! Good neighbors are such a gift. I can't say that the alcohol cooks out 100% even though I'm quite sure it does. If you're on the fence, try leaving it out. But alcohol steams out so fast in baking that it likely is all out of there. It might change things a little but I would imagine they're still very close.

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  22. WOW!!!! Made the cookies!!! They're the BOMb!! Can I share the link to your blog post on facebook? If not, can I share the recipe without naming you? Whatever you prefer... SO GOOD!!

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    1. So glad you love them! Yes, by all means share them! Thank you!

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