Friday, February 14, 2014

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cookies (GLUTEN FREE!)

These are an adaption of the Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies I have made before. Christmas is definitely a time for all things chocolate minty! I love these cookies because they are pretty easy to make, and they are gluten free.

You first want to separate your egg whites. Place those in a bowl and allow the whites to come to room temperature.
 Egg Whites!

While your egg whites are coming to room temperature, you can melt 1 cup of the chocolate chips.  Place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Melt them slowly so they don't burn. I did 45 seconds, stirred and then did 20 second intervals until they chips were completely melted. Once they were melted, I added in the peppermint extract. I did about a teaspoon at a time until I thought it tasted minty enough. You can add in as much, or as little, as you want. Your chocolate should look like the below picture when it is done.

Once your egg whites have come to room temperature (about 30min) you can start beating them.  After about a minute or so on med speed, they should look like the below picture.
 You want to keep beating the egg whites until they reach soft peaks. That should resemble the following picture.
See? Soft peak!
Once you have reached this stage, you are ready to add your powdered sugar. Slowly add in 1 cup of powdered sugar. You want to add it in gradually while continuing to beat the egg whites on slow/med speed. Once your sugar has been added, the mixture should resemble marshmallow creme.

Totally looks like marshmallow creme, Right?

In a seperate bowl, whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar, cocoa powder, corn starch and salt. It should look like the below picture.. just ignore the finger (oops!).
Slowly (like very slowly) add your dry mixture to the egg whites. Once that is combined, add in your melted chocolate mixture and the rest of your chocolate chips. Your mixture will become very stiff. I popped mine into the fridge for a few minutes so the mixture would be less sticky and easier to handle. Put the remaining 1/2 cup of powdered sugar on a plate. Take about a tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball and then roll that ball through your powdered sugar.  Then place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sorry about my lack of pictures.. if you want to see pics of the steps I missed taking pictures of, click on the link for my original recipe. Bake the cookies in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until the tops crack. They should look like the below picture.

All done!
Cool for about 10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

I have to say, I loved the minty flavor of these cookies. I will admit to also popping 2 in the microwave (after Christmas) for a couple seconds so that they got warm and smooshy and then topping with ice cream. SO GOOD!!

1 10oz bag Nestle Dark Chocolate Chips
3 Large egg whites, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1/2 cup unsweeted cocoa powder ( I used Hershey's Special Dark)
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-3 teaspoons peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees
Line cookies sheets with parchment paper
Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in microwave safe bowl
Stir in peppermint extract
Using mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl to soft  peaks.
Gradually beat in 1 cup sugar.
Continue beating until mixture resembles marshmallow creme
Whisk 1 cup sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt in medium bowl.
On low speed, beat dry ingredients into egg white/sugar mixture.
Stir in lukewarm chocolate and 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
Place 1/2 cup sugar on plate.
Roll 1 rounded tablespoon of dough into ball; roll in sugar.
Place on prepared sheet.
Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake until puffed and tops crack, about 10 minutes.
Cool on sheets, on rack, about 10 minutes.
Remove cookies from sheets, place on racks to cool completely.
Store in airtight container.

Cookie closeup!

M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are the second cookie I made for Christmas and Santa.  I love M&M cookies. I saw this recipe posted on Pinterest for 'Perfect M&M Cookies'. And they looked so good that I wanted to try them out.

Now the recipe called for a special ingredient: Vanilla pudding mix.  Supposedly, adding the pudding mix keeps the cookie soft and fluffy and gives you a perfect shaped cookie. That didn't exactly happen with mine, but I'll explain that later.

First you soften your butter to room temperature. Once it is softened, add your sugars and blend until creamy.  Add your eggs and vanilla and mix well. Then comes your dry ingredients!
Big helper adding the pudding mix

Now, when I added all the dry ingredients and mixed it, it came out pretty dry/crumbly. So, I will recommend starting with less flour than the original recipe called for, and then adding more if you need it. I'll include directions in the recipe that follows. After you have the dry ingredients added and mixed, you are ready to add your candy and chocolate chips!
Chocolate Chips go in! 
M&M's added! 
Mix the M&M's and chocolate chips in until combined. You can see in the below picture that my dough was too dry, there isn't enough 'stickiness' to hold on to the chips and m&m's.

I used a cookie dough scoop and placed the dough on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. I used a pretty small one, but you can use whatever size you want.
Ready for the oven

My first batch barely spread, so for all my other batches, I flattened the dough slightly with the bottom of a glass. When they were all done they looked like the below picture.

All done!

Now, these cookies still tasted pretty good, I just think they would be even better had there not been too much flour. I actually joked that they ended up looking a lot like Keebler cookies!

2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 - 3 cups flour  *Start with 2 1/2 and add more if too sticky. DO NOT exceed 3 cups*
6 tablespoons vanilla pudding mix (INSTANT)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips
2 cups (or more LOL) mini M&M's

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line baking sheet with parchment paper
In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars
Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.
Add Flour (Again, start with less and then add more), pudding mix, baking soda, salt and stir to combine.
Add Chocolate chips and M&M's and mix in.
Use cookie dough scoop or rounded tablespoon and place dough on prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.
After 10min of cooling, transfer to cooling rack.
Another cookie picture!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Gingerbread Kisses

Who doesn't like making cookies for Santa?  For this past Christmas, my daughters and I made 3 different cookies for Santa. What can I say? I was determined to keep Santa 'Jolly'.  The first cookie we made is what I am calling Gingerbread Kisses.
I love Gingerbread cookies. They are however, pretty complex to make from scratch. You have to make the dough the night before and since I was already making 3 cookies, I just wanted to keep this one easy. Plus I really like Betty Crocker cookie mixes. 
You start with softened butter. Once your butter is soft, add the cookie mix and the egg. Mix until well combined.

Ingredients added 
All mixed
I loved that as soon as you started mixing this together, it smelled SO good. Once it is mixed, place some white sugar on a plate. Take bits of cookie dough, and roll into 1 inch balls. It should resemble the below picture.
Probably a little bigger than an inch
Then roll your cookie dough balls through the sugar like in the below picture. Don't mind my creepy fingers, I was trying to take a picture while rolling the cookie dough ball.
Once you have your balls rolled, place about an inch to 2 inches apart on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. 
Ready for baking
Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 8 minutes.  While they are baking, unwrap your Hershey's Hugs. As I've said before, it is much easier to have them unwrapped so that you can press them into the cookies quickly. 
All Baked!
Once your cookies are done baking, immediately press a Hug into each cookie. Set them on a rack to cool while still on the pan. If you leave them on the stove while you are still baking, the chocolate will continue to melt and/or take MUCH longer to set. I put each batch on a rack for about 15min and then popped them into the fridge for about 20-25min until the Hugs had hardened back up. Once the Hugs have hardened, store all your cookies in an airtight container.  

All done!
I have to say, I really liked these cookies. I was going back and forth between getting Dark Chocolate Kisses and the Hugs. I really like the Hugs though. I though they complimented the Gingerbread cookies really well, and I feel like the dark chocolate would have overpowered them.
1 pkg Betty Crocker Gingerbread cookie mix
1 Egg
1 Stick of butter
Sugar for rolling
Hershey Hugs
Cover baking sheets with parchment paper
Place a little bit of sugar on a plate
Soften Butter to room temperature
Preheat oven to 375 Degrees
Combine cookie mix, softened butter and egg.
Once mixed, take bits of dough and roll into 1 inch balls.
Roll balls through sugar to coat.
Place cookie balls on baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes
While baking, unwrap Hershey Hugs
Once cookies are done baking, place 1 Hug on each cookie and press lightly.
Move off oven to cool and/or place in fridge until Hugs harden.
Store in airtight container.
Extreme Cookie Close-up!