Christmas is a time for generosity, cheer, and most of all, DESSERT!! This Christmas, I tackled a project that I like to call The 12 Days of Christmas. This entailed 12 different cookie recipes in the 12 days leading up to the last day of school; That’s about 288 cookies (2 dozen per day) to be passed out to my high school population. To make this project manageable, I premade and froze all of the dough. Each day, I thawed the dough and then all I had to do each night was drop the cookies. It cut the time and clean up in half! It proved to be a wonderful way to spread joy.
*I have to give Sally’s Baking Addiction a big shout out! Her blog is where I find a lot of inspiration and base recipes. Her recipes are incredibly reliable and wonderful all around. She is amazing!! Please check her out! http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/
Day 1- Crystallized ginger cookies rolled in raw sugar. This one was a huge crowd pleaser. It is actually a recipe from the Cotillion, the bakery that I worked at this summer.
Day 2- Dark Chocolate dipped toffee shortbread. I made the toffee myself, and finally mastered the skill of tempering chocolate! This one was delicious.
Day 3- Gluten-free almond butter and chocolate chip cookies. These guilt-free cookies were amazing!! My dad, a die-hard tollhouse fan, raved about these. I made homemade almond butter by processing almonds. The dough was greasy; though, it was nothing a paper towel couldn’t take care of.
Day 4-Salted caramel, pecan and chocolate chip cookies… NOT. Day 4 was a disaster. Thankfully, the only disaster day. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am a huge advocate of making my own salted caramel- so that’s exactly what I did. My cookies proceeded to melt into a soupy, flat mess in the oven. In hindsight, I may had been able to fix this by baking the dough in a casserole dish and cutting them into cookie bars with a garnish of some caramel swirls and sea salt. However, in the moment, there was tears, yelling, and laying on the kitchen floor in self-pity. Needless to say, there was little problem solving thinking happening in this moment.
My mom then swooped into the rescue! Thank goodness! It was 8pm and I was in full panic. Think of how many people I’ll be disappointing!! She went on to whip out a classic chocolate chip recipe. She helped me improvise a salted chocolate chip and pecan cookie. We used sea salt, chopped pecans, vanilla bean, along with vanilla infused sugar. It turned out caked and delicious- proof that there are such things as happy accidents. Also proof that Mom always knows best.
Day 5- Cranberry pistachio shortbread wheels. These are easily one of my favorite. Buttery, fruity, nutty, rich, and ADDICTING. Filled with chopped craisins, chopped (hand-shelled) pistachios, and brown sugar. These are DELISH.
Day 6-Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut crisps. I have so many ideas for improvement for these. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t necessarily up to my standard. Improvements: Chocolate chunks instead of chips, CHOP THE MACADAMIAS. ALWAYS CHOP THE MACADAMIAS, fiddle with the leavening agents to make a cakier and richer cookie. These were too thin for my liking. Also, they weren’t super attractive. Not my favorite- though servable.
Day 7- Sugar Cookies. These are awesome! An eggless royal icing, almond extract in the sugar cookies, the ability to maintain the shape- All things great. Kids love these.
This is my favorite sugar cookie icing: Thanks again to Sally!
- 1 and 1/2 cups (180g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon light corn syrup2
- 2 – 2.5 Tablespoons (30-38ml) room temperature water
- pinch salt
- whisk the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons of water in a medium bowl. It should be quite thick. If it is much too thick, add 1/2 Tablespoon more water. If it is much too thin, add 2 more Tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar. If you drizzle a little of the icing with the whisk, the ribbon of icing will hold for a few seconds before melting back into the icing. That is when you know it’s the right consistency and is ready to use. If desired, add liquid or gel food coloring. You can pour some icing into different bowls if using multiple colors. If not decorating right away, cover the icing tightly and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.”
Day 8- Snickerdoodles. Delicious!!! These are my mom’s favorite. They’re crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and very flavorful. Check out Sally’s Baking Addiction for this recipe.
Day 9- Red Velvet? Sorta. These were supposed to be red velvet chocolate chip. Few people know that red velvet is simply chocolate dyed red. It’s not my personal favorite, however it is a crowd pleaser. The recipe called for an obscene amount of red food dye. I was uncomfortable with the amount of artificial, chemical based dye. So it turned into more of a soft-baked chocolate chip cookie with a twinge of red. Still good.
Day 10- Strawberry thumbprints. These were AWEEEESOMEEE. Buttery, crumbly, flavorful, just crunchy enough while still being soft. Ugh one of my favorites for sure!
Day 11- Espresso Chip- Similar to the Chocolate Chip Macadamias, these have a lot of room for improvement. I’d like to give it a shot or two of espresso to boost the flavor, add cocoa nibs for a chocolate-y crunch, switch out the chocolate chips for mini chocolate chips. They were alright though not quite as flavorful as I’d like.
Day 12- Gingerbread men. I used that cookie icing I mentioned above to decorate. These were good as far as gingerbread cookies go. However, I’ve found that if you’re gonna eat a ginger cookie, go for day 1- Something with a sugary crust and wholesome, spicy crystallized ginger baked right in. BUT if you’re dying for gingerbread, go for a gingerbread cake, preferably with cream cheese icing.
Happy Holidays, you guys! How did you spread the holiday cheer this year?