Holiday baking makes life merry and bright

***WARNING*** There are going to be some really ugly cookie pictures in this post.

“Please stop baking cookies,” he said, warm and chewy oatmeal cookie poised for another bite.

He couldn’t possibly have meant that, could he?

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I’ve been on a cookie-baking spree lately, and I blame the cooler weather and the holidays. I’ve never been big on baking cookies unless it was for a bake sale where I could package them up and remove them from our home, or to send to school with my daughter back in the days when you could send cookies for the class.

I’ve discovered that the reason I’ve not been big on baking cookies is simple: we eat them. Like cookie monsters. Pull them from the oven, let them cool enough to touch, and they’re gone in no time. That can’t be good, can it? Tasty good, yes… good for you, maybe not so much.

My mom always had cookies in her big, glass cookie jar. Homemade chocolate chip with and without pecans, chewy oatmeal, chocolately chocolate chip. All baked from scratch. There’s something so welcoming about fresh-baked cookies waiting for you to enjoy them.

I recently dusted off my pizzelle iron. Pizzelle is a classic Italian cookie that resembles a small waffle. Lightly sweetened and flavored with vanilla or anise, I wanted to practice making them because I thought they’d be wonderful to give to neighbors for Christmas.

Practice makes perfect, and it had been a very long time since I’d last attempted pizzelle. They looked so sad, dough having spread across the pizzelle iron, creating a slab of four cookies rather than four individual discs. IMG_0786(1)

And then, I read on the internet that you can trim the cookies with scissors if they aren’t just right and suddenly, I had dozens of nearly perfect vanilla pizzelle.

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And then, the hibernating cookie monsters within us took notice.

“What do we do with these?” he asked.

“We can make cute little ice cream sandwiches with them!” I replied. And so we did. And they were delicious.

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Then, I melted dark chocolate and dipped some of the cookies in the chocolate. And I made homemade strawberry jam and sandwiched it between two plain cookies. The options were so exciting! Pretty soon, the pizzelle were gone.

My plan was to bake shortbread cookies next, using a friend’s recipe that helped me pack on some holiday pounds a few years back. I tried a different recipe a few months ago, but baking in high elevation (I’m at over 5,000 ft.) can be tricky for some recipes, and I ended up scraping up the blobs of buttery cookie failure, freezing it and using it for an InstantPot Cheesecake crust, which turned out amazing.
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My most recent cookie obsession is Flourless Chocolate Cookies. Oh.MY.STARS!!!

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I was a little leery of them at first, considering that there was no flour, no added butter, and I had everything for them on-hand. Gluten-free and no trip to the store? One bowl to clean up? Is it too good to be true? Not according to all of the rave reviews. It was meant to be.

The brownie-like batter spread out on the cookie sheet and poofed up kinda strange, but one bite and I was in cookie nirvana.

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IMG_1419(1)First attempt at flourless chocolate cookies was a success! Crisp, chewy, chocolatey, perfectly decadent. I made them two days in a row.

I knew I couldn’t keep these cookies in the house. After my third trip to the post office in one day to mail and pick up packages, I decided to take a plate of these chocolatey gems to our hardworking postal ladies, knowing that a little bit of chocolate makes everything better… even the holiday madness.

I’m using January 1st as my no-more-cookies date, so until then, I’ll be baking and eating cookies. I might even be able to gift some more of them. Merry Christmas, y’all!

 

Flourless Chocolate Cookies

1-1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used cacao powder)

a pinch of salt

1 or 2 large egg whites at room temperature (I used 2)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 355 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder and salt.

Add the vanilla extract, the egg white and whisk until it’s a thick but moist batter. It will happen like magic! If it seems too thick, add another egg white.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the batter onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving enough space between each cookie for them to spread a bit.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the tops are glossy and they begin to crack. You’ll want to keep an eye on them.

Let the cookies cool completely before removing them from the baking sheet with a spatula.

Store the flourless chocolate cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, but you’ll probably eat them all before then.

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