Friday, December 19, 2008

Extreme Holiday Cookie Baking

(Jam Thumbprints)

I noticed that I am my at my happiest when I am able to be in my kitchen, cooking without interruptions. Alone with my thoughts and my hands rolling the dough, no sounds except the whir of the mixer and the hiss of the gas oven. Don't get me wrong, I love teaching my children and having them help on occasion, that is, when they are invited. So, since Tuesday was a school day for both of them, I decided to take some time for myself and indulge in softened butter and teaspoons of vanilla. Here are the fruits or I should say, the confections of my labor. Many of the following recipes can be found on as they are almost all Val's recipes. The one that is not posted there, can be found below. I wish you Merry Baking!

(Pecan Balls)

(Chocolate Walnut Crumb Bars, this time without nuts)

(Frosted Sugar Cookies)

(Coco Loco Brownies)

Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray, November 2008


1 2/3 cups sugar

1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1 cup flour

1 1/2 cups roasted almonds, chopped

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

2 cups shredded coconut

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (about 1/2 a can)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9"x13" baking dish and line crosswise with parchment paper allowing ends to hang over the edge.

In a large saucepan, cook the sugar and the butter over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until bubbling. Remove from heat and stir in the cocoa powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let cool for 10 minutes. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the flour, then the almonds. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and spread evenly with a spatula. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup almonds and the chocolate chips.

In a medium bowl, combine the coconut, sweetened condensed milk and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spoon the coconut mixture in dollops over the surface of the batter. Bake until the coconut is golden brown and the brownie layer is just set in the center, about 35 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting. Makes about 16 bars.