Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cookie Exchange

I know this probably sounds strange, but I'm a cooker, not a baker.  Every time I get invited to a cookie exchange or cookie swap around the holidays, I just cringe and decline.  But a couple of weeks ago, I was invited to yet another, and for some reason it sounded fun and I accepted.  I'm not sure why, but I got in this freaky baking mood.  And I shall repeat....I DO NOT BAKE!  The party was last Thursday, so I spent all day Wednesday baking and having an amazingly good time doing so.  Below are the recipes and pictures of the cookies I took to the cookie swap.

Death by Chocolate Cookie

2 packages (16 squares) Baker's semi-sweet baking chocolate, divided
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coarsely chop 8 squares (1 package) of the chocolate; set aside.  Microwave remaining 8 squares of chocolate in a large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-2 minutes.  Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.  Stir in butter while chocolate is warm.  After butter is blended into chocolate, stir in sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Stir flour and baking powder into chocolate mixture.  Stir in reserved chocolate pieces.  Drop by 1/4 cupfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 12 to 13 minutes or until cookies are puffed and feel set to the touch.

Print Death By Chocolate Cookie Recipe

Mexican Wedding Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, plus more for coating cookies
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups flour, plus more for dusting hands
1 cup pecans, chopped into very small pieces

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar at low speed until smooth.  Beat in the vanilla.  Continue beating at low speed and gradually add the flour.  Mix in the pecans with a rubber spatula; do not over mix.  With floured hands, take out about 1 tablespoon of dough and shape into a ball.  Continue to dust hands with flour as you make more cookies.  Place onto prepared cookie sheets.  Bake for 40 minutes.  When cool enough to handle but still warm, roll in additional confectioner's sugar.  Cool on wire racks.

Print Mexican Wedding Cookies Recipe

White Chocolate Coconut Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup coconut, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  With electric beater in large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Let it mix about 3 minutes.  Add egg, milk, and vanilla and mix for 2 more minutes.  In a separate small mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar and mix for 1 minute.  Add the white chocolate chips and coconut and fold in with rubber spatula; mix just until combined.  Roll into 1-1/2 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Press the balls down just a bit and bake for about 10 minutes.  Watch the cookies.  When they start to crack, and are just slightly golden around the edges remove them from the oven.  These cookies are better chewy.  If you have a convection oven, try cooking them at 325 degrees for 7 minutes.  Once you pull them out of the oven, let them continue to cook on the hot cookie sheet for 3-4 minutes.

Print White Chocolate Coconut Cookies Recipe

Double Delicious Cookie Bars

1/2 cup butter
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
12 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for glass dish).  In 13x9-inch baking pan melt the butter in the oven.  Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs evenly over the melted butter.  Pour the condensed milk evenly over the crumbs.  Top with the chips; press down firmly.  Bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Do not over bake!  The edges will turn dark brown and harden.  Cool.  Cut into bars.  Store loosely covered at room temperature.

Print Double Delicious Cookie Bars Recipe

M&M Stuffers

Cookie Dough:
1-1/2 cups white sugar
1-1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1-1/2 cups shortening
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons hot water
5-1/4 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
12 ounce bag mini m&m's

Buttercream Frosting:
1/3 cup butter, softened
4-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup milk
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions for cookie dough:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream sugars and shortening together (with pastry blender); stir in eggs, vanilla, and hot water; add dry ingredients and stir until combined; gently stir in mini m&m's last.  Drop about a tablespoon of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 9 minutes or until light golden brown.  Cool cookies completely.  Directions for buttercream frosting:  With electric mixer, beat butter until fluffy.  Gradually add 2 cups of confectioner's sugar, beating well.  Slowly beat in the milk and vanilla.  Gradually beat in remaining confectioner's sugar.  Beat in additional milk, if necessary.  Once the cookies cool, spread the frosting on the bottom of one of the cookies.  Press the bottom of another cookie to the frosting to make a "sandwich".

Print M&M Stuffers Recipe

Happy Munching!

Collette :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Seven Layer Dip

I was invited to a cookie exchange Thursday night, and in addition to cookies, we were supposed to bring a snack food. Since I knew I was going to be baking cookies all day, I wanted something easy to make so I chose the trusty Seven Layer Dip. This is one of my favorite party foods and it is always a big hit. Just remember to bring a very large bag of chips!!

The secret to my seven layer dip is homemade guacamole.  Is there any other kind?

Choosing avocados is just something you have to learn...not too soft, not too hard.  I try to purchase them under ripe a few days ahead and let them ripen at home.

How do I make my guacamole?  This may seem like I'm explaining the process to a kindergartener, but I try to keep in mind that not everyone is at the same level in the kitchen, so if I make it as simple as possible, everyone is covered.  I use 4 avocados to make the guacamole.

Starting at the top of the avocado, cut into the avocado until you hit the seed, then basically follow the seed all the way around with your sharp knife.  If the avocado doesn't fall right apart, twist gently to separate the halves.  Repeat for all 4 avocados.

The way I remove the seed (there are other ways) is to hold the avocado firmly, stab it with the point of a sharp knife where the seed and the fruit meet (turn the blade away from your hand), then sort of gently twist the knife until the seed pops out.  You may have to jiggle the knife a little until it loosens.

Holding the avocado half firmly on the bottom, scoop out the fruit (yes, it is a fruit) and place it on a dinner plate.

If an avocado is ripe enough, it comes out of the skin a little mushier.  Unfortunately, I purchased mine way under ripe, so I had to do a little extra work.

This isn't even mashed yet.  My avocados were so stiff, I had to really work it over with a sharp knife before I could even take a masher to it.

I usually mash my avocado with a dinner fork, but I had to use a potato masher on these.  Now they're ready to add the other ingredients....garlic salt, lemon juice, and mayonnaise.

Sprinkle about a teaspoon of garlic salt on the avocado.

Drizzle the avocado with a tablespoon of lemon juice.

Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise.  Start with less...too much mayo takes away from the flavor of the avocado.  You can always add more.

This is the final product.  Yum!

Let's build the Seven Layer Dip...I want to start out by saying that this dip really only works loaded with full-fat products...none of the light or fat free stuff!
I usually make this in a 13x9-inch pan, but I was trying to be fancy, so I made it in a large plastic bowl.  First, spread a 30-ounce can of Rosarita refried beans on the bottom of the pan.  I use Rosarita refried beans, because I like their flavor the best and they spread easily.

Spread the homemade guacamole over the top of the beans.  If you don't use homemade, I don't even know where to purchase it already made, so you're on your own there.  :)  If you do find it, you probably need about 16 ounces.

Spread 16 ounces of sour cream over the guacamole.

Pour a 16-ounce jar of salsa over the sour cream.

Top with 16 ounces of Cheddar cheese, 1 small can of sliced black olives, and about a 1/4 cup chopped green onion.   Hope you enjoy!!

Print Seven Layer Dip Recipe

Happy Snacking!!
Collette :)