“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.
Here we are, three days away from Christmas, and I am still completely baffled at how quickly it came. Maybe that’s because I had my head buried in profuse amounts of flour, sugar, butter and old family cookbooks this entire month. I truly believe we set a personal record for amounts of sweets made during the holiday season. Now if you can only imagine, spending all my spare time prepping confections for this coming weekend had me a bit crazed.
And as much as I love spending time in the kitchen, transforming sugary elements into something you can sink your teeth into, I am so glad that this week is bake free! Now I get to spend the next few days cramming in everything I love about Christmas and haven’t yet had the chance to do. Watch Christmas movies old and new, read The Polar Express next to a fire, take a walk around the neighborhood admiring the sparkle of carefully affixed Christmas lights, and exchange gifts and great laughs with dear friends. Oh, and of course, blog a traditional Christmas recipe….
When I think of Christmas, I instantly think of my Mother’s sugar cookies. When I was little, I would sit and watch her decorate them, each one a little different than the next, but all equally whimsical. They were almost too pretty to eat (The secret is the frosting. It sets so perfectly!). I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to make them on my own. In fact, during my time working for J.CREW, I never made it home for the holidays and making these sugar cookies gave me that sense of home I was missing, as small as it was. It just wouldn’t seem like Christmas to me without these brightly colored cookies. I do hope you all get a chance to make these, if not for this holiday but another, and enjoy them as much as my family does. You won’t be disappointed!
Wishing you all the best, and a very Merry Christmas!
Christmas Sugar Cookies
- • 1 cup sugar
- • 1 cup butter, softened
- • 3-0z cream cheese, softened
- • ½ tsp salt
- • ½ tsp almond extract
- • ½ tsp vanilla
- • 1 egg yolk
- • 2 ¼ cups all purpose or unbleached flour
- In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, butter, cream cheese, salt, almond extract, vanilla and egg yolk; blend well.
- Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup and stir in flour until well blended. Chill dough for 2 hours
- Heat oven to 375F.
- On lightly floured surface, roll out dough, one third at a time, to about an 1/8 inch thickness, or a little more.
- Cut into desired shaped with lightly floured cookie cutters.
- Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
- Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
- Cool completely. Frost and decorate as desired.
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 6 tsp milk (may need to add more if needed)
- 2 ½ tbsp light corn syrup
- 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 tsp almond extract
- Mix all ingredients together until desired consistency.
- Separate in small bowls and add desired food coloring, based on that you need for decorating.
- Place in small Ziplock bag with. Cut small hole at the corner and use to pipe frosting for more detailed decorating.
Hello there cupboard followers!
What a busy time of year it is. Every time I turn around, there’s another holiday party to attend, another batch of something sugary to be made, and my unwrapped presents dauntingly staring at me each time I walk past the hidden spot where I keep them (you can never trust my family’s prying eyes!). So for this blog post I decided to do something a little different. Make something for myself, rather than something that needed to be made for this season’s festivities. And this week, I chose the ever warming, always satisfying, perfect for winter hot chocolate.
You see, while perusing the nooks and crannies of my beloved William Sonoma, I stumbled across the most darling marshmallows. And it was there, with the happy little snowmen faces staring up at me, that I decided hot cocoa would have to make it’s way onto the blog, just so these little fella’s could make an appearance. Or maybe I was just looking for a reason to justify purchasing two packs of festive mallows??? Although, I think my love for hot cocoa is justification enough.
And because I love this chocolate beverage so much, I thought that I would not only share my go to recipe, but also take this as an opportunity to share with you a few other ways that hot chocolate is enjoyed around the world. In Mexico they add a bit of spice. In Italy they drink hot chocolate so thick and so rich, you’ll actually need a smaller cup. In Columbia they enjoy their hot chocolate with cheese. And not just on the side, but with a small piece at the bottom of your glass. That’s right….Cheese. In. The. Drink.
So if you are anything like me, you probably went straight to the gross factor. BUT, after trying it, I have to say that it actually is quite tasty. You see it’s customary for Colombians to bring out hot chocolate with their cheese and bread spread. Sort of like what we do with wine. Columbian hot chocolate isn’t as sweet as the American or Belgium versions that we are used to, it’s a little bit more savory….an actual perfect match for cheese. I found that the kind of cheese most often put at the bottom of the cup is a queso fresco, or something similar. And that mild, but salty flavor, paired with the sweet and nutty notes of the cocoa is truly blissful. Dunk a piece of warm and toasty French bread in your cup, put a little bit of that melty cheese on top and you will have the sensational taste of Bogotá in the convenience of your very own living room.
Lauren’s Hot Chocolate
- 1 1/2 cups organic whole milk (or Vitamin D)
- 1/2 cup organic heavy whipping cream
- 4 oz Ghirardelli milk chocolate morsels
- 4 oz Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate morsels
- 1 tsp vanilla extractDirections
- Mix milk, heavy cream, and vanilla in a saucepan and warm over the stop top on medium heat
- Once milk is heated through, add all chocolate morsels and continue to whisk until fully melted.
- Add marshmallows, or some home made whipped cream to the top and enjoy.
Columbian Hot Cocoa
- 2 cups organic whole milk (or Vitamin D)
- Half of Nestle Abuelita hot chocolate brick
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 2 oz cube queso fresco
- Place milk, Nestle Abuelita cocoa brick in a saucepan and warm over the stop top on medium heat, whisking continually.
- Add brown sugar and cocoa powder once milk has warmed through, and chocolate has melted. Continue to which until sugar and cocoa have dissolved.
- Place small cube of cheese at the bottom of a cup and pour the hot cocoa mixture straight from the saucepan on top.
- Allow to sit for 5 minutes and enjoy with a piece of warm, crunchy baguette.
Italian Hot Cocoa
- 1 1/2 cups organic whole milk (or Vitamin D)
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar (or more to taste)
- 1½tbsp organic cornstarch
- Warm milk in saucepan on stove top, until warm all the way through.
- Remove milk from heat and place in separate bowl.
- In the saucepan, sift cocoa powder, sugar, cornstarch and add 1/4 cup of the warm milk. Whisk until smooth.
- On medium heat, add the remaining milk to the cocoa mixture and whisk continuously, for about 4-5 minutes or until the mixture starts to boil and it reaches the desired thickness.
- Pour into small cups and top with homemade whipped cream, dust top witch cocoa powder and enjoy.
Mexican Hot Cocoa
- 1 tablet Abuelita Chocolate
- 4 cups organic whole milk (or Vitamin D)
- Sugar to tase
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to taste…a little goes a LONG way!)
Directions (Instructions from back of Nestle Abuelita package)
- Heat 4 cups milk and 1 tablet ABUELITA™ Chocolate in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Mix constantly with wire whisk until mixture is frothy and starts to boil.
- Remove from heat, add sugar, and cayenne pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately.
Well, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our house! Pointsettias placed in every corner, the tree sparkling with quite possibly every Radko ornament ever made from 1996-2015, and Dean Martin crooning classic Christmas tunes in the background. This is most definitely my favorite time of the year. There’s just something about the Christmas season that easily transforms me back into a little girl, and makes me believe in magic all over again.
And boy could I really use some magic now! Preferably in the form of Santa’s Elves. Maybe he could let me borrow just one or two for all the baking that lies ahead of me this holiday season? Probably not…I’m sure he needs them more than I do. But hey, a girl can still hope, can’t she? So instead of outsourcing Santa’s handy helper’s, I’ll just tackle each batch of cookies, one at a time. First up, Triple Chocolate Pistachio cookies for my cousin’s annual Christmas gathering.
The idea for these cookies actually came from combining two of my favorites that my Godmother makes. Creamy Pistachio and Sea Salt Chocolate Chip. Both equally outstanding on their own, but truly divine when the ingredients are all mixed together. The saltiness from the chopped pistachios and the creaminess from the three different flavors of chocolate compliment each other so perfectly, its almost sinful Each bite is guaranteed to be just as packed full of flavor as the next. And what makes these cookies a repeat recipe during this season, other than their taste, is their lovely hue of Christmas green.
- 1⅔ cups all purpose flour
- (1) 3.4 oz box instant pistachio pudding mix
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
- 3/4 milk chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup shelled and chopped salted pistachios
- 8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
- Whisk together flour, pudding mix, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- Cream sugars and butter together until light and fluffy.
- Add in egg and vanilla and beat until well blended.
- Gradually stir in dry ingredients.
- Fold in chocolate chips and pistachios. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes before baking.
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease.
- Scoop out rounded tablespoons of cookie dough and place on prepared cookie sheet.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or just until they are set. As soon as they start to brown, they are done. (Side note, I usually pull mine out at 13 minutes and use a butter knife to quickly reshape the cookies into more perfect circles. Then place back in the oven for another 3-4 minutes. I find that this helps them not to look to flat on the edges.)
- Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet.
- Melt semisweet chocolate chips over a double boiler. (I find when it comes to melting chocolate, fresh is best. So make sure your bag was purchased within the last 6 months.)
- Scoop chocolate into a Ziploc bag, with a small hole cut at the corner, and pipe the chocolate onto the cookies.
- Allow chocolate to dry and enjoy.