Red Velvet Peppermintdoodles

 We’ve covered the fact that very little baking went on in my house growing up. Unfortunately for everyone, that included Christmas cookies. Don’t feel too bad for me though–we had plenty of family friends dropping off homemade treats, and I spent lots of time shoving them in my face between bites of artichoke dip. I made the best of a less-than-ideal situation 😜 And to further my resilience, today I am embarking on a new series that focuses specifically on holiday cookies. I have asked just about everyone I know about their favorite holiday cookies, and gone a little crazy digging through Rose’s Christmas Cookies and Pinterest to bring you Twelve Days of Cookies! That’s right–twelve cookie recipes between now and December 25th!  

We’re starting with a doozy: Red Velvet Peppermintdoodles. Peppermint-scented red velvet cookies coated in a pulverized peppermint candy crust and baked until soft and chewy. Bright red cookies with a hint of cocoa, a good dose of peppermint flavor, and a crispy candy crust? Could they possibly have more holiday cheer?!

These cookies start with a slightly doctored-up version of my Red Velvet Cookie dough. We add just a hint of peppermint flavor (in the form of peppermint extract) to the classic chocolate-vanilla flavor of red velvet. Vanilla and peppermint? Good. Chocolate and peppermint? Good. Vanilla and chocolate and peppermint? AMAZING. Now, peppermint extract is great and all, but it is potent. This recipe only requires 1/2 teaspoon for an entire batch of cookies. If we were to use more than 1/2 teaspoon, we’d risk cookies that taste a lot like toothpaste. I love the flavor of Colgate for cleaning my teeth, but I don’t want it in my dessert thankyouverymuch. So, be careful with your extract. If anything, you may want to reduce it to 1/4 teaspoon. In addition to the peppermint *in* the cookies, we’re going to coat them in pulverized peppermint candies!
 
 
 
To make the coating, we’ll need 15 starlight peppermint candies and a food processor or high-powered blender. Crushing the candy by hand will not work here because we need the candies to become powder. If there are large pieces of peppermint in our coating, they will melt all over our pans while they’re in the oven, and quite possibly burn. So, blitz the peppermints in the food processor until they are a fine powder. A little warning: this will be LOUD. So loud that your upstairs neighbors may knock on the door and ask what on earth you are doing. So prepare yourself. Ear muffs may be a good choice. Once the candies have been processed, whisk the powder together with a bit of granulated sugar. This gives our coating a little extra texture and allows it to adhere to the dough more easily. Scoop chilled dough by the tablespoon and roll it into balls. Roll each ball in the coating, place on a prepared sheet pan, and bake for 8-10 minutes. Then just let them cool and enjoy.

Be warned: one bite of these minty chocolate-vanilla cookies, and you’ll be hooked 😊 The crispy, crackly crust alone is worth the effort! These cookies are perfect for holiday parties, gifting, cookie exchanges, or just keeping in your cookie jar. They’re guaranteed to bring a little holiday cheer to your family and friends!

Make sure to check back over the next three weeks for eleven more cookie recipes!  Red Velvet Peppermintdoodles
makes about 3 dozen cookies

Cookies
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder*
1/4 cup buttermilk powder
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 cup light brown sugar*
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1 teaspoon liquid red food coloring*

Coating
15 starlight peppermint candies*, pulverized in the food processor
1/4 cup granulated sugar

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, buttermilk powder, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. One at a time, add in eggs, whisking until completely combined. Add in vanilla extract, followed by red food coloring. Add dry ingredients in two installments, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until combined. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours, or up to three days.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets. In a small bowl, whisk together pulverized peppermint candies and granulated sugar.

Scoop chilled dough in 1 tablespoon increments and roll into balls. Roll dough balls in coating mixture before placing them at least two inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, just until the tops are no longer raw-looking. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheets for 5-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Notes:


1. Do not use Dutch process cocoa here. Your cookies will have an unpleasant metallic flavor.
2. Dark brown sugar may be substituted.
3. Gel food coloring may also be used.
4. Make sure to use starlight peppermint hard candies, not soft peppermints. Candy canes may also be used. You will need 10-12 standard-sized candy canes.

Chewy Pumpkin Ginger Cookies {with Vegan Option}

  
Hey there! How was your Thanksgiving? Did you eat too much pie and not feel even the teensiest bit guilty? I hope so 😊 We are on our way back to Brooklyn from Henry’s family’s home. Anyway, let’s talk about cookies.

I’m torn. It’s the day after Thanksgiving. Am I allowed to post Christmas cookies now? It’s still November. Is pumpkin season over? I don’t even know. Figuring out the ins and outs of this food blogging stuff is hard. How about a combination? A gingery pumpkin cookie that would be totally welcome at a holiday cookie exchange. With a crunchy, sugary crust because yum. And, if that’s not enough, a simple optional vegan swap so you can have something for everyone at your holiday parties. The holidays are about being inclusive and good to people we love, right?! Right! So let’s make some Chewy Pumpkin Ginger Cookies.

   
This dough is super simple–no mixer required! It starts by stirring melted butter (or coconut oil, if you’re going vegan) with light brown sugar. Then add in 1/4 cup of pumpkin. The pumpkin acts as an egg substitute here–if we added pumpkin and eggs, we’d have cakey cookies. No, thank you! Chewy all the way. Anyway, after we add the pumpkin, it’s time for a hefty dose of dark molasses, followed by just enough vanilla to mellow out the spices. Speaking of spices, add one full tablespoon each of ground ginger and pumpkin pie spice. Then, it’s time for some dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. Whisk those up and add them in two installments, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl as you go. This dough needs only thirty minutes of chilling before it’s ready to roll.

A note on chilling cookie dough: it’s mandatory if you want soft, puffy, chewy cookies. There’s no way around it. Embrace the chill! Your cookies will be better for it. Plus, it means you can make the dough 24 hours in advance, and I am all for working ahead. But let’s get back to the rolling.

  
  
  
Roll your chilled dough in two tablespoon increments, and then roll the dough balls in granulated sugar before placing them on the baking sheets. This will give them a crispy outer crust, and has the added benefit of making them look stunning! Pretty food just tastes better. Bake these for 10-11 minutes. Then let them cool, and enjoy. Easy peasy.  

Chewy Pumpkin Ginger Cookies are good on the first day, but the pumpkin flavor really shines through on day two. They’ll stay soft and delicious for up to a week, so they’re perfect for adding a little holiday cheer to lunches, or for preparing ahead of time for your cookie exchange. I think they’d make a really good ice cream sandwich with a small scoop of vanilla. Or chocolate. Chocolate and ginger are sooo good together.

Start the Christmas season right–make these cookies! I’ll be posting twelve holiday cookie recipes leading up to Christmas Eve, so prepare to wow at your cookie exchanges and holiday parties. Make sure to check back over the next few weeks for a hefty dose of holiday cheer 😊

 Chewy Pumpkin Ginger Cookies
adapted from Soft-Baked Gingersnap Molasses Cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction
makes about two dozen cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt or Kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly*
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup pumpkin purée
1/3 cup molasses*
1 1/2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1/3 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In another mixing bowl, mix together melted butter and light brown sugar until there are no more lumps. Add in pumpkin, molasses, spices, and vanilla, stirring after each addition. Stir in 1/3 flour mixture at a time, until a thick soft dough has formed. Refrigerate 30 minutes to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two sheet pans with parchment or a silicone baking mat.

Roll two tablespoon* increments of dough into balls. Roll dough balls in granulated sugar and place 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 10-11 minutes, until puffy and no longer wet-looking. Let cool for five minutes on the pans before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling and baking until all dough has been used.
Cookies will keep covered at room temperature for up to a week.

Notes:

1. Vegan option: use 3/4 cup melted coconut oil in place of the melted butter.
2. Do not use blackstrap molasses–it’s too robust for this recipe.
3. A medium cookie scoop may also be used.

Whipped Cream in a Jar {Entertaining Tip}

 
Sometimes, you just don’t need a ton of whipped cream. Maybe you live alone, or your significant other isn’t much for sweets, or you just don’t want the leftovers tempting you from the fridge. I find myself in the second predicament all. the. time. With all the pie and cookies and cake in our apartment, there are loads of things that would be perfect with a heaping spoonful of whipped cream, but Henry just isn’t into it. And while I love whipped cream, there is no need for me to have a huge mixing bowl of the stuff on hand. A want, sure, but not a need. So instead of breaking out my electric mixer and whipping up far more than I need, I just shake it up.

  
All you need for a small amount of whipped cream are:

-heavy cream
-a teaspoon or tablespoon of granulated sugar (or none, it depends on your preferences)
-a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
-a mason jar

 
Just fill the mason jar anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of the way full, and add your sugar and vanilla. Don’t fill the jar any more than 1/3 of the way, or your cream will take eternity to whip, if it whips at all. Once your ingredients are in the jar, screw on the lid. Then shake the living daylights out of it. Listen to the jar–at first you’ll just hear liquid sloshing around, but as the cream starts to take in air, that sloshing will become more of a soft thud. Once the sloshing sound fades, open the jar every so often to check on the status of your cream. It’s ready when the jar can be held sideways and no cream threatens to dribble out. This usually takes me about five minutes of shaking. If you’re not sure if your cream is whipped enough, you can also take a spoonful out and see if it’s to your desired texture.
  
Don’t over-whip! If you shake the jar too much, the cream will bypass the whipped stage and start to become butter. You’ll know this has happened if your whipped cream looks grainy. I love butter (duh), but I don’t want it on top of my pie.

I know many people have large Thanksgiving gatherings where whipping cream in a jar simply isn’t practical, but if your dinner will only have a handful of guests, this is a good way to go. Plus, in a casual setting, serving things out of mason jars is totally adorable. When I bring desserts for dinner parties, it’s not uncommon for me to show up with a jar of cream–it’s way better than the stuff in a can. And plus, it makes you look so crafty.,Also, if you have little helpers that need a job this Turkey Day, put the ingredients in a tupperware with a screw top and let them shake away. Kids love helping in the kitchen, especially when it’s something they know is delicious.

If you have leftover whipped cream, just screw the lid back on the jar and stick it in the fridge. The cream will start to liquefy again as it sits in there, so just give it a little shake when you go back for more.

One last thing–whipped cream is great, but you need something to put it on! I wrote three new pie recipes this month that would be great additions to any Thanksgiving dinner. You just have to have pie on Thanksgiving! It’s the right thing to do. Between my Pumpkin, Black Bottom Pear & Almond, and Cranberry Apple Pies, it’ll be a tough (and delicious) decision determining which one to try! If you do try any of them, or my Cream Cheese Pie Dough, let me know in the comments!

  

Artichoke Dip

 My family is weird when it comes to Thanksgiving. We have almost no traditions, food or otherwise. We just have never established any of those things.

We’ve tried. Oh, we’ve tried. We have hosted the big family Thanksgiving. We’ve gone to my aunt’s house for dinner. We’ve traveled (England was a highlight). We spent five or six years skiing in Santa Fe, New Mexico, our home away from home. My older sister has hosted a big dinner at her home in Austin, where she serves lamb rather than turkey. All of those Thanksgivings were fun, but none have created long-lasting traditions. Now that my sisters and I are adults, getting together for Turkey Day has become nearly impossible. With significant others, work, and living in different places, it’s hard for all of us to get together, so we usually just try for Christmas. Case in point: this year my older sister is hosting her lamb dinner in Austin, my parents and little sister are going to Marfa (because why not?), and Henry and I are going upstate to spend the holiday with his family. I’m not sure we’ll ever have a traditional Thanksgiving together again, but that’s okay as long as we have good cell phone service and my mom’s Artichoke Dip. 
 
This dip is so, so good. It comes from a handwritten card in my mom’s holiday recipe box–a card so stained that you know the recipe has to be good. Hot, cheesy, creamy goodness that’s perfect for scooping up with tortilla chips and crackers. Plus, it’s so easy, it’s ridiculous. Stir together four ingredients, spread it in a small casserole dish, top with cheese and paprika, and bake until brown and bubbly. That’s it. Easy. It’s great for holidays and parties, and can be made up to two days in advance. You can either mix everything and bake when you’re ready to serve, or bake it, refrigerate, and reheat in the microwave. It’s totally perfect for those hectic holiday afternoons when you’re just trying to get something on the table. I have taken this Artichoke Dip to many Thanksgivings and holiday parties over the years, and people always go crazy for it. Be prepared: you will be bombarded with requests for this recipe.

Ten years ago, when my mom put me to work making this recipe for our holiday parties, I had no idea that it would become my tradition. I didn’t know that I would soon have it committed to memory, or that I would take it to Thanksgivings all over the northeast. Some people have holiday food memories with pie or cookies or Great Grandma’s stuffing, but for me it’s this dip. Making this puts me back in my mom’s Texas kitchen, at least for a second. That’s a good enough tradition for me.

 
Artichoke Dip
recipe from my mom’s holiday recipe box
makes one small casserole dish or pie plate

1 14oz can artichoke hearts in water, drained
1 4oz can chopped green chilies, drained
1 cup mayonnaise (I use Hellmann’s)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
paprika, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a small casserole dish or pie plate. Set aside.

Chop artichoke hearts into small pieces. Place them in a large mixing bowl. Add green chilies, Parmesan cheese, and mayonnaise. Stir to combine. Scrape the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes, until browned and bubbly. Let cool five minutes before serving with tortilla chips or crackers.

Note:


Artichoke Dip can be made up to two days in advance. You can mix together the mayonnaise, artichoke hearts, chopped green chilies, and cheese, and refrigerate, and then bake immediately before serving. Alternatively, after baking, let the dip cool to room temperature for an hour. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate. When you are ready to serve, reheat in the microwave.

Scratch Biscuit Monkey Bread

 Everybody loves Monkey Bread. Soft pieces of bread coated in cinnamon-sugar? Yes, please. It’s perfect for holiday breakfasts, brunches, snacks, desserts–you name it. Monkey Bread is welcome anytime, anywhere. But the dough involves yeast and a rise of up to 8 HOURS. I love working with yeast, but I straight-up don’t have the time for an 8 hour rise during the holiday season. A popular alternative is to use canned biscuits instead of yeast dough, but canned biscuit are…meh. Don’t get me wrong. I would never turn down a canned biscuit. My mother always kept two tubes in the fridge for weekend breakfasts, and I have no problem putting away three at a time. But we can do better, and also save time. We can use simple scratch biscuit dough. We’re scrappy like that.

The dough we’ll use here is for cream biscuits. Whereas buttermilk biscuits must be kept cold to ensure that the butter stays cool enough for a flaky final product, cream biscuits are more rough-and-tumble. There’s no cutting in of butter, or determining how much buttermilk you need to make the biscuits moist but not goopy. (Sorry for saying “goopy” on a food blog.) This dough is very straightforward, and can handle a warm butter bath. There are only six ingredients: flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and two cups of heavy cream. Yes, two cups of cream is a lot, but as there is no butter or buttermilk, this dough needs that kind of moisture and fat. This is holiday food, after all. It’s a splurge no matter how you make it. Embrace the cream!    
 
Anyway…stir together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, sea salt, and baking powder. Then, using a silicone spatula, stir in the cream. Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to get any cream and flour that have adhered themselves incorporated into the dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and flour a rolling pin. Roll the dough into a large rectangle that is 1/2-3/4″ thick. Then fold it in half and turn it one quarter-turn. We’ll repeat this folding and rolling until it’s been done four times total. This will give us great layers. Once you have done all the folding and rolling and once again have a 1/2-3/4″ thick rectangle, cut the dough into one-inch squares. To do this, use a sharp knife or bench scraper (my tool of choice) and cut directly down. Do not saw, or you will deflate all those layers you just worked so hard making. Put the squares aside while we make the coating.    Melt 1 1/2 sticks of butter, and put it in a small bowl to cool a bit. It should still be warm, but as we have to touch it directly, the butter shouldn’t be super hot. In another bowl, whisk together light brown sugar, granulated sugar, and four teaspoons of cinnamon. Now, using your hands, take five biscuit squares at a time, dunk them in the butter, coat them in the cinnamon-sugar, then lay them in a pan that is very, very, VERY well-greased with butter. We don’t want our Monkey Bread to stick when we turn it out after baking. Once all your squares have been coated and are in the pan, press down on them lightly to make sure they stick together. Bake the Monkey Bread for 40-45 minutes, until it springs back when pressed with clean fingers. Let it cool for just a few minutes before flipping it onto a platter. Serve it immediately. Everybody will love this soft, sticky, sweet treat.  And there it is! Scratch Monkey Bread made in less than two hours start-to-finish. The pieces that touched the pan will be a little crispy and crunchy, while the ones in the middle will be delightfully soft. Yum. This recipe is great for any holiday parties you’re having or attending, and it’s a wonderful way to get little helpers involved. Give them the biscuit squares, butter, and cinnamon-sugar, and let them do the coating! They’ll be so proud of their finished product! Happy Holidays, indeed.  

Scratch Biscuit Monkey Bread
makes one 12.5 cup capacity bundt or tube pan*

Cream Biscuits:
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 cups heavy cream*

Cinnamon-Sugar Coating:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a bundt or tube pan very well with butter. Set aside.

Make the biscuit dough. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Pour in heavy cream and stir, scraping the bowl, until a dough forms. Turn dough onto a floured surface. With a floured rolling pin, roll dough into a large rectangle that is 1/2-3/4 inch thick. Fold it in half, and turn one quarter-turn. Repeat folding and rolling until you have done it four times total. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut dough into 1-inch squares. Place the squares in a large bowl while you prepare the coating.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan or the microwave. Transfer it to a small bowl to cool enough to be touched. In a separate small bowl, whisk together sugars and cinnamon.

Dip biscuit squares in butter, then coat in cinnamon-sugar. Place coated squares in prepared pan. Once all squares are in the pan, press down on them lightly so that they stick together. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until bread springs back when lightly pressed with your clean finger.

Let monkey bread cool for 5-10 minutes before inverting onto a large plate or platter. Serve immediately.

Monkey Bread is best on the day it’s made, but can be kept covered at room temperature for up to two days. Re-warm before serving.

Notes:

1. This recipe can be halved and baked in a 9″x5″ loaf pan, though I am not sure of the bake time.
2. Heavy cream must be used in this dough. Do not substitute half & half or milk.