Month: December 2014

Holiday M&M Cookies

DSC_3419x900Every holiday season I buy something at the store (Target, usually) a little too early and then forget about it. This Christmas that something was holiday mini M&Ms. I bought them shortly after Halloween and totally forgot about them until a few days ago. Which prompted me to find a recipe for M&M cookies and put them to good use!

These cookies tasted great — but only a few of them turned out to be “pretty.” I have a suggestion for you so you can avoid my mistake. There’s a chilling step involved. Roll the dough into balls *before* you chill them instead of trying to do it when the dough is cold. I tried to roll the dough when it was chilled and my cookies, as a result, were not uniform in shape and had a lot of rough edges. Hope you enjoy!

Holiday M&M Cookies
Recipe source: Creme de la Crumb
Print Recipe

12 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 small box instant vanilla pudding mix – dry, not prepared (one 3.4 ounce box, it must be INSTANT – not cook and serve, etc)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup red and green M&M candies

1. In a large bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, and sugar for 1-2 minutes until fluffy. Add vanilla and egg and mix well.
2. In another bowl whisk together flour, vanilla pudding mix, baking soda, and salt.
3. Gradually mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients until incorporated. Stir in most of the chocolate chips. (Reserve a few chocolate chips and the M&Ms for later)
4. Roll the dough into golf ball-sized balls. Cover and chill for at least one hour.
5. Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
6. Place the balls of dough on the prepared baking sheet. Gently press remaining chocolate chips and the M&Ms into the cookie dough balls (this makes sure you can see the chips and the M&Ms after they bake!).
7. Bake for 9-12 minutes until cookies are set but still slightly underdone. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes on the baking sheet. Transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

Makes about 18 cookies.

Grinch Cookies

DSC_3375x900Law school makes me feel like a Grinch every year. Each December is clouded by finals, studying, worry, anxiety, and general stress. But this is the LAST December that law school will ruin, as I’ll be graduating in May. I cannot wait to have my weekends and evenings free (and I will — no Big Law for me!) to celebrate the season. I’ll be able to enjoy all the things that get pushed aside — holiday baking, decorating, sending out Christmas cards, etc.

My last final is tomorrow morning — then I’m heading home to see my parents for Christmas. I. Cannot. Wait. But for the next 24 hours or so I will remain a Grinch ;)

Grinch Cookies
Recipe source: In Katrina’s Kitchen
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1 box french vanilla cake mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
Green food coloring, a couple drops
Powdered sugar for dusting
Sprinkles or candies, large heart-shaped

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. In the bowl of your mixer cream together cake mix, food coloring, oil, and eggs.
3. Chill the dough for 10-15 minutes.
4. Drop by Tablespoon into confectioners sugar and roll into balls.
5. Place on baking sheet and press 1 large heart candy/sprinkle.
6. Bake for 8 minutes until just set. (I baked mine closer to 10 minutes)
7. Let cool 2 minutes on pan before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Christmas Confetti Cookies

DSC_2873x900I will freely admit that I made and posted these cookies last month. But they are SO GOOD that I decided to make a batch for the Christmas season. The only modification was to find red, green, and white jimmies! I said this in my previous post, but these cookies have become one of my favorites — which should be obvious, as I’ve made them twice in the span of a month :)

Christmas Confetti Cookies
Recipe source: Joy the Baker
Print Recipe

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking power
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean (I didn’t have one, so I left it out; the cookies turned out fine!)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
About 1 cup of Christmas sprinkles (use jimmies, not nonpareils)

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking power, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the bowl (I skipped this step). Add the egg and vanilla extract, and beat until thoroughly combined.
3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. The dough will be thick. Fold in 1/4 cup of the sprinkles.
4. Put the remaining 3/4 cup of sprinkles in a small bowl. Scoop up 2 Tablespoons of dough and roll it into a ball (I used a cookie scoop and it worked well!). Dip the ball into the bowl of sprinkles to cover lightly. Put the ball on a plate. Repeat with the remaining sprinkles and dough, and chill the balls of dough for at least 2 hours.
5. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
6. Transfer the chilled balls of dough onto the baking sheets, leaving about two inches between each ball.
7. Bake until the cookies have spread and are just beginning to brown around the edges, but are mostly pale and soft — about 10 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 18 cookies.

Reese’s Pieces Cookies

DSC_1972x900Want a perfect, easy, and amazing recipe for your holiday cookie exchange? You’ve come to the right place! I brought these to school and they all disappeared by noon. And I had a few people request the recipe. So trust me when I say, these are amazing. The cookies are small and dense and packed with peanut butter flavor. If you don’t like Reese’s Pieces, you could always substitute peanut butter baking chips in instead.

Reese’s Pieces Cookies
Recipe source: Averie Cooks
Print Recipe

1 large egg
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (do not use homemade or natural peanut butter; use Jif, Skippy, or similar)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 cup Reese’s Pieces
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large bowl and electric hand mixer), cream together the first 5 ingredients (through vanilla) on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
2. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the flour, baking soda, optional salt, and mix on low speed until just incorporated, about 1 minute; don’t overmix.
3. Add the Reese’s Pieces, chocolate chips, and blend until just incorporated.
4. Using a medium 2-inch cookie scoop, form heaping two-tablespoon mounds. Place mounds on a large plate, flatten mounds slightly with your palm, cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 5 days, before baking. Do not bake with warm dough because cookies will spread and bake thinner and flatter.
5. Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet parchment paper. Place mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just beginning to set, even if slightly undercooked, pale and glossy in the center. Do not bake longer than 10 minutes because cookies will firm up as they cool. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to finish cooling.
6. Cookies will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Makes a couple dozen cookies.

Cherry Bread

I recently read Jim Gaffigan’s new book, “Food: A Love Story.” It’s a wonderful, funny, and quick read that I would highly recommend. There were so many lines that I wanted to highlight because I agreed so strongly with them. One of these lines is this: “Nobody really wants fruit. We only act like we do. A false desire for fruit is oven into the fabric of our culture. We are told that Adam and Eve were kicked out of paradise for eating an apple. An apple? Would an apple ever really tempt you? I would’ve look at the serpent, ‘An apple? Uh, cover it in caramel and come back to me. You got any cake back there?’”

I like fruit, don’t get me wrong. But fruit needs to get the hell out of my sugary treats and baked goods! I will always choose something chocolate-y over something fruity. Always. My one exception to this rule is anything having to do with cherries. I. Love. Cherries. So. Much. When I saw this recipe for cherry bread (with a cherry glaze — oooh, glazes are so good), I had to try it. And please don’t let the fact that the glaze looks like Pepto throw you off (it’s the curse of that particular shade of pink, right?) — it was amaaaaaaazing!!

Cherry Bread
Recipe source: Averie Cooks
Print Recipe

One 10-ounce jar maraschino cherries, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch salt, optional and to taste
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
Cherry juice, reserve 1/4 cup
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cherry-Almond Glaze:
1/4 cup reserved cherry juice
1 teaspoon almond extract
About 1 1/2 cups+ confectioners’ sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray two 8×4-inch loaf pans with floured cooking spray or lightly grease and flour the pans; set aside. Recipe may be baked in one 9×5 pan, as 4 mini loaves, or as muffins, although I have not tested it that way. Adjust baking time accordingly.
2. Remove cherries from jar and place on a cutting board. Roughly chop them.
3. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons flour (prevents them from sinking during baking) and toss to coat evenly; set cutting board aside. Set jar with the cherry juice aside.
4. In a large mixing bowl, add 1 3/4 cups flour, sugar, baking powder, optional salt, and whisk to combine; set aside.
5. In a small mixing bowl or glass measuring cup, combine eggs, oil, all the cherry juice from the jar except 1/4 cup to be reserved for the glaze, almond extract, vanilla extract, and whisk to combine.
6. Pour wet mixture over dry ingredients and stir to combine; don’t overmix. Batter will be very thick. Lightly fold in the chopped cherries.
7. Turn batter out into the prepared pans, smoothing the tops lightly with a spatula.
8. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until bread is domed, set, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. Allow bread to cool in pans on top of a wire rack for about 15 minutes before removing and allowing to finish cooling completely on rack. While bread cools, make the glaze.
9. In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup reserved cherry juice, almond extract, about 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, and whisk to combine until smooth and satiny. Add sugar until desired consistency is reached. Glaze the bread prior to serving.