Thursday, December 30, 2010

christmukkah cookies for all!

every year i bake cookies for all the men that work in my building. this year i even invested in really pretty cookie packaging from my new favorite spot in brooklyn - paper source.

i wanted to have a variety of cookies, but also wanted cookies that could all be done for all eight recipients in 2 nights (at most). i wanted to make sure i got everyone fresh cookies-- it makes all the difference. i also had to find a good vegan recipe. two of the lucky cookie recipients are vegans- and they both happen to be the nicest guys in the building.

my friend pam recently made these delicious cookies that she mentioned were vegan. they were so rich with chocolate and spicy too. i knew they were the right choice. i gave the extras to my boyfriend and some visitors i had in from baltimore. i mentioned the cookies were vegan and my cookie fans were shocked!

spicy mexican hot chocolate cookies for vegans (and non vegans too)

1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons almond milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne

coarse sugar

*oven to 350 F.

*mix the topping ingredients together on a flat plate. set aside.

*mix together oil, sugar, syrup, and milk. mix in vanilla.

*sift in remaining ingredients, stirring as you add them. once all ingredients are added mix until you’ve got a pliable dough.

*roll dough into walnut sized balls. pat into the sugar topping to flatten slightly (not too flat). transfer to baking sheet, sugar side up, at least 2 inches apart (they do spread).

*bake for 10 to 12 minutes

so- the vegans were taken care of, now what about the other nice guys in my building? i decided to use one sugar cookie dough recipe (which i doubled) to make three different types of cookies. thumbprints with jam, nutella sandwiches with sugar on top, and lemon iced cookies (lemon icing recipe further down). they were all sooooooo delicious. i also had a lot of help from my awesome chef's assistant / boyfriend.

the best simple sugar cookie dough:


2 1/2 cups flour, plus more for the work surface

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp maple syrup


*oven to 350° F.
*in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
*using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until smooth. add the egg and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. beat in the vanilla.
*reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated (the dough will be stiff). shape into a disk. wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
*on a floured surface, roll the dough to ¼ inch thick. using cookie cutters, cut into shapes. place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 1½ inches apart.
*bake 10 to 12 min

lemon icing:
juice of half a lemon
lemon zest
1 cup of confectioner sugar
few spoonfuls of water

wisk till smooth.
when cookies are cool, dip in icing.
let dry a bit. dip one more time.
sprinkle with sanding sugar.
put in fridge for 30 minutes.
serve cookies at room temp.

these are the cookies ready to go! happy holidays everyone.


Saturday, December 25, 2010


i have been baking quite a bit in the last month! the holidays have been busy and it seems i have been neglecting the blog. so many recipes to share, so many sweet tales to tell.

to start off, please meet the new love of my baking life:

so. in. love. hanukkah harry is a good man!

about a month ago my lovely co-workers and i decided to have a bake off. there are a lot of skilled bakers in my office, so it was getting pretty competitive. lots of shit talking, lots of planning, but all in good fun. we even put out an email to the whole office to recruit judges. the bake off dessert had to have an autumn theme. this is what i made:


I used this recipe for the pumpkin cupcakes, but also added a pinch of cloves, a pinch of black pepper, and a teaspoon of maple syrup. I also added butterscotch chips, folding them in before spooning out the batter into the liners.

i made vanilla cream cheese frosting. it's easy and delicious to make this from scratch. the key is to have your cream cheese and butter very soft at room temp. also, sifting the sugar helps keep the icing light and smooth. with an icing this simple, these factors will make a large impact. i also like to add the contents of one vanilla bean.

1 package of full fat cream cheese (8 oz)
1 stick unsalted butter
2-3 cups powdered sugar (i lean closer to 2 cups as the cupcakes were pretty sweet)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean (the seeds only, not the pod)

A TIP: save the vanilla bean pods- put them in a jar with some white sugar and shake it up. in a day or so you have homemade vanilla sugar. vanilla sugar makes a cup of pg tips with milk even more delicious!

the cupcakes were a big hit! although i didn't win first prize, i was a close second. i did hold the title for 2 years, so it's only fair someone else get the glory for a short while... i let them know, i am ready for a rematch!