Cappuccino Flats and a Merry Christmas

I'm doing what is probably a big No-No in the food blogging world (I don't know that for sure, I'm just guessing).  I'm posting a recipe again.  Twice in one year.  Same recipe.  Not one change save for maybe some better pictures this time around.
I also have to make a confession:
I did not make these for the cookie exchange party even though I consider these the best cookies I've ever made... which is precisely why I didn't make them to give away.
That's right, these are probably the one and only cookie that I jealously hoard.  I only make them once a year (there's actually a good reason for that - chocolate coating doesn't work well in a room temperature kitchen in the summer).  It's kind of like Mallomars in the U.S.  (readers you can enlighten me)... they only show up for a brief time and I want to get all I can.

I wanted to share these, my favourite cookie recipe, AGAIN with you on this special day... Christmas day.  It's like a little treat for those of you who are scouting the Net today.  The pictures still don't do these cookies justice.  They are soft on the inside with a hint of coffee.  The chocolate on the outside is perfect.  These are cookies that melt in your mouth.
If you make them keep these things in mind:
You might want to keep eating of other things at a minimum on the day you make them.
You might not want to share so keep entertaining to a minimum.
If you do have people over... hide these!
You might want to have extra ingredients around... for the second batch that you'll probably want to make right away.

If you make these, please let me know... especially if you like them.  Consider this recipe my Christmas gift to all of you (well that's kind of cheap of me, since I actually gave it to you last year... hmm, I'll come up with something better).

Cappuccino Flats (from Better Homes and Gardens)
about 2 1/2 dozen

2 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp instant coffee powder
1 tbsp water
1 egg

1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tbsp shortening

Place a heat proof boil over simmering water and melt the squares of unsweetened chocolate.  Set aside.
Combine the flour, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.  Set aside
In another bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup shortening, butter, sugar and brown sugar.  Cream together until light and fluffy.
Mix together the coffee crystals and the water and add to the butter mixture.  Add the eggs to the butter mixture and mix well.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine well.  Form the mixture into two logs and wrap and chill the logs overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a cookie sheet.  Slice each log into 1/4 inch sliced and place on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 - 12 min or until edges are just browned and firm.
Remove from oven and cool on baking racks.
In a heavy bottomed pan, melt the chocolate chips and shortening together.  Once melted, dip each (completely cooled) cookie until it's 1/2 covered with the chocolate.  Set on some parchment paper until the chocolate is set.

Butterscotch Brown Butter Cookies

When I go to a cookie exchange party (ok, all of twice now) it's a funny thing that happens to me.  I'm overcome with insecurity.  I'm terrified that my cookies taste like crap.  I'm afraid that I didn't bring enough.  I'm worried that mine don't look good... I know.  Stupid.  What is that about.  I'm sure that everybody feels that way.  Fortunately, the party I went to didn't make it into a contest because that would have been too much stress for me.  There's already enough stress at this time of year... who needs a cookie contest on top of it.  PRESSURE.

Having said all that though, what are the things that I look to make when going to a cookie exchange party?
1.  I think about how many cookies the recipe makes.  Will I have to double it?
2.  I think about how many kinds of cookies I make and therefor how finicky are these cookies going to be to make.
3.  I think about how interesting they are and whether someone else might duplicate the recipe - trust me, it's even worse than someone showing up at a party in the same dress.
And the last thing is...
4.  I think about whether they will taste good and whether they look good (ie. impressive)

On another note, the Toronto Star is doing a Christmas Cookie Advent Calendar this year with a new cookie recipe coming out everyday up to Christmas Day.  It's pretty cool.  I found this recipe in among the teens of December and it caught my interest.
First though I had to go through my checklist....

Re #1 It makes a good amount of cookies
Re#2  It sounded pretty straight forward.
Re#3  'Brown Butter'... sounds exotic!  Who's going to duplicate that?
Re#4  They have icing on them.  Therefor they instantly look better and more impressive (ie.  I spent time throwing a tbsp of icing on the top)
And it was decided... then and there.

Here's talking about the cookies for a minute.  These cookies are cakey... and they totally work.  They are very homey cookies and to be honest, if you have a lot of other things going on they can get a little lost.  I think that these work best with a cuppa in the afternoon and a good book (very little doesn't work well that way though, come to think of it).  I'm just thinking though that up against lemon bars and nanaimo bars and chocolate crackles and crazy sugar cookies and all that crap this little lovely might get lost and it's a shame for that to happen.  I guess what I'm really saying is give these a fair shake on their own, they'll be best appreciated that way... says I.   P.S.  I left the walnuts out b/c I wasn't sure about nut allergies.

Butterscotch Brown Butter Cookies (from the Toronto Star)
makes about 3 dozen cookies

2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (coarse or kosher best)
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 lg eggs
1 tsp vanilla
250 ml (1 cup) sour cream - 14% only, not 'low-fat'
2/3 cup walnut pieces (optional)

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 tbsp boiling water
1/2 tsp vanilla

Walnut pieces for garnish (optional)

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
Cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the eggs and vanilla and continue to beat until fluffy.  Add in the sour cream and mix well.  Add the flour to the wet mixture and stir until well mixed.
Drop by tbsp's onto the cookie sheets and bake for about 11 min or until the cookies are just browned around the edge.

Remove from oven and cool on cooking racks.
Melt and heat butter in a pan at medium heat until it begins to turn golden brown.  Remove from heat and stir in the icing sugar, boiling water and vanilla.
Work quickly to place 1 tsp of the topping onto each cookie.  Let the cookies sit until the frosting sets.

Cranberry and White Chocolate Drops... finally something Christmasy

Finally a recipe that almost screams Christmas.  No Banana Bread or rice dishes or brownies for me this's all Christmas all the time!

Not really.

I just can't drum it all up.  I'm enjoying some time not hustling my ass out of bed to get out the door at 7:30 a.m. and run to work in sub-zero stupid temperatures (that sounds like the infamous 'Dad-getting-to-school' story don't you think?).  However, I'm just not somebody who goes over the moon for the holiday.  I've already told you all that I'm a bit of a 'bah-humbug'.  So, I can in all honesty take or leave most of it.  I had a bit of a meltdown last week in fact, when I tried buying something in the Eaton Centre.  The line up in that particular store was out the door and the rest of the mall was really no better.  This was the middle of the day, during the week!  Nevertheless, the part that I actually enjoy is the food part and if I could make stuff to give all of you as a gift, I would.  That is the truth!

Here's the thing... I had a Cookie exchange party to go to today.  Truth be told, my track pants were calling my name but I had made a commitment and I was going to see it through.  I decided to spread out the stress though by making 3 different cookie doughs last night and then baking them off today.  So, it really wasn't that bad.
Long story short, you're going to be getting a lot of cookies around here for the next while.  Nothing wrong with that, right?

These cranberry, white chocolate babies just kinda threw themselves together.  I got the basic recipe from the King Arthur flour website.  I fiddles a bit here and there but nothing drastic.  Added in an adequate amount of both the white chocolate chunks and the dried cranberries and... voila!  The nice thing about these is that they are easy drop cookies but they manage to look festive with the white and red mixed in.  I liked the texture of the cookie, although I might look for something just a smidge less cakey in future.  I'm all about the 'gooey'.  If you like a cakey cookie then these are for you...

Cranberry, White Chocolate Drops (adapted from King Arthur Flour)
about 3 dozen

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 lg egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 tbsp milk (optional - didn't use it)
1 cup coarsely chopped or chunked white chocolate
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Line a cookie sheet (or two if you have) and set aside.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.
In another bowl combine the sugar, brown sugar and butter.  Cream everything until it's light and fluffy.  Add in the egg and vanilla and whip together until light and fluffy.
Add the flour to the wet ingredients and combine well.  Add in the white chocolate and the cranberries and Mix until everything is well incorporated.
Drop by lg tbsp's onto the cookie sheet and bake for about 10 min. or until just lightly browned around the edges.
Remove the cookies from the cookie sheet and let them cool on baking racks.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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