Sugar & Spice Holiday Cookies

The holidays are fast approaching and all we want to do is hibernate with our new kittens and eat cookies. Fortunately, we’re wise enough to know that when we make batches of things like cookies, brownies, blondies, and other goodies, we either need to give them away, or freeze them and eat them judiciously throughout their lives (we rarely have frost bitten treats).

Gingerbread is classically Christmas. The warmth of ginger and the earthiness of the molasses are ideal for warming you up. While looking for gingerbread inspiration, we came across this nice, lightly spiced cookie recipe from King Arthur. Short a few of the ingredients, but adequately supplied with substitutes – like honey for molasses, coconut oil for shortening, and a little white whole wheat flour in place of the all-purpose – to make them “healthy” sugar cookies – we decide to jump into the recipe.

Day-light savings time really sucks when you’re an afternoon baker attempting to make anything you might want to photograph. This recipe was no exception. At 4:00pm, with less than an hour of sunlight left on a gloomy SF afternoon, we got started. The dough needs to rest in the fridge so after Jason got Steve’s afternoon cookie and tea hopes up, we had to wait another day so that we could capture the finished product in daylight.

A quick and easy smear of chocolate (dark and white) makes for a delicious finishing touch. And be sure to dunk them in your favorite warm beverage. They’re extra delicious after a quick soak in coffee and tea.

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Sugar and Spice Cookies
Adapted from King Arthur flour.

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch

In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, shortening, sugars, baking powder, spices, and salt until light and fluffy.

Add the egg and molasses, and beat well.

Mix about half of the flour into the butter mixture. When well combined, add the cornstarch and the remaining flour.

Divide the dough in thirds, flattening each half slightly to make a disk. Smooth the edges by rolling the disk along a lightly floured work surface. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour (or longer), for easiest rolling.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Take one piece of dough out of the refrigerator, and flour a clean work surface, and the dough.

Roll it out as thin or thick as you like. For slightly less crisp cookies, roll it out more thickly. We like to roll these cookies 1/8″ to 1/4″inch thick. Use powdered sugar under and on top of the dough to keep it from sticking to the table or rolling pin.

Alternatively, place the dough on parchment, and put a sheet of plastic wrap or another piece of parchment over it as you roll, pulling the plastic or parchment to eliminate wrinkles as necessary when rolling; this will keep dough from sticking without the need for additional flour.

Transfer the cookies to parchment-lined or silpat baking sheets.

Bake them just until they’re slightly brown around the edges, or until they feel firm, about 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the size and thickness.

Remove the cookies from the oven, and let them cool on the baking sheet for several minutes, or until they’re set. Transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Snap, Crackle, Crunch AKA Last Minute No Bake Holiday Cookies

We did it again. The holidays are fast approaching and here we are with only a day left until Christmas and we procrastinated posting our annual holiday cookie blog. This blog is dedicated to all those last minute bakers that want to make something semi-homemade. Cheers to all.

Rice Krispie ™ treats are yummy, gooey, cookies that we have loved for years. While most of our blog posts are dedicated to food made from scratch, we have tried to replicate these goodies before using puffed brown rice and homemade marshmallows with depressing results. Since it is the holiday season (we believe in many different holidays during this time of year, not just Xmas!) we decided to get off our food crate – er, soap box – and work with the classic, time-tested recipe as a guide.

Our current infatuation with the Rice Krispie treat can be blamed on our recent trip to Yountville and Bouchon Bakery. The bakery sells beautiful Neapolitan Rice Krispie treats featuring decadent layers of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. They are delicious! But like most of the recipes that inspire us, we like to alter them, just a bit, and after finding Bouchon’s recipe online (these treats are very popular at Easter) and seeing the ingredients list, we knew that this one would be a very fun and delightfully easy challenge.

All the makings of snowball treats.

Coconut and White Chocolate Snowballs

Kellogg’s Rice Krispie website features a recipe for their version of “snowballs.” Home cooks rate the recipe a paltry 3 out of 5 stars and we knew that with a little help we could make them better. Using white chocolate, coconut extract, chocolate extract, and Valrhona white chocolate pearls (inspired by Bouchon’s crispies) we knew we could boost the chocolate and coconut flavors without going overboard. They turned out great rolled in sweetened coconut flakes and placed in individual paper cups. Of course, a few of the items used to make them so special are not so easy to find in most grocery stores. Lucky for us our, neighborhood grocery store is Andronico’s and as fate would have it, Jason found Valrhona pearls on display at the store. We doubt the average Walmart or town grocery store carries these candy treats, so feel free to omit them if you can’t find them.

Coconut and White Chocolate Rice Krispies Snowballs
7oz Marshmallow
1.5oz Butter
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon chocolate extract (optional)
3oz white chocolate chips
3.5oz Rice Krispies
2.7oz Crunchy White Pearls (these are dark, milk and white chocolate covered cereal from Valrhona)
4oz sweetened coconut flakes

Bring 2” of water to a boil in a saucepot and place a bowl on top to create a double boiler. In the bowl, melt the white chocolate chips and then stir in the butter, marshmallow and extracts until the mixture has completely melted together. In a mixing bowl, fold the Rice Krispies and crunchy pearls into the marshmallow mixture. When cool enough to handle, shape the Rice Krispies mixture into small snowballs. Place the coconut on a plate and roll the balls in the coconut, gently pressing the coconut into the balls.

Cordial cherry treats in the making.

Cordial Cherries

Our other Holiday recreation is an updated Cordial Cherry. Again, taking inspiration from Bouchon’s Rice Krispie recipe we have made a part candy, part chocolate Krispie treat that we think is kind of cleaver. Using Bouchon’s recipe for their strawberry Krispie we changed the dried strawberries to dried cherries and added a little Maraschino liquor adding a little kick to them. The chocolate version is completely Bouchon’s recipe. To make the cookies we rolled small balls of cherry Krispie and then covered those in the chocolate Krispie. The results were cute, fun and very festive.

Cherry Rice Krispies
1oz dried unsweetened cherries, chopped
2oz Maraschino Liquor
7oz Marshmallow
1.5oz Butter
4.5oz Rice Krispies
4 drops Red Food Color

In a heavy bottomed saucepot add the chopped dried cherries and Maraschino liquor, cook over medium heat until the liquor is almost evaporated. Add the butter, marshmallow and food coloring whisking together until everything is completely melted. In a mixing bowl, fold the Rice Krispies into the marshmallow mixture. When cool enough to handle, shape the Rice Krispies mixture into small tablespoon balls.


Chocolate Rice Krispies
14oz Marshmallow
3oz Butter
7oz Rice Krispies
5oz Crunchy Pearls (these are dark, milk and white chocolate covered cereal from Valrhona)
4.2oz 64% Cocoa Chocolate
1oz 100% Cocoa Chocolate
0.7oz Cocoa Powder

Bring 2” of water to a boil in a saucepot and place a bowl on top to create a double boiler. In the bowl, melt the chocolates together and then stir in the butter, marshmallow and cocoa powder until the mixture has completely melted together. In a mixing bowl fold the Rice Krispies and crunchy pearls into the marshmallow mixture. When cool enough to handle, take one of the cherry Rice Krispie balls and cover it with some of the chocolate Rice Krispie, leaving the bottom of the balls with only the cherry Rice Krispie.