By Richard Moorey
WELL we've turned the corner into the month of December and it's definitely time to start thinking about the holiday season. The holidays are always a bustling time filled with a lot of shopping, visiting, food and the general chaos of the season.
My favourite thing about the holidays in the kitchen has got to be holiday baking. The flavours, smells and warmth that holiday baking brings to the season is like a warm blanket on a cold snowy day.
Of course any baking delivers terrific and tantalizing scents but there is nothing quite like the smells and flavours of holiday cookies and walking into a wall of rich aromas coming from a kitchen that is in holiday baking mode is certainly something special.
Vanilla, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and molasses combined with the heat of the oven make for some of the most nostalgic smells that can soften the biggest Grinch.
The best thing about baking cookies for the season is not only are they are delicious and easy to make but they also store very well and can be frozen so that you can get a start on them long before the holidays get too crazy.
So get a head start on your holiday baking this week and fill your house with delicious holiday aromas that come with great Christmas cookies! Here are three of my holiday favourites to get you started. My Holiday Peanut Butter Cup Cookies, Shortbread Cookies and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies are just the thing to get your holiday baking off to a smashmouth start.
Chef House Holiday Peanut Cup Cookies
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp. heavy cream
- 40 miniature chocolate covered peanut butter cups, frozen
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg, vanilla and cream. Add the flour mixture combine well. Shape into 40 balls and place each into a non-stick mini muffin pan.
Bake at 375 degrees for about eight minutes. Remove from oven and immediately press a frozen mini peanut butter cup into each ball. Cool and carefully remove from pan
House Made Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 375 F
In a mixer cream the butter and sugar together on high for two minutes. Mix in cornstarch and flour and mix on medium for until combined.
Spoon tbsp. of cookie dough two inches apart on a parchment covered cookie sheet.
Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Watch that the edges don't brown too much. Cool on wire racks.
Chef House's Chewy Gingerbread Cookies
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp. water
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 tbsp. white sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.
In a mixer, cream together the butter and one cup sugar on high until smooth. Beat in the egg, then the water and molasses. Gradually mix in the sifted ingredients.
Place tablespoons of the cookie dough two inches apart onto a parchment covered cookie sheet, and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake for eight to ten minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for five minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Richard Moorey (aka Chef House) can be reached by email to email@example.com, through his website at www.evot.ca, or on his Facebook group Evolution of Tastitude. You can follow him on Twitter @House_74.