Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cookies and Technical Difficulties

Friends, I have good news and bad news.

The good news is, on Black Friday we bought a new computer.  It is shiny and fast and now doing things online is no longer akin to being trapped in the middle of a glacier armed with only a hairdryer.  

The bad news is, it's taking a while to get my whole work flow up and running.  Photoshop, Picasa, etc.  We're moving from Windows XP to Windows 7 and things are a leeeeettle diff'rent.  The time had to come one day, but I don't do well with change.  Thankfully my awesome engineer husband is doing most of the labor on this because it kind of just makes me want to flail and panic.  And stare at the bright new widescreen monitor with Precious Moments eyes.

So, thanks for hanging around while we resolve our technical difficulties. 

The even good-er news though is that Christmas is coming.  We're reading through Advent Foretold again this year for evening devotions--it's always so good to remind ourselves of God's gracious promise to send a Messiah, and the amazing ways he brought it to pass.  Christmas is one of my favorite holidays.  Writing our Christmas letter helps me to remember all the ways God has been kind throughout the year, the smell of fresh pine fills the house (whenever we get around to getting a tree), hubby has some time off work, and we make memories as a family. 

The kids and I joined some homeschool friends and went to see a display of amazing gingerbread houses last week.  Can you believe the detail on these?






I was definitely more fascinated than either of my kids, of course, being able to appreciate the creativity, work, and patience that these must have required.  And I took lots of deep breaths of the gingerbread smell...yum.

I have not done any Christmas baking yet, but I'll need to start soon.  I've got my eye on a couple new cookie recipes as well as a few necessary favorites.  I loved the color these Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies added to my cookie tray last year.  Mmmmm.


Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies (from Epicurious)

Cookies
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
Filling
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 drops (or more) red food coloring
  • 1/2 cup crushed red-and-white-striped candy canes or hard peppermint candies (about 4 ounces)
Directions

For cookies:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt in medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Beat in egg. Add dry ingredients; beat until blended. Refrigerate dough 1 hour.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out dough by level tablespoonfuls, then roll into smooth balls. Place balls on prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Using bottom of glass or hands, flatten each ball to 2-inch round (edges will crack). Bake until cookies no longer look wet and small indentation appears when tops of cookies are lightly touched with fingers, about 11 minutes (do not overbake or cookies will become too crisp). Cool on sheet 5 minutes. Transfer chocolate cookies to racks and cool completely. 

For filling:
Using an electric mixer, beat powdered sugar and butter in medium bowl until well blended. Add peppermint extract and 2 drops food coloring. Beat until light pink and well blended, adding more food coloring by dropfuls if darker pink color is desired. Spread 2 generous teaspoons filling evenly over flat side of 1 cookie to edges; top with another cookie, flat side down, pressing gently to adhere. Repeat with remaining cookies and peppermint filling*.
Place crushed candy canes on plate. Roll edges of cookie sandwiches in crushed candies (candies will adhere to filling). (Cookie sandwiches can be made ahead. Store in single layer in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 weeks.) 

*I mixed the crushed candy canes right into the filling before spreading, worried that they'd fall off the edges during storage and transportation.


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