Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Baking Extravaganza, Part I

A Delicious Pair
 Over the course of the next few weeks, I intend to do lots of baking. I want to bake cookies and brownies and crackers and truffles and barks and toffees and and and... You get the picture. So my sister and I got an early start on our baking this weekend. Hey, if the tree is already up in the living room , I think it's perfectly acceptable to start Christmas baking.

So Frakah and I put in a steady stream of Christmas movies (The Leprechaun's Christmas Gold, anyone?), and baked some Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cookies and Orange Nutmeg Cookies. We started on the Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cookies first since they needed to chill the longest in the fridge. The recipe comes out of an awesome Ghirardelli Chocolate cookbook I picked up in Monterrey last year when I visited one of my best friends. The recipe was actually pretty easy to prepare. The hardest part was lugging out my mom's super-heavy food processor to grind the pecans. Frakah took over the creaming process while I handled the dry ingredients and the dough came together in no time. While the dough chilled in the fridge, we prepared the dough for the Orange Nutmeg Cookies. I had the luxurious duty of grating orange zest and nutmeg. Needless to say, my hands smelled nice afterward. Again, Frakah took over the wet ingredients while I measured the dry. Once the dough came together, it too went into the fridge. We had a half hour to relax before it was time to roll the Orange Nutmeg dough into logs.

After chilling, the Mexican cookie dough was ready to be rolled into balls and baked. The dough was very tender and crumbly after coming out of the oven, so I'm sad to say there were a few casualties when I transferred the cookies to wire racks. While warm, we rolled the cookies in a mixture of powdered sugar and cocoa. There was another casualty or two, but it was a tasty casualty.

The Orange Nutmeg Cookies, after chilling, were covered in egg wash and rolled in turbinado sugar. They looked so blingy and fancy before going into the oven. Frakah and I dreamed of fancy cocktail parties with these fabulous-looking cookies. They even looked and smelled delicious fresh out of the oven.

To celebrate our first baking success of the season, Frakah and I enjoyed some homemade eggnog lattes. I brewed some espresso in my stove top Italian coffee maker while Frakah whipped up the special stuff. We tinkered the recipe a bit to make it more eggnogy (what is eggnog without nutmeg and booze?). I suppose I should delay the recipe no further so that you, too, can enjoy the fruits of our success.

Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cookies
from The Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp.
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup ground pecans
1/2 cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa

To make the cookies, in a large bowl, cream the butter and powdered sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, pecans, ground chocolate, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix until well blended.

Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and chill for 1 to 2 hours, until firm.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place the balls 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the cookies are firm to the touch. Cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet, and then transfer to a wire rack.

To make coating, sift powdered sugar and ground chocolate into a shallow bowl. While the cookies are still warm, roll them in the coating.

Note: Our cookies took less time in the oven. We produced about 44 1-inch balls.

Orange Nutmeg Cookies
from The Grand Central Baking Book

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp.
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, at room temp.
2 tbsp finely chopped orange zest
Egg wash (mix an egg, 1 tbsp water, and pinch of salt)
Turbinado sugar, for rolling

Measure the flour, salt, and nutmeg into a bowl and whisk to combine.

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar together on medium speed until very smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Add the egg and orange zest and reduce the mixer speed to low.

Add the dry ingredients and mix just until they disappear into the dough. Chill the dough for approximately 30 minutes so it will be easier to handle.

Shape the dough into 2 logs 2 inches in diameter, then chill for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. I used wax paper the shape and cover the logs.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly brush each log of dough with the egg wash, then roll in the turbinado sugar, using some pressure so that the sugar adheres to it. Slice the cookies 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and place them about 1 inch apart on the prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through the baking time. The cookies are ready when the edges have browned slightly and the centers are light golden brown.

Note: Our cookies took significantly less time in the oven. We also learned thicker is better. We made maybe 3 1/2 dozen cookies. Maybe.

Eggnog-Flavored Latte
adapted from Coffee by Avner Laskin

2 egg yolks
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp rum
2 cups milk
4 servings espresso, short
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

1. Place the egg yolks and sugar in an electric mixer and blend until smooth and bright yellow.

2. Whip the cream and rum until it forms stiff peaks and fold into the egg yolk mixture.

3. Heat the milk in the microwave until it is just below boiling. Fill each mug halfway with hot milk.

4. Prepare espresso and pour 1 serving in each cup.

5. Top each glass with 3 or 4 teaspoons of the egg and cream mixture. Grate nutmeg on top and serve.

Note: This makes four servings, We cut it in half and made 2 and still had cream left over.


Eggnog and Cookies!


  1. rach, the more I read, the more I think I should just come live with you eat all the time... How can I make this happen? :)