Wednesday

December 12th, 2018

The Kosher Gourmet

Your new favorite holiday cookie could be right here. 10 RECIPES!

Bonnie S. Benwick

By Bonnie S. Benwick The Washington Post

Published December 5, 2018

Your new favorite holiday cookie could be right here. 10 RECIPES! Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post
We embrace the buttery, the golden brown, the cinnamon-coated and a lot of rich chocolaty goodness. Our selections were rooted foremost in flavor and ease of preparation, but you may very well consider some of them handsome enough to showcase on a cookie platter. We already have our favorites, and we look forward to discovering which ones you like best.



LOADED ROCKY ROAD CARAMEL CRUNCH BARS

MAKES: 15 to 30 pieces Assemble, pour, bake and eat: These steps are all it takes to produce these huge, decadent bars.

We recommend cutting them in half (to yield 30 total pieces).

MAKE AHEAD: The bars can be stored in an airtight container between sheets of wax paper or parchment paper for up to 10 days.

Adapted from "The Cookie Book: Decadent Bites for Every Occasion," by Rebecca Firth (Page Street Publishing, 2018).

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sunflower or safflower oil (neutral-tasting)
  • 2 tablespoons milk (whole or low-fat)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (Dutch process)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup puffed rice cereal (unsweetened)
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds (skinless)
  • 1 cup unwrapped soft caramel candy squares, each cut in half

STEPS

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Use a little butter to grease the inside of an 8-by-11-inch baking dish, then line it with parchment paper so that two sides of it hang over (to use later for lifting out the slab).

Combine the butter and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer on medium speed for 4 minutes, or until quite fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully blended before adding the next. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

Add the oil, milk and vanilla extract; beat (medium) for 1 minute, then remove the bowl from the mixer.

Whisk together the bread flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, sea salt, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl, then add to the butter mixture. Stir to form a blended dough, with a few streaks of flour, then add 2 cups of the mini marshmallows, 1 1/4 cups of the chocolate chips, all the puffed rice and 1/2 cup of the slivered almonds, stirring gently until evenly distributed.

Pour half the soft dough in the baking dish. Scatter the caramel candy halves over the top, then cover them completely with the remaining dough.

Scatter the remaining 1/2 cup of mini marshmallows, the 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and 1/4 cup of slivered almonds. Dampen your hands with water, then use them to gently press those top bits into the dough, and make sure the dough goes into the corners of the baking dish. Bake (upper rack) for 20 minutes; the top marshmallows will be melted. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack to cool, which may take a few hours.

Use the overhanging parchment to lift out the brownie slab; cut into 15 or 30 pieces of equal size.

Nutrition: Per piece (based on 30): 230 calories, 3 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 110 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 21 g sugar

SNICKERDOODLE BLONDIES

MAKES: 16 pieces (one 9-inch slab)

These have a soft, fudgy interior with a slightly crackly surface, and the aroma of them baking in the oven promises to attract attention. Plus, they could not be easier to make!

The directions call for a 9-by-9-inch baking pan; if you don't have one, you can use an 8-by-8-inch pan, but the blondies will need to be baked longer and they will be thicker.

MAKE AHEAD: The blondies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or freeze the whole slab for up to 3 months.

Adapted from "Delish: Eat Like Everyday's the Weekend," by Joanna Saltz and the editors of Delish magazine (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018).

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for the topping
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for the topping
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

STEPS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch-square baking pan with cooking oil spray, then line the bottom with parchment paper.

Combine the butter, the cup of granulated sugar and the brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer; beat on medium speed for a few minutes, until lightened and a little fluffy. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

Add the eggs and vanilla extract; beat on medium speed until well incorporated.

Whisk together the flour, teaspoon of cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl, then add to the mixer bowl; beat on medium-low speed until well incorporated. The dough will be quite soft.

Transfer to the baking pan, then spread the dough evenly all the way into the corners. Whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar with the amount of cinnamon you prefer; we recommend 1/2 to 1 teaspoon.

Sprinkle that mixture evenly over the surface. Bake (middle rack) for about 25 minutes, until golden and still slightly soft at the center.

Cool completely (in the pan) before serving or storing. It's best to lift out the slab and slice on a cutting board; discard the parchment before cutting.

Nutrition per piece: 220 calories, 2 g protein, 32 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 45 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 20 g sugar

THE 1922 GIRL SCOUT COOKIES

MAKES: 60 to 72 cookies (3-inch)

No need to track down a trefoil-shaped cutter - original Girl Scout cookies were simple, round and baked in home kitchens to boot, says cookbook author Anne Byrn. She adapted the original recipe printed in American Girl magazine (in 1922) to make the dough easier to roll out, which also makes them easier to decorate if you so choose.

You'll need a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter.

MAKE AHEAD: The dough needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, and up to overnight. The baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.

Adapted from "American Cookie: The Snaps, Drops, Jumbles, Tea Cakes, Bars and Brownies That We Have Loved for Generations," by Anne Byrn (Rodale, 2018).

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

STEPS

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until for 2 minutes, until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla extract; beat (medium speed) for 1 to 2 minutes. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

Use a fork to whisk together the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add to the butter-sugar mixture in three additions, beating on low speed just until incorporated each time. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to overnight.

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 375 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

Generously flour your work surface. Divide the chilled dough into quarters. Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll it out to an even thickness of 1/8 inch - about as thin as you can make it. Flour your cookie cutter between each cut, spacing the rounds of dough at least 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake (upper and lower racks) for about 9 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through. The cookies should be lightly browned around the edges.

Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before serving or storing. Repeat to use all the dough.

Nutrition per cookie (based on 72): 25 calories, 0 g protein, 3 g carbohydrates, 2 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar Makes 24 small cookies

SQUASH COOKIES

MAKES: 24 small cookies

Cookbook author Kate McDermott calls these creamy-textured treats Mystery Squash Cookies in her newest cookbook, because she says when folks take a bite, they can never figure out what the main ingredient is.

They can be served plain or coated with one of the options listed in the ingredients, below.

MAKE AHEAD: The dough needs to be refrigerated for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Adapted from "Home Cooking With Kate McDermott" (Countryman Press, 2018).

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup flesh from cooked/roasted winter squash (may substitute yam, sugar pumpkin or sweet potato)
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups almond meal/flour, or more as needed
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Pine nuts, for coating (optional)
  • Shredded coconut, for coating (sweetened or unsweetened; optional)
  • 1/4 cup sugar plus 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, for coating (optional)

STEPS

Combine the squash, egg yolk, almond meal/flour, sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest in a mixing bowl, stirring to form a smooth, very soft dough. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 1 day. If the dough seems too pasty and wet, add a little more almond meal/flour, keeping in mind that the dough will firm up further as it chills.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

Divide the dough into 24 equal portions (about 2 teaspoons), rolling each one into a ball. Before spacing them on the baking sheets at least 1 inch apart, roll some of them in one or more of the coating options listed in the ingredients. Bake (middle rack) for 15 to 20 minutes, during which time the cookies should not spread much.

Cool completely on the baking sheets before serving or storing.

Nutrition: Per cookie: 70 calories, 2 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 4 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 7 g sugar

ENDLESSLY ADAPTABLE COOKIE BARS

MAKES: 32 pieces To make them whole-grain or gluten-free, see the variations below.

The flour was measured using the spoon-and-sweep method. However, for best results, use a kitchen scale. Make sure to seek out refined coconut oil, which has a neutral scent and flavor and, if following the gluten-free version, a store-bought blend like Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 (what we used) or Cup4Cup that already contains xanthan gum.

MAKE AHEAD: The bars will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature.

From Seattle baker Polina Chesnakova.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) refined coconut oil, room temperature but solid
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk (may substitute another non-dairy milk)
  • cup vegan dark chocolate chips or chunks, plus more for topping
  • 1/2 cup unsalted almonds, toasted and chopped, plus more for topping
  • Flaky sea salt, for topping

STEPS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use cooking oil spray to grease a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan and line it with parchment paper, allowing for a bit of overhang.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Combine the coconut oil and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer; beat for about 3 minutes on medium speed until light, fluffy, and smooth. Stop to scrape the sides of the bowl, then add the vanilla extract and almond milk, beating on medium speed until incorporated.

Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture in two additions, stopping to scrape down the sides and mixing just until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the dark chocolate and almonds.

Scrape the dough into the baking dish, then use the palm of your hand to press the dough into an even layer, without compressing it too much. Sprinkle with more chocolate and almonds on top and finish with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. Bake (middle rack) for about 30 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned and the middle looks a tiny bit puffed and under-baked.

While the cookie slab is still warm, use a sharp knife to score cuts for the 32 pieces. Cool for about 15 minutes before using the parchment paper to lift them to a rack. Discard the parchment and complete cutting the slab into 32 bars.

VARIATIONS: To make Spiced Pecan Spelt Bars, swap out 1 cup all-purpose flour for 1 cup spelt flour and increase salt to 1 teaspoon. Whisk 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg in with the flour. Omit flaky sea salt and switch out dark chocolate and almonds for equal amount pecans, sprinkling some on top before baking.

To make Gluten-Free Coconut and Date Bars, swap out the 2 cups of all-purpose flour for 1 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons gluten-free flour blend and whisk it with baking powder (reduced to 3/4 teaspoon), salt (increased to 1 teaspoon), and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Use melted coconut oil instead of solid and whisk it with the sugars (dark brown sugar increased to 3/4 cup), vanilla (increased to 4 teaspoons), and almond milk until a smooth paste is formed. Fold in dry ingredients, 1 cup unsweetened coconut shreds and 1/2 cup chopped semi-dry dates (such as deglet noor). Allow the dough to sit for 30 minutes before transferring to pan.

Nutrition: Per piece (for the base recipe): 140 calories, 2 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 20 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 7 g sugar

ALMOND RICOTTA BARSRS

MAKES: 48 pieces

These treats are caky enough to stretch the definition of a bar cookie and elegant enough to class up any cookie assortment. They could also fit nicely into an afternoon tea-cake assortment.

Adapted from "The Great Minnesota Cookie Book," by Lee Svitak Dean and Rick Nelson (University of Minnesota Press, 2018).

INGREDIENTS
• For the bars

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 15 ounces whole-milk ricotta cheese

• For the icing

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup sliced, skin-on almonds, toasted (see NOTE)

STEPS

For the bars: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Use butter to grease the bottom and sides of a 13-by-18-inch (standard size) rimmed baking sheet, then line it with parchment paper.

Use a fork to whisk together, or use a sifter, to blend the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Beat the 16 tablespoons of butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer on medium-high speed for a few minutes, until creamy. Stop to add the granulated sugar; beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes, until lightened and fluffy. Stop to scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating on medium speed after each addition until thoroughly combined. Add the extracts and beat just until well blended.

Reduce the speed to low; add the ricotta in three additions, mixing each time until incorporated. Gradually add the flour mixture to form a soft dough. Spread in the baking sheet; bake (middle rack) for about 35 minutes, or until set, lightly golden and the edges are starting to pull away from the sides. Transfer to a wire rack to cool (in the pan) completely.

Meanwhile, make the icing: Combine the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon-whisk attachment or use a handheld electric mixer; beat on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low; add the confectioners' sugar and almond extract, beating to form a smooth, creamy icing.

Use the parchment underneath to slide the bar slab out of its baking sheet and onto a cutting board. Invert and discard the paper. Cut the slab into 48 bars of equal size, keeping them in place as much as possible. Spread the icing evenly over all the cut pieces, then top each with the toasted almonds. Re-score or cut all the bars, as needed, removing them from the slab arrangement as you work.

NOTE: Toast the sliced almonds in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking the pan to avoid scorching. Cool completely before using.

Nutrition: Per piece: 170 calories, 2 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates, 8 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 85 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 17 g sugar

BROWNIE SANDWICH COOKIES

MAKES: 13 sandwich cookies (26 cookies halves, plus filling)

These are whoopie-pie size, with a satisfyingly chewy and chocolaty crumb. The original recipe calls for a #20 disher or cookie scoop, which has an equivalent volume of about 3 1/2 tablespoons (1.75 ounces). In testing, we used a not-quite-filled ice cream scoop.

MAKE AHEAD: The dough needs to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. The filling can be made hours in advance; if you refrigerate it, bring it to room temperature before using. You may have some left over. The baked, unfilled cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost completely before filling. The filled sandwich cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Adapted from a recipe by Jenna Huntsberger of Whisked!, in "Great Food Finds Washington, D.C.: Delicious Food From the Nation's Capital," by Beth Kanter (Globe Pequot, 2018).

INGREDIENTS
• For the cookies

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar

• For the filling
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
STEPS
• For the cookies: Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave on LOW power in a microwave-safe bowl, in 20-second increments, stirring in between. Use a fork to whisk together the eggs and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup, then sprinkle the espresso powder into the mixture and let it dissolve.

Combine the butter and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer. Beat on medium speed for a few minutes, until lightened and fluffy. Stop to scrape down the bowl. Add the egg-espresso mixture; beat on medium speed until well incorporated, then add the melted chocolate and beat until well blended. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

Gradually add the flour mixture, beating on low speed until incorporated. Let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

Use a scoop (see headnote) to create mounds of equal size on both baking sheets, spacing the mounds at least 2 inches apart. Bake (upper and lower racks) for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through. The cookie edges will look set, but the cookie centers will still be somewhat soft. Let sit on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat to use all the dough.
• For the filling: Beat the butter on medium-low speed until it is creamy, then add the confectioners' sugar; beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes, then add the vanilla extract and salt, beating to form a fairly firm and smooth buttercream.

To assemble, spoon equal amounts of filling on the flat sides of half the brownie cookies, then seal gently with the remaining cookies, flat sides down.

Nutrition: Ingredients are too variable for a meaningful analysis.

BURNT SUGAR GINGER COOKIES

MAKES: 70 cookies

A little bit of extra work - first making a gingery, deep amber caramel that hardens into candy - sets these chewy cookies apart from your standard ginger or molasses holiday cookie.

TIP: For easy peeling of the ginger root, scrape off the skin with a spoon.

MAKE AHEAD: The ginger caramel candy can be done days in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. The baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 10 days. Adapted from "The Cookie Book: Decadent Bites for Every Occasion," by Rebecca Firth (Page Street Publishing, 2018).

INGREDIENTS
• For the burnt sugar ginger

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon peeled, freshly grated ginger root (from a 1 1/2-to-2-inch piece; see headnote)

• For the cookies
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1 tablespoon peeled, grated fresh ginger root (from a 1 1/2-to-2-inch piece)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup sparkling or sanding sugar (may substitute Demerara sugar)

STEPS
• For the burnt sugar ginger: Grease a rimmed baking sheet with cooking oil spray.

Pour the sugar into a small, heavy saucepan (off the heat). Add the fresh ginger and work it into the sugar with your fingers.

Melt the mixture over medium-high heat, without stirring, for about 8 minutes until it is a dark golden brown. Watch closely to make sure it does not burn, reducing the heat as needed. Pour it onto the baking sheet, quickly spreading it evenly. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, or until it hardens and cools completely. Then turn it out onto a cutting board and break it up into 1/2-inch pieces.


• For the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a few baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

Combine the butter and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer on medium speed for 4 minutes, or until quite fluffy. Reduce the speed to low; add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully blended before adding the next. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

Add the molasses and fresh ginger; beat on low speed for 1 minute, or until thoroughly incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer.

Whisk together the all-purpose and bread flours, the ground ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a separate bowl, then add to the butter molasses mixture, stirring until mostly combined with a few streaks of flour. The dough will be quite thick. Add the burnt sugar ginger shards, stirring until evenly distributed. No streaks of flour should remain.

Place the sparkling or sanding sugar in a medium bowl. Roll 2-tablespoon portions of dough into balls, then roll each one in the sugar, placing them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets as you work. Bake (middle rack) one sheet at a time, for 13 minutes. Let the cookies cool completely on the sheet before serving or storing.

Nutrition: Per cookie: 100 calories, 1 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 70 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 12 g sugar

CORONADO COOKIES

MAKES: 20 to 28 cookies (2-inch)

The recipe for these easy drop cookies was given to author Caroline Chambers by a home baker in Coronado, California; hence the name. The mix of chocolate chunks, crisped rice cereal, rolled oats and raisins makes for textured, satisfying bites.

MAKE AHEAD: Cookie-size portions of dough can be frozen separately (on a baking sheet) for 2 hours, then gathered and frozen in a zip-top bag for up to 1 month. Bake them straight from the freezer. The baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

Adapted from "Just Married: A Cookbook for Newlyweds," by Caroline Chambers (Chronicle Books, 2018).

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 cup smooth almond butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate baking chunks
  • 1 cup Rice Krispies cereal
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (do not use quick-cooking or instant)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)

STEPS

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

Combine the unsalted butter, almond butter and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer. Beat on medium speed for 4 to 6 minutes, until fluffy and smooth. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

Add the egg and vanilla extract; beat on medium speed until well incorporated.

Meanwhile, use a fork to whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

Reduce the mixer speed to low; gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then add (all at once) the chocolate chunks, crisped rice cereal, rolled oats and golden raisins, if using. Beat (low speed) just long enough for those mix-ins to be evenly distributed.

Use a #100 disher (about 1-tablespoon scoop) to divide the dough into equal portions, arranging some on the baking sheet so they are spaced at least 2 inches apart. Bake (middle rack) for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned but the cookie tops are still quite pale. Let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before serving or storing. Repeat to use all the dough.

Nutrition: Per cookie (based on 28): 150 calories, 2 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 8 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 45 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 11 g sugar

CRANBERRY CAT KISSES

MAKES: 48 cookies

To make what they considered to be a really good holiday cookie, a mother-daughter home-baking team from St. Paul, Minn., combined "good ideas" and tastes from other recipes. The result is these festive cookie balls, topped with a couple of almonds (reminiscent of the ears of their family cat). We added the occasional and optional fresh cranberries for more holiday spirit.

MAKE AHEAD: The decorated cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

Adapted from "The Great Minnesota Cookie Book," by Lee Svitak Dean and Rick Nelson (University of Minnesota Press, 2018).

INGREDIENTS
• For the cookies

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped almonds (skin-on is fine)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped


• For the topping

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • Skin-on, sliced almonds
  • Fresh cranberries (optional)

STEPS

For the cookies: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer on medium speed for 1 minute, or until creamy. Add the confectioners' sugar; beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is lightened and fluffy, then add the almond extract and beat until incorporated. Reduce the speed to low; add the flour and beat just until it is incorporated, to form a firm dough.

By hand, stir in the almonds and dried cranberries.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls, placing them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake one sheet at a time (middle rack) for 7 to 8 minutes, until barely browned. Let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat to use all the dough.

For the topping: Combine the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave on LOW in 20-second increments until melted, stirring in between until smooth.

Spoon some of the melted mixture on top of each cooled cookie. Quickly insert a couple of sliced almonds and/or a cranberry atop each one. Let set completely before serving or storing.

Nutrition: Per cookie: 100 calories, 1 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 7 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar

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