the cookie chronicles continue: new cookie for christmas 2018!

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So maybe some of you out there have baked with mint chocolate baking chips and my new recipe is not so revolutionary.  But I never have and I think I have come up with a cookie that can be described as if a peppermint pattie had a cousin. And truthfully, if you had the patience you could chop up little peppermint patties I am sure, but hey I have a lot of baking to do, so thanks, but no.

You will notice I am for the most part a drop cookie baker.  Can I roll and decorate with royal icing? Sure, but I am more about the flavor profiles of the humble drop cookie or biscotti.

Here is the recipe:

Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup sweet butter softened

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons peppermint extract

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 package chocolate mint baking chips (mine was 10 ounces I think Ghiradelli , Hershey, and Nestle Make them seasonally and you can find them at wholesale nut folks like Nuts.com or Edwards Freeman Nut Company in Conshohocken)

1 cup mini white chocolate chips (mine are the Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value)

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur and if your flour is more than 2 or 3 months old, spring for fresh.)

1/3 Cup of Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder

Glittery baking sugar – today I used Christmas green from Wiltons

So How Did I Do it? Here are the mixing steps: 

So ……cream butter and BOTH sugars until smooth.  Beat in peppermint and vanilla extract.  (Buy good baking extracts, imitation extracts leave an after taste you will not like in your baking.)

Add eggs, mix until blended. Add cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  Do this slowly and not all at once or you and your kitchen will be cocoa coated.

Add flour in three or four doses – don’t know how else to describe it.  Again, blend sort of on a lower blender speed or flour will fly.

When your dough is smooth and well blended, blend in your chips, cover your cookie dough and refrigerate an hour or two.

When dough is chilled pull out of refrigerator and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. And FYI if you chill cookie dough before you bake it will keep cookies from doing the super spread and will also mean you get softer and more firm cookies.  Or at least that has been my experience.

IMG_1426I use jelly roll sheet pans and silicone baking sheets.  I use the aluminum (silver-colored NOT dark coated they make your cookies BURN).  Mine are Chicago Metallic Commercial Baker’s pans and the Nordic Ware Commercial Baker’s Pans are also good.  These are the pans that have a raised edge of about an inch and are rectangular – they are the size of regular cookie sheets more or less. I use Velesco Premium Silicone Baking Mats.  They are 11 5/8” x 16 ½”.  They are best price hands down on Amazon but like the baking pans I mentioned sometimes you will find them at Home Sense or Home Goods.

In any event, silver NON-coated baking pans lined with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets are truly the way to go. Buy good pans. They last longer and the end result is preferable. Some of my friends swear by the insulated baking sheets (“air-bake” or something)

O.k. back to the baking of these cookies.

Break off bits of dough and form 1 ½” round balls.  Dip top in glittery baking sugar, and put on cookie sheets 2” apart.

Bake 8 – 10 minutes depending on your oven .  Tonight I started out at 10 minutes a batch for two batches and then went to 9 minutes for the final two batches.

Cool on baking pans a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  I store my cookies in old school metal tins.

This recipe makes a little over 4 dozen cookies.

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yes really…fruitcake

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Anyone who mocks fruitcake has only had the kind that comes out of the catalog and can be put in a time capsule and be consumed 50 years in the future. That is the kind of fruitcake that is just basically like a sweet, sticky block of concrete.

I make white fruitcake. I saw somewhere once and then couldn’t find it again, where it was referred to as “grooms cake”. It’s made with good brandy or whiskey and it actually tastes good.

If you’re going to make any fruitcake, pick a day where you’re not going anywhere. Why? Simple, baking fruitcake is a multi hour, multiple bowl, slightly kitchen destroying process. I remember my mother baking late into the evenings during the holiday season to get her fruitcakes made. She made dark fruitcake.

I like to make my fruitcake ahead of time because the last step before putting it away in the refrigerator for Christmas is wrapping the fruitcake first in cheesecloth soaked in brandy.

The basis for my fruitcake recipe can be found in a 1959 edition of the Better Homes & Gardens Holiday Cookbook. But I have adjusted the recipe over the years and tweaked it a little.

Before I get into it, I order my candied fruit this year from a company called nuts.com. Used to buy only from Edwards Freeman in Conshohocken, but the quality and prices even with shipping are better at nuts.com. You can buy the candied fruit mixture, or individual candied fruits in the supermarket, but they are much more expensive.

Okay ready or not here’s the recipe:

4 cups of mixed diced candied fruits and peels for fruitcake (whole red cherries, diced orange peel, diced citron, diced lemon peel, chopped pineapple)

1/2 cup of chopped dates
3/4 cup chopped dried figs
1 1/3 cup white raisins
2 cups flake coconut

1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped pecans
****
2 cups sifted white all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Small dash of green cardamom, mace, powdered ginger, cinnamon
****
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons brandy
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
5 eggs

Whole red candied cherries and pecan halves for decorating before placing in oven.

In a bowl mix fruits and peels, dates, figs, raisins, and coconut. Add pecans and walnuts.

In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and almond flour.

Take exactly 1/2 cup of the dry flour mixture and sprinkle over the candied fruit and nuts mixture and stir well.

Get a third bowl, and cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, and then add the 2 tablespoons of brandy.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar mixture, and then mix in the pineapple juice. Blend on low until everything is blended well into a batter.

Combine the batter and the dried fruits and nuts dusted in the flour mixture together and stir gently until well blended. Personally, I do this in yet another large mixing bowl. Actually I do this in my largest mixing bowl.

I take two 8 1/2 inch x 4 1/2 inch x 2 1/2 inch loaf pans and grease them with unsalted butter. I then line pans on all sides with parchment paper, allowing 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch to stick up above the top of the pan.

I pour the fruit cake batter with all ingredients in it equally between the two pans.

On the top of the batter in each pan arrange to your specifications enough whole candied cherries and pecans to make an attractive pattern on top. I do mine in rows so they almost look like popcorn and cranberry garland for lack of a better description.

Turn the oven onto 275°F. This is not a recipe where you preheat the oven basically the entire time you’re mixing the batter. I only turn the oven on about five minutes before the fruitcakes go into it to bake.

Take a rectangular baking pan and fill it with 2 to 3 cups of hot water. Place that on the bottom shelf of the oven. This causes the cake to have better volume, better texture, and a shiny glaze.

Place your fruitcakes in the oven on the shelf above the pan with hot water. Please note you’re not placing the baking pans in the pan with hot water. That is a different process.

Bake fruitcakes in the 275° oven for 2 1/2 hours or until done. Please note dark fruitcake takes longer to bake, more like 3 to 3 1/2 hours

When the fruitcakes come out of the oven cool them for a while in their pans on racks on your countertop. Lift them gently out of the pans with the paper – the parchment paper makes handy handles.

Wrap the slightly warm fruitcakes in cheesecloth soaked in brandy. Then tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Don’t be afraid to use a couple layers. Finally wrap each fruitcake in heavy duty aluminum foil. You can put these in the refrigerator and forget about them until Christmas. I generally do my fruitcakes about now, and some years I open them up halfway through and add more brandy on top to soak in and re-wrap, other years I just leave it alone.

When you serve this, serve it on a pretty cake plate in slices.

Try white fruitcake, you won’t be disappointed.

My fruitcakes are in the oven, and now I’m going to check on them to see how they’re doing. I use my oven light, because if I open the oven I lose heat

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