It's almost Christmas! The baking is essentially done and we can sit back and enjoy the fruits of our preparation. I hope your holiday season has been sweet.
I'm happy I checked off everything on my to-bake list and even had room to improvise a little along the way to the finish line. Following my previous post, I made the requisite batch of sugar cookies. The kids in my life adore sugar cookies and they seem to have to make an appearance at Christmas. These sugar cookies, with mugs of hot chocolate, make for a sweet finale to our family Christmas party.
And what's not to love about sugar cookies...they're classic for a reason. They're sweet (obviously) and always festive and eye-catching decorated however you like. I'm not very creative but some kids tell me that when it comes to decorating sugar cookies, the key is lots of sprinkles. I may need to up the sprinkle quotient on my sugar cookies next season!
Aside from sugar cookies, I loved the simple vanilla sables (recipe from Dorie Greenspan) I baked this year. The wonderful sandy texture, with the simple yet delectable flavor of the vanilla butter cookies, made me forget my love and commitment to chocolate for a moment. I will be making more slice-and-bake cookies during the next holiday season!
These are so special we've saved most of them to enjoy on Christmas eve and Christmas day, as we usually do. Good thing the recipe makes a lot!
I thought these last cookies above would be it for this season but somehow, I went "off-script" and ended up making a couple of other cookies. The first was a small batch of monster cookies...I dubbed them my "holiday" edition because I used red and green M&M's. The funny thing is I was nibbling on a couple of peanut M&M's one night (though how I have room for odd snacks with so many cookies around this month remains questionable) and it got me craving a peanut butter cookie. Monster cookies are one of the best and I honored my appreciation of peanut M&M's by chopping some up and putting them in this batch.
Then...I was shopping at Target one day when I noticed a few bags of peppermint chunks in the baking aisle. I'd never seen them before and since there were only 3 bags left, I felt the need to get one and bake with them. My son particularly loves chocolate + peppermint and his preferences are my priorities.
So I tweaked Ina Garten's chocolate chunk recipe a little bit. Instead of white chocolate, I added these peppermint chunks, with semisweet chocolate chunks, plus a little peppermint extract in the cookie dough to turn them into chocolate peppermint chunk cookies. These cookies turned out so well! They were chewy, (a little crisp along the edges, moist in the center), chocolaty, and had a great peppermint flavor. I must remember to make these again, and I might not be able to hold off until next holiday season to do it.
It's been busy in the kitchen and there's been so much to do but cooking, baking, and feasting truly make the holiday season as wonderful as it is. We've baked a lot, eaten a lot, and there's still more to come as we unwind this week and savor precious family time around the table. December sure is one sweet, sweet month!
Happy Holidays! Have a wonderful New Year!