Wednesday, April 16, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

12 Days of Holiday Cookies, Part II

Food-Holiday Cookies-Cardamom

In this image taken on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, cardamom chocolate macadamia cookies are shown on a platter in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

AP’s 12 Days of Holiday Cookies spices up the holiday season with a dozen cookie varieties, each inspired by a common spice cabinet resident – allspice, cardamom, Chinese five-spice, cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, ginger, mace, nutmeg, paprika, black peppercorns and saffron.

Cardamom chocolate macadamia cookies

The classic combination of chocolate and macadamia nuts gets a holiday overhaul with the addition of cardamom, one of the most overlooked and underappreciated of the holiday spices. And if baking up a batch of these cookies gets you hooked on cardamom, try it in applesauce, cranberry sauce and rice pudding, too.

This cookie recipe also is incredibly versatile. Mix in any other nuts — or even chopped dried fruit — that appeal to you. Dried apricots and white chocolate chips would be great, as would cranberries and pistachios or raisins, walnuts and milk chocolate chips.

CARDAMOM CHOCOLATE MACADAMIA COOKIES

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Makes 40 cookies

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup vegetable or canola oil

1½ cups packed brown sugar

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

2 eggs

2¾ cups all-purpose flour

10-ounce package mini chocolate chips

2 cups chopped toasted macadamia nuts

Heat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, oil, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and cardamom. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between additions.

Stir in the flour, then the chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. Scoop the dough by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between the cookies. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until light golden brown around the edges.

Let cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Nutrition information per cookie: 190 calories; 110 calories from fat (58 percent of total calories); 13 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 15 mg cholesterol; 20 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 12 g sugar; 2 g protein; 45 mg sodium.

Chocolate black pepper sable (French shortbread)

We tend to think of black pepper as a savory seasoning, but it also has a sweet side. No, pepper itself doesn’t taste sweet, but its trademark bite does pair well with sweet ingredients.

So for this cookie we used black pepper in a richly sweet and buttery sable (pronounced SAH-bley), the French cousin of more traditional shortbread cookies. And while we usually bemoan the trend in recipe writing to call only for freshly ground black pepper, this is a case where you’ll want to grind it just before using it. It is, after all, the star ingredient.

CHOCOLATE PEPPER SABLE

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Makes 36 cookies

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon baking soda

12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

¾ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 cup finely chopped chocolate or mini chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, pepper and baking soda.

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla and salt. Add in the dry mixture to the butter-sugar blend, then mix just until a dough forms. Mix in the chocolate chips.

Roll the mixture into 36 small balls and arrange on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between them. Use a flat-bottomed glass to gently press and flatten the cookies on the baking sheet.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until no longer wet looking. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Nutrition information per cookie: 100 calories; 50 calories from fat (50 percent of total calories); 5 g fat (3.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 10 mg cholesterol; 13 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 1 g protein; 35 mg sodium.

A slightly sweet cookie for grownup tastes

Sometimes you want a cookie sweet enough to take the enamel off your teeth. Sometimes you don’t. For those more grownup times, we created these fennel cornmeal wafers, which are delicate in both texture and sweetness. They would go great with a glass of dessert wine, or as an accompaniment to a cheese course.

FENNEL CORNMEAL WAFERS

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Makes 48 cookies

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup packed brown sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

½ cup cornmeal

Heat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, brown sugar, salt, baking soda and vanilla until creamy. Beat in the egg. Add the flour, fennel seeds and cornmeal and mix until combined.

Scoop by the teaspoonful onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely on the baking sheets. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Nutrition information per cookie: 50 calories; 20 calories from fat (40 percent of total calories); 2 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 10 mg cholesterol; 8 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 1 g protein; 20 mg sodium.

Try triple-ginger bars for a truly spicy holiday

These bars are a serious triple-ginger threat. We packed three varieties of ginger into these tender, chewy bars – grated fresh ginger, dry ground ginger and chopped crystalized ginger. Combined with the elderflower liqueur-soaked cranberries that stud the bars, it is an intoxicating combination (but still child-friendly, though you may not be willing to share).

Want to go for a fourth source of ginger? Swap ginger liqueur for the elderflower. And if cranberries aren’t your style, chopped dried apricots or dried cherries would be good, too.

TRIPLE-GINGER CRANBERRY BARS

Start to finish: 45 minutes (plus overnight soaking)

Makes 24 bars

1 cup dried cranberries

½ cup Saint Germain elderflower liqueur

2 cups packed brown sugar

12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1½ teaspoons salt

3 eggs

2¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon dry ground ginger

½ cup chopped crystallized ginger

½ cup slivered almonds

In small bowl or glass, combine the cranberries and liqueur. Cover and let soak overnight.

When ready to cook, heat the oven to 350 F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray, then line it with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the brown sugar, butter and salt until light and fluffy. With the mixer running, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl between each addition.

Stir in the flour, fresh ginger, ground ginger and the soaked cranberries (they should have completely absorbed the liqueur).

Spread the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the top with the chopped crystallized ginger and the slivered almonds. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until light golden brown and slightly firm to the touch. Let cool completely in the pan, then cut into 24 bars. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Nutrition information per bar: 230 calories; 70 calories from fat (30 percent of total calories); 8 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 40 mg cholesterol; 37 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 24 g sugar; 3 g protein; 135 mg sodium.

Allspice and cherries give festive take to hermits

We took the classic hermit bar and reimagined it as a holiday drop cookie. We also replaced the traditional raisins with more festive dried cherries, then spiked them with allspice. But if you prefer to stick closer to tradition, you could switch back to raisins and bake these as bars. Just spread the dough in a lightly oiled 9-by-13-inch baking pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 F.

CHERRY ALLSPICE HERMITS

Start to finish: 45 minutes

Makes 36 cookies

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1½ cups packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

½ cup buttermilk

1 cup molasses

4 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon allspice

2 cups dried cherries

Heat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, brown sugar and salt until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the buttermilk and molasses, followed by the flour, baking soda, baking powder and allspice. Beat together just until well combined. Stir in the cherries.

Scoop the dough by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between the cookies. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until beginning to brown around the edges and no longer glossy.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes on the pan before moving to a rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Nutrition information per cookie: 160 calories; 25 calories from fat (16 percent of total calories); 3 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 15 mg cholesterol; 32 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 17 g sugar; 2 g protein; 100 mg sodium.

A chewy oat cookie spiked with honey and cinnamon

Looking for classic, comforting flavors in a chewy, soft cookie? This is your cookie. We took a basic oat drop-style cookie and added the comforting, holiday flavors of cinnamon and honey. These cookies beg to go with tea, hot cocoa or even milk left for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Want more bang for your buck? Try adding dried fruit and nuts, too. Golden raisins and peanuts would be a great combination.

CINNAMON-HONEY OAT DROP COOKIES

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Makes 36 cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup packed brown sugar

½ cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1½ teaspoons cinnamon, divided

2½ cups old fashioned oats

¼ cup granulated sugar

Heat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, brown sugar, honey and vanilla. With the mixer running, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl in between additions.

Stir in the flour, baking soda, salt and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon. Stir in the oats.

Scoop by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Using a slightly moistened hand, flatten the cookies until ½ inch thick.

In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and remaining ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. Sprinkle lightly over the top of each cookie.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until no longer glossy and just starting to turn golden brown at the edges. Let cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Nutrition information per cookie: 140 calories; 50 calories from fat (36 percent of total calories); 6 g fat (3.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 35 mg cholesterol; 21 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 11 g sugar; 2 g protein; 70 mg sodium.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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